Trolltunga is located amongst the beautiful scenery of Norway’s mountains and fjords, perched above lakes and surrounded by snowy peaks. In the Norwegian language Trolltunga simply means the Troll’s Tongue, because this huge slab of rock looks exactly as we imagine a Troll’s tongue would. The hike to this natural monument is as spectacular as the rock itself, taking you through untouched scenery and showing you the best outdoor scenes that Norway has to offer.
With this guide to the Trolltunga Hike in Norway, you will find yourself prepared and ready to conquer the route in no time at all. Carry on reading for detailed information on location, the best time to go, what to take with you and importantly, what to expect on the hike itself.
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Where is the Trolltunga?
The Trolltunga is 27 kilometers round trip from the small Norwegian village of Skjeggedal. The rock itself is found protruding above the equally beautiful Lake Ringedalsvatnet. The troll’s tongue is 700 meters in the air at its highest point. Standing at the far end of the rock above the ground far below will leave you speechless at the end of the long hike.
The hike starts in the village of Skjeggedal, in the Odda Region of Norway. Odda is the nearest large town and is around 17 kilometers away from the Trolltunga itself. To get to Odda, it’s best to travel first to Bergen where there is an international airport and good transportation connections with the rest of the country, particularly the capital Oslo. From Bergen, it’s a 3-hour drive along 140 kilometers of winding roads to Odda, past mountains and alongside fjords.
If traveling by public transport from Bergen there is a daily bus during the summer months which will take you to Odda. Bus Route 930 takes around 3 and a half hours to reach Odda. It’s also possible to reach Odda from Oslo. There’s a direct bus known as the Haukeli Ekspressen which takes around 7 hours of travel time, or it’s possible to take a train to Voss and then change to a bus for the last leg to Odda.
From Odda there is a daily shuttle bus taking hikers from campsites and hotels in the town to the start point in Skjeggedal around 15 kilometers away or there are taxi services available.
How we did it: we had been cruising the Norwegian Fjords from way up in the North at Tromso ending in Bergen. So after we disembarked the ship we went to the bus station in Bergen and bought tickets to Odda. The bus ride took around 4 hours, there are a couple different route options and some are longer. We spent 2 nights in Odda before starting our Trolltunga hike (which we did in 2 days with camping).
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Where to Stay on the Trolltunga Hike
The Trolltunga hike is too far away from any major Norwegian city and the route is too long to be completed as a day trip, so inevitably you will need to stay overnight in Odda or the surrounding area. Accommodation choices include hotels, guesthouses and numerous campsites. We spent 2 nights at the Trolltunga Hotel, which is quite the hikers headquarters. At the beginning of June, every single person we met there was doing the Trolltunga hike, so it’s good conversation and atmosphere too.
It’s also possible to camp out on the trail itself, although not at the start of the hike or right at the end by the Trolltunga rock. If choosing to camp, you will need to bring all your own gear and be prepared for those cold Norwegian nights. It should also be said that you’re not allowed to camp near the trail or along the route to Trolltunga legally. If you want to abide by the local laws, you can hire a company to trek with that will allow you to legally camp at the end, thus making it a 2 day hiking trip.
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Best Time to Visit Trolltunga
The Trolltunga hike can only be attempted during the summer months. The exact length of a hiking season depends entirely on the weather, as this is some of Norway’s most beautiful yet inhospitable terrain. The winters are long, dark and snowy and the level of snowfall each year will determine when the hiking season can begin.
In general, the hiking season runs from June 15th to September 15th. During these summer months, it’s allowed to hike the trail unsupported. The weather is perfect and daylight hours are long. Earlier and later in the year, March to June and September to October the hike can be attempted only with the support of a professional local guide. Conditions are much tougher outside of summer, daylight hours are less and more training, experience and specialist equipment will be needed to complete the route safely. In winter the hike is closed completely. It’s just too dangerous.
We did the sunset/sunrise Trolltunga hike during the first week of June with Trolltunga Active.
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The Trolltunga Hike
The Trolltunga hike is approximately 27 kilometers round trip from the start point at Skjeggedal. It’s a long day hike and takes on average 10 to 12 hours of walking there and back. The trail is marked the entire distance. Follow the ‘T’ signs which are placed along the route, the rock cairns and the occasional distance markers which will let you know how far you’ve walked and just how far you have left to go.
