A Guide To Hiking Trolltunga
There are several things to take into consideration when deciding to hike to Trolltunga. Can you walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath? Do you mind hiking through? Can you handle extreme beauty without sobbing? (There’s a lot of it!)
Being a 22-kilometer round-trip, there’s no question that this is a very physically demanding adventure. I made the trip with a group and while it took me a total of 10 hours (4 hours up, 2 hours at Trolltunga, and 4 hours back down), other people of our group needed 2 hours more for the hiking part and thus had less time a the Trolltunga itself.
This summer was the second time I did the hike to the Trolltunga and I want to share my experiences.
What ist Trolltunga?
Trolltunga, translated to “Troll’s Tongue,” is a cliff rock jutting out about 700 meters above lake Ringedalsvatnet. It formed about 10,000 years ago due to glacier erosion. In fact, you can still see glaciers on the mountaintops which you can see from the trek. Along the way, you’ll find gorgeous blue lakes filled with the water coming from those glaciers and impressive scenery that no picture can accurately describe.
From the trailhead parking lot, there are three possibilities to start the trek. You can either climb the entire first kilometer up stone steps, you can drive a newly built road and save two hours in time (but this costs 400NOK) or simply walk the road (which is free). For the ascend I chose the road because the rest of the group did as well, but I took the normal way for the descent, as I was alone at that point. If you chose to take the stairs, you must know that the first kilometer is pretty brutal overall, and you’re surprised when you get to the 1km sign because it feels like you’ve done a lot more than that. Furthermore that part was in a very bad condition this year.
Between the 1km and 2km mark, it levels out somewhat and you find yourself in an enormous mountaintop valley. The trek is very clean there and you can pick up the pace. There are a few ice cold creeks there as well, so it’s a good time to refill your water bottle. Also interesting to note are the several secluded cabins you’ll see along the way. After about a 30 minute walk through this valley, it’s time for another major climb.
Here the trail winds uphill quite a bit before finally bringing you upon an enormous slick rock face. It is imperative to be careful here as it’s really easy to slip. Looking back upon the valley is a fantastic treat though! When we reached this point, the sun started rising, so we took a short break there and changed clothes a bit, before attacking the rest of the trek. This slippery rock can be pretty treacherous depending on the time of year and snow melt.
From this point on the trail “flattens” out and the rest of the hike felt quite easy. Of course, there are still hills but there won’t be any major climbs. The trek is often muddy and strewn with stones, so instead of enjoying the gorgeous view, you have to concentrate on the ground. We stopped a few times to soak in that impressive view of the mountains surrounding us.
The trek is flattened out by the mass of tourists and hikers who make their way Trolltunga, and it is signposted by red “T”s. Additionally, there are signs at every Kilometer with the distance to go.
Right when you feel like giving up, the trail comes upon some large rock and water pools that you’ll hop around, and all of a sudden you come around the bend and… there it is! Trolltunga, you made it! Enjoy your time there, have some food, drink lots of water, and get that picture for Instagram that you’ve worked so hard for.
Unfortunately, there are always around 200 to 300 people at the top. If you catch a bad moment, you have to stand at least one hour in the line before being able to take that photo on the Trolltunga. The peak time is always around 12 until 14 o’clock. But if you leave at around 6 in the morning you should be there before the biggest rush.
I spent around 2 hours at the top because some people in my group were a bit slower an needed an hour more.
How Long Will It Take?
It took us 10-11 hours round trip, depending on our fitness. That’s from the Skjeggedal parking lot, 4 hours of hiking to the top including stops for lunch and photos, 2 hours at Trolltunga itself, and then around 4 hours back down to the parking lot. We had friends who needed 11 hours for the whole trip, if we didn’t have to wait for them I would have done it in 9 hours, so it’s really up to howfit you are, what the weather’s like, how quickly you hike and how long the line to actually step on the Trooltunga rock is. This alone can take about an hour.
What Should You Bring?
– Comfortable hiking pack.
– A reusable water bottle.
– Simple lunch, some fruits, I myself am not a big fan of power bars and high energy food.
– Extra pair of socks and waterproof hiking boots.
– Layers. Bring thin, breathable jackets and/or shirts so that when you stop for a few minutes to catch your breath, you won’t get cold.
– And a camera of course.
– Make sure to use the restroom near the parking lot before heading up, there are none once you climb up to the top.
– Camping is not allowed everywhere along the trail. Between kilometer 1 and 2 it is forbidden, but there are clear signs everywhere indicating where you can and can’t camp. Be sure to employ the “Leave No Trace” practices while camping. Many people do camp up at the top.
Water is abundant, clean and cold. No need to bring water sterilization as the glacier water is perfect and refreshing.
– When you get to the top of Trolltunga, do yourself a favor and change into your clean and dry socks. Changing into clean and dry socks will make your hike back down much more bearable.
– Be PREPARED for adverse weather conditions. This area is very unpredictable, and getting stuck up there without the right gear can get very serious. Temperatures around 5 to 10 degrees Celsius are pretty normal at night.
– The trail follows what is called “cairns,” which are essentially tall rock piles with the Trolltunga symbol marking the correct path. Keep an eye out for these.
– Get there as early as possible to avoid the big mass of tourists, which usually arrive at around 12 o’clock. Everyone is typically very nice and will take your picture for you from the viewing area as you walk out onto the cliff.
– The best time to hike is between May and September when the snow subsides. We went once in mid-June and mid-August and the weather was perfect both times.
– The first kilometer uphill is pretty awful, but coming back down those same rock steps are pure, unadulterated agony. Your knees and feet will probably be in pain for the next couple of days minimum if you are untrained. I was very surprised that I felt very well the next day. When I went there 4 years ago, I was destroyed for like 2 entire days.
– This hike is strenuous but in my opinion, it is absolutely worth it. Consider doing it in the off-season, because then there are fewer tourists. If I would ever do it again, I would do it in a two-day hike: I would camp somewhere around Trolltunga and enjoy the view without all those people standing everywhere.