The hilly and wild forest landscape, the beautiful lakes, the giant boulders at Stenkälla, the view from the Trollkyrka mountains and the white beach at Vitsand make Tiveden one of the most remarkable national parks in Sweden.
The age and huge size of the forest and the untamed landscape give Tiveden its character and are compelling reasons for its protection. Large unbroken areas of ancient forest are very rare in southern Sweden, but in Tiveden, the forests have not been affected by the large-scale forestry of the last few decades. Instead, they are allowed to return slowly to a state resembling that of a virgin forest.
Tiveden is situated on granite bedrock. When the earth´s crust imploded 900-1,400 million years ago, forming the huge basin that is now Lake Vättern the bedrock of Tiveden was also shattered to form the crisscross pattern now typical of the park´s landscape. Lakes and bogs have formed in the lowland areas between the remnants of shattered bedrock. Dotted around the park are steep rocky summits where the bedrock has remained intact.
The glaciers of the Ice Age, which melted some 11 000 years ago, also left their mark on the landscape. Loose boulders were borne along with fragments breaking away from glaciers and now lie scattered over the bedrock. Most of the largest boulders came to rest in narrow fault valleys. Stenkälla is one such example. As the ice melted it washed away almost all loose material (except for the largest boulders) out into the glacial sea, which was lower than the surrounding land. Consequently, the soil layer in the park is very thin. In many places the bedrock lies as bare as it did when it was exposed by the retreating ice.
Slow growth in harsh conditions
The nutrient-poor bedrock and the thin soil provide only a sparse existence for plants and animals. Only pines can grow on the rocky ground and then only very slowly. In some places the ground is covered by reindeer moss (which is in fact, not a moss, but a lichen). Berry-bearing plants can take root where there is a little soil. Spruce grows where the soil is still deeper. But there are very few deciduous trees. Species such as hepatica (Anemone hepatica) and hazel (Corylus avelana) are only found in a few places.
Animals and plants
Families of moose and deer are scattered throughout the area. Foxes, badgers, martens and squirrels are also present. Capercaillie, or wood grouse (Tetrao urogallus), Tengmalm’s owl (Aegolius funereus) and other birds thriving in ancient forest are to be found here. One such species is the three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus), here at the southernmost limit of its range. Tiveden is an area where the ranges of several northerly and southerly species overlap. For example, dwarf birch (Betula nana) is here found in the boggy areas, but is otherwise mostly confined to northern Sweden.
The national park area has never been inhabited. However, small farmsteads were established a kilometre or so from what is now the park boundary during a period of migration in the sevententh century. Livestock graced in the forest. The area was also used for collecting firewood and timber and for tar production. Charcoal was produced in Tiveden throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for the nearby blast furnaces at Granvik and Igelbäcken. The remains of numerous charcoal-burning piles can still be seen in the park. Organised forestry began in the park area in the nineteenth century. The present forest has been felled many times over since then. It was only when less wood was cut for fuel after the end of the Second World War that forestry declined in the Tiveden area.
Towards a virgin forest
Charred wood can be found just beneath the surface nearly everywhere in the park, bearing testimony to a large forest fire which ravaged the area in 1835. The present forest has grown since then and other smaller fires in the nineteenth century. Here and there, for example at Stenkälla and Trollkyrka, the remains of a generation of 200-year old pines can be found. Many of them bear the scares of forest fires. The fires could have been caused by man, of course, but fires where a natural phenomenon in the virgin forest. They cleared the way for a new generation. The forests of the park have been exploited and changed by man for much of the twentieth century. Entire stands bear the mark of man, either because they were planted or because they have grown following clear-felling. Nevertheless, a substantial proportion of the park´s forests have much in common with true virgin forest. They are not the result of plant breeding in some distant nursery. They have been sown in the ashes of the burnt area and have germinated from the cones of older trees surviving the fire. In one or two hundered years they will look very much like virgin forests found here 400 years ago, before man arrived and exploited the forest. The importance of the park as a refuge for plants and animals will increase as the forest ages.
There are overnight facilities, fireplaces and waste disposal facilities both by the information centre and beach area. All facilities have been adapted to the needs of the handicapped. Car parks are found near the Information centre and Vitsand. Parking elsewhere is prohibited.
In total there are 25 km of marked trails. Their lengths vary from 1,5 to 15 km. Also, Bergslagsleden, the Bergslagen Trail, ranked one of Sweden’s Top 3 hiking trails, crosses the area.
Please be aware that the terrain is very hilly and hiking can be strenuous.
How to get to Tiveden
There is no public transport to the area. By car, follow the signs to Tiveden along the E20 motorway or Highway 49. Signs marked with the Historic Sites symbol show the way from Highway 49: Karlsborg-Askersund and from the routes Undenäs-Askersund and Tived-Granvik.
For more information about Tiveden National Park, please visit the Örebro County Administrative Board website (in Swedish)
Tiveden National Park in brief
Established in 1983
Area: 1 352 hectares, of which 1 216 hectares are land.
Administrative authority: Länsstyrelsen, Örebro
Welcome to the Tiveden! When visiting, please remember:
- Camping and overnight caravan stops are not allowed in the park.
- Riding and cycling is not allowed.
- Parking is only allowed at the designated car parks.
- Fires may only be lit at the designated sites.
- Plants and animals must not be harmed or disturbed in any way.
- Dogs must be kept on a lead.
- The lichens and rock surfaces are easily damaged. Therefore, please keep to the marked trails wherever possible.