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The Jotunheimen Historical Hiking Route is a four-day trek along some of the most famous trails in Jotunheimen National Park. At the end of each stage is a traditional, cosy mountain cabin. These trails and cabins were amongst some of the first in Norway and offer a truly authentic mountain hiking experience.
Beginning at Gjendesheim, the route leads west above Gjende Lake and along Besseggen Ridge to Memurubu, before continuing west to Gjendebu. From there, the trail heads south through the Svartdalen valley to Torfinnsbu on the shore of Bygdin Lake. The final leg follows the lake to Eidsbugarden.
The route is demanding, covering a total of 60 kilometers across the four stages. There are large elevation changes along the way, with particularly steep sections on stages two and three. The trails are well-marked and very popular, with July and August the busiest. The route is suitable for those with some mountain hiking experience and good fitness.
The route is best hiked from July to September and is easy to access by public transport. Three of the stages follow along the mountain lakes of Gjende and Bygdin with boats available to transport heavy backpacks and travelers looking to break up the hike.
Both the start and end points of the route have good public transport connections. Additionally, boats connect the cabins on three of the stages so it’s easy to skip a stage or dodge a day of bad weather.
Buses to Gjendesheim run from Oslo between late June and late September and take 5-6 hours. Take the trip the day before and spend the night at the Gjendesheim cabin so you can start hiking the next morning. There are also good connections from Bergen. Book tickets in advance to secure seats and the best prices.
From Eidsbugarden there are daily local buses at 11:30 and 16:50 to Tyinkrysset from late June to late August. From late August to mid September the buses run only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
From Tyinkrysset there are buses to Fagernes/Oslo or Bergen.
At the end of each stage is a cosy mountain cabin. All cabins are staffed and provide meals except for Torfinnsbu. At Torfinnsbu, basic ingredients are available for purchase and there is cooking equipment available for use.
Apart from Memurubu, which is privately run, the cabins are operated by the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) and a membership will save you money.
To learn more about the membership, the accommodation, and the food at the cabins, read our ultimate guide to staying in DNT cabins in Norway.
The cabins along the route are:
- Gjendesheim (serviced, DNT)
- Memurubu (serviced, privately run)
- Gjendebu (serviced, DNT)
- Torfinnsbu (self-service, DNT)
- Fondsbu (serviced, DNT)
If you bring a tent it’s also possible to camp by each of the cabins for a small fee.
When to go
This route can be hiked from July to September and is busiest in July and August.
Even in summer there can still snow on the ground as well as very wet sections. Temperatures reach between 10 and 20°C during the day. Bad weather is a distinct possibility, so come prepared for cold and rain as there is very little shelter along the trails.
Having the right gear and layering your clothing appropriately is key to a safe and happy hike in Norway. See DNT’s guide to packing for a summer hike.
Boats and luggage transport
On three of the stages there are boats that shuttle hikers between the cabins. It’s also possible to transport your luggage on the boats. That way you can enjoy an easier hike by carrying a much lighter day pack.
Boats travel from Gjendesheim to Memurubu (stage 1) and Memurubu to Gjendebu (stage 2) on Gjende Lake. Another boat operates on Bygdin Lake from Torfinnsbu to Eidsbugarden (stage 4). You need to hike with your large pack through Svartdalen (stage 3), the valley which connects the two lakes.
If you want to take a boat on Gjende Lake as a passenger, it’s a good idea to buy your ticket in advance, particularly in July and August when it is most busy.
On Gjende Lake, baggage transport costs 60 NOK per bag, per trip. Buy a baggage label from the cabin in the morning before you start hiking and drop your bag off in the marked area at the dock. You can also buy a label from the boat staff. When you reach the next cabin, head to the dock where there will be a collection of transported bags.
On Bygdin Lake, you should meet the boat which departs the Torfinnsbu dock at 9:50. You can deliver your bag directly to the staff and pay the fee.