Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) is one of the most visited, if not most hiked, natural attractions in Norway. It is easy to see why. A squared rock formation standing at about 600m, overlooking Lysefjord, it is a sight to behold. Situated about an hour and half from Stavanger in Western Norway, it is easily accessible by bus and all year round by car. During hiking season, there are a few tours, which can take you there without a hassle.
Difficulty: 2/5 stars
Season: April – September
Area: Rogaland, West Norway (nearest city: Stavanger)
Duration: 2.5 – 4 hours for a return trip
Distance: 4 kilometres each way
In case nature comes knocking, you’ll have to go off the trail to relieve yourself. There is, however, a toilet block at the foot of the hike (next to the car park), which is free to use. Remember, please don’t relieve yourself near a water source (stream/lake). Ideally, get about 100m away from any water source.
During the spring, you can easily refill your water bottles along the trail with the natural spring water running off from the melted snow. It’s a little harder to find a clean source during autumn as the trail is drier. Camping in Norway is free, thanks to allemannsretten or our right to roam. So, you can legally camp on Preikestolen, but open fires are illegal on the trail and you’ll need to be a minimum of 150m from a building or cabin. Of course, take your waste/rubbish with you. Just a reminder, the temperature difference between the foot and top of the hike can be vastly different, so if you’re camping, make sure you’re warm!
The main hiking season is between mid-April and September, where there are buses departing from Stavanger taking you to Preikestolen. Taking approximately just over an hour to get there this non-guided tour is an easy option of getting to Preikestolen without having to worry about organising your own transportation.
Book your Preikestolen bus trip here.
As of February 2017, the parking fee is 200NOK.
If you have the flexibility of a car, there are two routes taking you to Preikestolen. The following is the route I commonly take:
– Head south on E39 towards Kristiansand
– Turn off onto Fv 13 to Røldal (and Lauvvik)
– Follow this route all the way to the ferry port
– The Oanes-Lauvvik ferry starts at 80 NOK per way (for the driver and car) and increases with each additional passenger/vehicle type
– Once at Oanes, follow the road and you will eventually see the Preikestolen turn-off
– After the turn-off, drive for the next 6 km and you will reach the parking and starting point of the hike
As mentioned in the beginning, the primary hiking season is between mid-April and end of September. However, it is possible to hike all year round and outside of this season. With a build-up of snow and ice along the trail, crampons are required during the winter months.
Either way, the trail is absolutely stunning whenever you go.
During the warmer months, this hike is doable in trainers but it won’t offer you any ankle support. Hiking clothes and shoes are advisable for the hike. It offers more flexibility and a wider range of movement. As the region can have temperamental weather, a rain jacket is a great idea. On colder days, layers are beneficial. While hiking last October, there were extremely strong winds at the top. It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast beforehand. While the hike itself is fun, you probably won’t enjoy the view or hike in the rain or fog.
It’s a good idea to have a day pack with you, stocked with water, energy food (nuts are a good option) and possibly some lunch. If I’m not driving, I usually take a cheeky bevvy to have at the top. If you’re hiking during either early morning or towards sundown, take a torch.
For what may be considered a relatively easy hike, the view over Lysefjord is exceptional, making this effort to reward ratio ideal. Depending on your fitness level, a round trip can take anywhere between 2.5 to 4 hours. It is a common sight to see Norwegians run up it but don’t worry; you don’t have to be a fitness freak to get to the top. People of all ages do it, even dogs! Being a must-do while in Norway, the trail is well maintained (Nepali Sherpas are flown in to help with this) and there are signs throughout the hike – represented by signposts and red T’s.
With 3 stages of steepness, the best thing to do is to pace yourself. Try not to get knackered too soon! The first inclination is at the start of the hike. The third and last inclination is the hardest being steep and long. Don’t let that discourage you, though. It’s worth the effort! The hike doesn’t stop at the main rock formation. If you’re facing the fjord, there is a path off on the right side of Preikestolen leading to an upper level, giving you a bird’s-eye view over the formation. Definitely worth that extra effort!
Remember if need to stop on the trail, try moving to the side as to not block the way.
During the summer, it’s not uncommon to camp along the trail. There are some really good spots. One spot is after the third incline, where there are a couple of lakes. The area is protected from the wind and is about 1 kilometre from the top. Another camping spot is on the upper level. It’s not as protected from the wind so have a look at the conditions up top before setting up camp!
As the trail is covered with ice and snow during the winter months, crampons are necessary. It can be quite slippery and unsafe otherwise. Don’t worry if you don’t have a pair, they can be easily rented from Preikestolen Lodge Camp for 100NOK with a deposit of 200NOK or a personal valuable (car keys, ID cards etc). At the start of the trail, you will be reminded either by one of the employees or signs when crampons are needed. As the days are extremely short in the winter, it is advisable to start your hike before noon/12:00 pm. Take your time and go slow.
The crampons provided are surprisingly easy to use and comfortable, you will barely notice you’re wearing them. It is otherworldly seeing Preikestolen covered in snow and hiking in these conditions. While I’ve completed this hike almost a dozen times, seeing it in winter took my breath away.
These are my recommendations if you’re hiking in winter:
– Gloves. The wind might freeze your fingers.
– Proper hiking boots to use with the crampons. It’ll also give you proper ankle support in case you slip on the ice
– Layers. I wore my base layer and my outdoor jacket (it’s a hardshell jacket with a detachable insulating inner jacket)
– First aid kit. You can never be too careful
All in all, it is a doable hike with a really nice view at the top. The hike itself is really nice, what could be better than hiking through the Norwegian wilderness? A definite must do! Now that you’re equipped with this, go forth and enjoy what this beautiful country has to offer!
Peace, love and good vibes.