It’s highly recommended that you start early in the day. During summer, the latest start time allowed is 10 am, but really it’s best to start earlier if you can to ensure you don’t have to rush back before the sun sets. The hike is not easy and the elevation is tough, but the landscapes and the scenery will be worth the struggle.
The hike begins at the car park in Skjeggedal next to an old, out of service funicular. The trail rises sharply uphill for the first kilometer or so. Most hikers say the first part of the route is the toughest, and even worse on the way back when you are tired and exhausted, so tread carefully on the initial, rocky start. The overall elevation gained on the hike to Trolltunga is just over 1000 meters. 450 meters of that is gained in the first kilometer or two. After that, it gets a lot easier so just persevere in the beginning and don’t give up.
The route can get muddy in summer as the snow melts and the tracks are trampled underfoot. Even in the middle of the summer months, you may find there is still snow and ice in the mountains, like we did. That’s Norway for you. Always icy. After the first few kilometers, the trail is still uphill but more gradual and you’ll begin to enjoy the sweeping mountain views over the lake below and the glaciers in the distance. The scenery is unreal and after 4 or 5 hours of walking, depending on your fitness and speed, you will arrive at the ultimate destination, the Trolltunga.
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This hike is proving ever more popular. Since the unusual Trolltunga began to gain fame and popularity just a few years ago visitor numbers have risen exponentially each hiking season. That means that at the end of the hike there will probably be a queue at the Troll’s Tongue to stand on the edge for that perfect picture. You wouldn’t walk all that way and not take a selfie, would you?
There are no safety railings so be careful on the edge. One tourist was tragically killed here after falling from the rock in 2015. Trolltunga etiquette insists that hikers wait their turn to walk out onto the narrow ledge, spend a minute or so getting a picture and then allow others to do the same. Depending on how busy the hiking trail is, the longer the queue could be. In the height of summer, it can take up to twenty minutes to wait your turn.
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Guided vs Unguided Hiking
During summer the hike can be walked unguided, but during the shoulder months, a guide is required. Trolltunga Active is a local company based in the nearby town and they offer guided tours of the route. As I mentioned before, we went with them and had a fantastic time. Their guides are very knowledgable and also trained in backcountry first aid and rescue. The benefits of the guided trips are local knowledge of the route, which can potentially be dangerous. There’s no chance of getting lost and if something goes wrong, there are professionals on hand to help too.
The negatives are of course extra costs and lack of independence. During the peak summer months, a guide is unnecessary, as conditions are easier and there are plenty of other hikers on the trail too.
Preparing for the Trolltunga Hike
The hike is tough. Do not underestimate the level of fitness and the time required to complete the hike. Prepare for the hike with advanced training, making sure you can walk the required distance in the time given. The climb at the start is strenuous. We saw way too many people hiking in the wrong gear and not carrying the proper provisions. As the hike becomes more popular there are more and more accidents and rescues happening on this route. Do not be one of them, be prepared to be in the backcountry before you start this hike.
Be prepared by wearing solid hiking boots that you’ve worn on previous hikes and carry enough food for the day. Take water, but remember it’s possible to fill up from the streams as the water in the mountains here is pure, glacial runoff and perfectly safe. Also, do not forget to bring re-hydration packets with electrolytes. When it is warm, you will sweat profusely and need these to maintain your muscle health and strength on the hike.
There are no facilities on the trail and the last toilet is at the car park where the hike begins. If you are camping out, be sure to be self-sufficient. Always carry extra warm clothing that you can keep dry, as the weather in Norway’s mountains can be unpredictable at best. You don’t want to get caught lacking supplies.
Weather in Norway is notorious for changing fast. You might start the hike in sunny, warm weather, only to encounter high winds and cold half way through the hike. Do not undertake this hike without warm clothing, even if you are starting in shorts. Bring an extra pair of socks and a hat.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is not bringing enough food on this hike. Even the fittest person is going to need 10 hours for this hike. You will be expending high amounts of calories and you need to fuel yourself right. Eat a big, calorie dense breakfast in the morning before you start and pack a high calorie lunch to take with you on the hike. In addition, bring quality snacks such as protein bars, chocolate or nuts to eat during the hike. Remember, it is better to finish the hike with food still in your backpack than to be up there without any fuel.
