If you were to ask me what would be the most grueling YET breathtaking hikes that I have ever done in my entire life, there are two (2) things that I can quickly think of: my journey up to Villingardalsfjall in the Faroe Islands, and to Trolltunga in Norway.
Newsflash: I’m not really ‘built’ for long hikes nor am I a fit person per se; but as a traveler, if I get wind of a spot that’s too breathtaking for words, you bet that I would I go there in a heartbeat — no matter if I have to push my limits. That’s why when I visited Norway for the first time, I made it a point to visit this iconic and picturesque rock formation (which name aptly translates to ‘Troll’s tongue‘). How was it, you might ask? Well… it was such a challenge!
Spanning at about 22 to 23 kilometers long with an ascent of about 1,000 meters, it was a hard and long hike that took me a total of 11 hours! But despite that ordeal, it was an experience that was oh-so-worth-it on my books.
So as someone who has been through this arduous hike, I would love to impart some helpful tips and guides so that YOU can make the most of your experience in conquering Norway’s famous Trolltunga — no matter if you’re an experienced hiker or not!
» READ: Norway Road Trip Itinerary (12 Days, West & East Area)
Come and check out this list of the top things to do in Norway which features the best activities and tours to do in Oslo and more!
» What is Trolltunga (Troll’s Tongue)?
A cliff rock that juts out like a ‘tongue’ for about 700 meters above the lake of Ringedalsvatnet, this popular attraction in Norway is part of a bedrock that was formed thousands of years ago during the ice age due to glacial erosion.
Trolltunga has since been regarded as one of the best hikes in the world upon its discovery and it can be reached via a trail which passes through the aforementioned bedrock — a formation that is amidst a range of impressive fjords, awe-inspiring glaciers, spectacular blue lakes, and scenic rocky landscapes with spots of green.
TRIVIA: This used to be a multi-day hike and with a funicular (cliff railway) that takes you to the top. When it stopped operations, people climbed up the steep steps of the funicular; however, ever since 2010, it was forbidden to use it for tourism because of safety issues. Today, there is a steep rocky path to the left of the funicular that serves as the starting point for the Trolltunga hike. Anyhow, if you wish to spend more time on the hike, camping is also allowed up on the mountains.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I finished this hike at a moderate pace (with stops) for a total of 11 hours — 5 hours up, 1 hour at Trolltunga, and then 5 hours down. If you’re an experienced hiker, it’s said that you can finish it in 7 to 8 hours total.
Truth be told, my companions and I could have actually done the walk back a LOT faster if it didn’t rain at all in the afternoon because when it did, it really slowed us down (the rocks were quite slippery, the soil got extremely muddy, etc.)
But hey, let’s rewind for a bit now!
Back in July, we drove up the well-marked mountain road of Skjeggedal until we reached an open space that contained a parking lot and the office building of Trolltunga Active.
Since we were booked on a guided tour, we first went inside their office to present ourselves and to pay for the parking fee. After a while, we were introduced to our hiking guide, Daniel, as well as our two other companions who were both from America.
Daniel proceeded to offer us hiking sticks (which we gladly accepted) as he started to do an introduction of the hike with important do’s and dont’s to remember.
» Helpful Tips
» First 1.7 Kilometers: Uphill to Måglitopp
Daniel asked our group if we were regular hikers — timely, we all weren’t. He then told us that by the time that we reach the 2-kilometer mark, he will decide if we could still continue or not. If he sees that our stamina is not enough to make the rest of the 23 kilometer hike or that we can’t match his overall pace, Daniel made us agree that for our safety, we will accept his decision to go back if such was his final verdict.
Keeping that in mind, we jumpstarted our hike as we set off at the starting point of Trolltunga. This first part was a steep trail that was roughly at an angle of 50 degrees; that being said, you must be prepared for this ascent because it can get very tiring and strenuous!
Rest assured, there are stone steps and ropes along the way that will help your footing, and as you go higher, you’ll start to see a lovely view over the dam that keeps in the lake of Ringedalsvatnet.
