Tips for Hiking Trolltunga

Last weekend, my sister and I embarked on one of the most physically demanding challenges of our life. We hiked up to Trolltunga (“troll’s tongue”), a cliff jutting horizontally out of a mountain about 2,300 feet above the north side of lake Ringedalsvatnet in the city of Odda, Norway. While the hike has been gaining popularity in recent years, it is far from a mainstream tourist attraction that can be experienced casually; it requires thorough planning and preparation for a fun and safe experience. I’ll share with you our experience and our tips for hiking Trolltunga so that you can be best prepared for a fun and safe hike. Ultimately, despite some excruciating knee pain towards the latter part of the hike, the 11 hours we spent hiking was absolutely worth it for the view and for the sheer sense of accomplishment we received from having conquered one of the most difficult hikes in the world.

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

Trolltunga

The day before our hike, we went to the grocery store and bought two long baguette loaves and some lunch meat and cheese. We made four sandwiches out of each loaf, which turned out to be the perfect amount of food for our 11 hour hike. Make sure you pack enough food for the day, as there are no opportunities for you to purchase food once you begin your hike.

We had originally planned our hike for July 1, but the online weather tracker for Trolltunga predicted lots of rain that day, so we pushed our hike back to July 2, which showed more promising weather. We had planned to arrive at the base of the hike at 6:00am, as the weather forecast showed sunshine from 6:00-12:00 and scattered rain from 12:00-6:00pm. After paying for parking and eating a quick breakfast (one of the sandwiches we packed), we began our hike at 6:35am. According to the website for Trolltunga, the entire hike is 23 kilometers (or approximately 14 miles), but this appears to be an exact, straight line measurement, whereas in reality the hike is closer to 26 km, or 16 miles. According to two GPS’s we carried on us that day, we ended up hiking 22 miles total due to an accidental detour we took, which I’ll talk more about later.

READ MORE: Hiking Buarbreen: A Journey to the Glaciers

The first kilometer of the hike is an almost vertical ascent consisting of some rock steps and uphill climbs over sections of dirt/grass/twigs. It’s difficult to see from the photos below just how steep this ascent is, but imagine climbing stairs for one kilometer. It took us about 40 minutes to climb the first kilometer.

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

A section of the first kilometer – you can see the rock steps to the left and more of a dirt/twigs climb on the right

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

A break in the first kilometer with a nice view out to the lake

At the end of the first kilometer, the ground levels out a bit, and we came across some wide, flat rocks looking out onto the base of the mountain, with water cascading down. This is a great time to fill up your water bottle and take a breather after the rigorous first km. Speaking of which, there is no need to pack multiple bottles of water because all the water you encounter on your hike will be safe to drink, so when you see a small creek or cascade, fill up your water bottle and stay hydrated!

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

Still smiling after the first km

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

Facing the top of the mountain after the first km

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

You’ll see quite a bit of these cascades along the way – this is a great place to fill up your water bottle

The next section (about 1 km or so) is mostly flat, with alternating rocks and planks guiding the way. This was by far the easiest section of the hike, so use this section to save up some energy for the remainder of the hike.

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

Large rocks guiding the way

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

Some areas were too muddy to walk through, so there were planks over it for us to walk on

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

Even on flat ground, the view was beautiful

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

There were creeks scattered throughout the flat area – as you can see already there are plenty of opportunities for you to fill up your water bottle

The flatlands lead to another ascent, although this time not nearly as steep as the first kilometer. Unfortunately I did not get any photos of this section as I was probably too focused on making it up the ascent to take out my camera. Near the end of the ascent, we ended up accidentally veering off the path, which contributed to the extra hour we took going up and down and the extra 6 miles or so that we ended up hiking. It was sort of a blind-leading-the-blind situation as we were following a group of hikers, and there were around 10 of us in the same vicinity of each other, for quite a while before someone looked at a map and realized we had gotten completely off track. The confusion mostly stemmed from the fact that the (wrong) trail we were following was also marked by the red T’s that we had been following to arrive at this point. I still have not figured out where those T’s lead, so if you’ve hiked Trolltunga and know of any alternate routes, please let me know!

