In the heart of the Dolomites you find Passo Falzarego, a busy crossroad between Cortina, Alta Badia and Val di Fiemme, with several historical and nature wonder attractions nearby. This is also the starting point for two of the most beautiful mountain runs you can do, the Gran Lagazuoi circuit and the Nuvolau run. If you are fit, you can easily do both in one day. If you plan on doing the double, I would suggest starting from the Falzarego pass in the morning and run the circuit provided in my Strava link below in the opposite direction, have lunch at Rifugio Lagazuoi, and take the cable car down to the pass before you head in direction of Rifugio Nuvolau. For a unique experience, bring a light backpack with a sleeping liner and some dry clothing and stay overnight at Rifugion Nuvolau (reservations must be made in advance).
The Lagazuoi run
This run takes you around the impressive Gran Lagazuoi and provides some of the most spectacular views of the Dolomites. Take the trail on the right side of the cable car when facing the mountain. There are several trails going up, but for this run choose trail 402 (the Strava link shows the Babylon trail, but 402 is an easier option). Stay on 402 until you reach trail 20B at around 2500 m.a.s.l. and continue the climb on 20B until you reach its highest point, Gran Forcela at around 2650m.a.s.l. From here, again follow 20B going down on the other side and stay on this trail along the mountain wall, which will be on your left side. This is the most technical part of the trail and I have to admit I felt quite vulnerable and small running here alone. Continue on this trail towards Rif. Lagazuoi. As you are approaching the rifugio, the trails will get significantly more crowded. Unless you are very adventurous, don’t bother doing the detour shown on the Strava link, but save the energy for another detour following the Kaiserjägersteig trail towards the peak Piccolo Lagazuoi at 2778 m.a.s.l. Now you have earned your lunch at the Rifugio Lagazuoi.
After lunch, you have the option to run down, walk down through the war tunnels, or save your legs for the next run by taking the cable car down to Passo Falzarego.
Rifugio Nuvolau is a small mountain cabin placed on the edge of the Nuvolau peak at 2574 m.a.s.l. The cabin can be reached from a multiple starting points and in different ways, one of them being by via ferrata. The alternative presented here is from Passo Falzarego, just across the street from where you descended from the Lagazuoi run. The trailhead is found at the parking next to the Rifugio Passo Falzarego, where you may also buy refreshments, if you need anything before the run.
The first kilometer is pretty easy, only ascending about 80 meters, while the next kilometer is more varied also with some steeper sections. The third kilometer is steep before you get one pretty chill kilometer, even with some downhill and new views as you run around the Averau. The last four hundred meters up to the cabin will make you sweat again as the excitement builds for reaching this amazing location. When I arrived last time, the sun was about to set while a guy was playing guitar and the hikers who were booked for the night arrived. I stayed as long as I could while still being able to do the descent in daylight, and decided to book a bed for next time.
From the Nuvolau you have great views of the famous Five Towers, popular for mountain climbers. If you have the time, you can return via the towers, by taking a right turn at Rifugio Averau (400 meters from Nuvolau) and continue on trail 439 until you meet trail 440, which will take you back to your starting point.
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!
In these days xc-skiers are flocking to Sognefjellet for summer skiing. I really can’t think of any better place to be this time of the year when the sun is shining. It is not just about the skiing, the surroundings are out of this world beautiful, and if you are lucky with the conditions you can even skate on the morning crust all the way up to Fanaråken (2068 m.a.s.) or to other surrounding peaks. Staying at Sognefjellet for multiple days skiing twice a day is not for everyone, and I like to combine 2-3 days at Sognefjellet with a few days in Aurland on my way up, and a couple of days at Beitostølen on my way back to Oslo. Beginning of June is the perfect timing for this road trip, as the roads over Aurlandsfjellet and Valdresflye are open and there is usually sufficient snow for skiing at Sognefjellet.
