Hiking Solo in Norway: Voss - Åsedalen - Solrenningen
After a day off in Voss, I was ready to embark on the second leg of my solo Norwegian adventure. I had to decide on the trail choice – I had about a week to reach Ortnevik by the Sognefjorden.
I started my Norwegian adventure in Bergen, took a train to Dale and started my hiking trip toward Høgabu. Next, I moved from Høgabu toward Vending and on then from Vending to Voss. I think hiking solo as a woman in Norway is absolutely fantastic - you can read all about it in this post.
Initially I wanted to simply climb up from Voss toward Slettafjellet and continue on my way from Dale, near Bergen. But during my unending descent into the valley where Voss lay, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to do the climb up on the other side. I don’t mind some uphill walking – that’s what mountains are about. But the thought to climb about 800 m up in one day was … terrifying.
It’s all about the views for me, not the climbing…
And so I started to look into alternative ways to get into the mountains. I checked train and bus routes where I could catch a trail. I found one option that proved a good idea: catching the bus form Voss to Vikoyri through Myrkdalen. The bus climbs up to the mountains on narrow roads (a treat in itself) and I could stop at a junction where my trail started.
There was nothing there except for a few summer cottages, RVs and a dirt road toward Bjergane. The map showed it was an 8 km walk on this dirt road, around a Svartavatnet lake. Thanks to taking the bus ride I was already at 1000 m level. I started the walk pretty late because the bus left Voss at 3:50 pm. Although the summer days in Norway are crazy long, I didn’t want to walk late into the night.
The place seemed to be popular with RV-ers and other holiday goers so every now and then a car passed me by causing huge clouds of dust for me to inhale. I saw on the map that there was a shortcut trail which would take me off the dirt path. It didn’t look like there were any suitable camping spots so I decided to take it.
Finding a wild camping spot for the night
The trail had very fainted markings and wasn’t used much. In the beginning the path was pretty clear but later on it started to disappear and it was getting more and more difficult to discern the right direction. The terrain got also more difficult, with plenty of loose rocks and boulders. I started to doubt my decision of taking this path – walking on the dirt road would have been longer and boring but at least clear and fast.
Finally, when I found a bit of a flat and level ground I decided to call it a day. Ahead of me was a field of boulders and avalanche of rocks with no trail markings. It was too late to begin navigating my way through all of that as it was already 7:30 pm, so I pitched my tent on a ridge overlooking a lake.
There was some rain during the night I woke up to a cold and gloomy morning. I didn’t feel like getting out so read for a while. Then the sunshine got through the clouds and kicked me out from the warmed up tent.
Navigating boulders, rocks, and snow
The path through the rubble was slow and nightmarish. In addition to boulders and rocks of every size, there were snow patches and ice bridges. When I finally got on the other side to a pretty easy to climb hill, I was truly relieved and felt like a superhero.
Beautiful trail from Bjergane
Finally, I reached the end of the dirt road and a point where a few trails started. A few cars were parked there so I knew I might have company along the way.
After an initial climb there were no more seriously steep ascents. I could walk on a very well-marked and visible path, undulating slightly over the hills. The trail lead toward the mountain shelter in Selhamar but I didn’t plan on reaching it.
A wild camp spot by a lake
At a trail junction near Gryteberg, I turned right (North) and started to look for a spot to pitch my tent. I reached the banks of Raudbergvatnet Lake and walked between it and the Raudberg Mountain. I found a suitable spot and pitched my Double Rainbow.
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New day, same boulder climbing…
The next morning I was as usual late and slow. I felt a bit ashamed when I was packing and saw a group of three elderly hikers eagerly hiking along the lake. They seemed at least 70 years old. I would later meet them at a mountain shelter.
Pretty soon after I packed I had another boulder labyrinth to navigate. Some crossings required full attention and even the help of hands. The thought that those senior trekker walked through it all just an hour earlier pushed me to go on.
Best part of the morning: fresh coffee with a view!
The good thing this difficult section was only about 150 m wide, so nothing too bad. After that it was a lovely hiking with only some steeper ascents. The landscape around was fabulous with all the hills, valleys, little streams cutting through and falling in picturesque waterfalls. Snow patches melting and filling small, crystal-clear lakes. A real pleasure to walk through such beautiful surroundings!
I stopped for a coffee and breakfast by one of those amazing waterfalls. I gathered fresh water and had a lovely time reading, drinking coffee and admiring the vista.
All the gloomy clouds disappeared by then and it was getting really warm. I saw later people hiking topless – full on summer!
At one point I met a nice couple hiking in the same direction. We chatted a bit about hiking in the area and we both discussed two optional ways to reach Åsedalen. They wanted to go through Rappen to see a waterfall, the other option took a southern leg – a bit longer but also looking promising. While we talked, the man pointed to the sky and grabbed for his binoculars. We have a fantastic eagle flying right above us! What a beautiful creature!
Trails and shortcuts
I chose the latter and turned left… and then got on the wrong trail. I know (now) how that happened - that’s the problem when all trails are marked in identical way (here: red letter “T” and red spots). Later I saw that by accident I took a shortcut back to the trail the couple recommended. Oh, well, not really a problem as wherever you go around there you are to have fantastic views.
