I hiked Preikestolen back in late September of 2018 when I visited the ‘nearby’ city of Stavanger. It was my first trip to Norway, and I was incredibly excited to finally tackle the first of my three Norwegian bucket list hikes. In a perfect world, I would have also done the Kjerag hike, but sadly the weather was not on my side. But that is more than alright as hiking Preikestolen made me comes up with the ultimate plan of hiking Preikestolen, Kjerag and Trolltunga in one trip.
The Preikestolen hike is one of the best hikes in the world and offers sensational views. It is incredible to see Preikestolen towering 604 meters above the mighty Lysefjord. It is a very peaceful environment if you manage to escape the crowds. Seeing the soft waves on the fjord hundreds of meters down below, and that is framed by gray rocks with some greenery, is a breathtaking experience. And so is the hike itself. As you make your way to the 25m x 25 m big ledge that is Preikestolen, you wander through forests and past small lakes.
The hike starts at the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge next to lake Revsvatnet. The distance between the starting point and Pulpit Rock is 3.8 km, so it is a 7.6 km return hike with an elevation gain of 334 meters. The terrain of the hike varies a lot. There are easy flat areas where you walk on wooden walkways that were built to protect the environment of marshland and more difficult sections. Hereby, the harder parts of the Preikestolen hikes are the rather steep staircases that have uneven steps of varying heights. In addition to that, there are some parts where you walk across rather even mountain flats.
People that hike regularly usually need four hours to complete the return hike. If you want to take a lot of photos and a lot of time to enjoy the fantastic views along the way, it is better to expect 6 hours. There are a lot of great areas along the way and if it is warm, you can even take a dip in the small mountain lakes in the Tjødnane area of the mountain.
Preikestolen is located in the Strand municipality in Rogaland County. It is one hour or two hours from Stavanger depending on your mode of transportation and route.
I do not believe in saying that something is a once-in-a-lifetime experience as he can do it again, but it is an experience passion of hikers and nature lovers should do at least once. However, you should not do the hike just so you can take a photo. Do it because you want to hike and challenge yourself.
Facts about Preikestolen
- The Preikestolen hike is the most popular hike in Norway. Today more than 300.000 hikers visit Preikestolen per year, with a peak of up to 6000 people a day between June and August. There used to be fewer hikers, but it has gained popularity in recent years. Especially since the plateau was featured in Mission Impossible Fallout. Funnily enough, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is supposedly in India, when he hangs on the side of Preikestolen.
- The English name of the plateau is Pulpit Rock because it resembles a preacher’s pulpit in a church. Its old local name was ‘Hyvlatonnå‘, and it received its current name around 1900 as part of a local tourism initiative.
The Trail to Preikestolen
The Preikestolen hike is a well-marked trail. Along the trail, you will see wooden signposts and stone piles marked with a red T that show you the way. Some of them also tell you how much distance you have already covered and how much longer it is to Preikestolen.
The Preikestolen hike starts with a gravel slope followed by some stone steps that are not steep. Then you will reach the first flat section of the hike where you will walk on the unaltered mountain surface. From here you have a nice view of Refsvatnet lake. Like the next part of the Preikestolen hike, this even area is covered by grass and trees.
Once you have walked across this flat area, you have to follow a stone path that is made up of roundish rocks of varying sizes. Watch your step or you might slip. Especially if it is raining or freezing. At the end of the stone path, you will reach the first of the two steep stairs-like sections. At this point, you might start to ask yourself why you are doing this yourself, but once you have reached the top of the granite stairway, you have reached a marsh area.
This marshland section of the trail consists of walking on a wooden walkway that even has some benches. It helps keep your feet dry and also protects the environment, so it is a great combination.
After a rather relaxed walk through the swamp area, you have to fact the steepest part of the hike.
The Neverdal Ravine or ‘Neverdalsskaret’ in Norwegian used to be the most difficult and treacherous part to traverse. But what once was a steep area full of loose slippery rocks is now a granite staircase. Thanks to the help of Nepalese Sherpas, it is now a lot easier and safer to hike this part of the path. There is a very small waterfall on the right side of the stairway.
Funnily enough the sky cleared up instantly once I reached the top of the steep section, which I took as a clear sign that the hard part was over.
The trail splits when there are 1.75 km left to go. There are three paths and the right one is the route to Preikestolen. The central path leads towards a waterfall that you can later see in the distance while you hike towards Preikestolen.
