This summer I finally made it to Stortinden, the highest point on my favorite mountain ridge in Tysfjord, which was also my summer breakfast view during childhood. From my breakfast table it seemed impossible to get to Stortinden (and so said my grandmother), but as with Kjerna, the amazing views from the summit at 847 m.a.s. come surprisingly cheap. The trail head, which is across the road from the parking at E6, about eight kilometer north of Skarberget, is at about 250 m.a.s,, leaving you with only 600 meters of ascent.
The trail is well marked with orange paint and splits into two after about one kilometer, where you can ascend to the left to go to Kjerna, and continue straight forward towards a small pond to continue to Stortinden. Having passed the pond, the trail gets much steeper and some climbing is necessary in some parts, however never exposed. When you think you have reached the summit, you can see a spectacular ridge running northeast, while you continue west on the marked trail to get to the summit.
From the summit you have 360 degrees panorama of the Lofoten islands in the west, Efjorden in the north, Stetinden southeast, and Tysfjord in the south.
Skrovkjosen, Skarberget and Tysfjord
Lofoten wall in the far distance
An alternative route towards Stortinden runs from Kjerna, where you continue on the trail continuing north after having passed Kjerna. I have not tried this route myself, and for now I recommend descending to the trail junction at around 500 m.a.s. if you want to tick of Kjerna, which has a lot of cool photo spots, after Stortinden.
In light of the raising fame of the archipelago of Lofoten, and its toll on the nature, I have been in doubt as to whether I wanted to add to that by inspiring you to go to this incredibly beautiful part of Norway. However, I can’t not share some of the beauty Lofoten has to offer to those of you who prefer active vacations. What I can do, is to encourage responsible travel, to leave Lofoten the way you found it, because, believe me, you will want to go back! If in doubt as to what this means in practice, read Lofoten Code of Conduct.
For general information on Lofoten, go to lofoten.info. Another site that I found very useful is 68north.com. For Norwegian readers I recommend getting Kristin Folsland Olsen’s book, “Lofoten, 68 flotte turer i verdens vakreste øyrike”.
Enjoying the midnight sun from Røren
The hippie vibe at Haukland beach
Evening chill outdoors at the “rorbu”
Sunbathing at the Helvetestinden summit
Chilling at Kvalvika beach after running up to Ryten
My travel buddy, Kaja, and I both prepared well in advance and made individual lists of summits we wanted to include in our itinerary. Luckily, we had made the same picks. In addition to the runs we were able to tick off, we had Værøy and Reinebringen on our list. Værøy we had to leave out due to logistics and the limited time we had available. Reinebringen was closed for trail construction (to reopen during July 2019).
None of the summits below will let you down, however, no hike/run in Lofoten probably will.
Himmeltinden and Haukland beach
Arriving at Haukland beach, your first thought may be to skip the summit and stay at the beach. I promise you, chilling at the beach after your run, will feel even better.
Himmeltinden was the highest summit of our Lofoten trip with its 964 m.a.s. The trailhead is across the Haukland beach parking, just before driving into the Uttakleiv tunnel. The four kilometer trail to the summit has runable sections as well as steeper parts and amazing views already from the beginning. Enjoy the exceptional views at around 700 m.a.s. before taking on the last part of the climb. Bring a dry shirt and some warm clothes to make yourself comfortable at the summit. And, if you can, go for the sunset/midnight sun experience!
Gravel in some of the steeper parts may cause you to slip, so take it easy downhill. And don’t forget bringing a towel for a dip in the ocean after the run!
Another great summit/beach combination is Helvetestinden and Bunes beach. To reach the trailhead, you need to take a 20 minutes boat ride from Reine to Vindstad. Go here for the schedule.
Once you reach Vindstad, the initial two kilometers are practically flat before you have to tackle almost 600 meters of elevation gain divided on the last two kilometers. Don’t miss the gramable spot and a peek into Kjerkfjorden at around 500 m.a.s. before the last climb. Again, bring what you need to stay comfortable at the top of Helvetestinden, 602 m.a.s. and take time to enjoy the beautiful view of Bunes beach. As Himmeltinden, this hike is also great for sunset/midnight sun, provided you have the logistics settled. Also, bring enough water, as the climb does not provide any drinking sources.
