Romsdalseggen, The Most Scenic Hike I've Ever Experienced
There are a lot of hikes that one can go on in Norway. Some of the more famous ones include Trolltunga, Pulpit Rock and Kjeragbolten. These hikes provide great Instagram photo opportunities and are extremely popular as they draw thousands of weekly visitors each summer. I seriously considered going on one or more of them while I was in Norway. However, after doing much research, getting some advice from locals and considering the time I had in Norway, I decided to go on a hike that was a bit lesser known. That hike was Romsdalseggen.
Located about an hour’s drive from the beautiful seaside city of Aalesund, Romsdalseggen is in the middle of one of the largest mountain ranges in Norway. The closest town is Andalsnes, where I stayed for the night before and after my hike at the Grand Hotel Bellevue. The afternoon that I got into Andalsnes I was a little worried about the weather. It had been raining on my drive in and there was some low cloud cover hanging in between the mountain tops.
As I first made my way into Andalsnes I was able to see the Romsdalseggen ridge towering over the town. But the clouds floating around the ridge didn’t allow me to see all the way to the peak. I wondered how good of a view I would get from the top if there were clouds the next day guarding the views that surrounded the ridge. I would only get one chance to go on this hike and I hoped it wouldn’t be ruined.
After I had found and checked into my hotel I was able to explore the town of Andalsnes a little bit. It was a pretty sleepy town. As I walked down the street during the early evening I only passed a couple of people. And as I was trying to find somewhere to grab dinner I only found a handful of places that existed and even fewer that were actually open. I did, happily, find a pizza place called Piccolo Mama Rosa that had lots of options for pizza toppings and I was able to satisfy my hunger before I decided to call it a night.
I awoke the next morning to a bright beautiful day. The clouds from the day before had moved on and it looked like it was going to be a perfect day for a hike. I filled up my hydro backpack with water and snacks, ate some breakfast and headed out towards the bus that would take me from town to the trailhead.
I had pre-booked my bus ticket, which I was happy I did, because there ended up being quite a line of people to not only get on the bus, but to purchase a ticket as well. Since I had already purchased my ticket I was able to hop on right away. As soon as the bus filled up, it took off from the station. About 20 minutes later we had wound our way around to the other side of the ridge to a small parking lot that was filled with cars where the bus dropped us off. The terrain was a little different on this side of the ridge as there were fewer forested areas and we were much closer to the mountains.
A sign, with a distance marker, to the trailhead, pointed hikers in the right direction of the quickly emptying bus. The hike started off along a stream that I crossed several times by rocks and bridges made of small boards.
After about 45 minutes the trail leveled off and went away from the stream. The tree line was now below and there were some cows nearby that were grazing on the grass. To the front I could see the path of the trail for a while until it took a hard turn to the next ascent that looked like it would require some climbing up rocks. Once I made my way to the turn, about 15 minutes later, I decided it was a good time take a quick snack break along with several other people. The first part of the ascent up the ridge had been quite strenuous and the climb up the rocks would take some more energy.
The large rocks up the next part of the hike were not as difficult as they looked from afar. It was certainly more climbing as opposed to hiking, but I was mostly able to find my way to step up the rocks and only had to pull myself up with my arms a few times. This portion of the climb lasted about half an hour, although it seemed like longer. Towards the top of this section a large area covered in snow came into view. I could see the trail leveling off and people standing around up ahead.
This is where the views on the hike got really good. Up until now most of what I saw in front of me had been the incline of the ridge. But that changed as soon as I got to the top of this section. I also soon understood why everyone was standing around. For the first time on the trail I could see the horizon 360 degrees around. I could see down into the valley below on the opposite side of the ridge from the way the trail came up. And I could see out towards the fjord in the distance in the direction that the trail continued. The mountains surrounded the ridge from all sides, lightly covered in snow. There was a river that snaked through the valley towards the fjord. The whole scene was surreal.