Now that the hard part is over, you will soon reach an open area called Tjødnane where you will find three small lakes. It is a great place to camp and the reflection on the still surface of the mountain lakes looks amazing. The water tends to heat up in the sun, so you can go for a refreshing swim. From this point onwards you get the best views. I loved the epic views I got to see during this last kilometer of the Preikestolen hike.
These days the lake area has a cement staircase that was not there when I hiked Preikestolen in 2018. Back then you had to climb down 1.5 meters (5 feet) on a sloped rock that had a small natural ledge. Said ledge made it incredibly easy to get down, and I am incredibly saddened to see it gone. Aside from the lakes and the ugly cement staircase, you will find an emergency shelter in this area.
The walk around the last small lake and the next 100 meters lead over a somewhat flat area. There are some water-filled grooves in the area, but it is quite easy to step over them. The bigger ones are covered with wooden planks.
Then you will reach a point where the trail splits in two. You can opt to take the easier Cliff Trail to the right or the Hill Trail on the left. The Hill Trail is steeper and has more rocks, so most people choose the Cliff Trail.
The Cliff Trail leads you over a small wooden bridge. It can be slippery when it has rained, so be careful. After you have crossed the bridge, you are only around 5 minutes away from Preikestolen. If you look to the elevation on the right while walking over the bridge, you will be able to spot a waterfall that drains Moslidalsjørna lake.
You will not enjoy the next part if you have an extreme fear of heights, as you will now have to walk along the cliff edge until you reach Preikestolen. There are no fences or anything in this area, so try to stay as close to the rocks on your right as possible. The view keeps getting better and better as you round the corner and see more and more of the mighty Lysefjord.
After walking around the corner you finally get to see the destination of the hike: the Preikestolen!
There are usually a lot of people in this area the are waiting to take some photos in front of Pulpit Rock before walking on it, so be prepared to wait a while. The scenery is stunning, so even a longer wait is no hardship.
Preikestolen hike alternative route: Preikestolen Hill Trail
The hill trail involves more scrambling and an additional elevation gain, but to make up for this, it rewards hikers with several viewpoints in the area. I will eventually do the Preikestolen hike again and will update this post with some photos and a short text about the Hill Trail.
Recommendation: Take the Cliff Trail when hiking towards Preikestolen and return to the starting point via the Hill Trail. It is best to do it in this order, as you get some of the best views of the hike are in your direct line of vision when you take the Cliff Trail. At times you have an unobstructed view of the impressive Lysefjord, and you do not want to miss out on the view because your back is turned towards it as you hike back.
My Preikestolen hike experience
For me, it was more about the hike than about standing on Preikestolen itself or even seeing it. What I wanted the most was to take in all those breathtaking views along the way. And it was good that this way, as I never got to stand on Pulpit Rock itself.
The last 25 meters of the hike were closed due to an ongoing rescue mission on the Hill Trail behind Preikestolen. We ended up waiting 1.5 hours to see if they would reopen it, but the rescue helicopter remained in the area. Therefore, standing on Pulpit Rock would have been too dangerous. Nether-the-less I had a great time waiting as the view is amazing!
I merely wish I could have hiked back to the starting point via the Hill Trail so I could have taken photos of Preikestolen in front of Lysefjord. But there is always next time, so it is okay.
Looking back, there was also a nice bonus due to the fact that no one was allowed to be on Preikestolen. I got to take photos of the famous ledge without people in the picture. Something a photographer can usually only dream of.
As we were hiking Preikestolen in September, we sometimes so no one else for up to 5 minutes while taking a break to enjoy the view. Albeit some might say that the breaks were actually so I could go nuts with my camera while trying to find the very best angle for a photo.
Somehow it felt like I got to experience different seasons while doing the hike, and I think it shows in the photos. It was cloudy when I started out on the trail, but after a while the clouds vanished. When started out as a cloudy autumn day, turned into a beautiful sunny summer day. It got quite warm, and I was glad that I was wearing several layers so I could remove the outer layer of my jacket.
Best time to hike Preikestolen
The official hiking is from May to October when there is little to no snow on the trail.
The best time to hike Preikestolen is in the should seasons from May to mid-June and mid-September to October. Fewer people hike Preikestolen during these months, so it is the perfect time to avoid the large crowds you are bound to encounter in Summer.
