A maybe a little too big of a part of preparing our move to Sweden, was of course researching trails and routes. We read all the articles and blogs on bikepacking and gravel cycling is Sweden that we could find. Honestly, we were a little taken back by how little we could find. The endless gravel roads, easy camping rules and extensive nature reserves surely called for bikepacking adventures.
But we kept on digging and finally found a gold mine. At every little snippet that we found one name kept popping up in particular: Michael O’Dwyer. An Irish guy living in Stockholm and sharing tons of amazing routes. Together with Björn Merlin he collects the best routes and shares them on their platform @bikepackingsweden. One of the rides they created - as part of the Local Overnighter Project by bikepacking.com - was the Wilder Side of Stockholm. A wilder side that we were eager to get to know.
In this second write-up (first one here) of our favorite Swedish Bikepacking Routes, we'll tell you all about our overnighter Wilder Side of Stockholm. A story about our ride, with some practical tips and additional information. At the bottom of the page you'll find the gpx in komoot.
After an eight hour bus ride with the bikes on the back of the bus we finally reached our destination. More than 650 kilometers up north, we found ourselves in the capital of Sweden, Stockholm. Scandinavia’s largest city is one of the nicest in Europe; idyllically situated at an archipelago of fourteen islands and with centuries-old architectonical beauty.
We didn’t really know what to expect when we looked at the starting point on the map. The Wilder Side of Stockholm starts in Södermalm, the bustling heart of the hipster neighborhood. The endless gravel roads and pointy pine forests seemed hopelessly far away in this concrete jungle. But we were so wrong. It’s impressive how fast the concrete and asphalt environment changed to deep forests and remote singletrack. In under fifteen minutes of riding we were no longer hearing cars honking, but just the crunchy sound of gravel coming from underneath the tires.
The trail covers a total distance of 121 kilometers (75 miles) which makes it the perfect weekend getaway. The altitude gain doesn’t get too steep but the roads and trails go up and down for the entire length of the route which accumulates to 1,000 meters of altitude for the entire route. Pretty much the whole thing is perfectly rideable, but for some stretches we were faced with rocks and roots underneath our wheels - or shoes depending on your skills. Not used to these tricky trails Sabina was pushing her bike, cursing the pedals every time she kicked it with her shin. According to the data on komoot, the road is made up of 14% single trails.
Along the way we passed numerous of nature reserves and national parks. The first one - Naturresevatet i Nacka - is just a few kilometers away from Stockholm. A favorite hang-out for Stockholm residents to escape the bustling city. We rode this route in the middle of august and temperatures rose up to 30 °C. The first big lake was simply too inviting to pass by, so we took a dip. The first of many.
Rich in oaks and with plenty of forest lakes we felt like we were in the midst of nature already. Riding in to Tyresta National Park we cycled amongst old giants. The pine trees here are up to 400 years old. The excellent double tracked gravel roads here are truly spectacular.
Paradiset, the highlight of the route
After Tyresta National Park we made our way towards Paradiset. A name like that set our expectations high, and we were definitely not disappointed. The area is a popular weekend hiking destinations for Swedes. One of the longest trails of Scandinavia covering over a thousand kilometers - the Sörmlandsleden - runs through here. But the real highlight lays on the bank of Trehörningen, a small lake on the southern edge of the reserve. The crystal clear lake is fully surrounded by trees.
Scattered across the shore are a few vindskydds (wind shelters) with idyllic fire pits for night time camp fires. All around the lake there were people grilling, swimming and simply enjoying quality time in nature. We arrived a bit late, and for the shelters applies first come, first served. But we pitched our tent on a secluded spot on the bank and spent the warm summer night with only the inner tent.
Wild camping is allowed
As is the case (almost) everywhere in Sweden, wild camping is allowed. You simply find a good place and pitch the tent. Finding a good spot is no challenge, there are nice spots around every corner. The shelters in Paradiset are located after roughly 66 kilometers from the start, so a little over half way in.
The next morning, after crossing the railway near Västerhaninge the gravel and trails started pretty much straight away. It felt like we were flying here, compared to yesterday’s tricky trails. Near Lida recreation the route makes a loop which leads to the last nature reserve: Orlångens naturreservat. We had some time to spare and swam and sunbathed, soaking in the summer rays. Ready for the last short stretch we rode the open and easy rolling gravel road to the endpoint of this route in Huddinge. Here we could personally thank Michael for putting together this stunning route.
Supplying for the ride
Finding food and water is no problem on the Wilder Side of Stockholm. We found various shops along the route. And if needed, a village is always just a small detour away. If you’re planning to stay for the night in the Paradiset windshelter, it’s best to stock up for the night and morning in Västeraninge. Here are a few bigger supermarkets and even a Systembolaget: the government-owned monopoly distributor of alcohol. So if you fancy a cold beer at the campfire this is your chance. Unless it’s Saturday after 3PM or Sunday, then you’re out of luck. Sorry mate.
Getting in and out
Sweden has an extensive rail network, but this time we opted for the bus. Taking your bike on long distance trains in Sweden is a pain since you need to pack the bike in a bag or box. You can however bring your bike on the local trains, called pendeltåg. Make sure you get off the train at Stockholm Södra, since bicycles are not allowed on Stockholm Central. In Huddinge - where to route ends - you can easily hop on the pendeltåg back to Stockholm.
The Wilder Side of Stockholm is such a great little route - ideal for a mini adventure during the weekend. It’s amazing how quickly the scenery changes right after leaving the bustling city centre of Stockholm. Gorgeous gravel roads and a few fun single trails through a gorgeous landscape with thick forests and pristine lakes. We loved every second of it.