Updated: Oct 24
Norway, with its dramatic fjords and rugged landscapes, is a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts. Among its many jewels, Lysefjord stands out as a testament to nature's grandeur. This fjord, located in southwestern Norway, is home to three iconic hikes that draw adventurers from around the world (us included) : Preikestolen, Kjeragbolten, and Flørli 4444. Each of these trails offers a unique experience, showcasing the raw beauty and majesty of Norway's wilderness!
A Guide to Lysefjord's Three Iconic Hikes
Preikestolen: Pulpit Rock
Pulpit Rock, or Preikestolen, is perhaps the most famous of Lysefjord's hikes. Its flat plateau, jutting out 604 meters above the fjord, offers unparalleled panoramic views. The hike to Preikestolen is a moderate 4-kilometer ascent, weaving through a mesmerizing landscape of rocky terrain, lush forests, and serene lakes.
As you approach the summit, the fjord unfolds beneath you in all its glory. The sight is breathtaking, a true testament to the sculpting power of glaciers over millennia. Many hikers choose to sit on the edge of the plateau, their legs dangling over the abyss, for a thrilling yet strangely serene experience (or not).
It's important to know that this hike attracts a lot of people, and I mean a lot. We arrived early and both car parks were already full. I obviously knew that we were never going to have the trail to ourselves, but I wasn't expecting to be confronted with a human motorway! You have to be prepared for traffic to slow you down because some of the passages are narrow and don't allow you to overtake, and people coming down in the opposite direction also slow down the pace. In itself, this isn't a problem, but it's something to bear in mind if you're short of time or if you're a fast walker!
Personal tip: the famous viewpoint where everyone queues up for THE photo is great but if you explore the heights a bit more, you will lose the crowds and have the Preikestolen and the view practically to yourself. The view is also, in my opinion, more beautiful from above!
Duration and Difficulty:
The hike to Preikestolen is a moderately challenging trek that typically takes about 2-4 hours to ascend, and roughly the same amount of time for the descent. The trail covers a total distance of approximately 8 kilometers (round trip). The hike is considered suitable for most fitness levels and there were many families with young kids and elderely people doing it, but it's important to be aware of your own capabilities and pace yourself accordingly.
The trail begins at the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge, located at an elevation of approximately 270 meters above sea level. The summit of Preikestolen itself is at an impressive 604 meters above the Lysefjord.
The Preikestolen Mountain Lodge has a designated parking area for visitors. It's advisable to arrive early, especially during the peak tourist season, as the parking lot can fill up quickly. Additionally, there's a parking fee, which helps maintain the facilities and the trail. We paid 250 NOK (approx 21€).
If you're planning to visit during the high season or on weekends, consider arriving early in the morning to secure a parking space.
- **Ferry Option**: An alternative way to access Preikestolen is by taking a ferry from Stavanger to Tau, followed by a bus ride to the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge. This option provides a scenic journey and can be a convenient way to reach the trailhead.
- **Weather Precautions**: The weather in this region can be variable. It's crucial to check the forecast before embarking on the hike and to be prepared for changing conditions. Dress in layers and bring waterproof gear, especially in the event of rain (which happened to us on the way down).
- **Physical Readiness**: While the hike is moderately challenging, it's recommended to be in reasonable physical condition.
Kjeragbolten: The Hanging Stone
Kjeragbolten, the Hanging Stone, is not for the faint-hearted. It's a daring adventure that rewards the intrepid with an adrenaline-pumping experience. The highlight of this hike is, of course, the chance to stand on the Kjeragbolten itself—a boulder wedged between two cliffs, suspended nearly 1000 meters above the fjord!
The trail leading to Kjeragbolten is challenging, with steep ascents, narrow paths, and rocky/slippery terrain. Yet, the effort is well worth it. Once you reach the stone, the sheer thrill of standing on this natural marvel is indescribable.
Duration and Difficulty:
The Kjeragbolten hike is a challenging adventure that typically takes around 8-10 hours to complete. This includes the ascent, time spent at the boulder, and the descent. The trail covers approximately 11 kilometers (round trip), but the challenging terrain and steep inclines make it a demanding endeavor.
The starting point of the hike is at the Øygardstøl parking area, which is situated about 640 meters above sea level. From here, the trail ascends to approximately 1,100 meters at the Kjerag plateau, offering stunning views along the way.
To access the Kjeragbolten hike, you'll need to drive to the Øygardstøl parking area. It's important to note that the road leading to Øygardstøl is seasonal and typically open from late May to early October, depending on weather conditions. It's advisable to arrive early in the day to secure a parking spot, as this area can get quite busy during peak hiking season. Parking costs 300 NOK ( approx 25€).
- **Fjord Ferry**: During the hiking season, you can take a ferry across Lysefjord from Lauvvik to Lysebotn. This ferry ride provides a unique perspective of the fjord and can be a convenient way to access the trailhead.
- **Weather Considerations**: The weather in this region can be unpredictable. It's crucial to check the forecast before embarking on the hike and to be prepared for changing conditions. Dress in layers and bring waterproof gear, especially in the event of rain.
