Sweden’s High Coast: A Masterpiece of Post-Glacial Uplift

In the province of Ångermanland, between Härnösand and Örnsköldsvik, lies one of Sweden’s most stunning stretches of coastline, known as Höga Kusten, or the High Coast. Thanks to its dramatic and varied landscape of mountains, forests, bays, and islands, the region was voted Sweden’s most beautiful natural area in a 2016 poll organized by Naturskyddsföreningen (the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation).

Along the High Coast, the land rises to as much as 286 meters (938 feet) above sea level as the result of post-glacial rebound following the retreat of the great ice sheets that covered northern Europe 10,000 years ago — the highest-known level of rebound in the world. In 2006 UNESCO designated the High Coast, together with Finland’s Kvarken Archipelago, as a World Heritage site for being a place that “affords outstanding opportunities for the understanding of the important processes that formed the glaciated and land uplift areas of the Earth’s surface.” The High Coast is currently rising at a rate of about eight millimeters (0.3 inches) per year.


With its diverse nature, the High Coast is ideal for many types of outdoor recreation. The visitor center (naturum), located along highway E4 north of Docksta, makes a good starting point for exploration and is open from April 1 to October 1.

IMG_8496To the west of highway E4 rises Skuleberget, the highest point on the High Coast. Several trails lead up the mountain on either side. Alternatively, visitors can take the ski lift to the top from the south side of Skuleberget, near the FriluftsByn outdoor activity village. Those seeking a bit more adventure can explore one of Europe’s most extensive via ferrata networks, with four different climbing routes of varying levels of difficulty along Skuleberget’s eastern cliff face.

For hiking enthusiasts, the Höga Kustenleden trail provides abundant opportunities for exploration. Stretching for 128 kilometers (79.5 miles), through varied terrain, the trail is divided into 13 sections, each of which offers at least one accommodation option ranging from simple cottages and camping cabins to hotels and inns. Of course, it’s not necessary to hike the entire length of Höga Kustenleden. The starting and ending points of each trail section are accessible by car, making each section suitable as a day hike or overnight trip.

The shoreline of the High Coast is dotted with excellent swimming beaches and pretty centuries-old fishing villages such as Bönhamn and Norrfällsviken. At Rotsidan, a 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) stretch of coastline has been worn over the millennia into smooth, flat stones ideal for sunbathing.

Ulvöhamn. Photo courtesy of www.ulvon.info
Ulvöhamn. Photo courtesy of www.ulvon.info

The islands of the High Coast region also make appealing destinations for day trips or longer getaways. The passenger ferry M/F Ulvön provides year-round boat service from Köpmanholmen to Ulvön, Trysunda, and Strängön in the Örnsköldsvik archipelago. One of the most popular destinations is Ulvön, where you’ll find fishing villages with traditional wooden houses, as well as varied nature including meadows, woodlands, ponds, and beaches. Various walking trails crisscross the island, and bike rentals are also available.

Another alternative for boat trips to the islands is Höga Kusten Båtarna, which offer daily summer service to Ulvön from Ullånger, Docksta, and Mjällomslandet. There’s also boat service from Barsta and Bönhamn to the island of Högbonden, designated a nature reserve together with the nearby islands of Höglosmen and Furan. Although there are no villages on Högbonden, the island is home to a historic lighthouse from 1909. The former lighthouse keeper’s house is now a hostel.

At the southern end of the High Coast, Höga Kustenbron (the High Coast Bridge) spans the mighty Ångermanälven river, rising 182 meters (597 feet) at its highest point. Inaugurated in December 1997, it’s Sweden’s longest suspension bridge, with a total length of 1,877 meters (6,125 feet).


Published May 10, 2018


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