best way to hike Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten is without question one of the best hiking destinations in the world.

Bunes Beach hike

But it’s remote.

Also, Norway is very expensive.

The gateway for most people is the town of Bodø, the end of the train line north. It’s often cheaper and easier to fly as the train is a 17 hour overnight journey.

From Bodø you have options. If you don’t have your own transportation easiest is to make a loop by ferry and bus.

Take the fast passenger ferry Bodø to Svolvær. About 4 hours.

Your first hike should be Fløya & Devil’s Gate. The trailhead is about a half hour walk from the ferry landing.

From Svolvær you would take buses or hitchhike the only highway west through islands A to V to F to M. 

M Moskenes (Moskenesøya) has the best hiking. Save it for last.

Reine is the best base town for Moskenes. You can do 3-4 awesome hikes out of the same town.

From the village of Å (the last letter of the Norwegian alphabet) you can catch the slow ferry back to Bodø. About 4 hours.

By far the best hiking guidebook is Hiking the LOFOTEN ISLANDS by Kristin Folsland Olsen. Published 2017 in English, it will help you decide which hikes to do. Most are day hikes and many are scrambles. No need to order it online. It’s widely available on the islands.

The weather is dreadful. For any 7 day period during the hiking season you may have several days of serious wind and rain. These should be rest days if you have time.

If you have your own vehicle — or decide to rent a car — you can go when and where you want. That’s ideal.

related – travel 2 walk – trip report: Norway – Bødo & Lofoten Islands, August 2017

 

Norway’s Lofoten Islands – Reinebringen alternative Topp 730

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

The most famous hike on the Lofoten Islands — Reinebringen — was closed for the 3rd season in a row.

Happily, my guide book (2017) by Kristin Olsen recommended an alternative.

There’s a longer, muddier route to hike up to the coffin above Reine.

From there you can walk the ridge and scramble up to two different peaks, one unnamed but called on some maps Topp 730.

Best would be to have your own kayak or raft to get to the end of Djupfjorden. I didn’t … so had to walk the muddy shoreline from the bridge.

I camped near this point on my return, atop a huge flat boulder.

I’d been warned this section was worst. It was.

But the elixir of life kept me going.

Goal #1 was the red cabin at the end of the fjord.

From there you scramble as best you can to the top of the waterfall. No trail. I was with a French couple at this point.

It was a pleasure to reach the lake and easier scrambling.

It was another beautiful day well above the Arctic Circle.

I was super happy to reach the coffin. Gorgeous views.

There’s no real reason to go on.

But everyone up there, including me, went scrambling the cliff edge.

Finally I sat down to enjoy the vista and my Mexican pizza.

Everyone but me headed up left to this peak. An easy walk-up.

I went instead for the steeper scramble to my right of the coffin.

Though there was some exposure, it was a blast.

I left a Summit Stone.

A local hiker who had been there before looped down on the closed old Reinebringen trail, avoiding the Nepali construction team.

When I saw them working far below I finally turned back, not wanting to risk rock fall.

What a fantastic hiking day.

This is why I made the long trip to the remote Lofoten Islands.

Norway’s Lofoten Islands – hike Helvetestind (Hell’s peak) & Bunes beach

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

My first hike in stunning Lofoten above the Arctic Circle was a great one — Bunes beach.

The weather atypically gorgeous in Reine.

From here you catch a ferry to the end of the Bunesfjorden.

A Norwegian hiker told me he had this beach to himself on a sunny July day 9-years-ago. No more. It’s super popular in 2018. Our boat was packed.

Half the passengers were stuck like sardines in a can below deck. The other half sat up top. Yep … I was front and centre savouring the scenery.

The ferry was at least as good as the hike itself.

I’ve seen some amazing mountains. Dolomites. Yukon. Patagonia. But I can’t recall seeing so many astonishing peaks anywhere else. They were carved by huge, powerful glaciers.

Of two or three potential trailheads, most hikers alight at Vinstad.

Most dashed straight up the old carriage road to the beach to set up their tents.

I stopped, instead, at the pass for lunch.

Stashed the pack …

… then headed up Hell’s peak.

Actually it was easier than it looks.

This is Helvetestind (Hell’s peak) 602MASL (metres above sea level). That’s the beach below.

You can see Reine looking back down the fjord.

I took my time coming down.

Lofoten is gorgeous in so many ways.

Bunes beach is huge. I dropped my pack and went exploring while I still had sunlight.

Everyone sets-up under this huge wall.

Next morning I was first up and gone. I sat up on the pass enjoying my coffee in the sun while it was still shady down on the beach.

As a result I got back to Vinstad early.

People live here. I went exploring.

Homes are literally cabled to the ground to keep them from flying away during strong winter storms.

While waiting on the ferry a packraft stopped by. The German adventurer was going to try an off-trail climb for the second day in a row.

Less crowded, everyone got to stay up top on the return.

Reine is beautiful. A good kayaking fjord.

Reine is the best base town on the Lofoten Islands for me. You can do 3-4 great hikes like this from here.

famous Norwegian hike closed for Sherpas

For the 3rd season in a row Reinebringen out of Reine, Lofoten Islands is closed.

Several people have died in recent years on the tough, muddy scramble to this iconic vista.

The experts were called. Eight experienced trail builders from the Himalaya.

