Who hasn’t heard about Preikestolen?! Also known by its English name Pulpit Rock, this viewpoint is one of the most iconic locations in Norway. It comes high on ‘to do while in Norway’ list of every keen walker and there is a good reason for it. Preikestolen provides a good, couple of hours hike over very varied landscape, and the reward is a view from unique ‘pulpit rock’, a natural rock platform hung high over Lysefjorden. No wonder then, that this hike was on our ‘to do’ list too, and having spent the previous day in Stavanger, we were eager to return to the nature and Preikestolen hike was an obvious choice.
Preikestolen hike fact sheet
- Height: Preikestolen 604 masl
- Total time: 4-5 hours
- Total distance: 7.5 km
- Parking: dedicated car park at Preikestolhytta (click here for directions)
- Level of difficulty: 3/5 -moderate, possible some steep sections. Norwegian standards: RED – demanding
- Preikestolen weather: Preikestolen weather forecast
- Which map: Preikestolen nordeca r/v (click here to buy)
How to get to Preikestolen trail starting point
I believe that most hikers would be coming to hike Preikestolen either from Stavanger or Josenfjorden area.
Coming to Preikestolen from Josenfjorden area it’s best to take road number 13, via Tau and Jorpeland. There is a signpost to Preikestolen from the main road number 13 near Jossang (turning left) into road number 529, Preikestolvegen. Follow this road for another 5 km, till the very end, Preikestolhytta.
Coming to Preikestolen from Stavanger by public transport. Take ferry from Stavanger Fiskepiren to Tau (operated by Norled, click for timetable), journey time 40 minutes, sailings every 40 minutes. There is a bus service from Tau to Preikestolhytta from April to September (operated by Kolumbus), however outside high season there are no buses running to Preikestolhytta, the only option is taking a taxi or hitchhiking. Ferry ticket for pedestrian/cyclist is 60 NOK (August 2018)
Coming to Preikestolen from Stavanger by car. Take ferry from Stavanger Fiskepiren to Tau (operated by Norled, click for timetable). Ferry journey takes 40 mins, ferries sail every 40 minutes. Price for a vehicle up to 6 metres is 182 NOK and includes a driver, each additional person costs 60 NOK (prices valid in August 2018).
When in Tau take road number 13 and drive past Jorpeland. There is a signpost to Preikestolen from the main road number 13 near Jossang (turning left) into road number 529, Preikestolvegen. Follow this road for another 5 km, till the very end, Preikestolhytta.
How to plan Preikestolen hike smart
When planning to hike Preikestolen one has to be smart!
What an opening line 🙂 Please let me explain its meaning and soon you’ll find that it’s hardly possible to disagree with the above statement. Pulpit Rock has been madly popular in recent years, and its fame still increasing. Hiker’s experience will be greatly influenced by the crowds of fellow hikers, photographers and adrenaline seekers, never mind the weather and natural conditions. It’s of great importance, then, to plan visiting Preikestolen ensuring the most positive experience. But how be smart and avoid crowds on Preikestolen?
Although the best time to hike Preikestolen is summer, one can be overwhelmed by masses of fellow hikers enjoying the trail. That’s why we would recommend hiking this trail in early autumn, when one would still enjoy good weather and relatively long days, but without the crazy hiking traffic.
Time of the year plays crucial role in traffic on Pulpit Rock trail. Sure, it’s busy any time of the year, but during the summer you’re more likely (in fact you’re guaranteed!) to follow a dense crowd of hikers, head to tail… and wait for over an hour in a queue just to be able to enter the rock platform itself and take a quick picture.
Time of the day is an additional factor that can’t be omitted. Before setting off one has to be prepared and know how long is Preikestolen hike. As the hike takes about 4-5 hours in total, one can plan to visit Preikestolen outside of ‘mid-day rush hours’. Most visitors will be coming for a day trip from Stavanger and arrive to Preikestolhytta late morning. Why not beat the traffic and start the hike very early in the morning? Or why not hit the trail after most hikers are already back down, late afternoon (in the summer)?
