Lisa Owen

If you’re after a real hiking challenge where it’s you against the weather, then head to the Kjeragbolten trail.

Norway is certainly a hiker’s paradise, and one of the hardest but most rewarding hikes I have ever done is the trail to Kjeragbolten.

Picture me on a mountain plateau, getting battered by biting rain and wind with no protection in sight. Combine that with sticky mud up to my ankles, icy snow, and a pretty close to vertical rock climb. I’m not really selling it here, but if you can get through this – you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views and also the satisfaction that you survived the challenge and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And there’s also the hope that you’ll be lucky and get a sunny day – the weather is not always bad!

About the hike

Distance: 10km

Grade: Challenging

Time: 4-5 hours

The Kjeragbolten trail ends at a precarious looking boulder hanging over the Lysefjord - and it has become an iconic image of Norway’s unique landscapes.

Standing on boulder


Getting to the trailhead

The trailhead is located about a three and a half hour drive from Stavanger in Norway’s south west. A bus leaves the Stavanger bus station, located on Norway’s west coast, at 7am daily between the start of June and the end of August to take you up to the trailhead. The bus trip is a little on the expensive side though coming in at £50 for a return trip. I’ll warn you now – Norway is the most expensive country I’ve been too in my travels across 45 countries. You can buy tickets for the bus online at

The last hour of the drive is a winding, narrow road through mountains and snow. If you’re not used to narrow and winding roads, the bus is the best option as there are some very narrow parts of the road where only one vehicle can pass at a time. My bus had to stop several times and often reverse to let other vehicles pass.

The driver drops you off at the trailhead at Øygardstøl about 11am, gives you a brief overview of the hike, and requests you be back at the bus by 4.30pm – giving you 5.5 hours to complete the hike. The recommended time is five hours. All of my group made it back to the bus on time, but apparently some hikers haven’t, and it’s tricky to get back to Stavanger. If you haven’t reached the boulder by around 3pm, you need to start heading back.

Hiking to Kjeragbolten

This hike should only be attempted by people with a good level of fitness and hiking experience. This is one of the most challenging hikes I’ve ever done due to terrain and weather conditions at the time. There’s lots of steep parts, and it can be very slippery in rocky sections, especially on the way down.

The trail is marked at regular intervals by red T’s painted on rocks. The trail is fairly easy to follow going by these markers – but pay attention once you near the end of the trail and hit the snow as they’re a little harder to follow for the last few hundred metres to the boulder.

The first part of the hike is the hardest section – especially as your muscles are only starting to warm up. The trail is so steep there are chains to pull yourself up on – I actually found it harder to get down here on the way back as the rocks are very slippery. It will take you about half an hour to get up the first section, then you go downhill and then the trail flattens out, but it’s muddy.

I highly recommend gloves to help you get up and down the chains otherwise your hands will be worse for wear afterwards. Gloves will also be useful against the cold as you get further along the trail. There’s a series of wooden boardwalks along the trail for the muddiest parts. There’s beautiful landscapes all around with some snow. The flat part of the trail doesn’t last for long and then it’s up again but it’s nowhere near as steep as the first bit.


Coming down the other side, there is one part that is particularly tricky if you have short legs like me. It’s a long step down. Then be prepared for more mud – lots of it as you negotiate your way uphill again and some stream crossings.


Then you’re walking along a rock plateau for a couple of kilometres before reaching lots of packed snow and then you’ll reach the famous boulder. It took me about an hour and 45 minutes to go one way to the boulder and then I spent about 20 minutes at the top before it got too cold to stay up there. From the rock plateau next to where a boulder seems to hang precariously over a 1000 metre drop you can see down to the fjord below and there was a waterfall running down the side of a rockface when I was there.


Even on a cloudy day, the view was stunning. I really wanted to try standing on the boulder but due to the windy conditions, I thought better of it and settled on sitting. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty scary getting onto the boulder and it’s not for the faint hearted or those scared of heights. There were others that were braver than me though and managed to stand up on top of the rock. Fortunately, they all lived to tell the tale.

Boulder attempt

Be prepared for rapidly changing weather on this hike. I experienced biting wind, stinging rain and very cold and windy conditions at the boulder. I had my camera in a plastic ziplock bag to protect it and then a raincover over my backpack. On the way back, there was very heavy rain and I was glad I had three layers on including a down jacket and raincoat.

You’ll want to at least bring one spare pair of socks. I brought two pairs and used them both. Once when I fell into a mud patch and another after my socks got wet in a waterfall crossing. The trail took me four hours return, which included the stop for photos at the boulder and snack stops.


When you finish the trail, reward yourself with a hot drink or meal at the café on site while you wait for the bus. The café has a balcony offering great views of the start of the Lysefjord.

Fjord view

Things you should know:

Be prepared. Bring plenty of water and snacks, warm clothing and wet weather gear. A rainjacket and rain cover for your backpack is highly recommended, as is a spare pair of socks and ziplock bags for your valuables.

  • The hike is only possible in the summer months.
  • The road up to Kjeragbolten is narrow and winding. If you’re not confident driving on possibly wet or icy narrow roads, take the bus. The bus is convenient and comfortable and leaves at 7am from the Stavanger Bus Station between June and the end of August.
  • Bring gloves for the chains at the start of the hike and also to protect your hands in case of wind, rain, and cold.
  • The recommended time for the hike is five hours.
  • The hike is very challenging, especially in poor weather. Only experienced hikers should attempt the Kjeragbolten trail.

Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 40 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors.

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.