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Hiking Mt Saksa from Urke in Sunnmore Alps was our first mountain experience in the area. We were both really looking forward to it, as we have read so much about the Sunnmore Alps area and couldn’t wait to visit and explore it and hike some of local mountains.
Ever since we woke up that morning we felt that it was going to be a good day. Early hours were already blessed with sunshine, sheep strolling lazily along the road and a perfect silence, only disturbed by whispers of nearby stream. What else a person needs to start the perfect day? Well, maybe a cup of coffee?.. so we had one too!
We drove a narrow road, winding along the valley, in the shade of high mountains. The destination, Mount Saksa, stands proud over Urke village at the very end of Hjorundfjorden, which was a natural continuation of the longest valley in Sunnmore Alps (read all about our drive to Urke village and some curious sheep encounters HERE).
Before we arrived to Urke, we also briefly stopped in Oye (just 3 miles before Urke), mesmerised by turquoise waters of the fjord. I was eager to photograph the phenomenon, still waters, razor-sharp reflections of high mountains surrounding the fjord. It always makes me wonder how beautiful is the word around us, and how many times we just pass some of these amazing sights in hurry, without even noticing the wonders behind the car window…
Hiking Mt Saksa fact sheet
- Height: Saksa 1073 masl
- Total time: 5–6 hours
- Total distance: 6 km
- Parking: small visitors car park in Urke village (click here for directions)
- Level of difficulty: 3/5 -moderate, possible some steep sections. Norwegian standards: RED – demanding
- Saksa weather: Saksa weather forecast
- Which map: Hjørundfjorden nordeca r/v (click here to buy)
How to get to Mt Saksa hike starting point
There are many ways of getting to Urke where Mount Saksa hike starts, all just as easy.
How to get to Mount Saksa by car, driving from south: take road 60 direction to Hellesylt, turn left into road 655 in Tryggestad, drive towards Lekneset.
How to get to Mount Saksa by car, driving from west: take road E39 towards Orsta, then in Orsta take road 655 to Saebo. Take a car ferry from Saebo to Lekneset, when in Lekneset continue along road 655 to Urke.
How to get to Mount Saksa by public transport: bus/ferry: check out local ferry operator Fjord1 website for timetable. You can take the ferry without the car to Leknes, or take the car with you to Urke.
Hiking Mount Saksa from Urke
Urke welcomed us coldly. We easily found a dedicated car park for Mt Saksa hikers, but the weather in this little corner of Sunnmore Alps was far from perfect. Summits of highest mountains were hidden by low clouds, it was raining a bit too. Not very great indeed. However, we tried to keep the spirits high, starting with having a wholesome breakfast, and another cup of coffee! We unpacked our portable kitchen and placed it on a pile of wood, just next to the car park. Soon, the smell of scrambled eggs and fresh coffee spread around, we were greeted by approving faces of some locals and fellow hikers passing by.
Having eaten such great breakfast we couldn’t wait to set feet on the trail! It was still raining a bit, but we were really eager! The trail starts behind a small shed, just off the car park, and is marked red. At first it’s a narrow, muddy path which soon emerges from the thick woodland to a small meadow. It’s the first viewpoint of this hike. It’s not very high yet, but still gives a nice overview of the village. The path turns here, taking the hikers back into the woods. For a moment it looks like the trail will follow a forest track but before we knew it, we came across a signpost ‘Saksa 3km’ showing to the left. And the hike really starts there, before it was just a nice warm-up…
After leaving the forest track and turning left (as per signpost) I had doubts whether we actually are on a right path! For a moment it was very narrow and muddy, followed a steel fence and I honestly wasn’t sure whether it was a Mount Saksa trail at all! But to my great relief we found another red mark on the tree, reassured that we are on a right track. In another 20 minutes it changed into a man-made rocky steps. They were a bit steep and slippery when wet, but we did not mind it too much. We gained height quickly, thirsty for views.. and also a bit for water as we hiked in a pretty good pace.
I heard a gentle sound of a small stream nearby, so we happily approached it to refill the bottles. I thought it was great to be able to drink spring water again, in fact I was really happy to have refilled the bottles only until we walked a bit higher and I noticed a signpost ‘toilet’. With my eyes I followed the direction signposted and suddenly I knew that the water we have just happily drank may not really be the best of all spring waters. Oh dear! We both saw it at the same time and burst with laughter. Oh dear indeed!
Apart from that little ‘water disaster’ it definitely was good to have a toilet along the trail. It was an ‘old school’ latrine, with wooden door and heart shaped window, actually very nice one. There also was a small wilderness shelter nearby, an open hut with a guest book and a big table – a perfect spot to have a break and take in the view. If you’re hiking Mount Saksa, have a look at date 6/8/18 and find our greeting in the guest book!
With water bottles refilled again, this time with a definitely nice fresh spring water, we hiked further. It rained heavier and heavier, I regretted having such moody weather on such an awaited hike. Tough, I thought, as I stepped into yet another puddle and crossed another mini-swamp.
About half way up there was another meadow, the trail forked there. One was signposted to Leknesnakken (a small hill), another to ruins of a small settlement (at the other side of a meadow). Our trail climbed muddy steps over tree roots, to the right. In no time we hiked over the tree line and had in-obscured view of majestic mountains around. We rested at a small pond, took the time to capture the scenery before hiking further.
