When it comes to natural environments, there is no greater mark of quality than the national park designation. Åsnen National Park was established in 2018, signifying officially that the natural characteristics of the region are unique and internationally noteworthy. Åsnen National Park is approx. 19 square kilometres, and about 75% thereof is water.
The mosaic of various types of environments offers a majestic minglig of northern and southern. White-tailed eagles, ospreys and black-throated divers meet bitterns, red kites and red-breasted flycatchers. Moose, otters and lynx are found here too, as are req squirrels and roe deer.
Old broadleaf forests with rare mosses, lichens and fungi blend with taiga conifer forests, lingonberry brush and marshland. Many of the environments host birds, plants and insects that are rare or absent elsewhere because of how the landscape has changed.
Åsnen National Park is also home to a distinctive, atmospheric archipelago. Silence envelops uninhabited islands and islets that have long remained unaffected by human activity, old trees are reflected in the dark lake.
Through the establishment of this national park, several of these environments have been made accessible. The park offers a generous range of powerful experiences. Canoe through the Åsnen waterworld. Stroll through the teeming broadleaf forest in spring, recharging your batteries with thrush song, lung lichen and wood anemones. Or go down to the lake shore, watch the spring sunset and listen to the whooshing wing beats of the goldeneye, whilst owls hoot as the stars light up the March sky.
A number of destinations in the park have numerous amenities, everything from rest stops, toilets and firepits to colour marked walking trails and lakeside wooden decks, where you can unpack your picnic basket or just enjoy the view of Åsnen’s islands and waters.
The main entrance to the national park is found at Sunnabron by the strait outside Åsnen’s largest island, Sirkön. Walking trails lead on to nearby Bjurkärr, one of Sweden’s most valuable and biodiverse broadleaf forests with a rich bird life and an internationally remarkable presence of rare insects, mosses and lichens.
On Åsnen’s western beach lies the national park entrance at Trollberget, providing a pocket edition of the entire Åsnen area, with everything from broadleaves to pines, spruces, a lake beach and marshy forest, in a small area. The crevice where the trolls used to celebrate Christmas and the Skogsslingan walking trail with its five forest kingdoms are also popular with children and families.
In the southern part of Åsnen National Park lies Toftåsa myr, with calling cranes, bilberry brush, courting black grouse and a northernly atmosphere.
To reach the national park archipelago you will need either a boat or a kayak – getting around can e quite an arduous task. Here you will find wilderness and uninhabited islands with no amenities. On Bergön, a walking trail leads from old pastures to a mixed old-growth forest. Södra Aspö has no amenities, but you are welcome to explore its broadleaf forest and ancient fields by yourself. Please note that local bird life is highly sensitive. From April 1 to July 31, access is prohibited to the northern parts of Bergön, to protect breeding birds. The same applies to the northern parts of Södra Aspö, as well as several other of Åsnen’s islands.
Text by Mikael Persson, one of the authors of the nature guide book, ÅSNEN Nature, National Park and Wildlife in South Sweden – a Travel Guide.