If you have a week to spend in June, this is what I would do:
Drive to Aurland
Take inspiration from Training Camp in Aurland and make sure to include a bicycle ride over Aurlandsfjellet to Lærdal and back and a run up Aurlandsdalen. Drive to Sognefjellshytta in the evening catching the sunset, via Øvre Årdal and the beautiful Tindevegen or via Sogndal and the equally beautiful Lustrafjorden.
Stay at Sognefjellshytta for easy access to the track, which starts right outside the cabin. The track is usually prepared for classic and skate twice a day, in the morning and the afternoon, and, depending on the amount of snow, is about 5-7 km long. Consider bringing your mountain/randonee skis if you want to explore more of the area, or take advantage of the morning crust for some off-track skating.
Drive to Beitostølen Friday afternoon, just in time to make a stop at Bakeriet i Lom for some carbo loading before they close for the day. If it’s your lucky day you catch a spectacular sunset when driving over Valdresflye to Beitostølen.
One of my most beautiful roller ski workouts I had at Beitostølen, starting from the village and rolling up to Valdresflye. The surroundings are hard to beat and the traffic not too bad if you start in the morning.
Finish off your training road trip with a run over Besseggen. Go for an early start from Gjendesheim in order to make the return by boat from Memurubu (if you are too slow, you just have to run back as well). This is the most legendary hike in the Norwegian mountains with a spectacular ridge section providing an amazing view of Gjendevatnet and Jotunheimen. Starting from Gjendesheim in stead of following the pack with boat to start from Memurubu, you get the ridge and most of the trail for yourself.
If a shorter run is more to your liking, go for Bitihorn, which is closer to Beitostølen and can be done in an hour. There are several trails to Bitihorn, the link below takes you to the peak from the south.
Have you ever been to Aurland? This tiny little village in the UNESCO world heritage area around Nærøyfjorden, not far away from much more overcrowded and famous Flåm, makes the perfect site for a multisport endurance training camp with a view. Aurland is also hosting one of the world’s toughest competitions, Aurlandsfjellet Extreme Triathlon, AXTRI, which takes places in August every year.
The best time to visit Aurland is between the opening of the road over Aurlandsfjellet, usually end of May/beginning of June, and the start of the summer vacation at the end of June. During this time you may get the chance to experience the “freezer” effect of the snow banks along the scenic mountain road without the crowds. Here you will find suggestions for different workouts (roller skis, bike and running), in addition you may want to explore the fjord by kayak or swimming.
Lunch break at the terrace of Marianne Bakery & Café
The fjord view
The mountain road, especially when the snow banks are high
The Aurlandsdalen run
Aurland – Lærdal on road bike
This mountain road from Aurland to Lærdal is one of the 18 Norwegian Scenic Routes and the bike leg of AXTRI. When you take on the Aurland mountain by bike you will start to understand why AXTRI is considered one of the toughest competitions in the world with more than 3000 meters of elevation gain divided on 98 kilometers, and the highest point on the course at 1320 meters above sea level. However, this ride is as beautiful as it is tough, with spectacular views of the fjord and often tall snow banks along the road on the mountain plateau and should be on any rider’s bucket list.
Remember to stop at the Stegastein view point (at about 600 m.a.s.l.) about half way up the first climb. If you are not up for the full distance, you can of course make the turn at any point of the course, and, unless you are checking it out for the race, skip the last flat 10 kilometers from Aurland to Vassbygdi.
Another favorite workout when in Aurland is of course to take on the mountain climb on roller skis. If you don’t have a second car or a support car, you can bring a bike and drive up, leave the car at the top, and ride down to start you roller ski workout. A second option is to roll up only to the Stegastein view point and ask any of the tourists or the tourist busses for a ride down. You should not by any chance roll down the narrow hairpin turns as the traffic can be quit heavy between Aurland and Stegastein.
The roller ski workout follows the same road as the bike workout, thus the views are as amazing, and is great for long intervals.
If you prefer a flat roller ski workout, make it a sightseeing to Flåm. From Flåm you can continue into Flåmsdalen and the starting point of “Rallarvegen” a gravel road popular for mountain biking taking you all the way to Haugastøl on Hardangervidda.