Watching beautiful waterfalls
The trail goes along a ridge and then down with fantastic view of a powerful waterfall and a vast valley below. I didn’t envy the hikers who had to climb up the steep path, though!
At the Åsedalen mountain shelter
I reached Åsedalen mountain shelter and, without looking at the time, I prepared myself some coffee. It was crazy hot and the sun was so strong, I misjudged the time (again!). It’s really hard for me to “feel” the time in Norway. I was shocked when I saw it was after 6pm, it felt 3-4pm! I packed and moved on to find a good place for a wild camp.
I got confused with directions and the map (nothing unusual to me) and had no ViewRanger to correct me because there was no signal, so went wrong way and had to cut through moors to reach the correct trail. I was lucky I hiked during such a dry season, as if it were a regular summer, all that moors would be bogs and muddy mess.
Are there even non-scenic wild camping spots in Norway?
After about 2 km from the shelter there was a farm so I didn’t want to camp anywhere close and had to look farther away. I found a lovely spot on a meadow near a stream falling into the lake. A fairy tale location!
The next morning I realized the downside of this lovely location – from early on I was in full sunshine so after I was cold during the night, I was franticly undressing in the morning to avoid getting soaked in sweat.
Hiking through Norwegian valleys
In the beginning, the trail led along the lake on a lower altitude than before so it was pretty green. I walked among small, crooked birch trees and over muddy patches. I can imagine that during a regular, rainy, summers this path would be really muddy and boggy. I had only a small number of tricky puddles to cross.
Coffee with a view: another one
As became my tradition when hiking in Norway, I didn’t eat breakfast right away but rather stopped after an hour or two of walking. It’s not difficult to find a spot with fresh water around here so there is no stress. This time, I stopped by a lake and brew fresh coffee enjoying awesome views all around me.
Messing up the trails, again
At one point I reached a sign post. There were two options for reaching Solrenningen. I chose the one that took me over a small bridge and around the lake. And here mystery starts. I have no idea how but I went the wrong way.
I followed trail marks on a rarely-used, difficult trail and after a while I realized that something was wrong. I saw a dam ahead of me and started to study the map. In no rational way I could understand how I got there. It was really strange but I did reach a dam. It was a popular trail head and there was a parking spot a short walk away.
Later on I saw what went wrong - and I wasn’t really to blame. The signage was confusing but in the end, it’s all good - I could do something a bit different.
Taking the easy path along a lake
I met a couple of hikers and they told me there was a trail back on the other side of the lake – a much easier to walk on. I was happy to hear that as the trail I just did was really unpleasant.
I crossed the dam and had a hard time getting down from it to reach the dirt road leading up the hill. I finally reached and was happy as a kid when I found a sign post for Solremmingen marked as an “easy” trail.
And indeed, it was a nice walking path. It was not a completely flat and boring path but there were steps made of rocks or planks over particularly muddy areas to ease the hiking. It was obviously a well taken care off and I it was really nice to walk there.
A wild camping spot - with private stream and ants
I didn’t want to reach the mountain shelter as I didn’t want to sleep there. When at one moment I crossed a bridge, I saw the perfect spot for my tent – a bit up from the trail and not far from a stream.
It was a nice, grassy land but full of ants. I had to move a few times to find a good place for the dinner. I’m glad that they left my tent alone. As long as the sun was shining, it was really warm but the moment it hid behind a mountain, I could feel the temperatures drop significantly.
During the night the chill from the nearby stream reached my tent and I was looking for extra clothes to put on. But the moment sun came out in the morning I thought I would bake inside my tent.
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At the Solrenningen mountain shelter
The walk to the Solrenningen was about 5 km and it was a perfect moment to stop for a breakfast and some reading time. The shelter is close to a lake and there was a family fishing with their kids. They later fried their catch and hiked back home.
I can imagine this to be the perfect weekend trip for a family - not too difficult yet challenging enough for kids, great place for a night sleep, beautiful area with lakes to get a boat on… lovely destination.
As much I loved this long and lazy coffee break I knew I had to get going, as I had a steep 500 m climb to do before the nightfall…
My daily distances on the trail:
Day 1: from the bus stop to a wild camp between the Svartavatnet Lake and the Skjelinganosi Peak: 4, 2 km; height gain: 255 m, height loss: 154 m; max altitude: 1123 m
Day 2: from a wild camping spot by Svartavatnet Lake, through Bjergane towards Solhamar, and to a wild camp by the Raudbergvatnet Lake: 11, 1 km; height gain: 426 m, height loss: 598 m; max altitude: 1182 m.
Day 3: from a wild camp by the Raudbergvatnet, through Dyredalen to Åsedalen shelter and a wild camp near the Veslavatnet Lake: 13 km; height gain: 511 m, height loss: 633 m; max altitude: 1160m
Day 4: from a wild camp near Veslavatnet Lake, through Stordalen, along the southern bank of Stølsvatnet, through the dam and on the northern side of the lake to a wild camp: 12, 2 km; height gain: 438 m, height loss: 609 m; max altitude: 792 m.
Day 5 (first half): from the wild camp to Solrenningen mountain shelter: about 5 km.
Maps of the area:
The maps below are screen shots from the fantastic and highly recommended website UT.NO. Check it out before you go hiking in Norway!
The general area between Voss and Sognefjorden:
My hiking path:
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