FREE Wild Camping in Norway

Report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

I hiked and bikepacked Norway for many weeks summers of 2018 and 2022.

Norway IS expen$ive. The best way to lower your holiday costs is to sleep FREE in your tent.

A longstanding law called allemannsretten (loosely translated as ‘the right to roam’) allows everyone to wild camp virtually anywhere in open country, for free.

Langøyene island, a 15-minute ferry ride away from Oslo, has grassy glades to pitch up in, right next to the fjord. Sognsvann lake, north of Oslo, is another good spot. …

CAMPING IN NORWAY: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

That sounds GREAT.

However — it’s a small percentage of Norway that is both flat enough and dry enough to pitch a tent. I was happy I carried a foam sleeping pad as well as my air mattress. I put it UNDER the tent to keep everything a little drier.

If you can’t find a good free spot, it’s easy to locate one of the 1,000 or so paid campsites.

Protection from the wind is another problem. I did hear of wind breaking tent poles. It’s often gusty.

A hiker had recommended this free spot in Sommarøy⁩. Ideal. Wooden tent pad with protection from the ocean wind.

I like having a picnic table to organize gear and sit down for meals.

This was the closest free site I could find near Svolvær⁩. No picnic table.

Here are a few more typical sites.

Last night tenting, I found my MSR Hubba™ NX Easton Syclone tentpole had brokensomehow. It’s the most unreliable part of MSR tents, along with their lightweight zippers.

My favourite campsite was Uttakleiv Beach, Lofoten. But this cost $20 / night. It’s the trailhead for the Veggen and the more popular Mannen climbs.

British Columbia Hikes NOT Requiring Reservations

British Columbia is a fantastic hiking destination. BUT campgrounds and some of the best hiking areas require difficult-to-aquire permits — most famously, the West Coast Trail.

Happily, Taryn Eyton, author of Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia, details many great hikes that DO NOT require permits:

No permits required for the Sunshine Coast Trail

Vancouver Island

  • Juan de Fuca Trail in Juan de Fuca Marine Provincial Park near Port Renfrew (requires backcountry permits)
  • Wild Side Trail on Flores Island near Tofino (requires a water taxi to reach the trailhead)
  • Forbidden Plateau Core, Bedwell Lakes, Elk River Trail, and Arnica Lake in Strathcona Provincial Park (All require backcountry permits except Arnica Lake.)
  • Nootka Trail on Nootka Island near Gold River (requires a water taxi to reach the trailhead)
  • North Coast TrailCape Scott Trail, and San Josef Bay in Cape Scott Provincial Park near Port Hardy (requires backcountry permits, North Coast Trail requires a water taxi to reach the trailhead)
  • Raft Cove in Raft Cove Provincial Park near Port Hardy (requires backcountry permits)
  • Carmanah Valley in Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park (requires backcountry permits)

Interior and Eastern B.C.

  • Trophy Meadows in Wells Gray Provincial Park near Clearwater (requires backcountry permits)
  • Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park near Keremeos (requires backcountry permits)
  • Okanagan High Rim Trail near Vernon and Kelowna
  • Spectrum Lake in Monashee Provincial Park near Cherryville (requires backcountry permits)
  • Gwillim Lakes in Valhalla Provincial Park near Slocan
  • Kaslo Lake in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park near Nelson (requires backcountry permits)
  • Earl Gray Pass in Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park near Kaslo
  • South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park near Lillooet

Northern B.C.

  • Hunlen Falls in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park near Bella Coola (requires backcountry permits)
  • Monkman Memorial Trail in Monkman Provincial Park near Tumbler Ridge
  • Wokkpash Valley and McDonald Creek in Stone Mountain Provincial Park near Fort Nelson
  • Mount Edziza in Mount Edziza Provincial Park near Dease Lake

Backcountry permits are not reservations. And they don’t sell out.

Taryn has more advice for hikers in this post:

How to Go Backpacking in BC Without Reservations

Hiking Banff’s Sulphur Mountain in Winter

Climbing Sulphur Mountain from Banff, Alberta is popular year round. But during the winter you can ride the Gondola back down for FREE. 😇

It’s easy to get to the very top of a Rocky Mountain peak.

Magical.

Click PLAY or watch a short video on YouTube.

655 metres elevation gain on switchback trails — easy in the summer, but potential slippery and dangerous with snow and ice.

Once you reach the Sulphur Mountain Gondola top station, the best is yet to come. A network of trails along the ridge, and viewing decks at the gondola station, provide stunning views of Banff, the Bow Valley, and 360-degree views in every direction.

