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).
Waking up at Gjevilvasshytta in Trollheimen you have multiple hiking and running options on your doorstep. I had decided on a run to Blåhøa, peaking at 1671 meter about 12 km from Gjevilvasshytta. You can take the car to a parking 1-2 km from the cabin if you want to avoid running the hard sufaced road. The path is surprisingly runable and not too technical, except for the last couple of km. The view from the summit is amazing on a sunny day!
Make time for a coffee and a cinnamon bun outside Gjevilvasshytta and, if you didn’t the evening before, a stroll along Gjevilvatnet, before you hit the road.
The Drive, 245 km/3 h 40 min
In Oppdal, about 25 minutes from Gjevilvasshytta, Bakeriet Sprø is worth a stop for loading up on sandwiches and coffee for the road. Unless you want to make a stop in Trondheim, in another three hours or so driving the route E6, you reach Inderøya. Inderøya has created its own concept, The Golden Road, catering for tourist on the road, or as a destination in itself.
Accomodation & Restaurant
At Inderøya you have several unique accomocation alternatives. This time I stayed at Husfrua, a country farm hotel situated on a hill top with great views of the fjord. Husfrua offers rooms in historic surroundings as well as modern free-standing small external houses in the farm yard. The highlight of my stay was the home made breakfast served on the sunny terrace of the main building. Another option would be Jegtvolden Fjordhotell.
A few hundred meters away from Husfrua you find Øyna, a truly fantastic place offering local food and magnificient views of the fjord. Remember to make a reservation in advance, and if the weather is good, ask to be seated outside.
I don’t know about you, but I have already started planning my travels for 2019. Last year I did a spectacular road trip to the north of Norway. I spent months planning it to make sure I could secure my preferred accommodation options, explore the trails I had made notes of when browsing Ute and other magazines, blogs and websites over the last years, and don’t miss out on any of the remarkable sites created along the scenic routes I had decided to explore. The planning of this road trip and the experiences I had during my travel inspired this website and thus I have been looking forward to take you through the trip I made, and inspire you to plan your own.
I started my journey from Øyer in Gudbrandsdalen, where I have a place in the mountain, but you may start of from Oslo, Gardermoen (airport), or anywhere you like of course.
Beautiful surrounding for running/roller skiing/biking
Day 1: Øyer/Lillehammer – Trollheimen
The Drive, 220 km/3 h 10 min
For a long time I have been a big fan of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration’s project “Norwegian Scenic Routes“, which to a great extent inspires my travel in Norway. The destination for the first leg of my road trip was Gjevilvasshytta in Trollheimen, not far away from Oppdal. Instead of driving the “highway”, E6 I chose to drive county road 27, which makes out the Rondane Scenic Route from Ringebu to Hjerkinn.
When reaching the mountain plateau Venabygdsfjellet the scenery is absolutely amazing, with the mountain Muen as the natural focal point. Continuing through Folldal towards Hjerkinn, there are a few attractions along the road. My favorite was Sohlbergplassen, a view point at Atnsjøen lake. The platform frames the view towards the lake and the rounded peaks of the Rondane massif almost exactly as they appear in Harald Sohlberg’s famous painting “Winter’s Night in Rondane”. I also made a stop in Folldal to load up on waffles.
At Hjerkinn I made a short detour to Viewpoint Snøhetta. The viewpoint is a short hike from the parking, providing an excellent opportunity to stretch your legs.
From Hjerkinn there is another hour drive to Gjevilvasshytta, my suggested accommodation for the night.
My planned activity for this first day of driving was to go roller skiing on Venabygdsfjellet. Due to heavy winds and a recent rib fracture I had to skip it for this time. If you bring your bike I would highly recommend that you make a stop for biking over Venabygdsfjellet, see feature in the cycle magazine Landevei (I went back to do that later in the summer). This time I did a beautiful evening trail run from Gjevilvasshytta, finishing of with some nice stretching at the nearby lake.
My choice of accommodation was Gjevilvasshytta. Built in 1819, it is the oldest building being used for accommodation by Turistforeningen (the Norwegian Trekking Association), and is situated 710 meters above sea level at Gjevilvatnet, offering a great starting point for hiking and trail running in Trollheimen. The cabin is very popular and its atmosphere and location are amazing, however the sleeping comfort rather basic with shared bathrooms in the hall and thin walls.
Day 1 Highlight
The view of the lake, Gjevilvatnet, when arriving at Gjevilvasshytta. Google it!
I was recently invited by Raske Gutter Podden (podcast) to talk about cross-country skiing in the Alps (you can listen to the podcast, which is in Norwegian, here). Since I may not be the only trailrunner enjoying cross-country skiing, I thought I would take the opportunity to share some information on my favorite places to do cross-country skiing in the Alps, as well as some fun races to attend.