- **Physical Preparation**: Due to the demanding nature of the hike, it's recommended to be in good physical condition. As a regular hiker, I found this hike quite challenging but bare in mind I was recoveing from Covid. The steep ascents, rocky terrain and slippery slopes (there are chains to help) make this hike unsuitable, in my opinion, for beginners.
-**Climbing the rock** : I was particularly nervous about braving the boulder as I am scared of heights but I was determined to do it, especially after the tough ascent! Getting onto the rock isn't actually that hard, it's relatively large and flat and it can fit up to four people. I didn't stay for long though. I recommend having someone to help you get off the boulder which I found more difficult. Don't hesitate to ask for a helping hand to those waiting in line!
Flørli 4444: The Stairway to Heaven
For those seeking a unique twist on their hiking adventure, Flørli 4444 offers a stairway to heaven, quite literally.
This hike is known for its astonishing 4,444 wooden steps, ascending a steep mountainside. It's an arduous climb, but the sense of accomplishment and the views it offers are unparalleled. Although we ddn't get to enjoy them as we were welcomed by a sea of clouds at the top.
Did you know that Flørli 4444 is the highest wooden staircase in the world? It was originally built for maintenance purposes during the hydroelectric era in the 1950s, but now it serves as a thrilling trail for hikers. Along the way, you'll be treated to enchanting views of the fjord, lush forests, wild blueberries and cascading waterfalls. The ever-changing scenery keeps you motivated as you ascend towards the summit.
At the mountain's summit lies a small lake named Ternevatnet. On a clear day, the view must be breathtaking, but, unfortunately, we were greeted by an expansive sea of clouds. There are several routes to descend back to Flørli. I strongly discourage returning via the narrow stairs, as there isn't sufficient space for both ascending and descending hikers. Instead, there are two alternative routes to return to Flørli: the Store Runden route, which takes around 4 hours, and the Rallarstien route, which takes about 3 hours. Both of these trails are well-marked with red paint, so keep an eye out for the red T markers.
We opted for the longer route because we were eager to explore, even in less-than-ideal weather conditions. The landscape on the descent is markedly different from the ascent. I highly recommend wearing waterproof shoes, especially when it's rainy, as the terrain can get quite muddy and wet. This path, over a century old, was once used by the workers of the pipeline. The scenery is beautifully untamed, and it felt surreal to have this wild space all to ourselves. Additionally, it was the beginning of the wild blueberry season, so we encountered numerous bushes along the way.
Throughout the journey, you'll encounter stunning landscapes, waterfalls, bridge crossings, and walks through enchanting forests. We even took a brief detour to visit a waterfall, which added around 15 extra minutes to our hike. Finally, we reached the village and waited for the ferry to transport us back to Songesand.
Duration and Difficulty:
The Flørli 4444 hike is a unique and challenging adventure known for its 4,444 wooden steps that ascend the mountainside. The round-trip hike typically takes around 5-7 hours to complete depending on how fast you walk, including time spent exploring the area. The trail covers a distance of approximately 6 kilometers.
Elevation: The hike begins at the sea level of Lysefjord and ascends to a height of about 750 meters above sea level at the top of the stairs. The elevation gain is spread out over the course of the 4,444 steps, making it a demanding yet manageable climb for those with a moderate level of fitness.
Parking: As Flørli is a remote location, parking options are limited. Visitors can park in Lysebotn, which is at the base of the fjord, and then take a ferry across Lysefjord to reach Flørli. It's recommended to check the ferry schedule in advance to plan your trip accordingly.
Ferry Ride: The ferry ride across Lysefjord offers stunning views of the fjord's towering cliffs and dramatic scenery. It's a unique experience that adds to the adventure.
Sturdy Footwear: Given the nature of the trail, it's crucial to wear comfortable and supportive footwear. Sturdy hiking shoes with good traction are highly recommended.
Rest Stops: Along the way, there are several rest stops and viewpoints where you can catch your breath and take in the breathtaking surroundings.
Pack Essentials: Be sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, a first aid kit, and any other essentials you may need for a full day of hiking.
Weather Awareness: As with any outdoor adventure, it's important to be aware of the weather conditions. Dress in layers, and be prepared for potential changes in weather.
Practical Tips for Hiking Lysefjord's Iconic Trails
- **Season and Weather**: The best time to hike these trails is from late spring to early autumn (May to September). Be prepared for varying weather conditions, and check forecasts before embarking.
- **Equipment**: Sturdy hiking boots, weather-appropriate clothing, a good backpack, and ample water are essential. Additionally, bring a camera to capture the stunning vistas!
- **Safety**: While these hikes are awe-inspiring, they demand respect for nature and caution. Follow marked trails, and if conditions become hazardous, don't hesitate to turn back.
- **Accommodation**: There are various accommodation options in the nearby towns of Stavanger, Lysebotn or Songesand, ranging from campgrounds to cozy cabins.
In conclusion, Lysefjord's three iconic hikes offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to immerse yourself in Norway's wild beauty. Each trail presents a unique experience, from the serene grandeur of Preikestolen to the heart-pounding thrill of Kjeragbolten and the stairway to heaven at Flørli 4444. So, put on your hiking boots, pack your sense of adventure, and embark on a journey that will etch itself into your memory forever!