One of the highlights when visiting Aurland is to run up the Aurland valley. This almost 20 kilometer long trail is very popular to do as a one or two-day hike in the opposite direction (downhill) and is also the running leg of AXTRI. This is a truly amazing run taking you through a steep, narrow and wild valley with a lot of history, giant waterfalls and with about 1100 meters of elevation. Please note that due to a recent rockslide the trail should not be used until it has been secured. Please contact local tourist information before you plan to run/hike this trail.
You will find the trailhead is in Vassbygdi, about 10 km from Aurlandsvangen. You can leave your car at the trailhead and return by bus from Østerbø, the end point of the trail (plan your run according to the bus schedule). At Østerbø you can buy refreshments after your run.
The run to the peak, Prest (1478 m.a.s.), is a great 4.6 km (return) trail run for a short afternoon or evening workout. The well marked trail is soft with great views. The most spectacular view of the fjord is actually from below the peak, at about 1360 meters above the fjord. The trailhead can be found at the parking on the left side further up the road from Stegastein viewpoint.
Driving to Aurland from Oslo takes between 4.5 and 5 hours depending on the route you choose. I prefer to make it a roundtrip driving up via Ål and Sudndalen (where you can stretch your legs running up to the beautiful Hivju waterfall) and return via Hemsedal. From Bergen the drive takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes. A road trip including Aurland on its itinerary will soon be added to trailspotting.no.
Where to stay
There are not that many accommodation options in Aurland. We have always stayed at Vangsgården, which provides rooms and apartments on the fjord just in the middle of the village. Location is excellent and the standard ok. The fjord side apartments are small, but sleeps four and the facilities for you to make your own food. There are also a few camping sites and tourist cabins to be rented in Aurland, and another hotel, Aurland Fjordhotel (not tested).
The annual girls’ road trip goes to Geiranger and Trollstigen to collect meters of climbing by roller skiing and running in these crazy beautiful surroundings. This includes one of my favorite places in Norway, Dalsnibba, a mountain top 1500 meters above Geiranger. If you like elevation gains, you may want to tag along!
Highlights of the trip
Cinnamon buns at the Bakery in Lom
Hairpin turns of Dalsnibba
Sunset at Ørnesvingen
Breakfast at Valldal Fjordhotell
Hairpin turns of Trollstigen
The view of any mountain peak in Romsdalen
Driving from Øyer to Dalsnibba
You can of course start this road trip from anywhere, but I like to get a head start by driving up to Øyer/Lillehammer the night before. If you are traveling with only one car and want to go roller skiing up Dalsnibba, you should plan your departure according to the bus schedule, (unless you, like we usually do, plan on asking tourists for a lift down to Geiranger). If you have two cars (and can fit everyone in one), the easiest logistic is to leave one car at the top (with warm clothes) and drive one car down to Geiranger.
First stop of the trip is Bakeriet in Lom, about two hours from Øyer. This is probably the most famous bakery in Norway and worth the trip to Lom alone. Here you grab a coffee and what your heart desires of baked goods. I usually grab a cinnamon bun to stay and a sandwich, muffin and another cinnamon bun to go. You will need carbs for this road trip, so don’t be shy! If you wish to spend more time in Lom, there will soon be more information on Lom at trailspotting.no.
After another 90 minutes drive from Lom you will arrive at Dalsnibba (there is a 150 NOK toll road fee per car to drive up to Dalsnibba). Dalsnibba is also the finishing point for this first day’s challenge, which is rollerskiing from Geiranger going up the 1500 meters of ascent to Dalsnibba.
Rolling Up Dalsnibba
Of course you can take on this climb cycling or running as well. In June every year (in 2019 on the 8th of June) there is a race event from Geiranger to Dalsnibba, called “From Fjord to Mountain“, where you can choose between running or biking, or do both.