So, let’s pretend we have a few weeks to hang around in the Alps with a fancy car loaded with our cross-country skiing equipment. Of course, you are allowed to bring alpine skis as well, and I will tell you where you can do both, but for the best information on downhill skiing you will have to find another guru.
Unless you already live in the Alps or nearby, you may choose to fly in to Munich Airport or, even better, Innsbruck. You can also fly to Zürich, Milan, Verona, or Venice. Make sure you rent a car with winter tires and enough space for your skis.
First stop: Seefeld
There’s no better place to start your adventure than this season’s site for the cross-country World Championship, Seefeld in Tirol. Seefeld is situated on a sunny plateau high above Innsbruck, about 1200 meters above sea level and can be easily reached by train. The ski tracks start right in the middle of the city centre with several nearby hotels to choose from. We stayed at the four star St. Peter Hotel just across the street from the ski tracks and two conveniently located sport shops.
Tirol claims to offer a total of 4000 km of tracks throughout the region, many of them accessible from Seefeld or nearby villages. You will find easy terrain as well as long and tough ascents and can also try out the world cup tracks which will be used during the world championship in February/March 2019.
When you are ready to leave Seefeld behind, the Italian village of Toblach in south Tirol is a great choice. The drive from Seefeld takes about two hours and I recommend that you make a short stop for lunch and some shopping in Innsbruck on your way there. Toblach traditionally hosts one or more races forming part of the legendary Tour de Ski in January every year. The events are free for spectators and have a great atmosphere. During race days the world cup tracks will be closed for other than the athletes, but there are many other nearby tracks to choose from, including my favorite, the track from Cortina (Fiames Ski Arena) to Toblach, which is the same track being used for the men’s long distance during Tour de Ski as well as the Visma Ski Classic event (see below).
Once in Toblach, your obvious choice of accommodation may be the perfectly located Hotel Santer, which is basically on the ski arena, Apparthotel Germania for great breakfast as well as easy access to the ski arena, or the friendly Hotel Stauder, which also serves great food. Don’t miss out on Pizzeria Hans while in town!
Races to join: Pustertaler Skimarathon, 12 January 2019 and Toblach-Cortina 2-3 February 2019 (classic technique and Visma Ski Classic on Saturday and free technique on Sunday) and Gsieser Tal Lauf 16-17 February 2019 (classic technique on Saturday and free technique on Sunday).
Third stop: Val di Fiemme
In Tour de Ski the races in Toblach are usually followed by the final races in Val di Fiemme, and I suggest you follow the same route. Leaving Toblach you should plan for a stop in the sophisticated village of Cortina, stroll the pedestrian street and have lunch at San Brite (reservations recommended) before you enjoy the beautiful drive via Passo Pordoi to Val di Fiemme. Passing by Cortina and Canazei, this is also your opportunity to add a day or two of downhill skiing.
In Val di Fiemme my choice of hotel is the Castelir Suite Hotel, a quiet, intimate hotel with large rooms, great service and walking distance of the world cup ski arena at Lago di Tesero. Another option would be Hotel La Stua, a hotel popular among Norwegian skiers and the location of the massive Marcialonga after party. For lunch or dinner, try out the wine bar El Molin or La Stua.
Although a traditional cross-country skiing race destination and the host of several world championships and the legendary Marcialonga, Val di Fiemme does not have that many options for cross-country skiing. In two days you have it covered, nevertheless, having a slightly more Italian flare to it compared to the other destinations, and the cozy village of Cavalese, it is worth a visit. On day one I suggest you try out the world cup tracks from the Lago di Tesero Nordic Ski Arena. If enough snow, tracks will also be open along the river from leaving the world cup arena. During Tour de Ski you may opt to participate in the Rampa con i Campioni, a race open to the public which is equal to the Tour de Ski finale and includes the monstrous climb up Alpe Cermis.
On day two the tracks on the beautiful plateau of Passo Lavazè is worth a visit. Passo Lavazè is a beloved destination for participants of Marcialonga in the days leading up to the race and has easy as well as more strenuous tracks. Be aware though, that the plateau is about 1800 meters above sea level, which adds additional strain on the body. Thus you should save your speed for later.
Having had a taste of the altitude at Passo Lavazè the natural next stop is the paradise-like destination of Seiser Alm. You can drive directly to Seiser Alm from Passo Lavazè, it is not the fastest route from Val di Fiemme, but for sure the most beautiful. For hotel options, check out my previous post on trailrunning in Seiser Alm here. If money is no issue, you may want to check out Adler Mountain Lodge.