Spending the night in the mountains. Wild camping near Preikestolen is another idea to ensure even more relaxed and crowd-free experience. It is only allowed as far as the plaueau (the one with small lakes and shelter hut), from there it’s about 30 minutes hike to the Preikestolen rock. Not too long a walk if one wants to enjoy sunrise or stay late after sunset at the rock.
Pulpit Rock trail
No false modesty, we were smart about visiting Pulpit Rock. In the morning we spent a couple of hours visiting Stavanger, we were lucky to be there during the Tall Ships Races weekend, it was an additional attraction. We gladly joined a happy crowd admiring dozens of amazing tall ships from around the world. We only set off to Preikestolhytta early afternoon. The ferry journey was smooth and we arrived to Tau all ready for another 30 minutes drive to the hike’s starting point.
It does not make much difference which car park you pick. Dedicated car park at Preikestolhytta has a limited number of spaces, but there is an ‘overflow’ car park a kilometre down the road that can be used (the same parking charge applies for both car parks, 200NOK in August 2018). There is a marked path to Pulpit Rock from both car parks, Preikestolen hike distance is 4 or 5 kilometres, depends on the car park.
After having a small dinner in our self-converted baby camper we set off to Preikestolen. It was an afternoon, most of the day hikers have already came back, so there was relatively small traffic on the trail. The path is well made and marked, we had no difficulty finding the way even without any map. I would, however, recommend to never underestimate any hike and always hit the trail well prepared.
The first kilometre we followed a narrow path along main road, this path then turned left, into the forest and climbed steeply between evergreen old spruces. Very soon it joined the other path, coming from Preikestolhytta and ran as one since, climbing lazily over a green slope.
The trail itself was interesting, it changed from a bouldery, rocky path to forest trail, then ran over a little swamp, passed a couple of small lakes, only to finish up as an elusive trail over large slabs of rock. It’s worth a note that despite the presence of little swamps and lakes, there was only one source of drinking water (and a tiny one too!) so it’s important to take enough water.
The hike was pleasant and enjoyable, but also challenging at times. There were some parts where we had to climb steeply over high stony steps, other times we crossed little meadows or (as below) plateau covered with large slabs of rock. All these kinds of terrain were a pleasure to walk, especially that we never knew what’s around the corner.
At one point we entered a large rocky plateau (photo above) dotted with small lakes. There was a dozen of them, all just as blue and crystal clear. There even were some adventure seekers wild-swimming in some of them! What a joyful experience, imagine this, you’re sweating dead and can only think ‘hopefully not far now!’ and then you hear splashes and excited voices of guys loving the icy cold water! Even for us, it was refreshing!
The same plateau was also a home to a small shelter hut. It is however locked and secured, there is a phone number provided to contact in case of emergency and a note mentions that the person in need will get the lock number combination over the phone. Please mind that the plateau was the nearest place to the viewpoint where wild camping was allowed, camping further along the trail is forbidden.
The hike is marked with standard Norwegian red ‘T’ as well as special made steel poles indicating the distance hiked and still to hike, in this instance we only had 150 metres to go.
Leave nothing but footprints…?
I often consider ethical issues of travelling or hiking, very often it’s triggered by what I see on trails or online.
We travel for sightseeing but also to enjoy the nature, re-connect with inner self etc. Ironically, at the same time by massive increase in tourist traffic we destroy places we visit to re-balance ourselves.
I would imagine that adventurers, hikers and nature enthusiasts are conscious people, consider impacts on nature etc, but also respect local communities and what they are given as tourists, the infrastructure. Take trail markings as an example (photo above). Somebody made an effort to produce them, all nice and shiny, for hikers to enjoy, to make the hike easier and safer. But what we very often observe is that the trail markings or even landmarks (!) are all covered by stickers. Stickers of football clubs. Stickers of bands. Stickers advertising travel blogs!