After some time, the track evens out to a rocky valley that has several unoccupied cabins (mostly vacation houses for some Norwegians). We made a brief stop here and waited eagerly for Daniel’s decision— thankfully, he gave us all a passing grade as he deemed us fit enough to conquer Trolltunga. Woo-hoo!
Before setting out again though, we quickly ate some snacks while we talked about the local flora and fauna.
» At 4.3 Kilometers: Trombåskaret
After our brief rest, we started to do another ascent of about 330 meters, reaching the highest point of the first half of the trail that was called as Trombåskaret.
We found a striking yellow sign there that warned us to turn around if we reached that spot after 1:00PM because it will certainly be dark by the time we come back. This was an advice for the period after mid-August and before mid-June — so take note if you’re going through here during those times. Since we were hiking in July, it didn’t apply to us (save for the fact that we were already there waaaaay before noon).
At this point, I was extremely fascinated at how the terrain changed so rapidly as we started to see snow all around us, as well as some glacial streams!
We even encountered a small lake in which the trail passes just beside it.
There were also parts of the path wherein the melting waters would go through; but thankfully, there were small wooden bridges that were set up in order to help hikers in passing through.
(Like I’ve mentioned before, these streams are safe for drinking so this is where we started to refill our bottles with water. Make sure that you do the same!)
» Towards the 6.8 Kilometer Mark: Store Floren
The next part after Trombåskaret slopes down towards Store Floren — a much needed downhill section that felt like a heavenly spree after all the uphill walk that we’ve been doing.
To note, this was yet another picturesque site because it gave us a spectacular view of the drop towards the valley floor where the lake of Ringedalsvatnet lies. But that’s not all, it also gave us a view over the Folgefonna glacier in the west!
Naturally, we made a stop here to admire the view while we ate each of our packed lunch.
As we hung out there, our guide, Daniel, told us about the construction operations for hydro power development that were done on this mountain back in the early 1900s. For example, he pointed out to us some of the masonry remains of horse stables that were being used at that time.
Naturally, these were all trivia tidbits that we wouldn’t have known had he not been with us.
» Towards the 9th Kilometer: Endanuten
A mixture of small up and down slopes, the track continues over Hesteflåene and to the dried out river of Endåno which is nearby the drought waterfall Tyssestrengene — a twin waterfall that was at a towering height of 300 meters in the past. (It would have been Norway’s highest if only they weren’t built over and placed in tubes in 1967 for the nearby power plant in Tyssedal.)
More to this, we started to see glacial potholes speckled all over the landscape that made interesting shapes out of the rocks.
We continued moving and moving… aaaaand moving when out of the blue, Daniel pointed out to us that we were nearing Trolltunga.
Upon hearing that, my heart skipped a beat!
Hikers climbing up to Trolltunga via ferrata.
» At the 11th Kilometer: Finally, Trolltunga!
From afar, I couldn’t make out the tongue so clearly (me being near-sighted and all) — but as we went nearer and then through the crowd of people who were resting on the back of the tongue’s rocky plateau, Trolltunga siwftly came out in plain view before me… and my jaw dropped to the floor!
It was absolutely incredible beyond words!!!
AND, also frightening while I saw the number of people walk up to the tip of the tongue one by one.
As I ogled at it all, I couldn’t help but feel butterflies in my stomach. In fact, I sometimes couldn’t bear to watch if someone would sit on the ledge or do a ‘jump shot’ because I had ghastly thoughts that they would fall down — which of course, I hope they wouldn’t!
Apart from worrying for all those people, I was also worried for myself.
After all, I DO have a fear of heights and I swear to you that at that time, every ounce of my being was filled with second thoughts… but of course, I did NOT do a rigorous 11-hour hike just to chicken out!
Bros braving the cold for a not-so-ordinary shot ;)
Daniel told us that we can stay for an hour at this place — which was enough time for us to catch our breath, drink some water, eat snacks, and picture the surrounding area.
Yep, there are nice rugged sites surrounding Trolltunga that are Instagram-perfect, so do take your time to explore such!