We have a thing for roller skiing mountain passes and with 1500 meters of elevation gain divided on about 21 km, the Dalsnibba climb is one of the toughest ones out there, and the equivalent of for example the Stelvio pass in Italy (which due to the higher altitude may feel tougher). You will be driving down from Dalsnibba the same route as you will roll up, giving you the chance to prepare for what to come. Arriving at your starting point, you will find Geiranger buzzing with tourists, some of which have never seen roller skis before.
The first part of the climb quickly takes you through hairpin turns to amazing views of the fjord and Geiranger. You may want to stop at Flydalsjuvet, about 4 km from Geiranger to do some gramming. The mid part of the climb has less curves and after about 7 km the landscape opens up and you will see the climb ahead of you as well as beautiful old farmhouses, waterfalls and mountains. After about 16 km you reach Djupvatnet which is at its most scenic when covered with cracks of ice. In the morning and late evening it is possible to go roller skiing on the road along Djupvatnet and towards Grotli, but it is not advisable with the daytime traffic. From Djupvatnet there is another 6 km of nice hairpin turns and fantastic views before you reach Dalsnibba, and probably enjoy the applause from the tourists.
Driving down to Geiranger from Dalsnibba allow time for a refreshing dip in one of the streams just after Djupvatnet and some photographing in the kind afternoon light. If you haven’t already, make a reservation at Brasserie Posten in Geiranger, and enjoy one of their pizzas before a short stroll in Geiranger, which is now much calmer after the departure of all the cruise ship tourists.
We always stay at Valldal Fjordhotell, which has a great breakfast buffet, good beds and a calm and nice atmosphere. There are also other options in Valldal, which is conveniently located between Geiranger and Trollstigen. The drive from Geiranger to Trollstigen is one of the 18 Norwegian Scenic Routes and you will do the first part of this route on your way to Valldal, which takes about one hour including a short ferry between Eidsdal and Linge. Make sure you allow time for a quick stop at Ørnesvingen, a cool view point above Geiranger on the toad to Valldal, providing you with a view of the fjord, Geiranger and the “Seven Sisters” waterfall.
Driving from Valldal to Trollstigen
Next day you should have an early start. The hotel usually start putting out the breakfast before the scheduled opening, and you may want to ask to come early, depending on your choice of activity this day. You will be provided with two options here. If you want to do the Romsdalseggen hike, you need to be in Åndalsnes for the bus at 9:30 (or 10:30 Saturdays peak season). The drive to Åndalsnes is about 1:30. If you are not doing the express version of this road trip and have some more time, I would suggest adding one night in Åndalsnes after Valldal, and take the Romsdalseggen hike the next day. This will allow for a stop at Gudbrandsjuvet view point and more time to truly appreciate the scenic drive from Valldal to Trollstigen. Of course Trollstigen is more famous, but the drive up to the Trollstigen pass from the south side is also worth taking in (and I of course dream rollerskiing up also from this side one day).
One of the mountain runs we have explored is the peak, “Store Trolltind”. With 1788 m.a.s.l. this is one of the highest peaks in Romsdalen and with steep climbs and a lot of stone and exposed areas, a hike which may be characterized as pretty hard. The views from the top and from Bruraskaret will be worth it though.
You will find the trailhead at Trollstigen. Already from the start the climb is steep and you will have great views of the Trollstigen plateau and its surrounding peaks behind you. After about two km there is some sort of a junction where you should keep left (you will see from the strava link provided that we went right on our way up, which turned out to be wrong). After about 4.7 km (if you made the right left choice at 2 km) it is easy to go wrong and take too much height. Everyone we met did the same mistake, which, if you do not go all the way down again, easily make you traverse through a very difficult terrain to get back to the trail. Have a look at the strava link and make sure to take the right path to your left, which is the one we returned on. Additional guidance may be found here (Norwegian). The most fun, and also the most challenging part, comes after Bruraskaret, where you have the view of the famous Trollveggen. A helping hand may be useful at some difficult passages. This turned out to be a hike/run very different from our expectations, although a very rewarding one in terms of the spectacular views at the top.
