Trolltunga is one of the most scenic and well-known hiking trails in all of Norway, and this breathtaking viewpoint is located just outside of the small town called Odda. As you can expect, Trolltunga attracts tourists from all over the world, but many of them are taken aback by the sheer difficulty of the hike.
But how difficult is the Trolltunga hike really? Can you hike it without a lot of hiking experience, and will you be OK with regular shoes? Let’s take a closer look at what you should expect in terms of difficulty when you are hiking up to Trolltunga.
The short summary is that the Trolltunga hike is about 10 – 12 hours long in total, and requires you to be in pretty good shape, have decent hiking equipment, and the knowledge of how to handle shifting weather. The trail will be slippery if it starts raining, and there are accidents on the trail every single year.
Many tourists are under the impression that it’s OK to hike to Trolltunga outside of the main hiking season, but this is considered very dangerous unless you have a lot of experience with winter hiking.
There is usually a thick snow and ice cover on the trail until some point in May, and the trail will not be very good until at least the 2nd week of June.
Trolltunga is a difficult and exhausting hike
There’s no denying it: the Trolltunga hike is difficult and tedious! Most hikers complete it in between 8 and 12 hours, but it will take even longer if you do not have much experience with hiking and need several breaks during the hike. Some tourists spend upwards to 16 hours on the hike.
Trolltunga is really only recommended for hikers who have experience from long hikes in the past. This is not something to attempt for your first hike, and there are lots of better hiking trails for beginners.
The trail itself is pretty well-marked, so it’s easy to follow. The terrain is mostly mountain terrain like on the photo below, and it can be very demanding for the feet and ankles since there is very little softening.
While the mountain terrain might look easy to traverse it, keep in mind that there’s plenty of slope, both up and down. The end goal is roughly 900 meter higher than the starting spot at Skjeggdal.
Also read: How to get to the Trolltunga hike trail.
Decent hiking equipment is a must to hike Trolltunga
You need to bring decent hiking equipment if you plan on hiking up to Trolltunga, and you should absolutely not just wear regular clothing and shoes.
It is recommended to bring waterproof hiking boots that protects your ankles and a waterproof jackets at the bare minimum. Your shoes will be your most important piece of equipment, but don’t underestimate how nice it is to have a good jacket that is waterproof when it starts raining.
The jacket should offer some protection against rainfall and wind. You will probably want a kind of thin jacket that is easy to put in your backpack for periods when it is hot. It can get very windy on the hike, and you do not want to be stuck wearing only shorts and a t-shirt. You will probably want a good pair of hiking pants and a t-shirt or sweater that has the ability to transport sweat away from your body.
Many Norwegians prefer to have a layer of wool under their jackets and pants. This is really nice for cold weather, but at the same time does not get too warm if it’s hot. Make sure to bring a hat and a pair of gloves in your backpack. This will be useful if it gets very windy or begins to rain.
And while it’s not a piece of equipment, don’t forget to bring enough food! There’s no cafeteria that sells food along the trail, and you need to bring everything you want to eat. There are plenty of good water sources along the trail, so bring a refillable water bottle with you.
Be very careful about the weather!
Norway has weather that can change in a heartbeat, and it might be sunny and clear when you start the hike, but raining or even snowing when it’s time to descent from the top.
You should always check the weather forecast before you start the hike, but at the same time also prepare for the weather to be worse than expected.
The hike can go from nice and easy to very difficult and outright dangerous in a smart amount of time. The mountain and rocks will get very slippery when there’s rainfall, and it’s considered very difficult to hike (especially downhill) when it’s raining.
There are weather shelters along the hiking trail. Seek shelter in one of these immediately if you feel uncomfortable with the weather.
There are somewhere between 20 and 50 rescue operations on the Trolltunga hike every year. Fortunately no one has died from the hike itself, but there are many examples of people who have been very close to dying. The weather shelters have saved multiple lives, so use them if you need them.
How difficult is the Trolltunga hike in the off-season?
The hiking season for Trolltunga is from around June 15 to September 15, but it might be shorter or even longer depending on the weather. There are plenty of tourists and others who attempts to do the hike outside of the season, but this is not recommended.
Even though it might be sunny and nice weather in some parts of Norway in May, there is usually still a lot of snow and ice on Trolltunga. The trail will be extremely difficult at this time, and the ice cover that makes the rocks slippery will be one of the major hurdles you need to deal with.
Don’t start the Trolltunga hike too late
One of the biggest mistakes people do when attempting to hike Trolltunga is starting too late. You should not begin the hike at 11 AM, because it will be dark and close to midnight when you return home. As you can imagine, the hike gets a lot more difficult after the sun goes down.
It is recommended to start the hike around 6 or 7 AM to be able to get back down again before the sun sets. There are lots of signs along the way that tells you to turn around if it is past a certain point.
What about a mountain guide?
If you are inexperienced with hiking, don’t really feel comfortable hiking alone, or want to attempt to hike Trolltunga outside of the season, then I recommend bringing a guide. There are several different companies that offers guided tours to Trolltunga. They can help you with getting the right equipment and clothing, making sure you get there and back again before it gets dark, and can help you out with the more difficult parts of the hike.
In addition to being a nice safety feature, a hiking guide will also be very knowledgeable about hiking, Norway and the area, so it’s a nice opportunity to learn more about Norway while also hiking the trail at the same time.