The highest point is the historic Cosmic Ray Station.

On return to the bottom, consider the short walk over to Banff Upper Hot Springs. Let’s call it recovery.

Click PLAY or see the Gondola and the Above Banff interpretive centre on YouTube.

related – Banff Blog – How to Hike Sulphur Mountain (Alternative to Banff Gondola)

BestHike #1 – West Coast Trail, British Columbia

West Coast Trail is our top hike in the world.

Click PLAY or watch a 1-minute preview on YouTube.

West Coast Trail

Challenging in many ways.

So much VARIETY in pristine Canadian coastal wilderness.

Mystic dawns and mind-blowing sunsets. Hidden pocket coves and weird coastal geology.

You’ll never forget the West Coast Trail.

WCT ladders

AT A GLANCE

  • 75 km (47 mi), 5-7 days Pachena Bay <> Gordon River
  • 3-5 day routes possible via Nitinaht Village trailhead
  • southwestern edge of Vancouver Island
  • Pacific Rim National Park
  • Permits required 
  • May 1 – September 30
  • extremely rugged, requires a high level of fitness
  • 6,000+ backpackers / year

Read more on our WCT information page.

I have a 2021 PCT Permit

BestHike editor Rick McCharles

I applied online during the first few minutes applications opened for sections 500 miles or longer.

BUT I reckon there’s less than a 50% chance I’ll actually get on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2021:

  • could be cancelled due to COVID, as in 2020
  • travel could be impossible due to COVID
  • forest fires are often an issue
  • might decide travel is unethical in 2021

BUT hope for the best, plan for the worst.

I’m hoping for at least 500 miles.

Starting mile 702 – Kennedy Meadows – starting July 10th heading north towards the Oregon border.

That’s good timing for the John Muir Trail, the best section of the PCT.

http://musashe.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Overview-Map-CA.png

I watched Tim Seymour‘s excellent John Muir Trail northbound video for tips on how to get started on my way up to Whitney.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

BestHike #8 – Everest Base Camp / 3 Passes

The Everest Base Camp via 3 Passes is one of our top 10 hikes in the world.

Click PLAY or watch a 1 minute introduction on YouTube.

Base Camp / 3 Passes

Everyone wants to hike to Everest Base Camp (5,320m / 17,450ft). The 3 Passes route is the most epic.

Based on weather and fitness, you can do one or more passes as well as peaks like Kala Pattar (5,545m) that don’t require a permit.

base camp sign

AT A GLANCE

Nepal
  • majority of hikers in the Everest region hire a guide, porter(s) and/or pack animal(s) but it’s fairly easy to do independently
  • guided trekkers stay in lodges, or sprawling tent encampments
  • October to November best months
  • beginning of March to mid-May next best
  • 16-18 days minimum for 3 Passes. 21 days would allow for rest / illness / sidetrip / and other unanticipated delays.
  • if you don’t have time, it’s recommended 14 days just to get to Base Camp and back safely.
  • generally easy hiking on good trails with a light pack. Some very challenging, potentially dangerous sections, if you cross any of the 3 Passes
  • on the main trails buy food as you go and stay in simple “lodges”
  • Everest trails are not expensive, but many spend more than they anticipate on luxuries
  • be clear — you might have to QUIT if by bad luck or rushed ascent you suffer altitude sickness (Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS).
  • many suffer respiratory problems. And fatigue.

Read more on our Everest Base Camp / 3 Passes information page.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

Winn and her husband Moth, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness, became homeless after a bad investment and decided to walk the 630-mile (1,010 km) South West Coast Path. …

In September 2019 it was the number one bestselling book in UK independent bookstores.

An excellent read.

The couple had not hiked for decades. Pretty much everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

And they survived on an income of about £40 a week.

Amazon

related – Couple walked 630 miles and lived in a tent after bad investment left them homeless

HOW to trek Paine in Chile

UPDATE – National Parks in Chile have been closed. 

If you’ve ever researched the Paine Circuit in Chile, you know that it’s complicated.

Difficult to make reservations from overseas

Happily, Kraig Adams arrived March 2020 with no reservation and yet had a terrific hike.  The last half of the video is TIPS on how you could do the same.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

AT A GLANCE

  • close to the southern tip of South America
  • 100km (62mi) Paine Circuit is unique & gorgeous
  • recommended 9 days, 8 nights
  • shorter, easier 5-day alternative calledthe W

Paine

Read more on our Paine Circuit information page.

(via Adventure Blog)

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