After we had our fun, I knew that it was the time for us to go; so I gave a nod to my friend and told him that I was ready to go out to the tongue. *gulp*
Getting to it was quite easy — somewhere at the back of the tongue is a slight drop with metal steps embedded on the rock to assist people in going down. Once I landed and waited in line, I glanced towards the tip and I was surprised at what I saw: Trolltunga didn’t look too scary anymore.
Well of course, the fact that it’s a jutted rock over a vast expanse of ‘nothingness’ still sent shivers down my spine, but compared to the view that I saw from the resting area, the view that I saw from the line showed me that the tongue was slightly pointing upwards so it essentially blocks anyone’s view of the drop below!
It was also narrow, but not too narrow. It was wide and sturdy enough for people to walk through.
Confession time: I was planning on standing at a safe distance from the tip at first, but after I witnessed how it has an upward slant, I felt braver. That’s why I decided to also sit on the tip and dangle my feet like the others!
*The last photos were taken by Daniel. He put on some safety harness and stood several meters below the cliff to get this kind of angle!
I cannot stress this enough but PLEASE exercise caution once you’re at the tip of Trolltunga. Even if the inclined view helps make you feel safer, it’s important to be careful at all times. Some people actually had the balls to do some stunts and jumps — but only do those if you’re some sort of professional performer, mountaineer, etc.
Overall: know your limits, okay? Don’t push it.
Waiting for our turn took about 20 minutes (I’ve heard that during high season, it can take about an hour!). Also, this waiting area has NO safety railings — in order to keep the natural beauty of Trolltunga — so because of that, please mind where you’re standing, where you’re walking and where you’re stepping on.
» The Journey Back
I gotta say — the climb up did NOT put so much stress on me. Of course it was still exhausting, but it did not put so much strain on my legs. I guess our previous climb up Villingardalsfjall when we visited the Faroe Islands (which happened just a few weeks before this Norwegian road trip) has helped shape up my body and stamina…
However, what I did NOT expect is that the climb DOWN Trolltunga would take its toll on me!
We were surely a lot faster when we started our descent as compared to when we were going up (of course). But when it started to rain halfway back, it slowly became an extreme kind of hike for me!
First of all, it was muddy everywhere and it made my steps heavier. Secondly, the stones became slippery so we had to mind our steps at ALL times to avoid slipping or breaking any of our bones. It took us the longest too when we started our descent at Måglitopp because this is where the steepest slope was!
It was brutal… and if my knees could talk like a normal person, they’d be complaining and screaming like a madman during that time!
That aside, being the weird person that I am, I did catch myself laughing at times as I started to fondly think of how weak I was, and how this would probably be the kind of feeling that I’ll start to experience at the early age of 50 if I don’t maintain being fit and healthy.
Mental note: I should stop skipping leg day.
By the way, let me take this moment to express how grateful I am that Daniel was with us! Not only was he patient, but he was also very helpful in guiding each and everyone of us on the slipperiest parts.
Funny story: there were a couple of times that Daniel complimented me whenever I made my way down slippery rocks. He said that I had very good sense and control over my footing. And well… I just think my childhood hobby of climbing trees, cliffs, and walls (to ‘steal’ mangoes from our neighbors) really helped in making me the ‘monkey’ that I was that day — and a bone-tired monkey at that.
The moment that we reached the parking lot, I felt like crying, shouting, and kissing the flat ground in disbelief — but I was too dried up to even shed a tear, and I was also too tired to do anything else. All I wanted was to go back to the car, drive back to our hotel and sleep.
Without delay, we waved goodbye, exchanged contact numbers, and said our thanks to Daniel and our other hiking companions. During all that while I kept repeating these words inside my head:
I f*cking made it!
Oh my gahd.
Needless to say, I slept like a baby that night.
This was undoubtedly an EPIC hike that I would absolutely recommend to anyone!
Sure, it was exhausting, it was long, and it was nerve-wracking — however, the breathtaking views that you will see along the trail, the satisfaction of finishing a demanding hike, and the pleasure of sitting/standing on top of the impressive Trolltunga will definitely make it ALL worth it.
Besides, if you ask me, this experience was the icing on the cake during my whole trip in Norway and I will never forget it. With all that said and done… what are you waiting for? Go aahead and make your own awesome memories here in Trolltunga!
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