Fun in the big freeze
As winter wraps its icy grip around the mountains, lakes and rivers of Dalarna it is not a time for staying indoors, lazing around a crackling log fire with a mug of hot chocolate - that comes afterwards. It’s time to get out and revel in the winter pursuits on offer; cross-country skiing, long-distance skating, snow-shoeing, ripping it up on a snowmobile, or letting the Huskies do the work by dog-sled.
Dalarna is criss-crossed by quality cross-country ski tracks, particularly in the snow-clad forests around Säfsen, Grönklitt, Lugnet, Sälen and Idre, or along the Vasaloppsarenan route. Long-distance skating on thick lake ice is hugely popular in Dalarna and there is prepared skating trails at lake Run, lake Orsa and elsewhere around the county. Together you study animal tracks, prepare an open fire and cook sausages or whatever you fancy. Altogether much faster ways of negotiating snow and ice are by snowmobile or by dog-sled. Whether you do it in the mountains in the north of Dalarna, or in the south of the county, snowmobiles are a blast. Look out for snowmobile ‘safaris’ with guide, to get the most out of the experience. For dog-powered propulsion on snow and ice, nothing beats dog-sledding. Try out your own pack of Huskies in Sälen, Idre and Orsa.
Zipping along perfectly prepared tracks is what it’s all about. Dalarna is home to many top class cross-country skiing areas in fell and forest; choose the mountains above the tree line at Sälenfjällen; try out the trails where the Swedish national x-country ski team train at Lugnet, just outside the town of Falun. Or take the family to the Gyllenbergen wilderness recreation area near Borlänge and make stop offs along the route for eats, hot drinks and barbecues. There are information maps, windbreaks and rest cabins throughout the trail systems.
Skating Dalarna is a joint initiative between some of the best long-distance skating destinations in the county. All the destinations offer at least one ploughed trail on natural ice, a starting destination with parking, information and ice reports. The destinations include the legendary Lake Runn Falun/Borlänge for some archipelago skating and island stop-offs, as well as the Dala-Floda trail where you can skate until your heart is content, enjoy a wood-fired sauna and even go for a dip in the icy waters. Brrrrrr.
What are you waiting for? Get your skates on and come to Dalarna for your next skating trip.
There’s something unique about being in a sled behind a pack of excited dogs who want nothing more than to run. Swishing through the snow, it’s a perfect way of experiencing the stunning countryside and enjoying an exciting, high-speed activity at the same time. Sälen, Idre and Orsa, and other places too, all offer dog sledding.
A pair of light, modern snowshoes lets you negotiate "impassable" terrain. Immerse yourself in Dalarna’s winter wilds; glide across loose snow and go where your skis will not take you. In the area around Rättvik there are a number of marked snowshoe trails and you can hire a pair onsite. The Siljan Snowshoe Race, Sweden's biggest snowshoe competition and festival, is also held here at the end of January every year.
Love speed? Love snow and ice? Then a snowmobile is the perfect mode of winter transport for you. You can hire a snowmobile in many places in Dalarna and go out on your own, or why not join a guided tour, or ‘snowmobile safari’ as they are known up here for wildlife spotting and visiting local beauty spots. The Sälen mountain ski resorts, as well as Idre Fjäll, Stöten and Älvdalen are all very popular snowmobile areas.