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

The ascent led to a rockier area

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

This is where we veered off the path. You can see the hikers in front of us who we were following

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

I think we were supposed to be was on the other side of the water, where you can see a couple of hikers in the distance

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

On the wrong path… we hiked all the way to the top of this mountain before realizing our mistake and hiked all the way back down

By the time we realized we had veered off track, we had climbed what was perhaps the second most challenging portion of the hike (after the first km), as we were scaling the side of a mountain. Many times we had to climb on all fours to get over a large rock, and as there was no clearly marked trail, we had to create our own. Once we realized our mistake, we had to climb all the way back down the mountain, which turned out to be an even bigger feat than climbing up, as many of the rocks were loose or slippery from the rain, and we again had to create our own trail. When we finally reached the correct path, we were drained and starting to feel some pain in our knees. At this point (around the 4km or 5km mark), my sister contemplated quitting and turning around, but I insisted that we keep going as this is what we set out to do.

For the next five kilometers or so, the trail was undulating but nothing as exhausting as the first kilometer. I do not have many photos from this portion of our hike as we were already quite exhausted and simply wanted to reach the top as quickly as possible. Here are the few I was able to get.

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

A nice waterfall around 7km

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

It had started to drizzle a bit at this point, but the view was still beautiful

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

Much of the terrain was like this – rocky with patches of water

At last, we reached the top around 11:45am, approximately five hours after we began, including our accidental detour which took around one hour. When we reached the top, there were already a lot of people there and a queue to go out onto the cliff for photos. We asked a stranger to take our photo for us, and I found that everyone was very generous about taking photos for each other as everyone wanted a photo on the ledge. The view was stunning, to say the least. The ledge was pretty big, so it wasn’t that scary walking out, but as I was inching toward the far edge of the cliff on my bottom to get a photo sitting on the ledge, I made the mistake of looking down into the valley and felt a moment of panic before quickly moving away from the edge.

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

My sister on the edge of the cliff

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

Me and my sister bravely jumping near the edge of the cliff

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

Me sitting on the edge of the cliff, after I made the mistake of looking down. Probably a good thing you can’t see my face clearly in this photo

There was also another area off to the side of Trolltunga, where there was no line for photos and much fewer people. We sat there for lunch, and my sister took a little rest, which made for a great photo.

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

The less crowded area off to the side

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

Lunch with a view

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

Taking a rest

The lunch + rest gave us so much energy that we then decided to have a mini photo shoot while we were at it…

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT BlogTips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

The climb back down was very challenging for us. My sister had sprained her ankle a few weeks ago, and although we had taped it up for this hike, she still felt some pain from her previous injury. My knees started to hurt so intensely around halfway down that it took us an entire hour to hike one kilometer at one point. By the time we reached the bottom at around 5:30pm, we could hardly walk at all, and my hands were completely swollen, which I later found out is a pretty normal side effect of going on a long hike due to the body’s decreased sodium levels and increased water intake, which travels into the cells and causes them to swell. My hands had returned to their normal size by the next morning.

While all of that sounds quite painful, it was 100% worth it. The views along the way were breathtaking, but more than that the sense of accomplishment I received upon completing the hike is something I still feel today. I proved to myself that I could do something I don’t typically do, and now any other challenge feels less challenging compared to the day I hiked 22 miles and almost could not walk at the end of it.

READ MORE: Three Days in the Norwegian Fjords

We also saw a number of people camp on the mountain. If you’re looking to break up your day, it may be a good idea to camp overnight near the top of the mountain. This way, you will also be able to enjoy the view at Trolltunga before the crowds arrive. If you’re new to camping, please read this guide for dealing with emergencies while camping before you go.

Also keep in mind that neither my sister nor I trained for this hike. While I’d like to think I am relatively in shape for someone who sits at a desk for 10+ hours each day for her job, if this is your daily situation, working out a few times a week will not prepare you for this hike. I would recommend training on a stair machine (or walking up and down stairs in a building) every day in preparation for this hike, and doing some endurance training as well. I also have a history of knee problems (tendonitis and ligament sprains) and did not do any physical therapy to prepare my knees for the intensity of this hike. Keep in mind you will be hiking on average 10-12 hours, so that is the level of endurance you’ll need to be prepared for.