It is possible to hike to Pulpit Rock outside of the season in winter if you have the proper gear. Due to the ice ground, it is too dangerous to hike without crampons. Just be aware of the fact that the bus routes from Stavanger to Preikestolen only operate within the official Preikestolen hiking season.
Preikestolen hike difficulty
The Preikestolen is marked as a as a red trail, which indicates that it is challenging. However, it is on the easy side of Norwegian red trails, so many tend to say that it has a medium difficulty. Most parts of the hike to Pulpit Rock are only moderately demanding and only the two steep sections are particularly challenging.
Norwegians will tell you that it is an easy hike, but they are used to extreme hikes. Therefore, it might be best not to trust their assessment without comparing what an easy Norwegian hike is like when compared to an easy hike in the country you usually hike in.
My opinion on the difficulty of the Preikestolen hike
Obviously how difficult we consider a hike to be, depends on a lot of factors – one’s health and fitness being the most dominant ones. Ultimately everyone is different, but hopefully, it will help you if I share when condition I was in when I tackled the hike.
Please do the local rescue team a favor and do not hike without proper equipment or if you know that the hike is above your current fitness level. Hiking in Norway is not something you should do in sandals and frilly beach shorts as the risk of slipping and injuring your ankle or worse is too high.
Things to know before hiking Preikestolen
It is best to start the hike early in the day. Take the earliest ferry or bus to get a head start before the crowds arrive. Alternatively, you can also start the hike in the afternoon when most people are already on their way back to the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge.
Do not start your hike after the latest recommended starting time. The map at the starting point of the hike states a daily latest time and it is best to adhere to it unless you want to hike back in the dark or you plan to camp on the mountain.
There are no toilets on the trail. Be sure to go to the toilet at the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge before you start hiking. You won’t get another chance until you return there. No one wants the mountain to look like some slopes of the Everest, so please only leave behind your footsteps. After all, we all want to enjoy nice and clean mountains.
Do not try to overtake people near cliffs or at bottlenecks of the path. Doing so can be dangerous. Especially if you are on one of the two very steep areas or the ledge just before Preikestolen.
You have to take your trash off the mountain. There are no trash cans along the trail and it would be a real shame if the beautiful environment was tarnish by trash that people selfishly left behind. So, remember to pack a trash bag.
It is important to check the weather. It is important to know what the weather will be like the day you hike to Pulpit Rock. We originally planned to hike a day later, but there were forecasts of a storm with very strong gusts of wind. They closed the hike as it would have been way too dangerous.
The weather can change quickly. Preikestolen is in Western Norway, a region that is known for its rainy and very windy weather. Fog is not uncommon either.
You can bring your dog. Be sure to bring poo bags and water for your dog.
The apps ‘Maps. me’ and ‘All Trails’ are better than Google Maps. Both apps also show you the route of the Hill Trail. Hereby ‘Maps. me’ is slightly better, as it shows you all other short detours along the Hill Route and which places are great viewpoints.
You can join a guided hike if you do not feel comfortable hiking on your own.
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Preikestolen Guided Hikes and Tours
There are daily guided hikes to Preikestolen. Be sure to book the guided hike in advance.
How to get to Preikestolen: Stavanger to Preikestolen
You only need to look up these options if you plan to hike on your own. All guided tours from Stavanger include a transfer from Stavanger to Preikestolen. Therefore, you do not have to worry about how to get to Preikestolen.
Take the bus from Stavanger to Preikestolen
Most people that want to get from Stavanger to Preikestolen take the bus. Hereby you have several options. The drop-off point of all buses is at Preikestolen Mountain Lodge, which is right at the starting point of the hike. You can opt to book a tour, but it is also possible to get to Preikestolen without booking a bus tour.
Ferry and bus – If you want a nice ferry ride and do not mind if it takes longer to get to Preikestolen, you can opt to take the ferry from Stavanger to Tau. After that you can take the express bus that departs right at the ferry pier and takes you directs to the starting point of the Preikestolen hike.
If you want to go with the fastest option without any transfers along the way, you can book a trip with one of the three tour companies that serve the route. Hereby your three options are GoFjords, Pulpit Rock Tours and Peller Reiser.no.
