Norway: Trekking Along the Milford and Routeburn Tracks
Norway is a paradise for hikers, with spectacular scenery, a multitude of hiking routes, and a well-maintained system of trails and comfortable trekking lodges. From its glaciated mountains to its famous fjords, Norway offers enough trekking options to last a lifetime. In all of Norway's many national parks you will find numerous well-posted hiking routes, plus virtually unlimited options for off-the-beaten-track orienteering.
One popular route crosses south central Norway's Rondane National Park across this area's mountainous terrain. Rondane is known for the beauty of its rugged scenery where large terraces of sand and gravel are interspersed with narrow canyons, rivers, and steep-walled cirques. Scrub vegetation, dwarf birch, and heather are the dominant plants; lichen-covered rocks and often snow cover the landscape. In the fall Rondane is resplendent in yellows and reds as the heather and berry bushes turn color. In the spring vibrant wildflowers spring up amidst the subtle hues of the perennials.
For hard-core hikers, scheduel an eight-day itinerary that explores the Jotunheimen, an impressive expanse of mountains, glaciers, highlands, lakes, and waterfalls. The trek begins in the southern edge of the Jotunheimen mountain range and ends with a climactic ascent of 8,100-foot Galdhopiggen, the highest mountain in Norway. Challenging elevation changes mark the route through alpine lakes and valleys, steep gorges, moors, snowfields, and high mountain ridges with excellent views of Jotunheimen's glaciers and peaks.
If you'd like to include a major fjord in your trek, consider a trip to Aurlandsdalen. Hiking through a mountain range that forms the "great divide" between east and west Norway, trekkers will be treated to views of towering cliffs, waterfalls, windswept plateaus, and verdant valleys. You'll travel through a variety of ecosystems, hiking from marshland to mountain tops, as you meander along high ridges, lakeside routes, and cliffside paths. The trip culminates at the majestic 112-mile long Sognefjord, one of the world's most spectacular fjords. From there the group rides back to Oslo on the famous Flåm railway, ascending 2,838 feet and 12 miles in 50 minutes of thrilling switchbacks.
For hikers preferring a gentler pace and more luxurious accommodations, consider a tour through southern Norway. The flexible itinerary of these ten-day treks let you decide each morning how demanding a walk you want to undertake. All nights are spent in excellent hotels, with vans transporting all gear, so hikers need only wear a daypack. The route visits one of Norway's largest glaciers, Hardanger Jokulen, where you can ascend the ice face with crampons and ropes. Hiking along a cart track with countless waterfalls and mountain views, participants arrive at the Sognefjord where you will be treated to a two-hour cruise of the fjord. A van takes you to the next leg of the journey, the Aurland Valley, sometimes called Norway's Grand Canyon. From a scenic lakeside trailhead, the final day's hike ascends to the Follarskaret Pass. There, atop the 5,250-foot pass you'll enjoy superb views of the route you've covereda fitting end to the trek.
The Rondane trek takes eight days and departs throughout the summer for around $750 per person. Trips for the Jotunheimen trek depart June through August and cost around $800 per person. The strenuous 7-day Aurlandsdalen trek costs $850 per person with departures in July and August. Cost for the trek through southern Norway runs around $1,750 with departures in the summer. For the independant, govermnet-supported fully-provisioned lodges are scattered across most of Norway's trekking routes, many of which are traditional grass-roofed log farmhouses that have been converted into hiker's huttes.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication