Trolltunga – the Troll’s Tongue – in Norway is a daring and beautiful rock formation that has gained immense popularity in the last few years. A young cook in Tyssedal, the last town before the trailhead, told me that in 2010, about 10’000 hikers went up to Trolltunga every year. In 2016, they expected far more than 100’000 adventurers hiking up to the challenging scenery. Waiting times to take a photo on one of Norway’s most picturesque rocks can easily exceed 45 minutes. However, what might seem like an Instagram-driven mass sensation can still be explored and enjoyed in its most magical way, if you’re well prepared and willing to camp out in Norway’s rugged and beautiful nature.
The best way to start your trip to Trolltunga is from Skejeggedal parking, which is also the trailhead. Ideally, you would take your own car to drive up directly to the trailhead, where you can leave your car for a day or more. However, the parking spots at the trailhead are limited and quickly fill up during the season – there’s a second parking area, but then you’ll need to wait for a shuttle or plan for some extra hiking time to get to the trailhead. Alternatively, you can organize a ride with one of the many private shuttle services in Odda or take the public bus from Odda busstasjon (no. 955, check here https://www.skyss.no/en/). At the trailhead, there’s a public restroom, a restaurant and one or two tour operators – no opportunities to buy additional supplies, so do make sure to come prepared.
The hiking season is from March until October, while hiking to Trolltunga without a guide can be safely done between June and September. In the winter months, it’s very difficult and dangerous due to the snow – do not go without a professional guide! The entire hike roundtrip is about 23 km (14.3 mi) long and it is advised to plan about 10-12 hours for it. This is also why most people start their hike early in the morning, as we did at 5 AM (it also helps to secure a parking spot right at the trailhead). The entrance to the hike trail is very well marked and you can start immediately.
We definitely weren’t the only ones who had underestimated the difficulty of the first part of Trolltunga: during the first 1.2 km (0.75 mi), you’ll accomplish about 450 height meters (1’500 ft). The beginning of the trail has stairs built by Nepalese Sherpas, but it quickly continues as a natural path. Due to the high number of daily hikers and regular regional rain fall, the steep and difficult trail might additionally be very muddy and slippery. After being able to recover on a small plateau, you’ll have a second and last ascent, which will be much easier than the first. From there, it’s mostly flat and easy to hike all the way to Trolltunga – until you’ll need to get back the same way again, of course. The hike will lead you along beautiful mountain lakes and the massive reservoir below Trolltunga (which is often mistaken as a natural fjord).
Do not start the hike after noon, if you’re not planning on camping there; it is highly unlikely you’ll make it back before dawn. Hiking back in the dark is very difficult and dangerous, so be sure to start very early and give yourself ample time. When we were there, a hiker in sneakers arrived at the top at 6 PM (!) – most likely ignoring all the warnings during the hike about not starting the hike if it was already after 2 PM.
Did you enjoy our Trolltunga adventure?
For questions or feedback regarding Trolltunga, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.
Finally, you’ll reach Trolltunga, where you can enjoy the rugged landscape and take a well-deserved break as you wait for your chance to capture a photo. It will be easy to take several great photos from the right side of Trolltunga and there is ample opportunity to set up a tripod, or simply ask some of the many other friendly hikers.
In Norway, it is legal to camp anywhere in nature, so for Trolltunga, we decided to spend a night a the top and not only more enjoy the hike, but also have more time to appreciate the rock formation. When we woke up the next morning, Trolltunga was completely to ourselves! There are plenty of lakes and small waterfalls, so many opportunities to refresh your water supply. However, there is no kiosk, no restaurant, absolutely nothing to get food, so bring everything you need! Ideally, you would bring a gas cooker, so that you can enjoy a warm soup; there’s usually still some snow up there, and it rains regularly. Also, due to the very steep initial hike, I strongly suggest to optimize what you bring: you’ll strongly feel every kilogram of supply added!
I wish you best of luck on your adventure – highly demanding, but highly rewarding! Also, feel free to leave a comment or question below.