Ustetind Hiking Trail
Hike along the vast Hardangervidda plains to a magnificent viewpoint
- Destination: Geilo
- Season: June-October
- Difficulty: Demanding
- Distance: 32.4 kilometers (loop)
- Elevation Gain: 1,010 meters
- Duration: 10.5-12 hours
This roundtrip hike from Geilo to Ustetind (1,376 m.a.s.l.) takes you along the vast plains of Hardangervidda, passing by Hakkesetstølen Lodge and the peak of Birgithovda (1,173 m.a.s.l.) on the way. Upon reaching the top of Ustetind, you’re awarded astonishing views of highlights such as Hardangerjøkulen Glacier, Hallingskarvet Mountain Range, and Reinheimen Mountain. On bright days, you can even see Gaustadtoppen Mountain (1,883 m.a.s.l.) in the far south-east.
The considerable length and elevation gain make this a demanding hike. However, you’ll follow well-marked trails that run through smooth mountain terrain, and there are many scenic spots to have a rest along the way. A tip is to take the summer ski lift from Vestlia Ski Center to save your legs the ascent to Hakkesetstølen.
Located on the borderline between eastern and western Norway, Geilo is easily accessible from either Bergen or Oslo. Road Rv7 over Hardangervidda, Fv50 Hol-Aurland, and Rv52 over Hemsedal is open all year round, as long as the weather conditions are not too harsh. Call the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Statens vegvesen) on + 47 815 48 991 to ensure that the roads are open.
The journey takes 3 hours and 30 minutes from Oslo and 4 hours from Bergen.
There's a big parking lot at Geilojordet in the town center, on the opposite side of Rv7 from the tourist office. Alternatively, if wishing to take the ski lift, park in front of Vestlia Ski Center.
From Oslo, take the bus Vy Ekspress from Oslo bus terminal. The journey to Geilo takes 3 hours and 40 minutes. Book your tickets and check schedules here.
Geilo is about halfway on the train route between Oslo and Bergen. The journey takes 3 hours 30 minutes, departing five times a day. Book your tickets and check schedules here.
From Geilo Tourist Office to Hakkesetstølen
Coming out of the tourist office in the center of Geilo, take to the right and walk around the corner of the building. Walk down the stairs to the right and take the passage underneath the road. Once on the other side, follow the walkway as it travels between the farmyard and parking at Geilojordet, in the direction of Road Fv40.
Continue on the walkway as it runs eastwards alongside Road Fv40 and crosses the bridge. About 180 meters after the bridge, the walkway runs underneath the road, and once on the other side, you’ll see a large brown sign reading Vestlia Resort. Here, you can either hike uphill by following the trail description to Hakkesetstølen or save your legs for the ascent by taking the ski lift from Vestlia Ski Center. Note that the ski lift closes at 5pm, so if wishing to hike to Hakkesetstølen, but be back in time to take the ski lift down, you should start your hike no later than 8:30am.
From the top of the ski lift, follow the trail straight ahead (southwards) towards Hakkesetstølen. It’s about 1,4 kilometers from the top of the lift to Hakkesetstølen.
From Hakkesetstølen to Birgitstølen and Ustetind
Reaching Hakkesetstølen, follow the signs to Ustetind to the right. The route takes you over Birgithovda (1,173 m.a.s.l.), about situated about 3.9 kilometers southwest of Hakkeststølen. The terrain is mostly flat and easy-going, the upward slopes being gentle and easy to mount. Apart from a few rocky sections, the trail is easy to spot and follow. Having passed the tree line, sweeping views of the mountain plains await. At the top of Birgithovda, you’ll find a bench where you can relax and soak up the views.
From Birgithovda, follow the trail running downhill on the western side until you reach a fork. Continue straight ahead, following the signs to Ustetind. From this point, it’s 4 kilometers left to Ustetind.
After about 1.3 kilometers, you’ll reach Grønebakken Hill, where there’s a Red Cross cabin. The cabin is locked, but it’s a perfect place to take a break before ascending the hill. During the next 2 kilometers, you’ll experience an elevation gain of 200 meters. Before reaching the top of the hill, the trail splits. Here you take the red-marked path to the right.
Upon reaching the plateau, it’s about 2 kilometers left to Ustetind (1,376 m.a.s.l.), and you’ll soon see the peak ahead. Follow the trail to the top for astonishing views of the Hardangervidda Plains, Hardangerjøkulen Glacier, Hallingskarvet Mountain Range, and Reinskarvet Mountain. If the weather’s clear, you can even see as far as Gaustadtoppen Mountain (1,883 m.a.s.l.) in the south-east.
It’s easiest to descend Ustetind on the western side, the side facing Hardangerjøkulen Glacier. After about 1.5 kilometers, you’ll see the oval Holværvatnet Lake. Coming down from Ustetind, follow the trail running eastwards towards the lake. Continuing 700 meters, you’ll reach a sign-posted fork where you take the red-marked path to the left.
Continuing for about 2.2 kilometers, you’ll come to a stream. If the water levels are high, it’s easiest to cross the stream some 50-100 meters up from the trail. Having passed the stream, follow the path running alongside Tobakktjørne Lake. The peak to your right is Storhovda (1,278 m.a.s.l.). The trail runs along the northern side of the peak, the views opening up to the forested Skurdal Valley as you ascend. From the top of the hill, the trail travels gradually downhill for the remaining part of the route.
Upon reaching the fork by Birgithovda, take trail to the right, which runs via Birgitstølen back to Hakkesetstølen. It’s about 4.6 kilometers from the fork to Hakkesetstølen. After a couple of hundred meters, you’ll pass a former grazing area with old summer mountain farms.Having passed the mountain farms, the trail descends below the tree line again. From Hakkesetstølen, either take the ski lift (alternatively, walk down the slalom hills if the lift’s closed) or follow the trail description between Hakkesetstølen and Geilo.
Bring water as there are no water sources available before you reach Hakkesetstølen. Between Hakkesetstølen, you’ll pass several lakes and streams where you can fill your bottle.
The summer ski lift from Vestlia Ski Center is open between 10am and 5pm.
It’s possible to stay overnight at Hakkesetstølen. The lodge has a café serving hot dishes as well as coffee and pastries.
There are several shops, hotels, and restaurants in Geilo.
Questions or comments? Let us know.