ÖSTERSUND – ÅRE
The route goes through the meadows of Frösö towards the mountains. Admire 5,000-year-old rock carvings and walk on narrow paths beside the rushing Indalsälven river. Sami culture thrives in the Årefjällen mountains.
From Östersund, the route continues over a bridge to the island of Frösön, named after the Nordic god Frö (Freyr). Stop at the rune stone commemorating Jämtland’s conversion to Christianity and stroll around the green island enjoying the view of Oviksfjällen mountains. Frösö church was built in the 13th century with St. Olav as its patron saint. The play “Arnljot” is performed outside the church in summer. It is about a Viking from Gällö who fought alongside St. Olav in the Battle of Stiklestad.
Cross the bridge to the island of Rödön. Here you can visit Tibrandsholm, a 14th century castle mound. Listen to the waves and look for the Storsjö monster rumoured to live in the depths of the lake. The interior of Rödön’s Medieval church was lavishly refurbished in the 1920s after a fire. The route is flanked by strawberry and potato fields. The local St. Olav spring is in Vikeränget, and forest paths take you past the village of Tullus.
North of the E14 highway, the route continues through virgin forest with rich birdlife past the village of Önet. Upstream of Vaplan is an old ford across Faxån river, used by pilgrims in the past. You stroll at a leisurely pace along old country roads to Valne, then in more hilly terrain to Glösa with its 5,000-year-old rock engravings of elks. The rock engravings and the sound of the rippling stream give the place a timeless quality. The route continues along Bröllopsstigen (Wedding Path) and past other cultural sites before reaching Wången, where there is an inn. Horse riding lessons are also offered here. You can stop and admire views of lake Alsensjön and the mountains. You can also visit Backgården local heritage centre, which exhibits handicrafts in the summer.
The terrain is hilly near Häljeberg. The route passes the villages of Kluk, Bleckåsen and Semlan where there was once a copperworks. You will pass through Mörsil, where Sweden’s first sanatorium for TBC sufferers was built in 1891. Mörsil also became a popular tourist destination after the railway arrived. Kretsloppshuset is an organic centre in Mörsil, a green oasis with attractive gardens and locally grown food. At Römmen local heritage centre next to the church, you can see the remains of a forecastle from a 17th century ship.
The route passes Liten, a fish-rich lake with two bathing areas: Stålsviken and Havsdoan. It continues to Järpen, the main town. The picturesque westbound route passes Slagsån church ruin and Undersåker church, then follows the Indalsälven river with its white rapids. It passes the St. Olav spring in Hålland and the 14-metre high Ristafallet waterfall. You can make a detour to Hållandsgården, a hospitable pilgrim centre with a stave church in grey wood, built in 1999. The centre has a model of Jerusalem. Outside the church is a landscape picture of Palestine in Jesus’ day. The family hotel organises guided tours and concerts.
Mountain resort at Åreskutan
St. Olavsleden climbs towards Brattland with views of Renfjället and Åreskutan mountains. You walk through agricultural landscape past the village of Såå to Åre, an alpine hiking and skiing resort with many restaurants, hotels and shops. Åre has an adventure pool, and you can also swim in lake Åresjön. Enjoy the tranquillity in the late 12th century church, which contains a small statue of St. Olav in a tricorn hat. This valley has long reindeer husbandry traditions. Reindeer once roamed on today’s ski slopes, and there were slaughter enclosures beside Ullsjön. There are four Sami villages in Åre Municipality, and reindeer husbandry thrives here. The southern Samis’ handicraft style features round shapes, often with zig-zag patterns. Åre Hemslöjd sells a range of Sami handicrafts from throughout Sweden, from knives to necklaces.
For a bird’s-eye view of the reindeer land, take a cable car to the top of Åreskutan mountain. From the mountain station, there is a 900-metre walk to the cabin on the peak. From there you can gaze southwest towards the mountains, where the inhabitants of Tåssåsen and Handölsdalen Sami villages keep their reindeer. The reindeer from Kall Sami village are kept northwest of Åreskutan and in the Skäckerfjällen mountains. Njaarke Sami village is located in the Sösjöfjällen mountains. Let your thoughts run free while admiring the view of the mountain peaks and clear waters.