Grövelsjön: a hikers paradise in Dalarna, Sweden
About a year ago I went on a two week solo trip through Sweden. On this trip I went as far north as Sälen, Sweden’s southernmost fjäll. Here someone told me about Grövelsjön: a mountain area on the border with Norway, a little further north than Sälen. He also told me that he had made the most beautiful hike in Scandinavia here: the Sylen hike. With a boat you’ll sail across the lake from Sweden to Norway and you hike back through the mountains. We were curious about that and so we decided to visit Grövelsjön this year during our summer vacation. We spent a few days here in collaboration with Visit Dalarna and I can definitely say that Grövelsjön pleasantly surprised us.
Drive to Grövelsjön
We’ve arrived by ferry from Kiel in Germany in Göteborg that morning and drive to Grövelsjön in one go. Normally the quickest route is through Norway, but due to closed borders this is not possible for us. We therefore take the route up along Lake Väner, the E45, and eventually drive further north via Mora and Sälen. On the way the rain is pouring down on us and the weather doesn’t look good for the next few days either. But you can’t change it, so that’s part of the package when you decide to travel in Sweden or any nordic destination. Once past Idre, it becomes quiet on the winding road, which takes us straight into the Swedish wilderness.
I was told that Grövelsjön is the southernmost place in Sweden where reindeer live. Immediately after leaving Idre, they are already on the road ahead. Reindeer on the road means slowing down and waiting for them to clear the way for you. Honking or accelerating makes no sense, after all, you are a guest in their habitat. Seeing reindeer on the road always makes driving in Sweden a joy for me. The nordic feeling that I love so much always immediately reappears when seeing them. It’s simply amazing to be back in Sweden after a strange year.
Staying at STF Grövelsjön
We overnight at STF Grövelsjön – or the mountain station of the Swedish Tourist Association. A room has been booked for us here. Although there are also ‘normal’ hotels and cottages in Grövelsjön, we always find the atmosphere in the mountain stations very pleasant. The people who stay there are very likeminded: they enjoy the outdoors. As soon as we drive into the parking lot we notice that it is bizarrely busy. It’s packed with people and check-in is also chaotic. We have to get used to the crowds and the Swedes don’t seem to care about the one and a half meter rule as much as back home. But it’s fine really, we’re happy to be on the road again!
The mountain station is old and creaky, which is what makes it so charming. Our room is tiny: a bunk bed, a sink and just enough space to store a bag. We do not need more space, this is fine for the first few nights of our holiday. We share the shower and toilet with the other guests.
Hiking in Grövelsjön
The next day I decide to hit the trail after breakfast. David would like to rest a bit after the long journey (to be honest, we underestimated the drive to Grövelsjön a bit and he drove most of it). I decide to put on my hiking boots for the first time on this trip and ask the reception about the hiking trails in Grövelsjön. As the boat to Norway is not going because of the pandemic, I ask them ‘if I only have one day here, which walk should I do?’ The answer is the walk to the Silverfallet. The booklet I buy says it’s a three hour walk, but that’s from the parking lot by the lake. The fjällstation is about half an hour’s walk away which makes it about a 4 hour hike in total.
On the way to Silverfallet
It’s still dark weather outside and I might expect a shower. Rain arrives earlier than expected though and while I’m still walking on the main road to the lake, I’m already getting soaked. Once at the lake I cross the suspension bridge over the river and I’ve arrived at the fjäll. The great thing about Grövelsjön is that its location is relatively high, almost on the tree line. This ensures that you immediately have beautiful views in good weather and don’t have a lot of forest hiking to do before the views come into sight.
The trail to Silverfallet is clearly marked and not difficult. I climb steadily, sometimes on a path, sometimes on steps. It’s relatively busy on the trail but that’s OK. There are only Swedes out and about, mainly families. All with the same goal: being outside and with plenty of respect for nature.
After about an hour I reach the emergency shelter. Some Swedes have made a fire here. Everyone is sitting here with a net around their head and that is not without reason: it’s a favorite place for mosquitoes. I descended slightly and entered a narrow valley where there is a forest. The mosquitoes love it here, I don’t. Not much later I climb above the tree line again and the path becomes narrower. Then I suddenly come face to face with a reindeer and her young. And I’m loving it!
