Hiking Along the Ofot Line
(Björnfjell - Katterat, 11 km one way, 1992, 1995)
The Ofot Line (in Norway) or Malmbanan (in Sweden) between Kiruna and Narvik was built in 1903 to transport the iron ore from the mines in Kiruna and nearby cities to the harbour of Narvik. Ore trains as well as passenger trains operate on this line. Kiruna is connected to Stockholm for instance by a comfortable night train, and I hope to use this train in one of the next years.
In 1992 we were in Kiruna for the first time, and the old style electro locomotives were very common, pulling trains with iron ore from Kiruna to Narvik. We spent some days in Abisko, before we started to hike down the Kungsleden. A path along the railroad in the Norwegian mountains seemed to be good for a day hike. Since then, the old construction road has been revived for touristic use, and the name "Rallarvägen" is now used similar to the one around Finse in southern Norway (see index page). Different tours are offered for tourists from Narvik with special trains in the summer, you can, for instance, go with a tourist train to Björnfjell, hike down down to the Rombaksfjord and return with a boat to Narvik. They are organized by the Statskog Troms (Forest Department). Call for instance the Tourist Office in Narvik (+47 82 43 309). Several historic places can be visited in Sweden. At least parts of the "Rallarvägen" in Sweden are good for biking, but I have not tried that yet. If someone has experience, please tell me, and I will include the information here.
We started our hike in Björnfjell. You can reach it with one of the trains or with a car. Use, for instance, the BD6 (Abisko-Kebnekaise-Narvik) Map.You can expect rain with a high probability. Abisko has less rain than, for instance, Frankfurt in the middle of Germany, because it is in the shadow of the coastal mountains. But in the mountains around Riksgränsen there is a lot of rain.
Although it rained, it was a nice tour along the railroad line down to Katterat and back to Björnfjell. The distance Björnfjell-Katterat is 11 km. You can do it one way and take a train for the other. Most of the old electro locomotives are out of operation now, I saw only one in 1996.
Three passenger trains per day operate between Kiruna and Narvik. This train is just leaving Abisko Tourist station. It is possible to go to Narvik in the morning, visit the city and return in the evening.
At lot of rain in summer means good snow in winter. The season is long, and when we were skiing in Riksgränsen in the March of 1995, the trains were frequented with ski tourists.