If people climbed there’s a risk of rock fall down to where they are working.

Out of respect for these guys, I did not climb it.

Reinebringen should open 2019. And be MUCH safer.

There is a good alternative (called by some) Topp 730 that gets you to very similar vistas.

hiking the Troll Tongue, Norway

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles. 

  • 23-27km return
  • 10-12 hours

Trolltunga (Troll Tongue) is a rock formation situated about 1,100 metres above sea level …

The special cliff is jutting horizontally out from the mountain, into free air about 700 metres (2,300 ft) above the north side of lake Ringedalsvatnet. …

Here’s the Instagram moment people expect.

Here’s the line-up ☹️ when I arrived on one of the best days of the year.

Before 2010 fewer than 800 people hiked to Trolltunga each year. In 2016 more than 80,000 people made the adventure!

It’s packed. 

I certainly didn’t wait.

Instead I walked on to try to find the little Pulpit which is about 2km further past the last emergency hut. It’s close to the best camping area.

Happily I had the small Pulpit to myself for about 25 minutes before anyone else showed up. A great lunch spot.

And I did get to dangle my feet over the edge.

Fact is it’s pretty easy to locate a private cliff edge in Norway. It has the second longest coastline in the world due to all those fjords. Go find your own.

Despite the mob scene at the Tongue I really enjoyed the hiking day. We lucked out and had great weather.

___

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Parking at the trailhead costs 500 NOK/day (approx. 62 USD or 52 EUR). And over 300 spots were full the morning I arrived. I had to park 6km lower on the mountain for 300 NOK/day … and take a golf cart up for 100 NOK. Yeesh!

Starting 2017 from the higher parking lot you can take a shuttle up an additional 4km for 100 NOK. Worried about finishing in daylight, I paid.

Just to get to the start of the hike cost me CAD $78.

Troll’s Tongue much longer but easier walking than the other two famous cliff edge hikes in Norway. Very enjoyable.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Safety is a big concern. September 2015 a 24-year-old Australian woman fell to her death, the first recorded fatality. There are about 40 rescues annually, most on the walk out due to fatigue or exposure. A few get lost.

An additional bonus is the crazy drive to get to the trailhead. I drove both up and down the entire mountain. It’s awesome.

tough hike to Kjeragbolten, Norway

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Every hiker has seen photos of the boulder wedged into a Kjerag mountain crevasse above a Norwegian fjord.

That’s 984m (3,228ft) high. It’s a popular site for BASE jumping.

A Russian BASE jumper was walking up at the same time as myself — some like to jump close to sunset — but he kept climbing past this spot to something more exciting.

I’d never heard it was a tough hike to get there.

Here’s the start of the easiest ascent from Øygardsstølen visitors center.

It’s 4-6 hour return over beautiful rocky terrain. Some scrambling. Very slippery. There are plenty of chain assists. I used many of them even in dry weather.

By comparison I would say this is much more challenging than Half Dome in Yosemite. And there are all kinds of inexperienced tourists with poor footwear.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Surprisingly, it sounds like nobody has ever fallen to their death from Kjeragbolten. (Not counting BASE jumpers.)

The boulder is not as death defying as the photos make it look.

In fact, the scramble down a rocky creek to get there is as difficult as climbing out on to that boulder.

Kjeragbolten itself is a 5-cubic-metre (180 cu ft) glacial deposit …

It is a popular tourist destination and is accessible without any climbing equipment. …

Yes, I was pretty happy to finally get here.

If you have a fear of heights, this might not be the best hike for you.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

More photos.

The Great Outdoors Is Getting Crowded [infographic]

Guest post by Dustin Walker

“National Parks Are Being Loved To Death.”

This headline has been repeated by media so often in 2018 that it’s become almost a cliché.  

And it’s all because of recent statistics showing a more than 21% spike in visitors to U.S. national parks over the past decade. Canada is no different. Park attendance there jumped 27% in the past decade.

All this extra foot traffic means more pressure on park infrastructure, increased human-wildlife conflicts and added stress on the environment (check out the infographic below for more details on this).

What’s causing the surge? No one seems to be certain. However, theories range from social media influence and demographic trends to successful state ad campaigns. But one solution to the problem — at least, from my perspective — is far more obvious:

We need to seek out the trails less traveled.

Much of the overcrowding in parks is happening at the most well-known outdoor “hotspots.” Places like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite in the U.S. Or Banff and Jasper in Canada.

And yet, there are plenty of lesser-known backpacking and hiking trails throughout North America that offer an amazing experience — without the crowds.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting you avoid the best hikes altogether — I’d hate to dissuade anyone from trekking the West Coast Trail or the John Muir Trail.

But I do think that tourism organizations, governments and — to some extent — the media should put more effort into promoting North America’s hidden gems. Whether it’s a little-known hiking trail, a rarely explored park or a lake that’s simply left off the typical tourist map.

Not only would this help alleviate some of the pressure on crowded national parks. It would also introduce more people to the thrill of exploring off-the-beaten path.

This infographic was made by Slick & Twisted Trails

DUSTIN WALKER’S BIO:

Dustin runs Slick & Twisted Trails – a blog for hikers & backpackers who shun the beaten path. Based on Canada’s Vancouver Island, Dustin is always on the hunt for those rare, less-traveled routes through the wilderness.