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As far as walks go, this is one of the most epic I’ve ever done. The Trolltunga hike is an all day round trip – up muddy hills, across rocky slopes, through snowfields and along cliff edges.
And at the end of the route is the ultimate payoff. The Troll’s Tongue!
This is the Trolltunga hike in southwestern Norway, a few hours drive from Bergen. It is difficult, it is long, and it is spectacular.
It’s one of the best ways to experience the stunning landscapes of this country.
In a moment, I’ll go through some of the practical details of this hike.
One of the lovely things about it is that it’s not too busy. You’ll definitely see lots of people along the track, but it’s not a tourist attraction, as such.
That means there’s not as much information available as you might like and it can be a little tricky to work out some details in advance. So I would love to share with you what I learned from my Trolltunga hike.
But first I would like to set the scene.
The destination for the hike is a rock called Trolltunga, which is Norwegian for Troll’s Tongue.
The name is fairly obvious when you see the rock for yourself – it looks like a long pointy tongue, jutting out from a cliff face into the air.
Beneath this rock is nothing – just emptiness – for about 700 metres until the ground. And on the ground is a large and dramatic fjord.
The electric blue water winds its way through the valley with the dramatic steep cliffs rising up from it. The cliffs are cold grey rock with just small traces of movement – an occasional waterfall, for instance.
At the top of these cliffs, though, a layer of green foliage appears. On top of that, a layer of white snow.
Standing on the tip of the Troll’s Tongue, I can feel the breeze around me in every direction. Not surprisingly, it’s scary to be out on this small piece of rock with a 700 metre drop beneath me.
One step in the wrong direction or one slip and… well, let’s not think about it. But the rock feels very sturdy and it’s much wider than it looks from afar.
From this vantage point on the rock I stop for a moment, breathe in, and look around me. Distant snowy mountains line the horizon, that striking fjord water beams at me, and everything seems so fresh and vibrant.
It was a long journey to arrive here, though. Trolltunga, the rock, may be the destination and the highlight of this trek, but the journey to get here should be as much of a drawcard as the final view.
It takes me and my friends about four hours to walk from the start of the trek to the rock at a fast pace. The path takes us through different environments and climatic conditions.
So much can change on the Trolltunga trek in an hour.
It’s relatively sunny when we start the first leg, which is a steep climb up a muddy hill track. Then there’s a flat stretch with little creeks to jump over, before another steep scramble up rocks to the first white slope.
This is where the snow starts and, even though it’s still summer, there’s a solid layer stretching out in front.
So the journey from here continues through snow banks, across slippery rocky paths, along a narrow cliff edge, up some more muddy inclines and then, eventually to the final destination.
There are moments along the way where I get quite out of breath as I power up a hill. There are other moments where the views take my breath away.
The views across the mountains are beautiful – but there are also amazing sights in the details along the way.
That it is hard to get to the start of the trek adds to the experience.
That is is difficult to climb up some of those hills and trudge through the snow makes the challenge even more rewarding.
That the views are stunning makes the journey worthwhile.
That you can stand out on the Troll’s Tongue and look down to the fjord is one of the most incredible travel experiences you can have.
I loved this hike and I want to make sure you have the opportunity to experience it as well. So let me know share with you some of the practical information that could help you plan your own trip there.
How to get to the start of the Trolltunga hike
Getting to the start of the hike is not easy and I actually found this to be harder than the walk itself!
The easiest way is simply to drive. You need to get to a small town called Skjeggedal which is about 17 kilometres outside of Odda and about 190 kilometres from Bergen.
The last 7 kilometres to Skjeggedal from the closest town, Tyssedal, is on a steep and narrow mountain road where you may need to pull over to let other cars pass. (It’s a good idea to stay in Odda and I would recommend the Hardanger Hotel.)
Public transport is limited and tricky. So, if possible, I highly recommend hiring a car from either Bergen or Voss and driving to Skjeggedal. If you want to get there by public transport, however, you need to get to the town of Odda first.
From there, you can take bus number 995 to Tyssedal. The tricky bit is getting the last stretch to Skjeggedal.
Although you may hear some reports that the 995 keeps going, I couldn’t confirm this and the official timetable doesn’t include it as a stop.
You can check for yourself for the dates you want on the bus website here. Otherwise you may need to hitchhike or get a taxi the last bit.
The Trolltunga hike route
The Trolltunga hike starts at the main carpark in Skjeggedal and the beginning of the track is clearly marked.
Although there used to be a funicular up the hill here (and you can still see it), it’s not in operation any more and it’s not safe to climb up the old wooden construction.
You’ll need to take the steep muddy path which can be very slippery if there’s been recent rain. There are ropes to help you with the climb. Don’t worry, though, it gets a bit easier after this.
The total round trip is 22 kilometres – so, 11 kilometres each way. The track going to Trolltunga is uphill and will take longer than coming back. I did the walk in 8 hours total: 4 hours to get there, 1 hour at the rock, and 3 hours back.
This is probably the fastest you could do the trek, though. My friends and I walked quickly, barely stopped, and we overtook a lot of people. If you prefer to walk at a moderate pace, it could take 10 hours or more.
The route is well marked along the way. There are signposts that point you in the right direction and give you the distance you have walked.
In some of the areas where the path is not completely obvious, there are small piles of rocks that you should walk between to stay on the correct route.
In all likelihood, there will be other people trekking the same time as you and you can just follow them.
For your own planning purposes, here is the route that you will walk.
What to take on the Trolltunga hike
The walk itself is difficult but not the most strenuous hike you will ever do. However, you do need to be aware of safety.
This is because the weather conditions can change very quickly and once you’re on the path, the only way out is to turn around and walk back. There is hardly any mobile phone reception either.
For these reasons, you should take enough clothes to handle hot, cold and wet conditions.
This may sound obvious (but you never know), but there are no shops or toilets along the way. It is a long walk so take plenty of food to get you through the day.
You don’t need to worry about water, though. The water that flows through the little creeks along the way is perfectly drinkable so just bring a bottle that you can fill up and you will be ok.
To be prepared, you should also bring a few safety things that you would take on any long hike like this – so a torch, a first aid kit, a map, a compass, something to keep you warm, and some extra food.
These are just precautionary, though. Hopefully you won’t need to use any of those things.
Safety while hiking Trolltunga
Generally, this is quite a safe hike but there is no real infrastructure along the way so you do need to be sensible.
You can only really do the trek easily between June and September because there is too much snow the rest of the time, so be very wary of doing it outside of those months.
The biggest safety issue is the weather conditions, which I’ve already discussed. It can suddenly become very cold and wet so be prepared.
There are quite a few parts where the track is rough and along the edge of mountains so you also need to be careful where you’re walking. It would be a good idea to have good shoes and a walking stick for those parts.
There is the possibility of slipping and breaking a leg, for instance (it does happen) and in that case you would have to wait until someone can get a message to the authorities to come and help.
At the actual Trolltunga rock, there is also a safety issue. From the photos, it looks quite dangerous but the rock is wide and stable so it’s not as bad as you might think.
But a hiker sadly fell to her death when she slipped while waiting to go out onto the rock. It is the first known death at the site but it will hopefully serve as a warning for people that it can be dangerous and you need to take precautions.
Overall, though, if you are prepared for the hike you should have no problems. It’s one of the most epic hiking experiences you can have in Europe.
The track along the way takes you through some incredible landscapes and the views at the end are breathtaking. If you are heading out there yourself, just remember two things – have a good time and don’t forget your camera!
If you want accommodation near Trolltunga, I suggest Hardanger Hotel in Odda.