Gjendebu to Torfinnsbu Through Svartdalen Hiking Trail
Stage 3 of the Jotunheimen Historical Hiking Route
- Destination: Jotunheimen National Park
- Season: June-September
- Difficulty: Demanding
- Distance: 14 kilometers (point‑to‑point)
- Elevation Gain: 610 meters
- Duration: 6-8 hours
About Gjendebu to Torfinnsbu Through Svartdalen
The third stage of the Historical Hiking Route in Jotunheimen takes you from Gjendebu to Torfinnsbu along the least vertically demanding stage of this Historical Hiking Route.
While the first two stages of the Historical Hiking Route have made an impact in Norwegian literary history, Gjendebu has made its name within the musical history of Norway. Gjendine Slålien was born in 1871 at Gjendebu and christened in the waters of Gjende lake. During the summers in the late 1800's, she spellbound the world-renowned Norwegian composer, Edvard Grieg, with her beautiful folk songs. Grieg was inspired by Gjendine and used many of her folk songs in his music which would reach worldwide acclaim.
The hike from Gjendebu to Torfinnsbu takes you through Svartdalen (Black Valley) where you are surrounded by towering peaks, many of which have been the root of arguments between mountaineers back in the days. Knutsholstinden (2341 meters above sea level) was originally thought to be the most demanding peak in the region, but William Cecil Slingsby, who was the first person to climb Store Skagastølstinden (2405 meters above sea level), brought a local milkmaid on his ascent on Knutsholstinden, to prove that it was “a ladies peak”.
After the bus or car ride to Gjendesheim, take the Gjendebåtene across Gjende lake to the start of the route at Gjendebu.
The closest stop is the "Gjendesheim" bus stop. 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, take the Gjendebåtene across Gjende lake to Gjendebu. Visit the Gjendebåtene website for schedules, prices, and other information.
A few hundred meters from Gjendebu Lodge, you will begin the steep climb up into the valley, Svartdalen, for two kilometers. During the beginning of the hike, you will be shadowed by the majestic mountain, Knutsholstind (2342 meters above sea level) to the west.
After the first climb taking you up 500 meters, the hike through Svartdalen will be relatively flat for the next 8 kilometers before descending to Torfinnsbu cabin by the shore of Bygdin Lake.
- This is the third of four stages of the Historical Hiking Route in Jotunheimen. You can choose to hike the entire route or hike individual stages separately.
- Knutsholstind (2342 meters above sea level) was thought to be Norway’s highest mountain in earlier times.
- Torfinnsbu boasts the easiest entry to the most 2000 meter peaks of all DNT cabins.
- This stage of the Historical Hiking Route in Jotunheimen is the least demanding in elevation gain.
Where to stay
Gjendebu Lodge: Located at the start of the hike from Gjendebu to Torfinnsbu.
Torfinnsbu: The DNT cabin is located at the end of the hike on the northern shore of Bygdin lake. You will need to be a member of DNT and have the key to access the cabin. Learn more about how to become a member of DNT here.
Camping: Set up your tent near Torfinnsbu. Read about the Right to Roam rules and regulations for camping in Norway here.
Questions or comments? Let us know.