A Hidden Hike in Stavanger
With one afternoon in Stavanger, we knew we didn’t have time to battle the tourists and climb to the top of Preikestolen (Preacher’s Pulpit). I knew there’s no hike with a better pay off. But, I also knew I'd be one of hundreds of tourists scaling the rocky path, and I'd never get a moment or a photo on top of the fjord alone, or see a single vista or view that was people-free. I wanted a Norwegian hiking adventure that was more outside the box.
Our Norwegian friend told Josh and I about the hike his grandfather always took him on as a little boy in the mountains nearby their farm house. A trail that is loved, known, and traversed only by locals. 5km from Myrland to the top of Valvinarden, incredibly scenic, fresh blueberries to pick, and the possibility of seeing the beautiful, small Icelandic horses that roam the land. He also promised we'd be the only people there.
Seclusion, snacks, and a pony... I was sold! So if you’re looking for a hike to still take in the incredible beauty of Norway, but avoids tourists and crowds, this will dazzle you!
We parked at Myrland (one of two cars there). Parking is completely free and will never be an issue. (Parking at Pulpit Rock is about $20)
Kevin, a true Norwegian, travels with his hiking shoes in the trunk of his car, because you just never know when you’ll need them here! He did a quick change into the shoes I wish I had brought - thick, waterproof, ankle-high boots.
Hiking in Norway is serious business. This is not a paved, hilly trail through the mountain with rest stops and ice cream stands. Which is both wonderful and devastating - as a mid-hike ice cream is the only thing that could have made this experience better!
The trail is in not exactly well defined, and is very steep, rocky, and wonderfully muddy. My Nike Frees were caked in a thick coat of wet Earth by the end, and for the last half hour we were actually scaling the side of a mountain. Definitely wear the right clothing and footwear, and bring water with you. I consider myself pretty athletic, and I found the terrain challenging. However, Kevin told me everyone in his family - from his eight-year-old son to his eighty-year-old grandmother does this hike on the regular. I’d love to meet this octogenarian superwoman.
The hike covers a lot of different landscapes: a beautiful, mossy forest, hills of red mud, farmland, fields of rocks, and eventually opens to massive, jagged mountains that look like they’re made up of billions of boulders. You’ll see lakes, fjords, streams, charming cottages, waterfalls, viking ruins, and of course a stunning view of the North Sea. From the top Kevin pointed out his grandfather’s house and their summer cabin.
There are a few signs posted along the way to keep you on track, and red marks on rocks and trees which work as a sort of yellow-brick-road to the top of the mountain.
The landscape kept outdoing itself as we hiked on. Every time we thought we had come to the best view and stood swooning, Kevin made us press on, and we'd open a new clearing and be blown away all over again.
It's a hike full of surprises, and the largest payoff, of course, came at the end after scaling the side of Valvinarden for a good half hour and almost meeting an untimely death. It was amazing to make it to the top, and if I hadn't had a local leading the way I would have never thought it was possible.
This was one of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen, but what really made the experience unforgettable was the seclusion - being the only people around enjoying it. It was as if we had Norway all to ourselves for the day, and especially with my blonde braids, I really felt like a local.
And the cherry on top of our magical, outside-the-box day - unicorn sighting!
- Drive to Myrland from Stavanger: 30 minutes
- Hike from Myrland to the top of Valvinarden: 5km, allow between 1.5 - 2 hours if you’re at a comfortable pace stopping for photos along the way
- What to wear - I recommend wearing 3/4 leggings rather than long pants because the bottoms of your pants will get very dirty and mud-soaked. Layer a tank top with a sweatshirt, fleece, or long sleeve jacket in the summer months. .Definitely wearing hiking boots!
- What to bring - water, camera