As I mentally prepared myself for what could very well be the end of me, I never took into account that hiking Preikestolen could test my patience. My will not to cry in public yes, but not my patience. You see my year-long trip had made me a touch soft and very out of shape, something I came to realize while hiking Lions Head in Cape Town and almost throwing up climbing the city walls of Kotor. What I didn’t realize is that hiking Preikestolen is one of the most popular treks in Norway. So much so that queuing up for a turn on the jaw-dropping rock face is common. This was news to me.
After talking to the helpful staff at the Stavanger Region tourism office my visions of being hunched over gasping for air in privacy were replaced with an audience and long lines in the most beautiful place in the world. Still, hiking Preikestolen has long been on my buck list, and I was eager to tick it off.
Here’s how it went.
The trailhead for hiking Preikestolen is located 60 kilometres from Stavanger. Getting there couldn’t be easier. It is a short ferry ride from downtown Stavanger to Tau then a 25-minute drive away. Although you can take a bus there, renting a car is recommended. For ferry schedule, bus info, and costs see here!
We aimed to be there early to minimize the crowds. On the boat ride over I began prepping myself for the hoards of tourists but when we pulled up and found only one other couple we began to question the popularity. I should also note that the couple was in full hiking gear and I was wearing what little I had on me for activewear – which, for touring around the world, is also my 2nd nicest evening wear.
With a “this should be interesting,” we were off.
Hiking Preikestolen should take 4 hours up-and-down. The trail is well marked and well walked. In recent years, Norway brought in actual sherpas from the Himalayas to help reconstruct the trail. This effort is visible with a mix of boardwalks through meadows, stone stairways, and cliffhanging switchbacks. Pretty impressive but I suppose so when you bring in the big guns.
The trail is surprisingly easygoing with minimal elevation. It was also surprisingly quiet for this late fall climb. No sweaty mess in public today!
Along with being well-built and easygoing, the scenery on the way up is as great as the vantage point. Our late October stroll gave us amazing colours and the lake 3/4’s of the way up provided a beautiful backdrop for me hunched over catching my breath.
What a view
The 600 meter high cliff took my breath away. Not from the incredible view and not from the 10 months of unhealthy eating choices. No. I was out of breath because all of this incredible scenery was ours to enjoy by ourselves. The couple decked out in North Face gear and walking sticks had passed us on their way down leaving this incredible slice of Norway all for us… for a good 25 minutes. This was, to say the least, unexpected and so very awesome.
After our picnic lunch was cut short by a group of chatty mountain climbing Mormons (those guys are everywhere!) I explored the views from above. Although pictures of Preikestolen would have you believe it is the edge of the world, you can climb even higher and can get an interesting look at the cliff.
With the short daylight of the fall we started our hiking Preikestolen descent. On the trek down we met several groups still on their way up, which was a surprise. Going early (around 9 AM) proved to be key in enjoying this bucket list stop to ourselves. To celebrate our safe return we visited the Preikestolen Fjellstue, a beautiful lodge and restaurant at the trailhead. Ordering a beer, the hostess reconfirmed how lucky we were to have our day hiking Preikestolen to ourselves. The week prior there was no vacancy at the lodge and the trail was packed.
But then again, crowds or not, I already knew this.
Hiking Preikestolen Good to Know
Get in: Take the ferry from city centre to Tau then drive 25 minutes to the starting point. Ferry is NOK 147 + NOK 49 per passenger one way.
Ferry Timetable info: http://www.regionstavanger.com/en/Product/?TLp=510644
- Arrive early for less crowds and longer daylight.
- Give yourselves 2 hours each way.
- Bring food and water. Lots of water.
- Parking costs ~NOK 100 a day.
PIN ME FOR LATER!