The Norwegian landscape forms an important part of the national identity of the Norwegian people. Most people go for a hike or a nature walk once in a while. I’ve done it often myself, and I will continue to do so. During my hikes, I have taken quite a few photos. I will share some of them with you. The first photo is from Selje, on the western coast.
Historically, people used nature for other reasons than we do now. They would go hunting and fishing or bring the cattle to mountain pastures. In modern times, most people use nature for recreation. Hiking has become increasingly popular during the last few years, also among foreign visitors. In Norway, you have the right to hike anywhere in the outdoors, also on private property. The law of public access to land (allemannsretten) is taken for granted. No permission is needed if you want to go somewhere, at least if you walk.
In recent years, the Norwegian landscape has become even more famous, all over the world. Photos from spectacular places are often shared online. A result of this is that popular places become even more crowded. In previous times, many of the most spectacular places were hardly known outside the local area. That is certainly not the case any longer.
Personally, I find the place where this photo is taken (Allmannberget in Oppdal) to be really impressive. Here, I'm standing on the top of a very high and very steep cliff, but you actually need to go there in order to understand what I mean. A good thing is that everyone who is reasonably fit can go there. But among foreigners, and even Norwegians, it’s not that well known. On the other hand, the hikes leading to Preikestolen and Trolltunga are known all over the world. People are attracted by photos that they find on social media and other places. But unfortunately, quite a few foreigners are badly prepared. They may not be fit enough, or they have footwear and clothing that are not suitable for the local conditions. The hike to Trolltunga is especially tough, much tougher than you may realise when you first set out on the walk.
Does this mean that you should not go for a hike? Not at all. Hiking is great, as long as you are well prepared. But if you are a beginner, you should choose the easier hikes. In my opinion, there is no reason to go to the busiest places. But where can you go instead? The Lofoten islands (in the north) are known to be quite spectacular. And believe me, it is true. As a result of its fame, Lofoten has also become a very popular destination for tourists. But some of the walks are less busy, like this one:
Most of the population live in the south of Norway. That also means the mountains in the south have more visitors. Still, some areas are more popular than others. Many Norwegians go to Jotunheimen, which is where you find the highest mountains. Jotunheimen has some very tough hikes, but also some that are a little bit easier. One of the most popular hikes leads to the top of Galdhøpiggen—Norway’s highest mountain. I must admit that I have never done it myself. Nor did I walk along Besseggen, a spectacular mountain ridge. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go there yourself. However, there are many other hikes to choose from that are less well known and therefore less crowded.
One of the best-known ranges in the country is the Dovre mountains, situated between Oslo and Trondheim. It is not that crowded, but still easy to visit. You can get there by train or by car, driving along the main road, E6.
The Dovre mountains have a special place in the Norwegian history. In 1814, a group of men met in Eidsvoll to draft a new constitution. When it was ready, on the 17th of May, they took this oath: United and loyal until Dovre falls. So you should treat the Dovre mountains with respect.
If you do visit the Dovre plateau, you can climb the peak of Snøhetta or go for a longer hike. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you watch out for the musk oxen; they can be aggressive.
If you are looking for peaks to climb you can also go to Rondane. It has many high peaks but is far less crowded than Jotunheimen. The Rondane ranges have ten peaks that are higher than 2000 meters. That’s not much compared to the Alps, but in Norway that’s as high as you can get. Still, climbing the peaks of Rondane (and many other places) means walking on rocks, as you can see on the next photo. But you will also find grass and trees below the peaks.
Trollheimen is another beautiful area to visit. There are fewer high peaks, which also means that it’s less rocky. In my opinion that makes it more charming, as it is less austere. You could try Trekanten (the triangle), a hike of three days including stays at three very pleasant mountain lodges.
Are you already seriously considering a hiking trip in Norway? In that case, it could be useful to be a member of the Norwegian Trekking association. As a member, you get a discount when staying at their cabins. You can also sign up for a group hike; there are even special group hikes for foreign visitors.
At the end of the day, you may be tired of walking. And you certainly want to have shelter and a nice meal. This is exactly what you get at the cabins of the tourist association. At the cabins, you will also have the opportunity to meet many other like-minded and friendly people who can give you good advice for your hikes. By the way, Gjevilvasshytta in Trollheimen, that you see on this photo, is included in the Trekanten hike. It was recently elected as the most beautiful of all the cabins of the Trekking asociation. .
You may be afraid of getting lost in the mountains, but there is no reason to worry. All the trails are properly marked. For extra security, you can also download the ‘Ut’ app. It works as a GPS and helps you find the way wherever you go.
By the way: Have you considered mountain biking rather than walking? In that case, you should check out Rallarvegen, a simple road that was built in order to make the construction of the Bergen railway possible. You can easily combine this with a glacier tour or other hikes in the area.
Some of you may find all this very ambitious. But even if you have something less strenuous in mind, there are lots of possibilities. Basically, you can go for walks in nature anywhere in Norway. Even right outside Oslo there are large forests where people go for a walk. So the conclusion must be that there is no reason to stay at home.
Enjoy your walk! God tur!
PS: Due to the situation with the coronavirus, there are restrictions on visits to the cabins this year. You will find more information on the site of the Norwegian trekking association.
Some other links for further inspiration:
For information about Dovre, Rondane, Jotunheimen and more: https://www.nasjonalparkriket.no/en