Klarälven is a typical example of a very old river, searching its way through the primary rocks for decades and decades, bringing species of rocks and sand, as heading towards Vänern. Large amounts of different natural materials are still freighted in the water masses of the river; in the winter time an estimated mass of 20 to 25 Tons of stratuma goes down the river each day. In the spring flood you even estimate about 5.000 (!) Tons per day.
After the withdrawal of the inland ice and the thus following forming of the great lake Vänern, the river Klarälven slowly started to dig its groove through the forests of Värmland. In these ancient times Klarälven discharged itself into Vänern close to Kristinehamn though, since changing its ways with the lapse of time, nowadays the mouth of the river is to be found by Karlstad, many miles further west than originally.
Together with Göta älv Klarälven makes out the longest river basin of Sweden – all together 720 kilometres. The river springs in Härjedalen and the area around Lake Femunden, soon growing large and strong. With great power the river runs through Norway, here under the name of Trysil Älv. Still strong, the river – as crossing the swedish border called Klarälven – runs through northern Värmland, passing the village Sysslebäck and a bit further south forming the river-lake Vingängsjön. At this lake, one can still observe the 50 metres high terraces; remainings of an ancient bay as the sea was still reaching the inner parts of Sweden.
At the southern part of the lake the slow river run of Klarälven begins. From here on you can enjoy 110 kilometres uninfluenced river! The evenly repeating curves have contributed to the many sandy beaches at the beautiful riversides. Slowly the current is heading south, with about 2 kilometres per hour. In the northern part you will find a narrow valley with the forested mountains directly at the riverside. Further southwards the landscape flattens and opens up for agricultural use, meadows and tilled land.
During the 20st century the natural environments in the southern parts of the river – from Gunnerud down to Karlstad – have changed, as a result of human influence. Creating dams and building power stations forever have disturbed the natural rapids of the river and the only remaining original rapid in Klarälven is Strängsforsen, a bit north of Sysslebäck.
In 1960 the largest pond and power station in Värmland was built in Höljes. With its constructed drop of 88 metres the pond was not only built to produce power, but also to harness the spring floods. In spite of this, large areas of the Klarälvenvalley were flooded in 1995, placing also the campsite ‘Klarälvens Caming’ nearby Stöllet completely under water.
Along the river you find the ancient road of the pilgrims, used as they struggled through Sweden and Norway to finally reach Nidaros (today Trondheim) and the holy sepulchre with the mortal remains of Saint Olov. For about 500 years this was the highest frequented road in Sweden. The pilgrimages have set their mark on the surroundings of Klarälven; you always will find the churches one day’s foot march apart. These did not only fulfill an religious aim, but were also used as a shelter for the night, safely secluded from wild animals and robbers. Around the churches small villages and market places naturally appeared, reminding us of the ancient times through many pilgrim names still remaining.