Seiser Alm is the preferred location for many national teams when preparing for championships. On this high altitude plateau the perfectly groomed tracks are surrounded with spectacular mountains and huts and restaurants serving delicious food when taking a break in the sun. Highlights include sunset coloring the sky pink while cruising the longest loop facing the characteristic Schiliar mountain. If you did not know paradise, you do now. For more details on the about 80 km of tracks, go here and here.
If you are looking to do some downhill skiing on this road trip, Seiser Alm is a great starting point for skiing the Sella Ronda.
On your way from peaceful Seiser Alm to Pontresina in the Engadine valley in Switzerland I suggest you make a pitstop in either Bolzano or Meran for some nice Italian small-city vibe. The total driving time from Seiser Alm to Pontresina is about 3:30, mostly on regional roads. Take time to enjoy your surroundings. In Pontresina Hotel Rosatsch is a good option, located on the main street in short distance of my favorite hang out, Gianottis. Pontresina also has a few ok shops for cross-country skiing in case you find yourself in need of anything.
My personal winter experience of the Engadine valley is unfortunately limited to the Engadine Ski Marathon tracks, , which provide for a great high-speed skating experience on the lakes in the valley before more hilly parts take you to the finish line in Pontresina. However, this area has much more to offer, including illuminated night tracks, all of which is surrounded by spectacular mountains. And I have been told that you should not miss out on skiing in Val Roseg, tracks starting from the Nordic ski arena near the train station in Pontresina. For more information, turn to this site. With St. Moritz right in the middle of it, this is naturally also the place to leave your cross-country skis behind for some downhill skiing, and, if you wish, some shopping.
On our way to Zürich Airport after Engadin Skimarathon we stopped in Lenzerheide to ski in the sun in their fairly new Nordic ski arena, financed mainly by an enthusiastic local family. I suggest you do the same driving from Pontresina to your final cross-country skiing gemstone, Davos. Drive early in the morning from Pontresina and grab a coffee (or even breakfast) at Bio-Alp Alesch near the Albula pass on the way. The driving time from Pontresina to Lenzerheide is less than 90 minutes. See strava link below for where we parked. This is also one of the places where you can access changing rooms. For more information, go to this site.
After exploring the trails, which run along the main street cutting through Lenzerheide, find yourself a nice spot in the sun for lunch while enjoying the view of the mountain sides hosting the world cup final for the downhill skiers in 2014.
Saving the best for last! Davos is the centre of cross-country skiing in Switzerland and is regularly on the cross-country skiing world cup calendar. About 1550 meters above sea level, the altitude will have impact on your performance, but also ensures good skiing conditions during the winter season with some tracks opening already in October. This alpine resort town is surrounded with beautiful mountains providing great opportunities to take your alpine skis for a spin as well.
Although having visited Davos several times during summer, I have never been there in the winter. Thus I turned to former top cross-country skier Tor-Arne Hetland for guidance on how to best explore Davos on skis. Of the three beautiful valleys you can ski, his number one choice is skiing up the Sertig valley. For some extra uphill you can ski via Junkerboden. When finally reaching the end of the valley you will find yourself in the middle of this typical alp idyll we are all dreaming of, surrounded with wooden huts and magnificent mountains. Drop in at Walserhuus or Bergführer and load up on Apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce before you enjoy the downhill back to Davos. Note that the upper five kilometers are prepped only for classic technique.
Davos has loads of accommodation options. In the summertime, my choice has always been Walserhuus. During winter I would maybe opt for a hotel close to the Nordic ski arena, such as for example Hotel Bünda.
Go here for more on cross-country skiing in Davos.
Obviously, most of us are not in position to do the whole roundtrip described above and many of the destinations described are worthy of being your one-stop for cross-country skiing in the Alps. Create your own roundtrips or combine one of the destinations with one of the many long distance ski races in the area. Realizing that I have missed out on the great cross-country skiing possibilities in Davos, this will for sure be on my 2019 bucket list, maybe combined with participation in the Sertig Classic race.
Bringing the Senja trilogy to an end (for now), let me take you to three breathtaking peaks, Grytetippen, Keipen and Sukkertoppen. These three may be done in one day as Grytetippen and Keipen are right next to each other sharing most of the same trails, and Sukkertoppen is short enough to make a quick morning or evening run. The drive between the two is about one hour and in between you find the beautiful Ersfjordstranda, the perfect spot for recharging and refueling.
