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.

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.

hiking the Pulpit, Norway

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles. 

  • 7.6km (4.8mi)
  • round-trip 3-4 hours plus Pulpit time
  • elevation differential 334m (1,096 ft)

Preikestolen (English: «Preacher’s Pulpit», «Preacher’s Chair» or «Pulpit Rock’») … is a steep cliff which rises 604 metres (1,982 ft) above the Lysefjorden. …

Tourism at the site has been increasing in recent years, with between 150,000 and 200,000 visitors in 2012 …

It’s crowded on a sunny day in August.

And it’s certainly going to get more crowded now that Tom Cruise was here.

If you want to have the Pulpit all to yourself, tent up there and go late evening or early morning. Tenting is legal, but not on the Pulpit itself.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

… authorities have opted not to install fencing or other safety devices as they felt it would detract from the natural beauty of the site and the fact that fatalities at the site are extremely rare …

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Up top I realized I’d left my good camcorder and tripod on my rent-a-car in the very busy parking lot. Surprise, surprise … it was still there when I got back 4 hours later.

related – Victoria’s trip report

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.

Ptarmigan Cirque, Alberta

I was born in Calgary, Alberta close to Banff. If you asked me to recommend the best day hike out of the city it would be Ptarmigan Cirque.

Hike Bike Travel:

It’s a 3.6 kilometre loop (if you include the interpretive trail) with 210 metres of elevation gain. There is the option to hike a section of the scramblers trail that heads for Mt. Rae.

For a short hike it delivers a tremendous variety of scenery – including coniferous forests, high alpine meadows, mountains and waterfalls. It’s the perfect hike to take your out of town guests who want a taste of the mountains without spending a full day in them – and it’s a great one for families too. …

Ptarmigan Cirque Hike In Kananaskis Country

The trailhead is off Highwood Pass (2,206m), getting you to elevation easily.

hiking Reflection Canyon, Utah

… The route is long, rough and remote — the trailhead from Escalante, Utah takes 2 to 3 hours to get to during periods of good weather — and you still have to navigate 8-9 miles off-trail through fully-exposed sand and sage brush, across slickrock, and up and down rutted desert ravines.

Don’t be fooled by the name either. This long, exposed hike is not really through a canyon …

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 16-18 miles out-and-back (26-29 km)
  • Days Needed: 2 days
  • Peak Elevation: 4,466 ft.
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,234 ft.
  • Best Travel Time: Late March to May and September to October
  • Permits: Required (see below)
  • Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult

Highlights

  • A stunning final vista
  • Beautiful sunrises and sunsets
  • Fabulous photo opps
  • Solitude, expect to see few other backpackers
  • Star-studded night sky
  • You can take your dog

Clever Hiker 

We’ve added Reflection Canyon to our list of best hikes in North America.

Cam Honan – Arthur Range Traverse, Tasmania

Cam Honan has hiked everything. Everywhere. But for me his most impressive trips have been his extreme Tasmania epics.

Floating rivers on his NeoAir mattress, for example.

For us mere mortals, he summarized his advice on a route called Arthur Range Traverse.

It’s only 48 miles (77km) but will take you 10-14 days, on average. With no resupply. You carry all that food on your back.

If not already decided there’s no way that sounds like fun, click through to …

Arthur Range Traverse Planning Guide

Hielo Azul circuit, El Bolsón, Argentina

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles 

Click PLAY or get a glimpse of my 3 day circuit on YouTube.

Getting to the trailhead at Camping Hue Nan is the most challenging navigation challenge.

You can road walk from El Bolsón as I did — 3 boring, dusty hours — or ask for bus directions to Camping Hue Nan. That trailhead may be changing. Check before you go. It was open to me February 2018

Look for the Acceso Refugio Hielo Azul sign.

I used the free Maps.me app and it worked perfectly for the entire circuit. On the other hand, I wished I’d hired a taxi or found the bus rather than done 3 hours of road walking.

