Gaustatoppen, the highest mountain in the county of Telemark, is one of the most spectacular hikes in Norway. On a nice clear day, you can see more than one sixth of Norway from the top!
It’s easily accessible, both as a day trip, or if you want to stay in the area and do a cabin-to-cabin holiday.
Most people start the hike from the parking lot at Stavro between Rjukan and Tuddal.
A good estimate is a three hour hike to the top, and then two hours back down. This is a generous time estimate — but why rush it? Stop and enjoy the view and get some great pictures.
It’s a fairly easy trip to do, with an elevation of only 2300 ft. The parking lot is 4000 ft over sea level, so that gives you a ‘head start’. In the summer the summit can be reached by foot, on a well prepared path. However, as always, even for ‘easy hikes’, bring good clothes and water. Remember proper hiking boots, the trail is pretty rocky!
The path is well marked, with the distinctive red Ts, like most tourist trails in Norway.
The south side of the mountains is a highly dangerous climb! There is an old airplane wreck there, which still hasn’t been removed, due to difficulties of accessing the wreckage site.
There is a funicular, Gaustabanen, which goes nearly to the top. It’s built inside of the mountain, originally for military purposes, but it’s now a tourist attraction. The ride takes about 15 minutes.
Stay for the night
There is a DNT lodge (cabin) just before the top, where you can buy a meal, sit down and relax, and have a chat with fellow hikers. You can also stay there for the night (book in advance!).
In winter time
Gaustatoppen is a popular spot for alpine skiing, and several competitions (including the Norseman Triathlon) has been held in the area.
(Opening photo by: Max Froumentln, CC)