Picture this: there is a rock protruding out of the cliff, suspended high above what looks like a fjord with deep blue water. There are large patches of snow lingering on the high points across the water. There is a light breeze, the sun keeping you warm. You hiked 22 km (13.6 miles) over ledge, through snow, and along this beautiful lake below you.
This iconic hike is not for everyone, but if you are reasonably fit, it is a wonderful hike. Every website with tourist information will warn you about how long and difficult this hike is, which is true, but if you hike on a regular basis, run, or are otherwise active, you will probably be fine. But dress for the cold temperatures; remember the snow you will hike through.
Being a hiker myself, in a place where they don’t seem to believe in switchbacks, opting to make the trails go straight up, I found this hike to be easy. There is no way around the fact that it is a long hike, but there are really only two parts that are steep. Each steep section is quite steep, but only lasts for about a kilometer, or 0.6 miles. Other than that, the trail has much more gentle ups and downs.
They say this 22 km hike takes 10-12 hours. For many people, this is true. For most people, you need to allow about this amount of time, if not slightly longer, to allow for the time you will spend at the iconic rock. Make sure you have plenty of food and water, as well as lots of layers for this hike. Don’t forget your rain jacket as it rains often in Norway. Waterproof hiking boots are ideal. For me, the hiking portion of the day took me exactly 8 hours with stops for pictures and food. I hike, run and cycle five days a week, so I am in shape. Some people who like to hike faster took less time, and lots of people took more time. I spent a couple hours at the rock, taking in the view, waiting in line to get my picture taken on Trolltunga, and talking with other hikers. Like when I hiked Kjeragbolten, I preferred spending the extra time at Trolltunga rather than in the parking lot, waiting for the bus.
As you hike, they have these cute signs counting down the kilometers:
This helps you gauge your pace and make decisions about moving forward or heading back. Be aware of this and be smart; this is a very remote area and help may be far away.
The first section is very steep with steps and ropes, and often lots of mud. It is a quick warm up, and often very busy with many people starting at the same time. But after a kilometer, the trail is much easier for about another kilometer before rising steeply again. This time on ledge, which can be slippery when wet, so use caution.
It was near the top of this section that the temperature dropped quickly, after I had been sweating, and I got cold. As in cold enough to consider turning around. I decided to keep going for a bit to see if I would warm up, which, luckily, I did.
At the top of this section, there is a nice view back where you came from in one direction, and overlooking a pond in the other direction. When I was there, in the middle of July, there was snow on the trail next to the pond. But it was easy to walk through with just regular hiking boots.
As I hiked on, stopping to take pictures often, I was in awe of the beauty that surrounded me. There were snow capped mountains everywhere I looked, increasingly better views of the lake below Trolltunga, and refreshing mountain air.
Eventually I made it to Trolltunga and my jaw literally dropped. Wow! This place is truly more beautiful than the amazing pictures I had seen. Unlike the Preikestolen hike, people waited their turn to get onto the rock to have their picture taken. I couldn’t believe how drastic the rock sticking out, the tongue, looked, hanging above the fjord-like lake below. And the color of the water is a beautiful shade of deep blue.
It was quite cold when the sun wasn’t out, so I bundled up, found someone to take a picture with my camera, and got into line.
Yup, on a regular weekday, this is the line. What’s more, there is a ladder where it appears to be the end of the line, and about fifteen more people before you eventually get your turn. Luckily, the line moves fairly quickly. I spent something like 30-40 minutes in line, which is crazy, but it can get much longer. Although it feels a bit crazy to wait in line 11 km from civilization for a picture, it was well worth it for this:
I wasn’t ready to leave, and I had plenty of time until the first bus back to Odda, so I explored different places to look down to the lake, and sat to take in the view of Trolltunga. The sun came out, which felt wonderful and quickly warmed me up. I wish it had come out for my turn on the rock as the unique blue color of the lake was stunning with the sun shining on it. But I just enjoyed it from my viewpoint instead.
On the hike back, it was fun to look across at the colorful line of people waiting in line to get their picture taken. It made me think about the first people to discover this iconic spot, because from here, it doesn’t look like much.
How to Get There
The easiest way to get to the trailhead (Skjeggedal) is by car, but get there very early as the parking lot fills quickly. If you don’t have a car, there are shuttles daily from Odda. The hostel I stayed at offered a cheaper option to get to the trailhead, then I used Odda Taxi‘s shuttle bus – you can’t miss the big bus with silhouettes of hikers on the side. There are a few times offered each morning, and a few each afternoon/evening, and there are several pick up and drop off points. You can hop on when you are ready, and can pay the driver, or book the bus ahead of time and print your ticket. Keep in mind that this hike is usually completed from about mid June to mid September, which is also when shuttle service is offered.