Trolltunga — translating to ‘The Troll’s Tongue‘ — is a massive horizontal cliff towering 2,300 ft above Lake Ringedalsvatnet outside Odda, in Hordaland county. Along with The Pulpit Rock and Kjerag, it’s probably the most spectacular place to hike to in Norway. If you’re brave enough, imagine how much fun you could have taking all sorts of edgy (literally) photos! It’s sure to get your adrenaline running, both at the time, and when you show others your holiday souvenir snaps later.
This particular cliff was formed during the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago. At that time, the surrounding ice reached all the way to the top of the cliff. Melting water from the ice ran into the crevices in the mountain, froze, and eventually broke off large boulders, giving the cliff it’s distinct shape.
Getting to Skjeggedal, where most people start the hike is easy; it’s only about 17 km outside of Odda. If you are comming from Bergen, it’s about 190 km away, along good highways (the drive itself is also a nice experience).
Driving on national road #13, turn east towards Tyssedalen up towards Hardangervidda (away from the fjord). From there you just follow the road to Skjeggedal (about 7 km). The road is narrow, like most mountain roads in Norway, but in good condition. Parking is available by Ringedalsvatnet for 100 NOK per day.
You can also get to Skjeggedal by public transport: take bus #995 from Odda. Guided tours are also available.
You can hike to Trolltunga all summer, from mid June to mid September — give or take, depending on the amount of snow, and when it melts.
The hike is longer and harder than the Pulpit Rock and some of the other famous hikes, but still manageable for most. You are looking at about 8–10 hours of hiking to get there and back, so it’s advisable to start early in the morning. Keep in mind that there is no cell phone reception in the area. Bring good hiking boots, extra clothes, a map and compass or a GPS. In the middle of the summer, when it’s dry, you can hike in regular running shoes (it will save some weight).
Be aware that weather can change quickly up in the mountains, and that fog can make navigation hard. Always check the weather forecast.
The first part of the hike goes along a trail on the right side of the funicular (Mågelibanen, not in operation). The first mile is quite steep, before the trail levels out. There is also a trail going under the funicular, but most people chose to walk ‘the stairs’. After this, another 2.5 miles of inclination before reaching Gryteskaret and Trombåsskaret, then continuing to Tyssvassbu and into Hardangervidda.
The trail slopes down to Store Floen. This is a good place to stop, and you’ll get a good view of the Folgefonna glacier and Ringedalsvatnet. The trail continues, steeply, up to Endanuten — which is the highest part. From there you’ll cross Tyssestrengene, which used to be a massive twin waterfall (they would have been the highest waterfalls in Norway today). These waterfalls are now gone, as they were pipelined in the 60’s.
From there the path continues to Tysshøl, before approaching Trolltunga.
On the way you’ll also see all sorts of beautiful surrounds as well as ‘Jettegryter’ which are ‘glacial potholes’ in the bedrock (see picture below).
The path is well marked all the way, with signs every half mile, and with red painted Ts like most tourist trails are.
Is it safe?
Any sort of hiking can be dangerous, even just small day trips. The biggest risk isn’t falling from the cliff — like some people may think — but that weather conditions can change quickly. Every year a few tourists get lost in Norwegian mountains. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, stick to the marked trail and be prepared with the essentials, such as dry warm clothes, a map, compass, etc.
There are no railings or other safety measures preventing you from falling down — and there hopefully will never be built any, as that would ruin the natural beauty of the cliff. While this might seem strange, keep in mind, thousands of tourists hike there every year, most sitting on the ledge and posing for photos (and some even doing acrobatics, as you can see in the first picture), and there hasn’t been a single casualty. Apply the normal precaution when doing any sort of nature activity and you’ll have nothing to worry about except for not having enough space on your memory cards for all the photos!
A lot of people confuse this destination with The Troll wall (‘Trollveggen’), a popular spot for BASE jumping.
Enjoy the view!
(Opening photo: Dag Endre Opedal, CC)