Our Trolltunga Packing Quick List:
- Well-worn hiking boots
- Warm Layers
- Rain jacket and rain pants
- Buff Headwear
- Hiking Poles
- 20-30L backpack
- Water bottle or bladder, minimum size 1 liter
- Extra Socks
- Rehydration/Electrolyte Sachets
- Blister Kit
- Basic First Aid Kit
- 2 Calorie Dense Meals
- Several Calorie Dense snacks (chocolate, nuts, trail mix, energy bars)
Trolltunga Tips & FAQ’s
Start early. If you are planning to do this hike in 1 day, like most do, be sure to give yourself as much time as possible. The earlier the better but be sure you do not start walking any later than 9 am.
Pack enough food. I cannot say this enough, it is essential that you pack enough fuel for this hike. It is strenuous and long. Do not set off without enough food for two calorie dense meals. Snacks can also help boost your moral and energy on the way back.
Take electrolytes with you. Or re-hydration sachets. We personally witnessed people suffering from extreme physical exhaustion when we were there because it was warm, they weren’t taking in enough water and were outside of their physical comfort zone. Our guide even shared stories of people having to be airlifted out from dehydration. This is easily preventable by drinking at least 2-3 liters of water each way and downing some electrolytes if it is warm out.
Take hiking poles. We saw a lot of people walking without poles who stared enviously at ours. Your legs will thank you for the extra support and stability, especially on the way back.
Bring a proper backpack. You need something big enough to carry all of your layers, food and water bottle. Ideally, choose something with a hip belt to distribute the load correctly. I would recommend a 20-30 liter bag at a minimum.
Trolltunga Costs. There is no fee to hike Trolltunga independently. There are a couple of companies based in Odda that offer guided Trolltunga day hikes and overnight trips at a fee. Most people opt to hike independently and take the shuttle from town to the trailhead.
Parking. If you have a car and drive yourself to the trail start you have two options, both are paid. The main original lot is where most people will park and the cost is not cheap at NOK500. Last summer a paved road was finished that leads to the top of the hill, meaning you could cut out that first big climb and save yourself 1.5 hours of hiking. The drive up is very steep, with many hairpin turns ending at a small parking lot at the top. It costs NOK600 to secure one of the 30 spots, which are available on a first come, first served basis. It is also possible to take a shuttle to this parking lot and start the hike from there.
Bathrooms. There are toilets at the trailhead. Make sure you use them before you set off as there are no toilets on the trail. While hiking, be sure to abide by proper bush toilet etiquette and do not leave toilet paper on the ground. Carry out what you carry in or bury it properly.
Official trail opening is June 15 through September 15. During this time you are not required to have a guide to hike to Trolltunga. You will find the trail markers are highly visible during this time and there will be plenty of other hikes on the trail.
Hiking the trail from September 16 to June 14 requires hiring a guide. The Trolltunga hike leads you through high terrain with ever changing mountain conditions. You are likely to encounter temperamental weather, snow and adverse conditions during this time period. It is not uncommon for ill-prepared people to require a rescue during this period.
Emergency Huts. After an increase in tourist rescues along this hike, there have been a series of emergency shelters installed along the trail. These huts are bare bones but act as protection from the elements if your find yourself caught out in bad weather. If you find yourself in an emergency situation, make your way to the nearest hut and stay there. This increases your chances of being retrieved quickly by the mountain rescue team.
Garbage on the trail. Do not leave trash on the trail. Do not leave ANYTHING on the trail, for that matter. This goes for unwanted clothing and camping gear too. It was appalling to me how many sleeping pads, sleeping bags and tents were just left on the trail. If you walk in with it, you need to walk out with it.
Our Personal Thoughts on Trolltunga
This hike is gorgeous, hard and the word is out. It is one of the most sought after spots in Norway, for good reason but it shouldn’t be underestimated. We lucked out and had some of the most beautiful weather possible in Norway. It was sunny, bright and warm making for good walking conditions. We chose to break the hike up over 2 days so that we could really enjoy being at Trolltunga. We took our time on the way there, arriving late afternoon and having time to wait until the crowds thinned.
Apart from a handful of other people, we enjoyed a quiet sunset over the fjord and trolls tongue. Since we camped, we got up early to watch the sunrise and had the whole place to ourselves before the early riser crowds started to arrive. When we set off at 10am, the line for photos was already 20 people deep. I really think there is satisfaction to gain in taking the time to camp in the area and enjoy the silence that comes with that.
Does it meet expectations and do we feel it was worth the effort? Absolutely! The Trolltunga hike is a Top 100 Travel Adventure for a good reason and if you’re physically capable of doing it and can commit do being properly prepared it’s an amazing adventure that we highly recommend you undertake on your next trip to Norway.
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