#035 The Dalarna Ramble
Finding the links to find the adventure.
Distance: 149 km
Height: 2 200 m
Percentage: 70% gravel
Style: Gravel Riding
Designer: Michael O’Dwyer
Dalarna is a large county in the middle of Sweden. Think of it as the link between the more populated south and the wild north. It’s where so many of the great Swedish traditionals were born. It’s where the Swedish mountains start to form. It’s where our adventure is found.
As so often in Sweden, great gravel roads lead to dead ends as they were mostly built to allow transport in and out of forests and mining districts. These roads don’t often lead anywhere. But for us, they lead to adventure. At the end of the gravel roads of this tour we find the links to bring us on the next stage. Obviously, these gravel roads are perfectly suited to gravel bikes. Most, but not all, are actually car grade gravel. The difficulty of this tour is in the links. These are mostly light mountain biking grades.
If starting the tour at the start point on the map the first link is actually more of a forgotten farmers lane more than single track. In the dry and with good fitness it would be ridable, a challenging up hill test. ( it’s the only up hill link of the tour if you run it anti-clockwise ). When you think its all over you will get the option to make a final push up to the Rösåsen utsiktstorn. A fantastic enclosed tower with epic view. Worth the effort.
The second link is more challenging with some harder parts. Experienced mtb-ers won’t think twice about these sections but the gravel-er’s will walk for 100meters or so. This link can be skipped but you would miss the water crossing!
The third link, which is after Borlänge, is a super good gentle downhill single track. Very ridable even on a gravel bike.
The fourth link is the most challenging. After a long climb up to the highest point on the tour, ( 415m ) the wide gravel road just ends. But by trusting the wooden marking poles and pushing your bike through the heather you’ll manage to quickly find your way to more rideable trails. It’s more mtb territory but it’s short lived. The entire link is about 400meters long.
Scenic gravel roads will take you around to where we slept for the nice at Tansjärn. This is a privately owned fishing lake with a beautiful log cabin on its shores equipped with an indoor fireplace, an outdoor toilet and bins. I have requested more information from Dalarna kommun about who owns the hut and if it’s an open free hut. They are yet to answer. I’ll update this post once I have more info. But, take it for now that if it’s empty you can sleep in it. If there are paying guest fishing in the lake they would get first choice. There is a second shelter on the west side of the lake. Whichever side of the lake you stay on it is important we show Grangärde Fiske the respect they deserve.
The second part of the tour starts off with easy riding. Long gravel roads lead you down to Tuna-Hästberg and it’s adventure mines. If you have the time, a visit to the mine could be a great add-on to the tour.
After crossing over the 50 road ( don’t forget to close the gate! ) the adventure starts again. Excellent tight gravel roads bring you around to the base of Romme Alpin Ski Mountain. If you are riding this route during the winter season it might be better to take the gravel road to the south of Storra Dammsjön instead of riding past the skiers on the slopes.
An easy link takes you to the final part of the trip. Those of us living in Stockholm and southern Sweden will be starting to feel the toll of all the climbing with two more grueling sections to tackle. All very ridable but steep. It might feel like a needless detour but taking the south route around Gruvsjön is definitely worth it. Not only are the trails super but it brings you around to the highlight of the tour, Östra Silvberg gruva. The turquoise waters of the abandoned mine will have you using up the last of your phone battery trying to capture its beauty. You might be tempted to jump in for a swim despite the fact that this 200meter deep lake is lined with sunken cars and forgotten chemical barrels. It’s probably best not to drink the water!
After the mine it’s an easy cruise back down to the 70 and to the start of the tour. The ramble is complete.
NB: We started the tour in Gustafs as it was an easy place to park our cars. Borlänge town would also mark a great starting point with the lookout tower and water crossing being the end of the tour. By riding the tour anti-clockwise nearly all the climbing is made on gravel roads with the descents being the more challenging parts. A rigid mountain bike would be the best option for this route. Despite what GPS planning programmes might say, it’s 2 200m of climbing so go light!