A little further on is the Silverfallet. I had confused fallet (waterfall) with fjället (mountains) so I didn’t realize the destination for this hike was a waterfall at first. Once at the waterfall, it starts to rain again. The waterfall is not big, I take some pictures and then continue walking. I come to a fork without a signpost but choose the wrong side, a moment later I’m in the swamp up to my ankles. I should have chosen the left fork, I see the other hikers in the distance. They walk along the border with Norway, which is marked with a huge fence. I walk between the reindeer, who sometimes don’t even realize I’m so nearby.
Behind the clouds the sun always shines
And then suddenly the sun shows herself. She carefully pokes through the clouds and as fast as I can blink my eyes, it seems to clear up and I finally see the special landscape I’m surrounded by. I’m in the mountains, see the lake below me and can even see the snow-capped peaks in Norway. The mountain station is across the valley showing off in the sun.
I decide to take a long break in the sun and think that it is quite bizarre that, using the ferry between Kiel and Gothenburg, you are already in the middle of the Swedish mountains within 36 hours of travel.
The rest of the hike takes me mainly across boardwalks through the swamp. A little later I reach the shores of the lake, where I have a quick look. It’s such a shame that the boat to Norway doesn’t go, but we’ll just save that hike for another time, it’s a good reason to come back here some day.
Back at the Fjällstation
Eventually I stroll back to the Fjällstation. Arriving here, the sun is now shining and I enthusiastically tell David about my great hike. It appears that he has already bought a hiking map of the area and the decision is quickly made: tomorrow we’ll pack our backpacks and go on a real adventure! It’s too beautiful to be here for just one day. But first we settle down on the terrace of the fjällstation. By now most of the clouds have disappeared and we can actually sit outside in our t-shirt. We stare at the other side of the valley while enjoying a beer and a reindeer sausage. At mountains, the wind, the downpours in the distance and the wilderness that awaits us there. Our well deserved vacation has started!
About Grövelsjön in Sweden
Grövelsjön is a lake on the border of Norway and Sweden. “Sjön” means lake. It is a touristic spot about half an hour’s drive from Idre, in the far northwest of the Dalarna province. The surrounding mountains belong to the Långfjället Nature Reserve. The area is popular with hikers and winter sports enthusiasts in both summer and winter. Except for a few hotels and cottages there are no facilities, you can do your grocery shopping and refueling in Idre.
About the STF Fjällstation
The STF Fjällstation is your perfect base for your visit to Grövelsjön. It’s a hotel and hostel in one: in other words, you have dorm rooms and private rooms. There is a kitchen but you can also eat in the (excellent) restaurant. There is a small shop, a sauna (closed during the pandemic) and there are hiking maps, tips and other things everywhere that will make your heart beat faster as a lover of the outdoors. The atmosphere in mountain stations is very relaxed. If you are a member of STF you will receive a discount on your stay. Prefer to stay somewhere else? There are some hotels and some cabins that you can rent. You can camp on the STF campsite or at the lake. Prices and availability of the Fjällstation can be found here.
Other hikes in Grövelsjön
The hike to Silverfallet is, after Sylen, the most beautiful hike you can take in Grövelsjön. This hike takes about 3/4 hours and is relatively easy. Many people also choose to go up the Långfjället, the mountain range ‘behind’ the fjällstation. Here are countless hiking trails to mountain peaks, lakes and mountain huts. We visited this area during an overnight hike, I’ll tell more about that in a later article. If you go hiking in Grövelsjön, it is smart to buy a topographical map (fjällkartan), because I did not find the trails very well marked. Or at least, well marked but without signposts. The southern Kungsleden also crosses the area.
Conclusion and disclaimer
We had a great time in Grövelsjön! I’d already heard that it was super beautiful, but I did not expect that we would have such a good time here. The blog about the trek we made the next days can be found here. Do you want to read more about Sweden in the meantime? Be sure to check all our Sweden blogs here.
Our visit to Grövelsjön was made possible in collaboration with Visit Dalarna. All opinions given are, of course, entirely our own. This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase or make a reservation through such links, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.