You may have seen the iconic picture of a person standing on this boulder wedged between two cliffs, thousands of feet high, but where is it exactly? Well, it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere in Norway. There aren’t too many places to stay close by, so most people have a long ride to the trailhead on the day they hike it. But it is well worth the effort to get there.
How to Get There
If you have a car, you can drive from anywhere, but if you don’t, the Tide bus company offers a day trip there and back daily from June to September. This one is worth reserving in advance as there is only one trip per day and it is a popular trip. You can try your luck and show up at the bus station the day of to buy a ticket from the driver. If you take the bus, you will want to stay in Stavanger, Norway the night before since the bus leaves at 7:30 AM sharp. The bus ride takes a little over three hours each way and allows plenty of time for the hike. The entire day is 12.5 hours.
The hike is 12 km round trip and only for those in reasonably good shape who like very steep hiking. There is a lot of rocky ledge, so shoes with good grips are a must. Ideally, wear hiking boots – waterproof is best as it rains a lot in Norway. They say allow 2.5-3 hours to hike each direction, and I say allow extra time at the top for pictures. Allow even more time if it is a very nice day out or is a weekend as I have heard there can be quite a long line to get your picture taken on these days.
Like all other hikes in Norway, follow the red T’s and the labeled signs with the T’s.
There are two buildings at the beginning of the hike; one with bathrooms, and the other with a nice restaurant with an excellent view of the valley and fjord. Once your gear is set, off you go.
The trail gets steep almost immediately. It is sheer rock, complete with chains to help you. I found the chains particularly helpful on the descent.
It was wonderful looking back as I ascended the steep rock, seeing the building where I began getting further below and I could see more of the valley below. Even with a little bit of low clouds, it was still beautiful.
Eventually there was a break, then there was a steep downhill, again with chains. But now I could see a pond with greenery all around it, and more ledgey rock going up. When I looked closer, I saw sheep.
There was some nice rock work in the low part.
Another steep uphill before reaching the rounded top of Kjerag.
From here, the hike is easy. However, if the rocks are wet, be careful as they can be quite slippery. Lots of people slipped from time to time, and it’s important to walk in way that you can easily catch yourself.
There is an intersection just before Kjeragbolten (the boulder). I hear it isn’t typical, but when I got there, there was still snow. As in, a few feet deep. But just in the dip in the rocks before the boulder.
At first, I was in awe of where I was, so I stood there, taking it in. I watched as other people got onto the boulder, then walked around to where you get on. Man oh man, the cliff drops off thousands of feet into the fjord! And there were people jumping from the cliffs a little ways away (bungee jumping I think), which looks terrifying. But the fjord is beautiful! Even though it wasn’t completely clear out, I was happy to have a view.
When I was ready to get my picture taken on the boulder, I handed my camera over to another hiker. When I got to the spot to get onto the rock, I started shaking. But no one has ever fallen off this boulder, so I told myself I needed to do it. Most people hopped onto Kjeragbolten, but it was a bit wet, so I didn’t dare. Instead, I sat down on the cliff I was on and essentially crawled on hands and feet onto the boulder and very carefully stood up, a little at a time. And I never looked down. I just looked at the woman taking my picture, then carefully turned around and looked out at the fjord. It was extremely scary, but I am happy that I did it – it’s a pretty fun picture.
Since I still had plenty of time until the bus left, I decided to stay at the top and enjoy the views. Many people who came with me headed back, and when I saw them later, they were bored and cold. I enjoyed taking in the scene around me, feeling the fresh air and talking with other hikers.
The hike back was much like the hike out, only in reverse. Although, no one was around when I got to the intersection close to the boulder, and I realized I didn’t pay close attention to which way I went. I looked all around, but it’s just rock everywhere. You see, where I hike at home, the trails are marked with different colors, so you follow the color on the trail you’re hiking. In Norway, ALL the markers are red. Given my experience at home, this seems like a terrible idea, especially when I second guessed myself on the return. After a few minutes, someone came along and I was able to confirm which way to go.
Close to the end of the hike, I was carefully walking down a steep section, holding the chain when I found myself upside down. If it weren’t for the chains, I may have hurt myself, but all I did was pull my stomach muscles a bit from the sudden stop. I did not hit the rocks – thank goodness the chains were there.
Once back at the trailhead, I still had a bit of time left, so I got a snack from the restaurant. Unfortunately, the low clouds had come in and obstructed the view of the valley below. But at least I had views while hiking.
Have you hiked to Kjeragbolten? What was your experience?