GoFjords – If you book the GoFjords Preikestolen Express Bus, you can expect to pay 390 NOK for a round trip. Hereby you can choose between three different starting times. You can depart Stavanger at 8 AM, 10 AM or 12 PM. Hereby I recommend taking the first bus to avoid the crowds. If you want to, you can also combine the bus trip with a fjord cruise (930 NOK).
Pulpit Rock Tours – Pulpit Rock Tours offers both one-way and return journeys. Hereby the return journey is open so you can choose whatever time works best once you have completed the hike. It is also possible to book a transfer directly from Stavanger Airport to Preikestolen. The buses run daily from May to September. There are usually 5 buses in each direction per day. A roundtrip costs 325 NOK for adults and 230 NOK for children. A one-way ticket respectively costs 219 NOK and 140 NOK.
Back when I hiked the trail to Preikestolen, I took the ferry to Tau and then the express bus to the starting point of the Preikestolen hike. Back then the sea tunnel had yet to be opened, but I would still take the ferry in the future. At least if the sky is clear. After all, I really liked sailing past the small islands like Vassøy and Lindøy.
Driving from Stavanger to Preikestolen
If you want to drive to Preikestolen from Stavanger, you can now drive through the Ryfylke sea tunnel to Solbakk. Once you exit the tunnel, you just have to follow the sign that leads you towards the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge. The driving time is around 45 minutes. The one-way car toll for the subsea tunnel is 134 NOK.
What to bring when hiking to Pulpit Rock
- 1.5 l water and snacks – It is not possible to buy anything once you have started the hike, so be sure to bring enough hiking snacks and water.
- electronics – Pack a powerbank, your phone, and a camera.
- potentially a compass – If you do not have an app that can show you all the trails on the mountain
- basic first-aid equipment – You do not need anything excessive but having some band-aids and a bandage is a good idea. Also, pack some blistering plasters.
- headlamp – You might not need it, but it is always best to have it on you in case you have no choice but to hike in the dark. Alternatively, a torch (with full batteries) will do.
- stable footwear – Hiking boots with ankle support are the best option.
- warm socks and light spare shoes – If it is raining or icy, your feet might get wet during the hike. In that case, it is good to be able to change shoes and socks once you have finished the hike. Wet and cold feet are no fun on the way back to Stavanger or wherever you are staying.
- hat or headband – It might seem over the top if you are hiking in summer, but I could not recommend it more. It is windy, so it is best to wear a thin headband even if you are hiking in summer. It is the only thing that prevents ear pain due to the cold temperatures on top of the mountain and the strong wind. Do yourself a favor and keep your ears warm and toasty.
- a windproof jacket – As mentioned above, it is often windy, so a windproof jacket helps keep you warm.
- gloves and a scarf – You might end up not needing them, but at the start of the official hiking season, you can still find some snow on top of the mountain. Additionally, the scarf helps shield you from the wind.
- potentially some extra clothes – I changed clothes after the hike and was glad that I got to do so.
- insurance information – It is unlikely that something will happen, but it is always good to have a travel insurance. Be sure to bring your card.
Where to stay near Preikestolen
Those planning to hike Preikestolen have several options on where to stay. While most people stay in Stavanger, you can also stay right at the trailhead, in Tau or camp close to the beginning of the trail. If you want the biggest adventure, you can also camp along the trail.
Camping along the Preikestolen hike trail
The Preikestolen hike is a day hike, but you can camp along the route just around the corner from Pulpit Rock. This way you can enjoy the sunset and sunrise from Preikestolen itself without having to do the entire hike in the dark or just getting to see one of both.
Thoughts on the Preikestolen Hike
I dream of hiking Preikestolen again while also hiking to Kjerag(bolten) and Trolltunga. So, if someone from the Visit Norway team ever happens to read this: I would love to work together and to write about more hikes in Norway. It’d be a dream!
More in Norway
- Things to do in Stavanger
- Amazing Street Art in Stavanger
Is the Preikestolen hike on your list of things to do?
I have to admit that I did not really research the hike itself except than to look up some basic fact like the length of the hike, how long it would take, the elevation gain and how to get there. And I might have looked up the later when I was already in Stavanger. It might have been 3 days before the intended day of my hike but looking back it would have been smart to know a little bit more.
I am glad that you are not like me and hope that this Preikestolen hike guide was able to tell you all you need to know before you hike Pulpit Rock.
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