If you have the time before the boat return, don’t miss the Bunes beach, which has some funny gras bumps providing some shelter if the wind is too strong.
The final summit/beach combination to tick off in Lofoten is the insta-famous Ryten and my favorite beach, Kvalvika. We starten our run from Torsfjord, but you can also start from Bergland, Medvold or Marka. Ryten, with its 543 m.a.s. is more runable than Himmeltinden and Helvetestinden. Most of the initial two hundred meters of elevation gain, you loose before the ascent really starts just before you reach Kvalvika beach. Stay on the wooden paths provided and enjoy the amazing views as you climb toward the instagram spot at 500 m.a.s. Although this spot is the purpose of the hike for many, don’t miss the peak and the enormous plateau of Ryten. This is where I want to return with a tent next year!
Again, if you have the chance, go to Ryten to enjoy sunset/midnight sun. In any event, bring a towel and take some time to chill at the peaceful Kvalvika beach after the run.
Unless you choose any of the above hikes for your midnight sun experience, Røren is a shorter alternative, as well as a beautiful soft ground hike with surrounding hills you just want to explore running. This hike is also graced with beach views, this time it is Yttersand which provides the perfect backdrop.
You need a car to explore Lofoten. If you drive your own from the south, I recommend taking the ferry from Bodø to Værøy or Moskenes, and return by taking the ferry from Svolvær to Skutvik (only in the summer). Continuing from Skutvik towards Trondheim or Oslo, you may include another favorite spot of mine, Manshausen, which makes for a perfect roundtrip, if you ask me. Another option would be to explore Tysfjord. If you have a lot of time available, I would suggest continuing from Lofoten via Vesterålen and Andøya to Senja.
If you arrive by plane, the most convenient airports are Leknes and Svolvær, however, flights here tend to be quite beautiful. Since you in any event need to rent a car, your best option is to fly into Bodø, take the ferry to Moskenes and rent a car there. Another great alternative is to fly to Evenes, from where it will take you about 2:30 to drive to Svolvær.
Where to stay
There are so may great accommodation alternatives in Lofoten. Although not being a camper, I would definitely love to go camping in Lofoten. We stayed at Sakrisøy Rorbuer, which we really enjoyed, in particular due to its quiet location near Reine, but not in Reine and for the deli/restaurant across the street. Sakrisøy was also a bit cheaper than other “rorbuer” we considered. I suggest you choose accommodation near your hiking targets in order to avoid much driving (roads are narrow and with heavy traffic during high season).
I recommend to go in June before the summer vacation starts, or in September. The fall is supposed to be the best time to go, even if there is no midnight sun. And of course, if you like mountain skiing, go in the winter as well!
I have been looking so much forward to sharing these two “secret” hikes with you. Well, the first one, Kjerna, may not be so secret to the locals, but for sure many of you have already passed by without knowing that you just missed the northern equivalent to the insta-famous Prekestolen and Trolltunga.
When I was a child I used to go fishing with my grandfather in the fjord under Kjerna. The tale goes that one day it would fall down, so I was always a little bit scared it would happen as we passed by. Recently I learned that this was not something my grandfather came up with. Movements around Kjerna have been monitored during the years, however without raising any red flags yet.
Kjerna is in Tysfjord, the municipality of the national mountain, Stetinden, accessible directly from E6. The trailhead can be found on the west side, about 9.5 km north of Skarberget, where the ferry arrives if you are arriving from the south. There is a parking space on the east side of the road (see map below and link to Strava).
The main reason for adding Kjerna to your bucket list is obviously the view. And it comes surprisingly cheap. The hike is less than two kilometers (each way) on relatively easy trails and with about 400 meters of elevation gain. Once at the top you have amazing views and can easily spot Stetinden looking east. If you have the chance, I would recommend to do the hike in the late evening. There is nothing like watching the sunset from the peak.
From Kjerna you can continue towards Stortinden or drop down to about 500 m.a.s. to take the marked trail from the pond. For more on the Stortinden hike, go here.