Romsdalseggen in the obvious choice of run/hike when in the Åndalsnes/Trollstigen area and has become very popular over the last years thanks to successful promotion from the local tourist agency. This is a one-way hike, where you should take advantage of the bus from Åndalsnes to the trailhead. Booking in advance is recommended.
Once at the trailhead try to get ahead of the pack to avoid being slowed down by queues on the narrow trail. It get pretty steep immediately and continues up, up, up for about 3.5 km, where you can enjoy great views of Romsdalen and the surrounding mountains. If you are lucky, there may even be some snow left on the plateau. Before continuing on the Romsdalseggen trail towards your right, you may choose to explore Blånebba to your left. Continuing on the Romsdalseggen trail you are more or less done with the ascents with the exception of a few exposed climbs along the ridge. If you skip Blånebba the 1200 meters of descent over about 6 km starts after about 5 km on the trail from your starting point. Since the trail passes the famous viewpoint Rampestreken (at 537 m.a.s.) the trail gets pretty crowded the last few kilometers down to Åndalsnes.
The second challenge of the day is the Trollstigen climb on roller skis. You may of course choose to tackle the climb by bike or try out the trails that take you to the Trollstigen plateau. Compared to the Dalsnibba climb, the Trollstigen climb is like a sweet dessert, and, if done after the traffic has slowed down in the evening, feels like the perfect way to finish off a day of great climbs. We usually start from Trollstigen Camping, about 9.5 km from the Trollstigen plateau. Again, if you have two cars, take one down to the starting point and leave one at the top. If not, ask someone for a lift or plan it by the bus schedule.
The first couple of kilometers provide a nice and easy warm-up for the climb, where the hairpin turns make out the last 4-5 kilometers and takes you through a beautiful scenery close to spectacular waterfalls on your way to the top. The view points designed and restaurant at the top designed by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter are worth a visit as well, and the waterfall in front of the restaurant provides great relief for tired legs.
Congratulations, you have completed 3500 meters of climb in less than two days! This provides for a nice dinner in Åndalsnes before loading up on snacks for your way home. A fast and convenient place is Spiret Spiseri at Tindesenteret.
The fastest way back to Øyer/Lillehammer or Oslo is via Dombås and E6, which is about 3 hours and 20 minutes from Åndalsnes to Øyer and takes you past Trollveggen, where you can visit Trollveggen visiting center (if open). If you have an extra day or two, it is worthwhile staying in Åndalsnes for additional adventures!
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.
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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.
Waking up at Rabothytta, at the feet of the magnificent Okstindan mountains, your best option would be to stay. I am sure I could spend a full day enjoying the views and the quietness, that is if I could avoid exploring the surrounding mountains. This time I had to move on, and already at eight in the morning I started the one hour hike down from the cabin in the morning sun.
After the almost spiritual experience near Okstindan mountains, I had decided to head out to the coast for the remaining part of the road trip. The first destination was Rødøy, a small island about two hours with the ferry from the mainland, when arriving from the south (important information on travel planning to Rødøy below). With Rødøy on the itinerary, you get to explore the northern part of the coastal route (“Kystriksveien”) as a wonderful side effect.
The drive & the ferry
From the parking in Leirskardalen the drive to the harbour, Kilborghamn, where you can take the ferry to Rødøy, is about 2.5 hours. After about an hour you reach Mo I Rana, the last city of some size on the route. Take the opportunity to stock up on necessities. In another forty minutes you reach the coastal route. Several beautiful view points have been created along the road in order to inspire you to take a break and take in the surroundings, such as Hellåga, about an hour from Mo I Rana.
The ferry only runs twice a day, so make sure you check the schedule and plan your trip carefully, both for your arrival at Rødøy and your departure.
The place to stay at Rødøy is Klokkergården, a more than 100 years old school building, which has been renovated by Malin and her family to one of the most unique accommodation opportunities in Norway. The rooms give you the feeling of staying at someone’s home, and the restaurant downstairs serve impeccable food. Klokkergården is also the starting point for the climb to the famous mountain, Rødøyløva, which was my reason for adding Rødøy to my itinerary in the first place.