Alternatively, there’s a way to start and finish a circuit by bus at Warton. The most popular trailhead.

You could reverse my route too, of course

El Bolsón, population 19,000 plus tourists is an excellent hiking town. It’s only 2 hours by bus from Bariloche, the bigger hiking destination in Argentina. Many hike both towns on the same trip.

Free registration is required. You don’t need to stick to your planned itinerary.

There are gear shops with camping fuel and fairly large grocery stores in town.

At the Mountain Information Office I bought a $4 amateur hiking guide partially translated to English. It’s not enough to navigate, but did provide some background information.

I was shocked to see some of the bridges here.

They are slowly being replaced by modern metal alternatives.

It was at least 1000m ascent and 4 hours up to Hielo Azul Refugio. My favourite alpine hut by far.

I was so happy to get there — and felt so warmly welcomed by the woman who greeted me — that I signed up for an 8pm $20 stew meal. My most expensive dinner in Argentina. (I brought my own wine.)

It really is paradise up here just below the glacier.

I paid $5 to tent.

Next morning I first registered at the mountain hut then scrambled the steep, 90 minute route up to the glacier. Beautiful.

I had some lunch on my return. Then set off on the clearly marked trail to Refugio Lago Natacion. An easy add-on.

From Natacion down to the Azul Canyon, however, was surprisingly steep and overgrown. Not many people do the circuit, I suspect, because this one section is quite challenging.

The canyon is impressive once you finally get there.

At one point you can straddle the gap, a long way above the crystal clear water!

I was reminded of Tiger Leaping Gorge. A tiger could easily leap this gorge, but not the one in China.

Tired, I decided to illegally wild camp by the river rather than walk the extra hour down to my designated refugio campground.

The trail out to Warton is a road accessible to motor vehicles. Swimming this river is the attraction, not the trail itself.

If my directions sound too sketchy, consider buying a map for about $10.

Aoneker 1:50,000 El Bolson 
(covers the following refuges: Co.Lindo, Hielo Azul, Natacion, Atillio & El Reramal)

Aoneker 1:120,000 Comarca Andina del Paralelo 42°
(covers all the refuges in the El Bolson region)

related – A Guide to Trekking in El Bolson, Patagonia

climbing Piltriquitrón out of El Bolson, Argentina

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

Click PLAY or watch my HOW TO video on YouTube.

As many do on this popular hike, I walked from El Bolsón, centro. Three hours of dusty, but tranquil road walking to get to the parking lot.

(Actually, I tried a trail alternative recommended on my Maps.me app. Bad idea, as it turned out. Coming down I stuck to the road.)

Taxi would cost at least $25. Drivers don’t like going up here. You MIGHT be able to join up with others to split the cost at a collectivo office near the Via Bariloche bus station.

It took me about 4 hours to reach the Piltriquitrón hut and campground.

After a brief siesta I headed over to the nearby El Bosque Tallado (carved forest). $5 entrance.

There are over 50 crude wooden sculptures with new ones being added. A fire in 1978 inspired lead artist Marcelo López to initiate this tourist attraction.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

The refuge has a superb location. People can’t get enough of the vistas.

I enjoyed dinner at sunset, myself, overlooking El Bolsón.

Alpenglow was lovely this evening. I didn’t edit this photo.

I was on the summit trail by 9am next morning.

Pack horses were grazing free.

Easy going until the final scramble before the top.

There’s a 360 degree vista from the peak.

A German living in El Bolson just spend 5 days up in those craggy, intensely glaciated peaks. Because there are no alpine huts, he had that wilderness to himself.

I could clearly see Tronador volcano about 100km distant.

Rick atop Piltriquitrón

I had done the 1800m ascent over 2 days.

I was back down to the hut by Noon. Back to town, very tired, by 3pm. That’s 1800m of descent.

Supposedly it’s easy to hitchhike back down from Piltriquitrón. I had no luck.