So, to something even more special to me, and maybe the most beautiful place I ever run. From the age of six, I spent the whole summer with my grandparents in Eide, a tiny place just beneath Kjerna and Stortinden, about 3.5 km drive from E6, turning left about 6 km north of Skarberget. There is a small parking about 100 meters before you reach Eide. Leave your car here and walk to the second house on your right hand. From here, walk straight up the lawn between the houses and look for the trail, which is slightly to your right when leaving the lawn walking uphill, and to the left of the cabin in the right corner where the forrest starts.
After about another 100 meters you reach the climb which is marked with red dots. You reach the ridge (Eidskaret) after about 600 meters steep climb with 200 meters elevation gain (the last part on rocks) and get a spectacular view of Eidtinden right in front of you. Already at this point you have marvelous views towards Ofoten (south) and Efjorden (north). From here, but after having made a loop around the pond, with your back to where you came from, you go left (west). It is not easy to find the trail, but if you seek the highest point on the ridge line you will find it eventually. If not, don’t worry, the terrain is easy to run off-track as you continue as far as you please towards the end of the ridge.
If you are as lucky as me, you may meet dozens of reindeers.
Please note that this hike should not be done when it is wet as the rocks can be very slippery. Also, take note of the spot where you are leaving the marked trail (below the pond) to ensure you find the right way back down (you should not leave the path in the steep sections).
Andøya is one of the islands forming the Vesterålen archipelago. In the summer you can take advantage of the ferry connecting Andøya and Senja, which makes for a scenic road trip along the coast as opposed to the main inland route, E6.
Andøya has amazing beaches and is a great playground for road cycling, roller skiing, trailrunning and kayaking. It also offers tourist attractions such as whale safari, bird safari and the Aurora Space Ship, which unfortunately is closed down in 2019.
I was there for the amazing trails around Måtind, a much photographed peak just south of the fishing village, Bleik, and to go roller skiing along the national scenic route on the west coast of Andøya.
The coastal trail from Bleik to Stave, which passes Måtinden at 408 meters above sea level, is about 9 km. You can also reach Måtinden from Baugtua, a trailhead starting from a parking about midway on FV976 between Stave and Bleik.
I did a return run to Måtinden from Stave beach and added a loop on the plateau behind Måtinden. From Stave most of the climb is at the beginning of the run, providing you with magnificent views of the Stave beach and village from the start and, after the first steep climb, you are rewarded with a great view of the beach Høyvika. To reach Måtinden you continue north. It is not always obvious where the path goes, but unless you are caught by the fog (as I was at the end of the run) it is easy to see where you are going and the terrain is easy and fun to overcome off-track. Once at the peak of Måtinden you have great views of Bleiksøya, a small characteristic bird island housing thousands of puffins as well as eagles.
The national scenic route along the west coast is almost flat and excellent for rollerskiing as well as cycling. I jumped out of the car at the west junction of FV974 and FV973 and roller skied the 30 kilometers to Stave beach, where we had rented an apartment (see below). After about 12 kilometer you reach the view point Bukkekjerka, and after another 10 kilometer you ski on a breakwater with the ocean on your left and the Skogvoll lake on your right. Another 7 kilometer and you reach the village of Stave while the road continues for additional 20 kilometers all the way up to Andenes, if you would like to go further.
We stayed at Stave Camping in a one-bedroom fully-equipped apartment (sleeps 6) called the Shipwreck. The location was absolutely great and if you have the weather on your side, this is the place to be for sunset/midnight sun.
The drive from Nyksund to Stave is about 2.5 hours and 140 kilometers. You will pass by Sortland again. Please see previous post on information about Sortland. Make sure you take time to stop at the view points provided, such as Bukkekjerka (mentioned above) and, when driving to Andenes for the ferry to Senja, Kleivodden.
The ferry between Andenes in Andøya and Gryllefjord in Senja takes about two hours and runs only in the summer. You can check the schedule here.
Continuing north on our arctic road trip, our next destination is Nyksund, a small fisherman’s village in the Vesterålen archipelago, north of the more famous Lofoten archipelago. The traditional fisherman’s village slowly fell into disuse, but is now an active and creative place with artists and tourism businesses. My reason for going there was to run the Queen’s trail between Nyksund and Stø.