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga:

  • Have proper hiking gear. The weather on this hike changes constantly, so you may be wearing a t-shirt at the beginning of the hike and five layers by the end of the hike. Here is what I would recommend and what I wore:
    • Waterproof hiking shoes – I wore the Quest Prime GTX from Salomon, and they worked great for me. My sister wore the Ellipse 2 Aero from Salomon, and she said they provided great traction. Both were great for keeping water out, and when water did get into our shoes, it dried out very quickly.
    • Hiking or wool socks – also bring an extra pair of socks in your backpack to change into in case the pair you are wearing gets wet. Smartwool has a good wool hiking sock you can find here.
    • Windproof/waterproof jacket – my sister and I both wore Bergans’ Super Lett Lady jacket, which is a thin jacket but did a great job of keeping out the wind and rain.
    • Windproof/waterproof pants – I wore leggings inside of waterproof pants from Jotunheim and found the double layer to be perfect.
    • Gloves – we actually did not wear gloves for this hike as we had worn them for a shorter hike the day before, and they got completely drenched in the rain and did not have time to dry off before this hike. I would highly recommend you bring gloves though, as my hands were freezing during much of the hike.
  • Bring plenty of food but only one water bottle (as discussed above, all water along the hike is good drinking water). I brought my 1L Camelbak water bottle and filled it up several times along the way.
  • Train for the hike! The best exercises to do are stairs and endurance training.
  • Bring a DSLR camera if you have one as you will have many opportunities for great photos. I brought my Nikon D3200 camera with my wide angle lens and portrait lens. I primarily used my wide angle lens, except for the few photos we took of ourselves at the top of the hike.
  • Bring hiking poles – we did not use hiking poles, but they have been recommended to us, and we saw many people using them, which seemed to be a big help especially with coming down the mountain. However, do also consider that it can create more bulk and become an annoyance to have to set down constantly if you plan to take photos along the way.
  • Check the weather before you go, and listen to locals’ advice. If you are advised not to go because the weather conditions are too dangerous, listen to the locals! They know what they are talking about, and listening to their advice may just save your life.
  • There are no restrooms along the way, so try to use the restroom before you start your hike, and for the rest of the hike you will just have to figure it out on your own.
  • Start early! If you get to the top by 10:00am or so, there is usually no queue for photos. By noon, Trolltunga is packed with people. We spent 1 hr 15 min at the top, which included a lunch break, photos, and some exploring around the side cliffs.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to go with a trained professional, you can book a tour through this link and use code MVMT for a 5% discount.

Have you hiked Trolltunga? Did you find our tips for hiking Trolltunga to be helpful? Do you have any other tips to add? Let us know in the comments below!

Tips for Hiking Trolltunga | MVMT Blog

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Author: Diana Chen

Recently left my job as an attorney to pursue the work-from-anywhere/travel-everywhere life. I blog about traveling the world with a full time job, confronting your travel addiction, and pursuing your passions without going broke. Just got back from a month-long trip to Southeast Asia and currently prepping for Cuba.

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34 thoughts on “Tips for Hiking Trolltunga

    1. Thank you! It’s important to be very careful out there, especially when it is rainy and the rocks can be slippery. Looking down into that valley was terrifying for sure, but totally worth it as long as you are careful! (:

    1. I would highly recommend it! We did not camp there, but we saw a number of people camping out. Would love to hear about your experience if you guys end up going!

    1. Definitely – that would be one of my most important pieces of advice! At one point I was sweating in a t-shirt, and by the time I got to the top, I thought my fingers were going to get hypothermia. Bring gloves!

  1. Oh dear, bit unfortunate that you had to walk an hour longer because of the detour! Funnily enough, while reading this I knew exactly where you deviated off – it’s an easy mistake to make.

    Great tips – especially about clothing! A lot of people underestimate how quickly the weather changes and how different hiking in Norway is to a lot of other places in the world.

    1. Ahh that’s funny that you know exactly where we veered off. We followed the red T’s but we must’ve followed the wrong set. Do you know why there were red T’s leading that way, and where that actually leads? And yes, luckily one of my friends had hiked Trolltunga a few times before, so she made sure we were well prepared with the right clothes going in.

  2. Trolltunga looks amazing! I would definitely have to get a bit fitter before I could hike for 11 hours. The cascades are beautiful. I would have liked to have seen your face more clearly after you looked down ?

