Tannforsen (or more accurately Tännforsen) was quite possibly our favorite waterfall in Sweden.
Squeezed between two big lakes (Tännsjön and Våmviken), the outflow of Tännsjön runs on Åreälven and drops over a series of precipices with a reported height of 38m over a width of some 60m with a peak recorded flow of 791 cubic meters per second.
Such dimensions apparently emboldened the local authorities to proclaim this to be Sweden’s largest waterfall by volume (at least according to the many signs in the area).
Further adding to the scenic allure of this waterfall was that it was unregulated and wild as it was meant to be so we didn’t see ugly power lines, power pylons, dam walls, nor giant buildings in the immediate area.
Since 1971, Tännforsen and its immediate surroundings became a nature reserve so it appeared the falls will remain wild and free for the foreseeable future barring a dramatic shift in political climate and will.
Our experience at the falls consisted of a handful of overlooks that allowed us to enjoy each aspect of the waterfall’s drop from its brink all the way down to its outflow.
We also happened to come at the right time of day to get nearly full arcing double rainbows fronting the Tännforsen.
Brief History of Tännforsen
According to the signs here, the Tannforsen waterfall bedrock originated from the hardened remnants of the Scandinavian mountain range around a half-billion years ago.
The lakes surrounding this bedrock’s drop just so happened to be arranged such that one lake drained into the other.
This would be very much like the way pumped storage energy plants would work except in this case, Mother Nature “pumped” the water into the upper lake in the form of precipitation.
The natural lakes were likely the result of (or at least aided by) depressions caused by the weight of glacial ice.
With the resistance of the bedrock to erosion, the falls would retain its ledge and thus have perpetual waterfall for as long as the Tännsjön would have water.
More recently, Tännforsen was noticed by pilgrims in the 19th century making their trek to the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.
These pilgrims walked on a route that I believe was part of the Mittnordensleden, which eventually became absorbed into the longer coast-to-coast walk of St Olavsleden.
Other more well-off people in King Karl XIV Johan’s time had the resources to visit these falls for pleasure around the same time period.
Since 1906, Svenska Turistföreningen made more improvements in facilities and road access to Tännforsen, which ultimately enabled the general population to experience the falls.
Our Tännforsen Experience
Although there were several walking trails that looped from the car park area (see directions below) to the falls, we took the shortest path in the middle.
It was the one that branched to the right of the interpretive signs but to the left of the Tännforsen Tourist Station.
This short, shaded, and flat path led us 200m to some short series of steps at the nearest overlook for the “Vattenfallet”, which looked right across the uppermost and main drop of the Tännforsen Waterfall.
We also managed to get quite an in-your-face look at the uppermost drop of the falls itself as well as the outflow into the Våmviken lake.
Space was limited at this overlook as it was quite a popular spot for taking pictures.
A little higher up on the main trail from this overlook, there was a more spacious lookout right at the brink of the waterfall.
Although the views from here weren’t as great, the wide open overlook did allow more people to simultaneously share the experience.
After having our fill of the falls from the top of the waterfall, we then walked down a sloping trail that took us to a lower lookout that perhaps gave us the most satisfying view of Tännforsen.
This was where we witnessed a bold double-rainbow arcing across the base of the waterfall while seeing the entire main drop in full context.
In fact, the picture you see at the top of this page was taken from this spot.
Finally, after having our fill of this lookout, we then went all the way to the lowermost lookout at the lowest point of all walking paths in the reserve.
It sat right on a rocky protrusion near the head of the Våmviken lake so it wasn’t a formal lookout with railings per se.
That said, we did get to look upstream towards the main drop of Tännforsen in context with the surrounding cliffs as well as the intermediate cascades in between.
After having our fill of this spot, we then walked back up the slopes to return to the car park.
Overall, we wound up spending about an hour away from the car.
Tännforsen was in the municipality of Åre. The municipality belonged to the county of Jämtland. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you may want to try the local municipality website.
Since we made our visit to Tännforsen from Östersund, I’ll describe the driving directions from there.
We basically just drove for about 106km along the E14 heading west towards the Norwegian border.
At the end of this 106km stretch (after reaching the west end of Duved), we saw a sign pointing to our right for Tännforsen.
So we turned right to go onto the Route 322, where we then drove for a little over 6km to the next signed turnoff for Tännforsen.
We took this turnoff and went the remaining 2km to the car park at the Tännforsen Tourist Station.
Overall, this drive would take us about 90 minutes, but since Ristafallet was along the way, it took us a bit longer than that.
The car park had to pay and display the 20 SEK per hour fee (as of our July 2019 visit).
If you happened to be coming from the other direction from the Swedish-Norwegian border at Storlien, we would drive about 46km east on the E14 to the Tännforsen turnoff on the left.
For geographic context, Östersund was about 101km (about 90 minutes drive) south of Strömsund, 159km (about 2 hours drive) east of Storlien, 263km (about 3.5 hours drive) east of Trondheim, Norway, and 557km (well over 6 hours drive) northwest of Stockholm.
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