Welcome to Vargavidderna

Photo from Vargavidderna
Turn off the E 20 motorway south of Laxå, continue for eight kilometres and you suddenly find yourself in the least densely populated part of the county, an area of wild terrain.

The Vargavidderna nature reserve contains extensive areas of bogs, old forests, and the nutrient-poor Lake Gryten with its large rocks sticking up above the water level. The surrounding forest is also full of large stone blocks (erratics) and rock clusters, strongly influencing the landscape. Over the dark water of Lake Gryten, the osprey can be seen diving for fish.  Marked paths lead from the car park out into the nature reserve. One path leads out onto the peat bog on springy duckboards, allowing visitors to stroll through low-density pine stands with the stinging scent of Labrador tea in the air.

Wind shelter

At Högskogs stormosse and Södra Åsmossen there is a fine shelter and a bird-watching tower. Around 15 black grouse unashamedly carry out their courting rituals here during the spring. The golden plover’s haunting cry, the trumpeting of cranes and, on mild early summer evenings, the common snipe’s mating call like neighing horses can be heard. Winter offers great opportunities for fine ski tours over the bogs with the warmth of the February sun on the face. Out on the bogs, the westerly bog asphodel (rare in the county) and cross-leaved heath grow, as well as the Dactylorhiza sphagnicola orchid.

The eastern path takes you round Lake Gryten through large areas of old coniferous forest, largely undisturbed for the past hundred years.

Forest fires are nature’s own way of rejuvenating forest, and there are still traces today of many forest fires. Some old pines have survived five forest fires during their lifetime. Other parts of the area display a mosaic of different forest types, from swampy forest around the large wetlands to the scented Labrador tea forests on the peat, and well-managed pine and spruce forest on solid ground. Some of these will be burned and then left to develop naturally.

Effects of man

The Gryten area has been worked by man for more than 300 years. Naturally, this has left its mark, especially in the forest, which was owned first by the large ironworks and then by forestry companies. Extremely old trees can only be found on peatlands and in inaccessible areas.

There are many charcoal pits of varying ages. Charcoal production in the area was intensive and went on as late as the 1940s. Near the nature reserve are the ruins of the Högskog building, where the remains of an unusually big tar pile can be seen. Many generations used the Högskog bog for hay making into the 1900s and maps from the mid-19th century show no fewer than twelve hay barns on the bog.

How to get there

The nature reserve lies approximately 8 km northwest of Laxå and approximately 9 km north of Finnerödja. There is a sign to the nature reserve from the E 20 motorway, immediately north of Finnerödja, approximately 11 km west of Laxå.

In the nature reserve, you are not permitted to:

  • damage the ground surface or disturb animals
  • pick flowers, lichens and wood-decay fungi or damage vegetation in any other way such as by picking or digging up plants
  • carve on dry wood and bark or damage fallen trees
  • light fires except in designated barbecues
  • camp, drive motor vehicles or cycle
  • use boats or canoes in the period 1 April–31 July
  • fish with any other equipment than a rod, and from land or from ice
  • set up notice boards, placards, signs, inscriptions or similar
  • set up orienteering control points or mark trails with paper strips
  • collect insects or other invertebrates without permission from the County Administrative Board

 Fact sheet


Established: 1999

Area: 494 ha

Landowner: Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

Managed by: County Administrative Board

Established by: County Administrative Board

The area is part of the EU network Natura 2000

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