Photo: Therese Ruud / Statens vegvesen

Norwegian Scenic Route Gaularfjellet: Hiking Trails and Viewpoints

In the heart of Fjord Norway lies one of its best kept secrets. Often overlooked for its more famous neighbours, Norwegian Scenic Route Gaularfjellet runs for 114 kilometers across mountains from fjord to fjord. The route celebrates the abundance of water in the area, featuring not only the famous fjords but following along the protected Gaularvassdraget watercourse with its mountain lakes and waterfalls.

Beginning in the popular village of Balestrand on the edge of the Sognefjord, the road winds along the coast, passing under steep mountains, before climbing up into the Gaularfjellet mountain area. Here, high above the valley, the unmissable Utsitken Viewpoint delivers a tremendous outlook across to the surrounding mountains. The road continues alongside the Gaula River, but the journey can also be enjoyed on foot. The 21-kilometer long Fossestien Waterfall Trail meanders past serene lakes and stunning waterfalls like Likholefossen. The road then splits, leading past yet more lakes and old mountain farms, including the idyllic Årsnesstølen, on the way to Sande and Moskog.

Road Closures

The section of road between Mel and Mjell in the middle of the route is closed during winter, normally from December to April.

Check the current status and see closure dates from recent years.

Tips

  • For the tougher hikes along the Sognefjord you can organize a guide in Balestrand
  • Boats run to Fjærland at the end of the Fjærlandsfjord, home to the Norwegian Glacier Museum and within viewing distance of the Jostedalsbreen Glacier
  • Stay overnight along the route and hike a longer stretch of Fossestien with help of the shuttle bus from Hov Hyttegrend
  • With the abundance of lakes in the area there are great options for pitching a tent along most of the hiking trails
Download this guide, including all hiking trails and maps, in the Outtt app.

Balestrand to Moskog/Sande

Keipen

Sognefjord

Hiking Trail
Expert
13.1 km · 7 – 10 hr

Keipen

Referred to as the Pulpit Rock of the Sognefjord, Keipen rises steeply above the fjord near Balestrand. The trip is long, demanding, and not for the faint of heart. The reward is a phenomenal view over the fjord and a deep sense of achievement. Sherpas from Nepal have built stone steps in recent years to ease the journey on the steepest part of the trail.

Read more about Keipen

Menesstølen

Sognefjord

Hiking Trail
Demanding
4.4 km · 3 – 4 hr

Menesstølen

A short detour from the scenic route takes you to Menes, the starting point for two challenging hikes to the ridge above the fjords.

Menesstølen is an old summer farm perched on the mountainside overlooking the Fjærlandsfjord. The tough ascent has you climbing almost 750 meters in elevation. Enjoy a picnic in the grass by the farm as you admire the fjord and surrounding mountains from above.

Read more about Menesstølen

Harevollnipa

Sognefjord

Hiking Trail
Expert
14.8 km · 8 – 10 hr

Harevollnipa

Further up and the along the ridge is Harevollnipa, a lookout point at 1,400 meters above sea level. While the ridge is fairly wide, this hike is for experienced hikers and fine weather. From the peak there are views down to the fjords on both sides of the ridge.

Read more about Harevollnipa

Utsikten

Sognefjord

Viewpoint
Easy
 

Utsikten

Aptly named “the view”, the Utsikten lookout point sits at the top of the hairpin-filled road up to Gaularfjellet from the fjords. Take in the mountain landscape and explore the viewing angles made possible by the pointed structure. On some days, you’ll be above the clouds clinging to mountainsides over the valley.

Read more about Utsikten

Skarvedalsvatnet Lake

Sognefjord

Hiking Trail
Medium
3.5 km · 1 – 2 hr

Skarvedalsvatnet Lake

If those steep hikes from the fjord to the high mountains seemed a bit extreme, or if you just need to stretch you weary legs, take the short hike to Skarvedalsvatnet Lake. The trail leads from the roadside and through typical mountain terrain, past a small waterfall, and to the lake shore. This one is great for the kids, with lots of opportunities to explore.

Read more about Skarvedalsvatnet Lake

Sværeskaret

Sognefjord

Hiking Trail
Medium
4.8 km · 2 – 3 hr

Sværeskaret

The Torsnesstølen parking lot is the starting point for several adventures. Take a short walk to visit the “Mirage” well for some fresh mountain water, or continue towards Sværeskaret Canyon which runs back down towards the fjords. The trail leads over the Gaula River past the Torsnesstølen mountain farm and to Skarvatnet Lake.

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Fossestien Waterfall Trail

Sunnfjord

Hiking Trail
Medium
20.9 km · 1 – 10 hr

Fossestien Waterfall Trail

Torsnesstølen is also the starting point for the 21-kilometer Fossestien Waterfall Trail, which follows the Gaula River down the valley. Other access points include Langestølen and Likholefossen, with the end point at Eldal.

The trail is facilitated with bridges and boardwalks and leads through farmland past a total of 14 waterfalls and 7 mountain lakes.

Read more about Fossestien Waterfall Trail

Likholefossen Waterfall

A short walk from the roadside is the impressive Likholefossen Waterfall. Wander across the steel bridge over the falls and find a spot to enjoy lunch. Join Fossestien for a journey down the river, or head uphill for views from Knausen.

Read more about Likholefossen Waterfall

Knausen

Sunnfjord

Hiking Trail
Medium
7.7 km · 2.5 – 3.5 hr

Knausen

For an easily accessible peak along Fossestien, take the trail up to Knausen. The trail begins between Langestølen and Likholefossen, and is easily reached from the latter. From the top you can take in the lush landscape you’re passing through on the scenic route.

Read more about Knausen

Årsnesstølen

Sunnfjord

Hiking Trail
Easy
5 km · 1 – 2 hr

Årsnesstølen

A short detour near the end of the route in Sande, Årsnesstølen is an old mountain farm in an idyllic setting by a lake. The trail is uphill, but it’s a moderate and steady climb. Relax in the peace and quiet or even pitch your tent around the lake for a secluded overnight stay.

Read more about Årsnesstølen

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