Grytetippen & Keipen
You find the joint trailhead of Grytetippen and Keipen next to the road half way along the lake Mefjordvatnan. There is a sign next to the road. For exact position see the Strava link provided below. It is also possible to start the run from the tunnel at Mefjordbotneidet (direction Fjordgård). The start of the trail from Mefjordvatnan is a bit messy and wet with more than 450 meters of ascent in less than two kilometers, after which you can enjoy about a kilometer of easy running and maybe get a glimpse of reindeers. The view is great already from the start and you will have Breidtinden on your left side during the climb. After about 2.5 km from the trailhead the steep climb towards the ridge between Grytetippen and Keipen starts. I went for Grytetippen, the southern and lower peak with 885 meters first and reached the top after about 70 minutes. Despite having been to legendary mountains as Segla and Husfjellet the previous days, my jaw dropped by the sight that awaited me and I was screaming for joy! The view of the “black wall” is brutal and Segla from this new angle looks almost like a small hill. You can also see Husøy, where the TV-program “Da damene dro” was recorded.
Make sure you take a lot of photos before you start the descent of about 160 meters before the climb towards Keipen. On my way to Keipen I met a couple who told me that the view from Keipen was even better than from Grytetippen, and its 360 degrees of glory from 938 meters above sea level did not let me down.
Both Grytetippen and Keipen have steep and dramatic edges and instagramable outcrops, but the trails are safe and fairly easy.
Make sure you pack what you need for a picnic at Ersfjordstranda when driving between Keipen/Grytetippen and Sukkertoppen. There are no shops or restaurants nearby. This beach is the location of the famous golden toilette and a popular site for camping. There is also an outdoor shower next to the toilette.
Sukkertoppen is only 456 meters above sea level and a fairly short run close to the hotel and restaurant Hamn. You can start the run from the hotel or take the car to the parking next to “Nikkelverket”, about a km from Hamn. The Strava link provided below starts from Nikkelverket and finishes at the hotel.
The trail is easy to find and is marked towards Sukkertoppen. The beginning is quite easy and runable, while the last climb gets steeper and raises your heart rate. Given the short distance and reasonable climb it provides a great opportunity to play with some speed, also because you will have your back towards the view for the most of the climb. Don´t forget your camera though. Once you reach the top you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the archipelago of Hamn. In the distance you can also see Husfjellet.
The best season to check out the trails is June – September. Go in June/July for the midnight sun and try to do at least some of your runs in the late evening in order to enjoy the midnight sun from a mountain top (weather permitting).
Remember to fill up a cooler with food and beverages as there are few supermarkets and even less restaurants on the island.
I have a series of posts in the making, which will take you on an exciting road trip all the way from Oslo to Senja. Stay tuned!
The trails of Senja continue and I decided that Husfjellet deserves its own post. This beautiful run/hike is my definite favorite on Senja, and the tale goes also the queen´s. One reason may be that it saved the day when I with great disappointment failed to reach the peak of Breidtinden, but there are so many other reasons to love this mountain: The amazing views, the kind terrain, and the thrill of exploring the outcrops when you reach the top – all this without the crowds you usually meet on the more famous Segla. Last summer I tried to time my run with the midnight sun, only to be surprised by heavy fog when reaching the ridge. The added excitement of not knowing if and when I could make a safe return and the spectacular view created by the fog compensated for the lost view of the midnight sun and gives me another reason to return.
You find the trailhead behind the picnic area next to the church in Skaland, where you can also park your car. After a few hundred meters a sign points you to a trail on your left, but you can also continue straight ahead for a dryer option through the forest and follow the next sign towards Sommerdalen. Soon you gain some height and can enjoy the views of Bergfjorden to your left. Don´t bother to take up your camera just yet, the views will only get better.
Follow the trail across the boardwalk and the ascent towards Husfjellet starts. Stay safe running with good distance from the edge on your right, but don´t be afraid to move close to the edge to take in the views.
After less than 3.5 km and reaching 635 meters above sea level, you are on the top of Husfjellet, hopefully with the weather on your side to take in the panoramic views and to explore the outcrops. Bring some extra clothes so you can afford to stay a bit before you return the same way or down towards the beautiful Bøvær beach. On my last run to Husfjellet I met two girls who set up their tent on the top. I can only imagine the beauty of watching the midnight sun from here.
The best time for running up Husfjellet is june – september. If you are there during the summer, do plan for a midnight sun run if the weather is on your side.
Include the Bøvær beach in your run (I will, next time), either by doing your descent from Husfjellet towards Bøvær, or go for a run or drive there after returning to your car (the beach is less than 5 km by road from the trailhead next to the church).
Stock up on groceries at the store in Skaland (grocery stores are scarce on Senja).
You can also attack Husfjellet on the bike, of course.