Stickers advertising travel blogs! The later, I feel, is the most ironic and hard to understand. Travel bloggers and adventurers leaving their ‘mark’ on signposts, trail markings or information boards (also sticking them in campsite facilities, on equipment etc). Guys, please don’t do it! Sticking them is not only an act of vandalism, but often obscures information/directions. In extreme cases (as in: very busy locations) there are hundreds of stickers on every ‘suitable’ object, this is not only disrespectful towards communities or organisations which provided them, but can possibly cause safety issues for walkers who rely on trail markings or information provided.
When seeing these stickers everywhere, I can honestly say, I don’t take note of the websites to check how awesome they are, nobody does (!), quite the opposite, I feel annoyed at other peoples’ thoughtlessness.
On that note, whenever we find stickers stuck on signposts, trail markings or information boards, we shamelessly remove them if possible. Feel free to follow 🙂
Having passed the plateau, the path turned right and in front of us was a gently rising rugged slope to climb. The last one! It was a quick climb and we almost ran it actually, in participation of the final reward, the Preikestolen rock.
One last challenge was beating the strong wind when reaching Pulpit Rock. Just before the viewpoint the trail follows a rock ledge, narrow in places and with such strong wind coming from Lysefjorden we struggled to see, lots of fine sand was flying at us.
Finally we reached Pulpit Rock! The rock platform hung high above Lysefjorden, very impressive. It’s actually quite scary to take that final step to the very edge and look over. We took it easy and apart from taking a couple of photos, we didn’t spend too much time sitting at the very rock edge.
We consider ourselves lucky, because of the timing (evening, 20.00 hrs) we came just at sunset! What is more (check out the photo below) at that time there was only a handful of other hikers and we could enjoy the rock, as well as the view, comfortably, without disturbing each other. That’s the main reason why I mentioned that one has to be smart about visiting Preikestolen. Web is full of Preikestolen photos with crowds of hikers on the rock. We had a pleasure to share the view with no more than a dozen hikers. What a difference it makes! I would definitely recommend it 🙂
Before starting a return journey we wanted to explore the area a bit more. There are several paths, all leading to viewpoints to Preikestolen, a little bit higher up. One of them is marked and begins just before the rock platform (see on the map). There is some scrambling involved but very easy and I think that everyone would enjoy this little detour, just to have a different perspective.
Content with the experience and really happy to have hiked Preikestolen, we started the long descent to the car park (we returned the same way). All excitement has already passed and I felt that the return was a slog. A nice one thou, as the sun was setting, warm colours flooded the nearby mountains and fjords. We managed to reach the car park still in daylight, and in fact just managed to make it to the nearest campsite before the dark. It was all very well timed indeed!
There is an alternative return path which runs thru the mountains between Preikestolen rock and the plateau (marked blue on the map below). We mentioned its beginning as a path to higher viewpoints, however in fact, this is a full length and marked alternative way to the plateau. We did not hike it so we can’t comment on it nor recommend it.
Wild camping near Preikestolen and the nearest campsite
Along the road in the nearest vicinity of Preikestolhytta there are no spots where a camper would fit, what is more, numerous information posts placed in potential camping bays state clearly that wild camping is forbidden, and parking not allowed outside of car parks. The two dedicated car parks are barrier operated and staying overnight is not allowed either.
Luckily there is a campsite nearby. It is located at the roadside, road number 529 (Preikestolvegen), approximately 700 metres before junction with main road number 13. It is of a reasonable size and, good news, if one arrives past reception opening times, they can still find themselves a spot and stay overnight, pay in the morning (reception opening times in the summer 7.00 to 21.00 hrs).
Preikestolen hike map
What we loved about hiking Preikestolen in summer
We loved hiking thru ever changing landscape with stunning views at every corner! Pulpit Rock is a unique and magnificent viewpoint over Lysefjorden. It’s a relatively short hike, in the summer when days are long, it can be started as late as 19.00 hrs! I will definitely hike it again!
*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