Now being in an open terrain we could finally see the trail higher up, winding on the side of a steep, rocky slope of Saksa… at least hoped that the peak in front of us was the summit of Mt Saksa already (and it was!).
That final part of Mt Saksa hike was completely different to what we have seen before. It was now over tree line, with spectacular panoramic views over Hjorundsfjorden and to the highest mountain massif in sight, Orsta. We could even see a couple of small glaciers hiding in high valleys, not much lower than the peaks themselves. Underfoot, thou, we had rock and boulders, at one point the trail was secured with a chain. I would say that there weren’t really any technical difficulties, the chain was a nice touch thou. However, please, always consider your own level of experience, expertise and fitness. I try to always apply the rule ‘better safe than sorry’ and it works very well in the mountain environment. It’s definitely worth remembering that mountains pose much more risk and difficulties in wet/icy conditions.
It took some effort but I can assure you it was worth! The summit views took our breath away! When I took that final step I suddenly found myself on the roof of the world, I felt. OK, maybe Saksa is just over a thousand metres high, but it’s such a magnificent viewpoint!
So what are these spectacular summit views? I would say it’s Norwegian classic – steep high mountains reflected in turquoise water of nearby fjords. Scenery in front of my eyes made me completely forget that mountains around are even higher than Saksa.
When we reached the summit I actually thought that I was just looking at one of the best views in the whole world! Mount Saksa and Sunnmore Alps were the first area in Norway I fell in love with.
We had the summit all to ourselves for about 10 minutes, then a Norwegian group joined us. Even thou they were natives, they were equally astonished by the view and I remember thinking to myself that if Norwegians are impressed with sights it truly must be spectacular as, in Norway, there are breathtaking views at every corner and they were probably used to seeing such stunners!
We talked a bit, we also signed a ‘guest book’ (again, check out 6/8/18 to see our names!). I must admit, we both really like these ‘guest books’. We came across them on most mountains in Norway and wrote greeting to future hikers every time there was a free page.
The Norwegians we met were also keen hikers so we chatted a bit about hikes we liked best. They suggested another grand hike in Sunnmore area, Romsdalseggen ridge; we happily noted this name and, in fact, hiked it the following week (read all about it HERE)
At one point a runner joined our little ‘summit party’. He run up, checked the time and in less than a minute was running back down! Not even a sip of water! Not even a single photo taken! The Norwegians looked surprised, so did we! How strange, after all that effort he did not even stop to take in the view, which for me always is an ultimate reward. Then we realised that he was probably a local guy, training for an annual Mt Saksa run and that, maybe, running up and down the mountain was his daily exercise. And suddenly we were all amazed at his fitness and abilities, not commenting his lack of love for the scenery anymore!
After about an hour admiring the view we decided it was time to descent. Oh, by the way, have I mentioned that as soon as we reached the summit the sun came out?! I forgot to mention this little fact! Spending so much time on top of Mt Saksa was only possible because the weather dramatically changed, rain stopped and we enjoyed beautiful, magnificent sunshine! How lucky!
We descended the same way, only it was much more pleasant. Warm sunshine dried the rocks and, apart from the muddy path at the very summit, the trail was nice, dry and enjoyable.
The way down was even more fun as we picked up wild mushrooms for dinner. We noticed them growing amongst berry bushes and soon realised that they would be an easy, free dinner. No one can ignore free food in Norway (most of tourists, including us, find Norway a very expensive country to visit). In no time we had a full bag of mushrooms and we just couldn’t wait to return to the campsite and turn them into a very nice dinner. That time we made a risotto with green peas, onions, chive and of course, wild mushrooms! It was very simple but wholesome and tasty.
Mount Saksa hike was a fantastic day out, I would love to return to Urke and spend the time there again, exploring more mountains and, definitely, hiking Saksa again.. who knows, maybe even joining the annual Saksa run?
Mount Saksa hike map
What we loved about Mt Saksa
It’s a steep but relatively short hike with fantastic, panoramic views over to other peaks of Sunnmore Alps, over the Norangsfjorden, Hjorundfjorden and peaceful villages of Urke and Oye. It really took my breath away (getting to the summit as well as summit views). Also, very handy, there is a decent campsite just at the foot of Saksa, therefore, if needed, there is accommodation available without a hassle of long drive.
Wild camping and nearest campsite information
There were numerous spots suitable for wild camping along the road 655 between Oye and Tryggestad, especially near lake Lygnstøylvatnet. There is, however, a campsite in Urke. We stayed at this campsite for 2 nights and can recommend it. The facilities were decent, small kitchen available, even a herb garden! Price for a campervan 200 NOK (250 NOK with electricity. Prices valid in August 2018).
*Level of difficulty explained: 1– easy walk, mostly flat 2-easy hillwalk, good path 3-moderate, possible some steep sections 4-long hillwalk, possibly some scrambling involved, possibly pathless 5-difficult, possibly pathless, long, requires technical skills
NORWEGIAN DIFFICULTY LEVEL EXPLAINED: GREEN – easy, BLUE -moderate, RED – demanding, BLACK -expert