From one paradise to another, Senja is my magic place, the place I always dream of returning to. The island is said to be a miniature of Norway, and with its spectacular fjords and mountains it very much lives up to this tale, and is as perfect for road trips as it is for trail running. If you have not visited the region before, I recommend to fly to Tromsø (more about Tromsø in a post later) and spend a night or two there before or after visiting Senja.
There are a number of peaks and runs to explore in Senja, and I love that most of them are fairly short, which enables you to reach several summits in a day. In this post I will take you to the legendary peak Segla, which is featured over and over again on several instagram accounts promoting Norwegian nature, its neighbor peak, Hesten (“the Horse”), and Senja´s highest mountain, Breidtinden. In the next post we will explore Sukkertoppen, Husfjellet, Grytetippen and Keipen.
The climb to Segla starts from the school in the village of Fjordgård. Go in the early morning or in the evening if you can. During the summer, you will have 24 hours of daylight.
The path is well marked and easy to find. The distance to the top is only 2 km, but with a total elevation gain of almost 600 meter, it will get your heart pumping. The start is pretty easy, with about 15% incline during the first kilometer, before the tough last kilometer with an average of 40% incline. For safety keep to your right when climbing the ridge, but do look for the gramable spots close to the edge on your left, without taking any chances. The paths will show you where it is safe. Once you have reached the summit, do allow for some time to enjoy the panoramic view. Although Segla is already a social media hero, most photos are taken from the other side, from Hesten or the area between the two peaks. For this reason, Hesten is your next run.
Strava for details: Segla
After Segla, the easiest way to reach Hesten is to run all the way down to the parking and a few hundred meters through the village to the bottom of the ski slopes (see Strava link for guidance). The path starts next to the wooden shelter and is easy to follow all the way to the peak. The last part of the climb is a bit technical, but no equipment is needed. From Hesten you have the iconic view of Segla to the south and the multiple Kongen peaks to the north. More about these mountains here.
The Hesten run is not as steep as Segla, but a little longer. It took me around 2:30h to complete both (with additional time for photographing, of course).
Strava for details: Hesten (together with Segla)
I have seen people run down the ridge of Breidtinden and was caught by surprise when fear prevented me from reaching the summit. It was with great disappointment I had to give up Senja´s highest mountain. Maybe it would be easier had I not been on my own, thus I am determined to give it a second chance. In the meantime, why don´t you give it a try? The run is beautiful whether you reach the peak or not. In any case, leave a comment on the blog if you give it a go.
To reach the trail, park on the right side of the road after the tunnel “Svartholla” if driving south.
Strava for details: Breidtinden attempt
Races to join
Sans Senja Skyrace takes place in the early summer every year, in 2019 on 22 June. Its 25 kilometer and 2800 meters of elevation gain will take you over some of the most spectacular mountains in Senja.
How to get to Senja
You need a car to explore Senja. Unless you bring your own, I would suggest flying in to Tromsø. In the summer, the ferry will take you from Brensholmen, about 50 minutes from Tromsø Airport, to Botnhamn. From Botnhamn I highly recommend to follow the Norwegian Scenic Route driving south. You can return the same way, or make it a round trip via Ånderdalen National Park and Finnsnes back to Tromsø, or, if you have even more time, take the ferry (only in the summer) to Andøya and explore Vesterålen islands before returning to Tromsø.
Another option is to go on a cruise with Arctic Haute Route.
The Norwegian Scenic Route
One of the 18 Norwegian Scenic Routes goes through Senja and makes it almost as much a pleasure to stay on the road as on the trails. However, the roads are narrow and bumpy, so pay attention, and make sure to take a break or two at one of the many attractions along the road. For sure, Ersfjordstanda, with its amazing beach and mountain backdrop as well as a toilet made in gold, should be on your radar. Other spots are the “Devil´s teeth” (Tungeneset) and the viewpoint Bergsbotn.
Where to stay
Unfortunately, there are not that many options for accommodation in Senja. My preferred option is renting an apartment at Hamn. The location is great and the apartments are fairly new and with great views. If you don´t mind sleeping in a tent, Ersfjordstranda provides an amazing spot to do that, but you will probably not be alone. For other options, check out Visit Senja.
Day 1: Morning ferry from Brensholmen to Botnhamn. Hike/run to Keipen and Grytetippen (next blog post). Drive to Ersfjordstranda. Make sure you bring a cooler and some food, or pick up some food at the store in Mefjordvær (check opening hours). Stay at Mefjordvær or Hamn.
Day 2: Early morning run to Segla and Hesten. Pick up some food in Fjordgård after the run and have a break at Tungeneset or the beach in Bøvær.
Day 3: Breidtinden in the morning and Husfjellet (next blog post) in the evening (try to catch the midnight sun).
Day 4: Morning run to Sukkertoppen (next blog post) before departure.