Your complete guide to hiking the Preikestolen
One of the three most popular hikes in Norway
The first time I saw pictures of Norway it catapulted its way up my list of places to visit. A stunning country, home to some of the finest nature in Europe. A few of the places that show up again and again are the hanging boulder of Kjeragbolten, the flat rock of Preikestolen and the overhanging rock of Trolltunga. When Norway was finally booked these three hikes were the most anticipated parts of the trip, and due to their location all three would be done on consecutive days.
Pt. 2: Preikestolen
Distance: 7.6 km (4.7 miles)
Elevation Gain: 334 metres (1,095 ft)
Hike Time: 3 to 5 hours
The easiest and most popular starting point for the majority of people is from the city of Stavanger. The journey requires a ferry, either from Stavanger to Tau or a shorter ferry ride from Lauvvik to Oanes. If you have a car it's easier to drive to Lauvvik and take the shorter ferry crossing to Oanes. The journey is 61 km (38 miles) and takes around 1.5 hours one way. There is also a bus direct from Stavanger.
Despite being in the middle of August the weather wasn't great, with drizzle in the air and clouds with absolutely no texture, a worrying sight for a point and shoot photographer like myself.
We had hoped that the weather being as poor as it was, fewer people would be out hiking, but unfortunately that just wasn't the case. From the busy car park the trek begins. Slightly steep at first through a narrow pine forest walkway, having to watch our step on the tree roots and small boulders.
Every type of person was hiking today, families with young children and dogs, old people in their normal clothes and the ultra fit professional hikers running past everyone, or trying to. If you click on the photo below you can even see a woman on crutches coming the other way. I've no idea if she had completed it by that point and was returning, or if that's as far as she got before heading back.
With so many people walking the same route, and barely enough room to pass each other, it does make for hard going, constantly having to adjust your speed to the slow person ahead, conscious of the fact that the person behind sees you as the slow person ahead.
Through the pine forest the sky opens up, the trail leading upward along some man made steps, still barely enough room to pass anyone and people stopping everywhere catching their breath. At the top of this section is an open patch of grass with a narrow man made wooden walkway leading the way through the boggy marsh. Another small trail upwards and eventually the landscape starts to resemble the pictures we've all seen.
The view is fantastic, from high up with the fjord spread out in front of us and the low lying mountains rolling off into the distance. The trail now cuts along a plateau, meaning people have more room to spread out and pass each other.
Before you know it, there it is, Pulpit Rock. Only at first from the angle of approach it's not completely obvious against the rest of this incredible terrain. What makes it obvious is the sea of people and their colourful jackets all standing in one place.
If the pictures make it look like there's a queue, it's because there was actually a queue! To be fair it was a fast moving one.
Despite the amount of people on and around the rock I think we were actually really lucky, as I later heard stories about being there when it's so crowded the rock is hardly visible at all.
Even with a lot of people around, the Preikestolen was still a spectacular scene and a place I'm so glad to have been to.
The walk back was very slow, with people getting tired and taking more care walking downhill. Even with the huge numbers making their way back, it seemed as though there were a lot more people going towards the rock. It was easier than Kjeragbolten by far, and quite a good hike to do between that and Trolltunga. The obvious advice is the same as for all other treks, leave as early in the morning as you can to avoid the crowds.
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate. Requires okay physical condition. Not a huge distance, with only a 334 metre elevation difference.
Distance: 7.6 km
Hike Time: 3 to 5 hours depending on fitness, breaks & hike traffic.
My Opinion: Being my most anticipated point on the trip I was a bit underwhelmed. It's possible that I'd built it up too much, though I think it came down to the amount of people on this hike. The single track route in places makes it difficult to pass anyone, therefore making it difficult to set your own pace. The ease and popularity of this trek means the route and the rock will often be covered with people, making it feel very crowded. Despite the negatives, the natural landscape is undeniably stunning.