Trolltunga! Mesmerizing! Follow our tips to make the most out of your visit. When is the best time? Mid-June until early September are the most pleasant months for hiking and seeing the spectacular scenic cliffs. However, it gets very crowded up there. Read on for our detailed description of weather conditions, how to avoid the crowds and a full season guide. Updated 2019! Scroll down further or jump directly to our must-know tips, hiking details, camping tips, and more! Looking for a place to stay? Our Hotel Tips for Trolltunga can help you.
Spring | Late March - April - May | Guided Hiking | It’s still snow season (hiking tours with snowshoes). A guided tour is recommended. Sometimes groups who hiked in April on their own, had to turn around: Freezing, too much snow and trail markings (red ‘T’s) were snow covered. In May experienced hikers report that the hike is doable alone but still challenging due to the snow. We suggest guided hiking tours throughout spring. You can find the official Trolltunga Active A.S. (they are the best!) hikes here: Trolltunga Tours & Hikes Booking in advance is highly recommended!
Summer| June - July - August - Mid-September | Self-Guided Hiking | Peak season! The best weather and terrain conditions are from mid-June until early September. The trail is well marked and can be done without guides. However, if you're very unexperienced a guided hike is recommended. The downside is the crowds at Trolltunga and on the trail as well. At the cliffs, it’s not unlikely to wait in the queue for 1-2 hours until you can take your photos.
Autumn | Mid-September - Mid-October | Guided Hiking | Already a high chance of new snow and rough weather. Guided tours are highly recommended. Recently in late September, a group had to be rescued by the Red Cross before they would have frozen to death. They went in bad weather. If you want to go alone: Check weather conditions constantly, listen to the locals and prepare with the right gear and clothing.
Winter | Mid-October - Mid-March | Guided Hiking Only | Off-season! DANGER, extremely rough conditions. Life-threatening even for experienced hikers. UPDATE 2019: Somehow the tourist information center 'Visit Odda' changed their mind about hiking in the winter. Now, they say you can hike even in the winter, but only with very experienced guides from Trolltunga Active. See their new infographic here: Trolltunga Hiking Seasons And the official tour by Trolltunga Active: Winter Snowshoe Hike
Avoiding the Crowds
You have three viable options to dodge crowds on the trail as well as avoiding long waiting times to take a photo at Trolltunga:
Start very early around 6 AM or even better at 5 AM. (If you want to drive the new road (see below), be in Skjeggedal at 6 a.m. when the road 'opens') Hikers who start at 5 AM and arrive around 9 AM usually only see a fewothers up there, even in July / August. You’ll only wait less than 15 minutes to take your photos, compared to an hour!
Bring a tent for camping and stay overnight. That way you can experience a quiet sunset and sunrise without the crowds of day hikers.
Go in shoulder season, either April/May or Sept/Oct. Rougher conditions but fewer people.
Sweet Spot Months
Try the sweet spot time between EARLY JUNE until MID-JUNE: Still, some snow on the ground but no guide needed. Mostly pleasant conditions and much less crowded than in late June, July, and August.
Trolltunga (‘Troll tongue’) is a popular rock ledge about 700 meters / 2,300 ft above the north side of the lake Ringedalsvatnetone. It’s one of the most scenic places in Europe and the most spectacular cliffs in Norway. Some say they have never seen anything more beautiful.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How difficult is the hike? If you choose the classic start (see above), then there is 4 km of strenuous hiking ahead of you. The last 6-7 km are of moderate difficulty. If you are not trained or not an experience hiker, some weeks for getting in shape before your visit is recommended. Tip: Don't plan a hike the day after, since your ankles and knees will probably ache.
- Do I need a guide? In spring and autumn a guided tour is highly recommended since you have to deal with snow and sometimes rough weather conditions. We'd never go without a guide during that time. The tour operator also provides you with snowshoes. Keep in mind that the weather can make this hike very dangerous, Also, the trail markings are snow-covered. In the summer months you don't need a guide. The trail markings are visible (red T's) and most of the area is snow free.
- Which trail (first part) should I choose? (Classic vs Gravel Road): The least strenuous way is to skip the first 4 km by getting to the higher parking lot by car on the new gravel road (scroll down for more information). However, you need to start very early (road opens 6 a.m.) since there is only space for 30 cars. The second 'easiest' way is hiking up the gravel road to the new parking lot and then continue on the usual trail. It's less picturesque than the classic first part through the forest but also less difficult. If you are fit or an experienced hiker, we recommend the full classic trail without 'cheating' the first 4 km.