I found a rock near the edge to sit on and took it all in for a few minutes. There were people taking photos all over the place, myself included. Most of them were speaking in Norwegian, which further told me that this place was little known outside of Norway. After spending the last week in areas full of tourists it was nice to get somewhere that was less crowded and more local. This was a place that I really felt like I was able to get away from it all.
I spent the next 2 – 3 hours on the top of this ridge, continuing along the trail. There were some smaller areas of uphill hike and of downhill hike. There were a few portions that were very steep and required holding onto a chain that had been put into the rocks to assist in going up and down. None of these sections lasted very long, and I never felt as exhausted as I did during the first part of the hike. Being at a higher elevation the air was crisp and cooler, which was refreshing and kept me from feeling too strained.
There were also some narrow sections of the trail that I walked across. A few times the trail was only 5-6 feet wide and dropped off fairly steeply on either side. If you were afraid of heights, this trek was not for you. Even with the narrow parts of the hike, I never felt unsafe. I was also too distracted by the scenery around me to really notice.
As I got towards the end of the top part of the ridge there was a very long portion where I was walking on nothing but rocks for 20-30 minutes. It wasn’t the most comfortable part of the hike and seemed like it would never end. Once it finally did, I came upon the last stopping point before the final decent that looked directly out over Andalsnes and the fjord. This was the last point in which I was able to get a good view of the scenery before I got back below the tree line. I sat for a few minutes and had another snack to get ready for the long hike down back into the city.
The first part of the hike down consisted of stone steps that I had read were put there by the Sherpa’s. The steps switched back and forth with hairpin turns as it wound down the hill. Shortly after I started my way down the steps the vegetation changed from the short shrubs to taller trees. Soon it was difficult to see much further out as the tree cover became denser. The best part of the hike was over and my mindset focused on getting to the bottom.
The total decent down took about an hour and it was by far the worst part of the entire hike. The stone steps lasted about a quarter of the way down. The trial then became a path that was a mix of dirt and tree roots. And it was fairly steep most of the time going at greater than a 45 degree angle. Every once in a while there would be a clearing in the trees and I could get a view to see how close I was to the city.
As I got closer to the base the trail became more crowded as there were not only people going down but also people going up. Most of those going up were going to a lookout bridge, the Rampestreken viewpoint. This was located more than halfway down from where I had last looked out from the top of the ridge. I didn’t end up stopping here to see the view since it was fairly crowded and I had already seen much better views from earlier in the day. The area around this lookout point did contain manmade grated ramps that were a nice change from the roots. However after the ramp the tree root trail started up again soon and lasted until I got very close to the end.
The air had gotten significantly warmer and heavier as I neared the bottom. Even with most of the tree cover the sun was able to poke through in several areas to heat things up. Eventually, the trail leveled out and the last 10 – 15 minutes were pretty easy. I took one last look out when I got to a point a little above the town of Andalsnes where I could see the fjord and into the river valley, then made my way to the end of the trail. There were a few picnic tables and a small parking lot here. There were several people sitting at the tables and laying on the ground, recovering from the day’s trek.
It was about 3:15 in the afternoon when I reached the exit of the trail. The hike had taken me a total of five and a half hours to complete. Despite the fact that I had been walking for the better part of the last several hours I actually felt pretty good. My feet were a little sore but my hiking boots had handled the terrain very well and done a good job of providing insulation against the impacts of the trail. Before heading back to my hotel that was a few blocks away I took a look back up to see the ridge I had just climbed down.
The Romsdalseggen hike was one I was very happy I had done. It was a little challenging at some points but nothing I felt was overly difficult or thought I couldn’t do. It didn’t leave me overly exhausted and at under 6 hours it didn’t feel too long. It was great because it wasn’t a hike to get to a point and then turn around and go back. It was a one-way trail that provided multiple hours’ worth of panoramic views of the Norwegian landscape. Romsdalseggen was certainly the most scenic hike that I’ve ever experienced.