Gjendesheim to Memurubu Hiking Trail
Stage 1 of the Jotunheimen Historical Hiking Route
- Destination: Jotunheimen National Park
- Season: June-September
- Difficulty: Demanding
- Distance: 13.4 kilometers (point‑to‑point)
- Elevation Gain: 1,140 meters
- Duration: 7-9 hours
About Gjendesheim to Memurubu
The first stage of the Historical Hiking Route in Jotunheimen takes you from Gjendesheim to Memurubu over Besseggen Ridge. This route is not only one of the world’s most famous hikes, but it is located in the heart of Jotunheimen National Park and rooted in the history of Norwegian mountain life and outdoor culture.
From the historical cabin at Gjendesheim, the hike takes you up along the impressive Besseggen Ridge, presenting iconic views over Gjende and Bessvatnet lakes before descending to Memurubu tourist cabin located on the north side of the Gjende lake.
The incredible vistas, impressive peaks, and surrounding landscape have inspired some of Norway’s most influential artists, musicians, and writers. Besseggen Ridge has even been written into literary history by the famous Norwegian author, Henrik Ibsen, who detailed the spectacular ridge in his known piece, Peer Gynt. Some believe his writing actually refers to the majestic nearby mountain, Knutshøe. No matter what, this trek from Gjendesheim to Memurubu takes you through some of Norway’s most profound historical culture and nature.
Despite the challenging route, more than 30,000 hikers complete the trip during the short summer season, making Besseggen one of the most accomplished hiking routes in Norway.
The closest stop is the “Gjendesheim” bus stop, located right in front of the Gjendesheim tourist lodge. If you are traveling from Oslo via bus, it’s easiest to take the NOR-WAY 161 Valdresekspressen.
From Oslo, head north on E16, towards Bergen, for 185 kilometers. When you reach Fagernes, follow signs to road 51, towards Vågå/Beitostølen. Follow road 51 for another 70 kilometers until you reach the signs for Gjendesheim lodge on your left. Follow the road to the very end where you will find parking next to the lake.
Note: road 51, "Valdresflya", is typically open from the end of April through December. You can see the road status at Vegvesen.no or you can call for road updates (in English): +47 815 48 991.
From Gjendesheim, one of DNT’s original cabins, the Historical Hiking Route starts with a climb upwards towards Veslefjellet. The route will take you up the impressive stone stairs, built by sherpas from Nepal, to lessen the erosion along the trail.
After the longest climb up 800 meters, a different heart-rate awaits you as you start to hike west along the iconic and breathtaking Besseggen Ridge. The majority of hikers walk along the ridge in the opposite direction and miss the stunning panoramic views, which surround you during the descent towards Memurubu. The final downhill section can be demanding on your knees after a long day of hiking, so take your time.
Note: The trail becomes extremely difficult in rainy weather, so make sure to look at the forecast and talk with locals or fellow hikers before embarking on the trek. Due to the short season, the trail is often very crowded in good weather.
- This is the first of four stages of the Historical Hiking Route in Jotunheimen. You can choose to hike the entire route or hike individual stages separately.
- The tourist cabin at the beginning of the hike, Gjendesheim, is one of The Norwegian Trekking Associations' first cabins which was opened in 1878.
- The hike along Besseggen Ridge has been chosen as one of the world's top-20 hikes by National Geographic.
- To avoid the masses, aim to hike on a weekday in September.
Where to stay
Gjendesheim Tourist Lodge is a very popular place to stay before and after hiking Besseggen. It’s located just a 2-minute walk from the boat and 10 meters from the bus stop.
Memurubu Lodge is located 10 minutes from the docks in Memurubu. Stay here after hiking from Gjendesheim, or spend the night before your hike to avoid morning boat lines.
Hindsæter Hotel is located 10 minutes with a car further toward Vågå.
Note: The Right to Roam law enables you to camp anywhere for free as long as you follow some basic guidelines.
Questions or comments? Let us know.