Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Friluftsled Kleven

Hallo Lighthouse and the rocky coastline of Kleven
2 km loop, 50 meters elevation gain
Difficulty: Easy-moderate
Access: Paved road to trailhead, limited (paid) parking at Smogen

The town of Smogen captures the essence of Sweden's idyllic Bohuslan Coast with its neat rows of red-roofed houses and seafood cafes spread out over a rocky, windspread island on the North Sea coast. A narrow waterway separates Smogen from Kleven, a rocky granite islet that is an excellent spot to explore the natural seaside scenery of this coastline. While some hikes are enjoyable because they provide a wilderness experience, the Friluftsled Kleven- the Kleven Nature Trail- is enjoyable because of its proximity to Smogen and its many charms. This loop trail alternates between traveling through the rocky heart of the island and following its rugged coastline and provides many pretty views of the town of Smogen. Although short and generally easy, this hike does require a good deal of walking across sometimes uneven rock surfaces, stopping just short of needing rock scrambling in places.

Anna and I stopped in Smogen and hiked the Friluftsled Kleven during a trip to Sweden in which we drove from Stockholm across the country to Gothenburg, spending our last day before reaching Gothenburg exploring the rocky shoreline and fishing harbors of the Bohuslan Coast.

Smogen is just under a two-hour drive from Gothenburg, but the Bohuslan Coast is so charming that you should plan to spend at least one night in the area and enjoy the long summer days. From Gothenburg, follow Freeway E6 north to exit 101, then take Route 162 west, then Route 171 and Route 174 to reach Kungshamn; then cross the grand Smogenbron to reach the island of Smogen. Once on Smogen, follow Storgatan to the parking area in the heart of the town; here, turn right onto Brunnsgatan and follow it until it turns into Klevenvagen, passing by the end of the inlet along Smogenbryggan and a mini-golf place. The road crosses a small bridge to pass from Smogen onto Kleven; once on Kleven, there is a medium-sized lot on the right side of the road with room for about 70 cars. In summer, a fee is charged for parking; since we came in the off season, parking was free. There were restrooms about 20 meters back along Klevenvagen on the opposite side of the road; the area around the restrooms had a particularly picturesque view of a series of colorful boatsheds along the harbor of Smogenbryggan, which is one of the most iconic spots in Smogen. If the main parking lot is full when you arrive, you can also park in the lot in the center of town and walk over to the trailhead along the Smogenbryggan boardwalk.

Colorful Smogenbryggan
The trail started just slightly further down Klevenvagen from the parking lot: a sign marked the start of the trail, which broke off to the right from the road and headed into a cleft cut into the rounded granite outcrops that are so characteristic of the Bohuslan Coast. A short fifty meter stretch of trail brought us to a pond nestled amidst the granite landscape; the trail followed a boardwalk suspended above the pond, hugging the side of a granite cliff.

Boardwalk above a pond on Kleven
The trail wrapped around the west side of the pond, traveling across open granite after the end of the boardwalk. We followed the trail across a low hill and came out to wonderful views of the sea, with the island of Hallo and its distinctive red and white lighthouse visible in the distance. 

Hallo lighthouse and the Kleven coastline
The trail then descended via some small wooden staircases down towards the water; just before reaching a small inlet, we came to a trail junction. The main loop trail headed to the left while the spur trail to the right led towards the rocky headlands on the southwest corner of Kleven. We chose to take the spur first, which headed up the barren granite hills. There was not a well-defined trail here; we simply aimed for the base of a wooden staircase that led to the top of the rocky hill.

Once at the top of the wooden staircase, we had open, sweeping views of the Bohuslan Coast and the Smogen area. The view east gave us impressive views of the pink granite cliffs of Kleven rising above the North Sea coastline. If the granite cliffs in this view appear a bit unnaturally abrupt, that's because they are: this was once a granite quarry.

Granite cliffs of Kleven
We followed the east-west granite ridge here to the west and came to the southwest corner of Kleven. Whereas most of the easily-accessible Bohuslan coastline have very calm waters due to the protection of the mainland coast by outlying islands, at the far end of Kleven, which is relatively unprotected, we saw the waves of the North Sea crashing ashore against the granite rocks.

Waves of the North Sea wash against the rocky coastline of Kleven
Returning down the wooden staircase to the junction with the loop trail, we took the right fork and continued along the loop. The trail crossed a small valley and then climbed up to the top of the granite cliffs on the other side of the small bay. The trail became somewhat less well defined here, although blazes on the rock helped keep us on the right general path. As the trail traveled exclusively over the granite outcrop, there were multiple points where it was almost necessary to use our hands- this was not intense rock scrambling, but some visitors may feel they need support than their legs can provide.

Rocky landscape of Kleven
The rocky landscape here rewarded us with sweeping views of the ocean and across Kleven's rocky heart to the town of Smogen itself. The town's church steeple soared above the neat rows of white-walled, red-roofed houses that are so distinctive to this part of the Swedish coast. On the coast side, sweeping views extended towards the North Sea on one side and towards the Hallo Lighthouse and the multitude of rocky islets that dot the Bohuslan Coast on the other side.

Smogen views from Kleven

Hallo Lighthouse

Rocky Kleven and the Bohuslan Coast
The path traveled across open granite along Kleven's south coast until the trail markers began leading back inland. After the trail turned away from the coast and traveled inland across the rolling granite, we quickly arrived back at a narrow paved road at the gate of the Smogen Diving Center; we followed the road through a cleft in the rock and emerged next to a boat storage facility on Klevenvagen at 1.5 km into the hike. Turning left onto Klevenvagen, we took the sidewalk along this street back to the trailhead parking area, where we closed the loop after 2 km of hiking.

After we finished the hike, we drove over to the fisherman's harbor at the end of Fiskhamnsgatan, just southeast of the center of town. We ate a later lunch at Gostas Fiskekrog Restaurang, where Anna enjoyed a heaping appetizer of fresh local shrimp. All in all, we found Smogen extremely charming and thought this hike on Kleven was a lovely way to sample the beauty of Sweden's Bohuslan Coast.

No comments:

Post a Comment