The Right of Public Access is called Allemansrätten in Swedish and gives you a great freedom when visiting the nature. But having the right of public access also means being considerate and careful – towards nature, wildlife, landowners and other people.
Where can you go?
You can go everywhere, but you are not allowed to walk across farmland or on grounds near people’s homes.
You can pitch for two or three nights, but pay attention not to destroy anything and make sure you don’t put up your tent near people’s houses.
Making a fire
Making a fire is permitted as long as the conditions are safe, such as in sandy soil or gravel, or even better at purpose built fireplaces. Using fallen twigs and branches for firewood is allowed, but taking branches from living trees is not permitted. If there is a high risk for the fire spreading, it may be forbidden to light a fire.
In both Sweden and Norway the water quality is very good and often you can still your thirst from running water along the trail.
Along St. Olavsleden there’s also several St. Olav springs to drink from. But make sure to always carry some water with you as well.
From mid-August hunting season for bear and mountain birds start in Sweden, and in September the moose hunt. It is no problem to walk in the woods or mountain areas of St. Olavsleden during these periods but be a bit more cautious, and the hunters will appreciate if you wear something other than green and perhaps sing or talk a bit for yourself as you walk.
Hunting and fishing
Right of Public Access (allemansrätten) does not include hunting and fishing. For example, to fish in lakes and rivers you need to buy a fishing permit. Special rules cover hunting, and you need to have a hunting license and be part of a hunting team, or purchase a hunting permit to be able to hunt.
Berries and mushrooms
You are free to pick flowers, berries and mushrooms but not if they are protected. Special rules apply in nature reserves and national parks.
Here are some tips for when nature calls. Human waste should not go into the trash bag. If the need comes when you’re far from a toilet: dig a small hole, relieve yourself, cover the hole with earth. Please take your toilet paper it with you.
That way, we can all enjoy our travels along the trail.
In reindeer territory
The whole St. Olavsleden, from coast to coast, passes through land where Sami culture and reindeer husbandry have thrived for thousands of years. Particularly in the mountains, where there has been far less development than in the forest regions, you can see signs of the old Sami culture without straying far from the route. But these signs can be hard to recognise. Sami tents and other structures are made of natural materials, so it takes a trained eye to recognise them. When the structures are no longer used, nature slowly reclaims them. Today’s modern reindeer husbandry leaves other recognisable signs. For example, along Skalstugevägen there is at least one reindeer enclosure right next to the road.
The reindeer graze in the forests in winter. If you walk St. Olavsleden in the summer, it may be hard to imagine it full of reindeer in winter. 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 meter 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.
Remember to show respect and consideration when wandering through reindeer and Sami territory. The mountains and forests are where Sami people work and reindeer graze. If you spot reindeer close by, stop and stand still. Reindeer are sensitive to disturbance, especially during the calving season in spring.
If you have a dog with you it needs to be in a leash at all times.