    1. Haha, that would not have been a face fit for the cameras. And yes, I would definitely train for it next time – my knees have never been in so much pain in my life as they were after the hike. Even with all that said, it was still totally worth it though 🙂

  3. I’ve always wondered how photos are taken. Do you pass it to a stranger and then run to the edge? As it looks very far from camera place to where humans stand!

    Great tips about the hike! Now I’m wondering if I have the courage to do it on my own one day.. and how to pee in the wild >.<

    1. We wondered the same thing before we got there, but once we got there, we found everyone to be extremely friendly and helpful with taking photos for each other since everyone wanted a photo there. There was a moment when I handed my fancy camera to a stranger that I thought, what if he runs away with this and I never see my camera again? But honestly most people there are like you, traveled long distances to get there, worked really hard trekking to that spot, and they just have no interest in ruining your vacation.

      Peeing in the wild was a new experience, especially since the trail was pretty much occupied with people the whole time! We had to really take advantage of our moments without anyone around, or veer off the path a bit to hide behind some trees. To be honest though – and maybe this is TMI – during the entire 11 hours we only had to pee once. We were drinking water nonstop but also sweating it all out since the hike was so intense!

  4. What a great hike. The pictures on ‘the edge of the cliff’ are ones for the gand kids, I love hiiking and Norway is not far from Scotland, One day I shall visit, it’s a dream of mine. Great post, girls, thanks for sharing!

    1. You’ve really got no excuse not to go then – Scotland’s not far at all! If you love the outdoors at all, you’ll love the views on this hike. A few times, I had to force myself to put my camera away because I was taking photos of the same things, but the scenery was just too beautiful not to capture.

  5. These photos are amazing. It does look like a tough climb. I really hate it when I have to retrace my steps because I”ve gone wrong, so good on you for just getting on with it.
    I would really like to do something like this, but I’m a bit of a fair-weather hiker. But the photos do tempt me 🙂

    1. The hike is pretty intense if you’re not feeling like being that dedicated to finishing it, and I won’t lie, there were a few times when we thought about quitting. I would recommend doing some sort of physical training (climbing stairs would be a great exercise) before attempting this if you’re not an avid hiker. 🙂

  6. It sounds like a seriously tough climb – good on you and your sister for completing it with your respective knee and ankle injuries/pain. I also had no idea about the fact your hands swell after an intense climb – but it makes sense. I suppose you just need to make sure you stay hydrated and make sure you have enough food to sustain you throughout the climb. The view is totally worth it tho!

    1. I had no idea about the hands swelling either and had to Google it! I was actually pretty concerned about it at first because I had never seen my hands or any part of my body swell up to that size before! Definitely good idea to bring enough food since you won’t have any opportunities to buy food once you’re up there. Not much to scavenge either, since we didn’t see a single animal on our hike.

  7. omg! These views are truly amazing. It looks like the difficult hike was totally worth it! I’ve never been to Norway but for sure I’d love to. I like hiking but I thing I should train a bit more before starting this hike 😀 I’ll keep your tips for when I do it!
    Thanks for sharing 😉

    1. We definitely wish we would’ve trained before doing this. We thought we were in relatively good shape, but we don’t hike regularly and had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. I’d recommend doing stair climbers daily before the hike. Hope you get to visit Norway and hike Trolltunga someday. 🙂

  8. Well done for sticking at it after the detour. The photo shoot at the top wouldn’t have happened if you had gone back and that looked like a very memorable moment for you guys. I love the picture of your sister on the cliff that’s my favourite from this post. It was worth carrying the DSLR and lenses up there to capture such beautiful images. I wonder what it would have been like if you went up the first day in the bad weather?

    1. Thanks, James, absolutely it was worth it. I hate quitting – just by principle – and with these added views, I would’ve regretted it forever had I quit mid-hike. I’m not sure what it would’ve been like had we hiked the first day in worse weather. I think it rained a lot more the first day, so that would’ve been challenging. It did rain on and off the day we hiked as well though, and climbing back down that mountain with all the rain and mud was definitely challenging.

  9. Woww.. that hike was worth all the effort and thank god you made it all the way to glacier following the wrong path and were back safe and sound. I always wanted a pic like your sister, would love to visit someday.

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