Fossestien Waterfall Trail Hiking Trail

Wander down the Gaula River’s waterfall trail

Essential info

  • Destination: Sunnfjord
  • Season: May-October
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Distance: 20.9 kilometers (point‑to‑point)
  • Elevation Gain: 380 meters
  • Duration: 1-10 hours

About Fossestien Waterfall Trail

The Waterfall Trail (“Fossestien”) leads along the Gaula River and follows old trade routes between Gaularfjellet in Balestrand and Viksdalen in Gaular. The complete trail is 21 kilometers long and includes 14 waterfalls and 7 mountain lakes. The route is easy to access from four different parking lots, and you can adjust the length and difficulty by breaking the trail down in shorter legs.

Fossestien follows the Eldalen Valley. It takes you from wild mountain landscape, past old mountain farms and mountain lakes, and into forest covered valleys. Sheep and cows graze along the trail in the summer, and around 80 milking goats reside at the traditional mountain farm Langestølen.

Getting there

Coming from Balestrand, follow Norwegian Scenic Route Gaularfjellet (Road 55 towards Dragsviki and then Road 613) to the Vetlefjord and up the hairpin bends to the Utsikten Viewpoint.

Coming from Sunnfjord, follow Norwegian Scenic Route Gaularfjellet (Road 613 from Moskog or Road 610/613 from Sande) towards Balestrand.

There are four parking lots along Road 613 that provide easy access to Fossestien. There are maps and trail markings for Fossestien from each parking lot. From east to west, they are:

The trail runs from east to west, with Torsnesstølen the highest point. For an easier, downhill hike follow the trail east to west in the direction of Eldal. Note that in Google Maps, there is a point labelled “Start Point Of Fossenstien” (sic), but this is at Eldal at the bottom of the valley and is better as the finish point.

Shuttle

There is shuttle service from Hov Hyttegrend every morning at 10am in summer. The shuttle stops at different starting points along Fossestien so you can choose to hike 5, 8, or 13 kilometers back to Hov Hyttegrend. The cost is NOK 40 per person.

Trail description

The trail is clearly marked with red F-signs, and is facilitated with bridges and boardwalks. 

The trail is 21 kilometers long in total, but it is easy to walk shorter sections.

The beginning of the trail, and its highest point, is by Torsnesstølen about 5 kilometres west of Utsikten Viewpoint. There are signs with maps and information by the small parking lot. Follow the gravel road south and take a quick detour down the rock path to your left to the “Mirage” well. Top up your water bottle with the fresh mountain water and rejoin the gravel road. Continue south on the road towards Torsnesstølen, crossing the bridge over the Gaula River. At Torsnesstølen the trail turns west towards Langestølen.

The trail follows old paths where the locals has been herding their animals to mountain farms for hundreds of years. As the stream goes downward between Holmevatnet and Byttevatnet, you approach Langestølen. On the last hill above the farm you might meet goats, cows, or sheep enjoying the summer pasture. Langestølen is the only mountain farm still run the traditional way at Gaularfjellet.

The trail continues from Langestølen in the direction of Likholefossen. This leg is about seven kilometers, leading past Byttevatnet and Myravatnet lakes and several beautiful mountain farms. The terrain is gentle with fields, open birch forest, bridges, and boardwalks over wet areas, making this section of Fossestien a nice leg for families. Likeholefossen is a popular stop both for hikers and cars, with easy access to a stunning bridge over the waterfall. A lot of visitors choose to park their car here, and take short hikes out-and-back along Fossestien from Likholefossen.

From Likholefossen the trail leads down to Eldal. This is a less traveled part of Fossestien. Pine trees are more common between the birch trees the further down the valley you hike. The trail crosses the road by Lyngstad, and heads down past the small settlement of Nybø before you reach the final parking lot at Eldal. 

Facts

  • Wear good hiking shoes
  • Bring more food and water than you think you need
  • Keep your dog on a leash
  • Do not feed the animals; they do prefer their mountain grass
  • The lakes along Fossestien are good for fishing. Buy your fishing licence on inatur.no.
  • The well near Torsnesstølen is an artwork called “Mirage” by Marianne Heien. This well is one of ten, with the other nine in villages in Malawi.
  • The Gaula river was protected in the 90s after a long debate. The river is one of 379 that has been protected in Norway since the 1970s. 

Amenities

  • Free parking
  • There are toilets at Utsikten Viewpoint, 5 kilometers east of the main trailhead
  • Flatheim Farm, near Likholefossen, runs a summer café with local pastries and refreshments from late June to early August

Where to stay

Hov Hyttegrend offers cabins and facilities for tents, as well as shuttle services to Fossestien every morning in the high season.

Flatheim Farm is a traditional B&B. They offer comfortable beds and facilities for camping, as well as guided trips and a summer café with local refreshments.

In Balestrand you can find a choice of hotels, B&Bs and self-catering apartments. Historical Kviknes Hotel was the favourite of famous painters in the 1800s.

Near Sande on the the Sunnfjord side of Gaularfjellet, Villa Åmot offers a unique cultural experience. In Jølster and Førde you will find both self-catering apartments and hotels. 

Map

Questions or comments? Let us know.

Download trail descriptions, maps, and guides in the Outtt app.

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