Must-Know Tips (Hiking Gear / Cloth / Food / Weather)
- Waterproof Hiking Shoes: These are a must, as you'll be hiking on mud, snow as well as all kinds of slippery terrain. That's why you should wear boots/shoes with very good traction. A pair which keeps the water out is a big advantage (our recommendation: Merrell Men's Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot)
- 2 Extra Pairs of Socks: Regardless of the best hiking boots, your socks can get wet on this trail. And even if no water enters your boots, they might get wet from sweat. Bring 2 extra pairs and your feet will thank you, since you can change easily two times.
- Layers of Clothes: If choose the classic first part of the hiking trail, you'll definitely sweat on the those 4 km and want to change. Additionally, it's a lot colder up there in the mountains compared the temperature when you leave your car. That means you should definitely bring additional layers. Also leave some clothes in the car. You might also bring a pair of gloves.
- Waterproof Jacket: In the spring and autumn you have to wear an appropriate jacket which is warm enough. However, even in the summer it should be wind- and waterproof as the weather is unpredictable there. (our recommendation: Columbia Men's Glennaker Lake Front-Zip Rain Jacket or Columbia Women's Switchback II Jacket)
- Food & Water: Bring plenty of food since it's a full day hike. For water you'll only need a bottle (Hydro Flask) and fill it up on the hike. There are many safe sources for drinking water along the trail.
- Check Weather Forecast: Alway check the weather forecast right before you go. Additionally ask the locals and listen to them. Even in the summer, don't hike this trail in very strong wind or heavy rain.
- Start Early: Follow our detailed tips above and start as early as possible. Later on Trolltunga will be packed and the queue at the cliff will be very long.
- Use Restrooms: As there are no restrooms along the trail, you should use those at the carpark. However, on a hike which takes 10 hours (round-trip) you have to 'do' something near the trail anyway
- Other Recommended Gear: Map and compass / GPS, sunglasses and sunscreen, knife and matches, emergency shelter
Classic Hike (Overview)
As of 2017 there are basically three options to start the classic Trolltunga hike. You always begin this iconic hiking adventure in Skjeggedal:
- Standard Route (see graph above): You drive to the parking lot in Skjeggedal. Parking fee is NOK 200/day. The hike through the traditional forest route starts right there. Especially the first section up until the 4 km sign is very strenuous.
- Gravel Road (with car): The new gravel road opened in 2017. You drive the same way (from Odda or Tyssedal) to Skjeggedal. However, instead of parking there you continue to drive on the new gravel road to a higher parking lot: Youtube Video - New Trolltunga Road. Now start hiking on the classic trail until you reach Trolltunga (about 4 hours). That way you save about 4 km (the first part) of strenuous hiking. Find details about the new road and parking lot in the section below.
- Gravel Road (hike): You park your car at the parking lot in Skjeggedal as usual. But instead of taking the traditional steep trail through the forest, you hike the gravel road for the first 4 km. It's allowed but you have to be careful, since cars might drive up as well. The advantage: Less strenuous. The disadvantage: Sort of boring compared to the forest hike.
The total lengths of the hike is 2 x 11 km (4 km less if you drive the new gravel road). Between 8 and 11 hours of hiking in total (round trip). Between 7 and 8 hours when starting from the new parking lot via the gravel road. Be prepared for changing weather and less degrees at higher elevations. Even when the climate is pleasant in peak season, still bring good hiking shoes/equipment, thin, breathable jackets and/or shirts. Always bring enough food as well as some water. However, most visitors report that there are enough water sources on the trail.
Classic Hike (Trail Description)
The beginning point of the 22km (round-trip) classic hike to Trolltunga is the carpark in Skjeggedal. From here, the first portion of the journey is climbing the 'Forest of Steep Stones'. As the name suggests, there is a path of stones that continues for about one kilometre – some of the more challenging parts also a have a rope to help you. This part of the hike is at quite a steep angle – between 40 and 50 degrees – so you can expect for it to be quite a challenge. Don't be too disappointed when you reach the one kilometre mark – it is one of the most challenging parts of the trail and it is not unusual for your legs to feel like you've hiked more than 1000 metres! Please note that as already mentioned you can alternatively hike the complete first part up until about 4 km on a less strenuous gravel road which opened 2017.
One thing that keeps you going on this classic strenuous part is that as you start to climb higher, you start to see some pretty views of the dam of lake Ringedalsvatnet. This is helpful to keep you inspired, as the views only get better! After you've reached the 1 km mark, the trail starts to even out a bit and continues through a rocky mountain top valley. Here, you can see some quaint cabins that are obviously holiday houses for lucky Norwegians, as well as some scattered glacier pools. The flat terrain continues for about 45 minutes (depending on how fast you go, of course) and is a welcome break to just enjoy the scenery!
