The Trolltunga hike is the last walk I have planned at the end of our four-week family holiday in Norway: I hope the weather gods will look after me for one last time. Being early October, I was prepared for some cold weather but hoping it would be a dry day. Which it was – chilly, but not a cloud to be seen!
Getting to Trolltunga
Leaving Bergen in the late afternoon, I allowed three hours to reach my accommodation at Odda, the closest town to the start of the Trolltunga hike. Unfortunately, the “direct” route I chose involved two ferries… and I hadn’t allowed for a couple of long waits. My three hours became about five hours, and I arrived close to midnight at the aptly-named Trolltunga Hotel (which was very accommodating of my late arrival and efficiently checked me in with a cold beer…!). The quickest route, with the benefit of hindsight, is via the Tørvikbygd-Jondal ferry. There are public transport options, but you’d need allow full day to get there.
From Odda, it was an early morning start to reach Skjeggedal, a 17km drive via a very winding (and scenic) road. I was happy I’d started early (around 6am) and didn’t have to deal with other traffic on a road that was mostly the width of one car.
Hiking up to Trolltunga
The trail to Trolltunga starts from the carpark at the end of the road. It’s a steep climb for the first kilometre as you ascend from 425m above sea level to about 1100m, on a well-defined track. (There used to be a disused funicular that provided alternative access, by walking up the old railway tracks – this is no longer possible as the funicular tracks have been largely removed to make way for a road that is being constructed up to the plateau. A few years after my Trolltungha hike, a private road has been built up the steep Mågelia hillside which eliminates 400m of ascent and 4.3km of hiking. You can pay to park at the top carpark or take a shuttle bus.)
From the end of this initial climb, a well marked trail continues through a mostly open alpine landscape, passing by a number of lakes and crossing glacial streams. There is one more, shorter climb of 200m or so, partly on a winding, marked trail and partly up a rock face that’s marked by a series of cairns.
Water is plentiful, and in early October there were still a lot of snow on the ground. One short section of the track that is in the shade for most of the day was very icy, and having a set of microspikes or crampons would have been useful. After about 8km of walking there are the first views into the spectacular Ringedalsvatnet fjord, and a few kilometres further (at around the 11km mark) an artificial lake is reached.
Finally, Trolltunga is reached – a narrow piece of rock jutting out 700m above Lake Ringedalsvatnet. Some metal rings aid access down to the rock, which affords spectacular views. Trolltunga was rated “the most stunning place in the world to take a selfie” by Internet news and entertainment site Buzzfeed.
The walk to Trolltunga took just under five hours including breaks; the entire hike to Trolltunga and back was about eight hours (six hours of walking + breaks). This is at a fairly decent pace; I’d recommend an early start, both to give you enough time to get back in daylight and to avoid the crowds. There was one other couple that arrived just after me, and no queue to get photos from the rock, which might add an hour in peak season. On the walk back, I encountered a number of groups making their way to the rock, and that was outside peak hiking season.
Staying near Trolltunga
To get an early start, it’s worth finding accommodation close to the trail. The closest town is Tyssedal, which has six hotels. From here it’s about a 15min drive to the lower carpark. Alternatively, you can stay a little bit further way in Odda, which only adds about five minutes of driving but is is bigger town. It has nine hotels, and a few more places to eat (unless you’re arriving at midnight, as I did!)