Rødøyløva – the hike
Hoping to experience the midnight sun from the top, I waited until late in the evening before running up to Rødøyløva. The mountain has its name from the resemblance of a lion (“Red island lion”). Watching clouds coming in, in the end I had to give it a go a couple of hours before midnight.
The peak is at 440 meters above sea level and if you are in shape you will reach the peak in around 30 minutes. The first part of the trail is in the forest and is improved by the help of steps laid down by sherpas. The last part is quit exposed, but feels safe as long as the stone is dry. As you gain height quickly the view is simply amazing all the way up to the lion peak, and there are several opportunities for grammable pictures, even if the clouds get in the way of the midnight sun. If it is windy, you will hear a spectacular “noise” from the front wall of Rødøyløva.
If you have the time, check out all the connecting trails you see on your way down, one takes you to a beautiful white sand beach. The island is not big, so you wont get lost.
I love this run/hike/climb so much, I would have done it twice if I had the time!
From Inderøya, continuing your drive towards the arctic circle, one obvious choice would be the coastal route, which starts in Steinkjer and runs along the coast all the way up to Bodø. Having explored the southern part of the coastal route before, this time I went for the much faster, but oh so boring, drive along the route E6, as one of my main targets for this road trip was the architectural gem, Rabothytta (the Rabot cabin), which is one of many DNT (Norwegian Trekking Association) lodging facilities throughout Norway. This turned out to be a really amazing experience, which I will get back to below.
Considering the long drive, you may want to get your heart rate up exploring Inderøya in the morning. I went for a short and sweet roller ski workout north along route 761. If you opt for a longer workout, taking the other direction, towards Mosvika, would allow you to get a taste of ski legend Petter Northug’s training ground and the beautiful Skarnsund bridge. Another great way to explore the area would be a run along the 16 km long coastal trail between Vangshylla and Straumen.
The drive from Inderøya to the starting point for the hike to Rabothytta is 355km and about 5h 30min, the last part on roads with poor conditions. There are not so many things to do or see on this drive, so stack up on podcasts and snacks, or spend a few more days and opt for the coastal route. I suggest stopping in Mosjøen (after about 4 hours drive) for a proper meal before the final part of the drive and the hike towards the cabin. Make sure you reach the starting point in time for completing the hike in daylight (which of course is no trouble in the summer).
The Rabot Cabin
Located 1200 meters above sea level near the mountain range Okstindan and the Okstindan glacier, the cabin was designed by Jarmund/Vigsnæs and completed in 2014. The cabin is named after the French glaciologist and geographer Charles Rabot who thoroughly explored the mountain areas in the 1880s.
The cabin is self-served, which means you have to bring all the food you need for your stay as well as sleeping bag or bed linen. There are beds for 30 people and reservations should be made in advance.
The hike to the Rabot cabin starts from the parking space at the upper end of Leirskardalen and is about 5 km with 520 meters of incline (about one hour hike, if you are in good shape). The trail is well marked with red Ts, however, there is also a well marked trail from the same parking on the wrong side of the river, so you want to make sure you take the trail on the left side of the river (facing uphill). Despite taking the wrong trail and having to run all the way back to the starting point, this was one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done: The views of the green valley in the evening sun was like nothing I have seen before, the thunder from the mighty river, and the incredible sight of the cabin resting in the sun with the glacier and mountains surrounding it, when I finally reached my destination.
Once there, you want to explore the cabin and the surroundings from the inside as well as the outside, from every angle. The weather can extremely tough in this area, this night however, the sun was shining almost the whole night and you felt like an idiot going to bed. Had I known that I would win the jackpot weather, for sure I would have brought a sleeping bag to sleep outside on the terrace.
The Rabot cabin may also be visited in the winter and the surrounding area is very popular for randonee skiing (even in the summer, although you have to carry your skis for a while).