The next stage of the hike is another climb, which ends at a rock face where you can stop and look back out over the valley. It's a spectacular sight. Not too far beyond this, you can expect to come across a lake – depending on the season, it may be flowing freely or it could be frozen over. Either way, it's a nice sight and not long after, you will begin to go downhill – much to the delight of your legs! As you continue hiking, the terrain becomes less rocky and more flat and grassy. Because of this, it is a popular camping spot and you may even see a few tents around. Soon, the trail ascends again, towards the highest point of the first half of the trail and the 4 km mark.
This place is called Trombåskaret, and the views over the Ringedalsvatnet lake at the top of the valley are absolutely stunning. This is a good spot to stop and take a well deserved rest, and also take in the gorgeous scenery that you've hiked for! Be aware that if you are hiking after August 15 or before June 15, you need to reach this point before 1pm, or else you will not make it back during daylight hours. There is a second sign below the 4 km sign which tells you to turn around if you passed it at 1pm.
After your rest, the next part of the trail has quite a different landscape, and you can see several lakes and even some glacier pools. Plus, it actually slopes mostly downhill, so is a little bit easier on the legs, although you can expect to encounter snow, depending on what time of year you are hiking. As you walk, you will see sights including the dry river Endåno and also Tyssestrengene falls, a pair of waterfalls that would be the highest single drop fall in Norway, had they not been reduced to a trickle by the nearby hydroelectric power plant.
You are nearing Trolltunga soon, and there's just a bit more to do! Depending on the time of year you visit, the next section of the trail can be quite challenging – often covered in slushy snow and very narrow at parts. Be sure to watch your feet and ask for help if you need it! However, once you get through this part of the trail and turn the corner – you have reached Trolltunga! Here you will find the reward for all of your efforts. The "tongue" pokes out over a mesmerising view over the lake and snowcapped mountains. It is pretty easy to get to the tongue, and once you are on it, it doesn't seem so scary. Of course, this is when you get those gorgeous photos that are so popular on Instagram and Pinterest!
Do spend plenty of time admiring Trolltunga and taking it all in, as you've worked hard for this spectacular view! Once you're sure you've seen enough, it's time for the return hike. While you can expect to complete the return journey a bit faster than hiking to Trolltunga (less stops for photos!), you should still go surely and carefully as it is still challenging. Luckily, the excitement and adrenaline from having made it to Trolltunga is likely to make it a bit easier and more enjoyable!
New Gravel Road (With Parking Lot)
In 2017 a new road opened opened. This one takes you to a parking lot which is higher/closer to Trolltunga. It basically skips the first 4 km of hiking (400 m ascent) on the classic trail. How to use it: After arriving at the standard starting point in Skjeggedal you don't park there, instead you drive through a gate, pay the fee and drive up to a parking lot: Youtube Video - New Trolltunga Road. However, you have to start early since the parking lot has a small capacity!
- The parking lot on top has space for 30 cars only
- Access to the road is on a first-come - first served basis
- The gate to the road opens at 6:00 a.m.
- The road is closed during the whole winter/early spring season
- The road will close for the rest of the day when the limited parking area is full. That means you can't pass the gate at the start below
- Reservations are not possible
- Parking fee is NOK 600/day, which also includes the use of the road of course
- The road can be used by hikers as well. It's easier than the traditional forest route
- More Details here: Trolltunga Road - Official Website
Bicycle / Via Ferrata Route
If you have some via ferrata/climbing experience, you might try the new Via Ferrata ‘Himmelstigen to Trolltunga’ (see YouTube video below) instead of the classic hike: Starts at Ringedal dam. Bicycling 7 km along the lake. Then along the dried out river Tysso up to Tyssestrengene. The last 200 meters up to the mountain plateau you follow the new Via Ferrata Himmelstigen. Entering the plateau one kilometer from Trolltunga. If you are not experienced, you can choose a guided tour for this new route. UPDATE: As of 2018 Himmelstigen is completely closed. There will be a new Via Ferrata tour soon. We'll update this section as soon as information is available. UPDATE 2019: A new via ferrata tour is now officially offered again by Trolltunga Active: Trolltunga Via Ferrata - Sunset - Sunrise
Great experience to enjoy the sunrise and sunset at Trolltunga. Please note that camping is not allowed until past the 3 km sign. After that there are a few good spots for camping. As pointed out in the trail description, there is one after 4 km. Some even camp at the very top at Trolltunga. A good spot however, is below the 8km sign. The lake view there is mesmerizing and there is a river passing by, which is excellent for washing and fresh water supply. What to bring for camping? As an experienced camper you will know the most things. A water resistant tent is a must here and keep in mind, that it gets cold at night and also your stuff might get wet. Remember to pack light, since the hike is not an easy one. At least not the first part.
The video from FJORD Norway just below the photos shows the Via Ferrata Hike, not the classic one!