The Queen’s Trail
The Queen’s trail between the two fiserman’s villages of Nyksund and Stø is a round trip of about 17 kilometers. Due to steep parts it is recommended to run the mountain part of the trail from Nyksund to Stø and the coast part coming back to Nyksund (anti-clockwise). I did the opposite direction, which also worked out fine, but would do the “correct” direction if I got the chance again. With small kids I recommend to take the coastal trail only. The highest point on the round trip is Finngamheia 448 m.a.s.l.
The trail takes you to the beautiful beach Skipssanden, the view of which you can also enjoy from the mountain part of the trail. The beach is a short hike from Stø in case you don’t have the time to do the full hike.
The Queen’s route was broadcasted as part of NRK’s summer program “minute by minute” with the outdoor celebrity Lars Monsen last year, and you can watch one of the episodes and the beautiful scenery here. This is one of my absolute favorite trails in Norway. There is no boring moment and if you do the hike in the evening you may be all alone on the trail and even see the midnight sun.
Truth be told, we did not enjoy our choice of accommodation, which was Holmvik Brygge, where we stayed at “Giseløya” with shared bathrooms. Although the place does indeed have an interesting historic vibe, it does not provide value for money in our opinion. I would recommend to try out other alternatives, suggested here, or stay at the camping ground in Stø.
The drive from Nordskot harbor to Nyksund is 250 kilometers and takes about 5 hours, including the ferry from Bognes to Lødingen. I recommend a stop in Sortland, where you can grab a bite at Miscela Kaffebar and stock up on snacks and other groceries. If open (check the website), I also suggest stopping at Eldhusbakeriet, a few kilometers south of Sortland.
Next up on the Arctic Road Trip itinerary is Manshausen. You may already have seen pictures of the award-winning sea cabins on the island Manshausen on Instagram, blogs or in magazines. Manshausen is owned by the explorer Børge Ousland and is a unique destination if you want to experience nature, whether by simply sitting in your private sea cabin watching the ocean flow by or whether padling, hiking, running, diving, fishing or other activities are your thing. I applaud initiatives like Manshausen, which really takes traveling to a new level.
The fairy tale at Manshausen starts from the minute you are being picked up by boat at the harbor in Nordskot. The wind in your face during the short boat trip promises a fresh and different experience, which certainly continues as you walk into the sea cabin. You may feel like never wanting to leave.
The seven sea cabins provide compact living Scandinavian style and consist of a small bedroom with a 140cm bed and a single bed underneath, corian bathroom and a main room with a walkthrough corian kitchen, a 160cm bed in the back and living room in the front. There is nothing like waking up here in the morning! Be warned that in the summer 24 hours of daylight may mess up with your sleep. The curtains provided do not help with that.
Processed with VSCO with g6 preset
Processed with VSCO with g6 preset
You may cook your own food in the cabin, have lunch/dinner at the restaurant, or you can grill outside at one of the campfires provided. Breakfast is included and served at the main house, where you can also find a library/living room.
Although you may not want to leave your cabin, there are so many cool things to do at Manshausen. First on my agenda was to explore the beautiful white sanded beaches around Manshausen by kayak. And of course, I checked out some of the trails on the mainland. My choice as a hike/run to Sørskottinden, which takes you along a pretty steep trail in the forest up to a small lake, which provides Steigen with drinking water (bathing prohibited). From the lake and going further up you get a great view of Steigen and the Lofoten islands across the fjord. From Sørskottinden you can also continue along the ridge towards Nordskottinden. For the ridge a guide and proper equipment is advised and may be arranged with Manshausen.
If you have followed my itinerary, traveling to Manshausen from Rødøy takes about six hours in addition to the ferry, which takes between 40 minutes and two hours, depending on the schedule. I would therefore recommend adding another overnight stay on the road, especially since there are so many things to see and do along the road (make sure you get a glimpse of the glacier Svartisen I had planned to run up to Sandhornet in Gildeskål, and stayed overnight at Saltstraumen. Unfortunately, weather prevented me from doing the hike/run and Saltstraumen wasn’t that interesting, so I would recommend to search for other accommodation alternatives for example in Gildeskål.