Hiking are the main reason tourists adore Aurlandsdalen Valley. Sincerely stunning nature while you hike through the valley, breathtaking scenery, gorgeous viewpoints are a perfect holiday destination for many.
The scenery in this valley is so remarkable and the colours so lucid that at first glance it resembles a painting.
Aurlandsdalen (or the Aurlandsdal) is a glacially-formed Norwegian valley that is about 40 kilometres (25 mi) in length (Geiteryggen-Vassbygdi). The valley is situated in Aurland municipality in Sogn og Fjordane county, to the south of the Sognefjorden. One of the best-known tourist tracks in Norway follows the valley from Geiteryggen just across the border of Hol municipality and north east to Aurlandsvangen at the Aurlandsfjorden in Sogn.
The valley narrows and becomes a tight, dramatic Western Norway valley. It combines the natural beauty of glacially carved valleys with diverse, abundant plant species, and a number of cultural monuments in the form of old farms and mountain dairy farms (regionally called "støl"s) to form a recognized tourist attraction. The richness in plant species is due to both the soil, rich in minerals formed from phyllitt in the rocks and cultural influence through the centuries.
One of Norways most beautiful and spectacular hiking trips, the "valley of Aurland" (Aurlandsdalen, The Norwegian Grand Canyon).
The upper part of the river running through the valley is called Stemberdøla; in the lower part it is called Aurlandselvi. The route from Aurland to Hol has been the shortest connection between western and eastern Norway since prehistoric times. Thus the valley has been an important connection line for commercial journeys and cattle drives through and along the valley and over the surrounding mountain highlands.
Access to Aurlandsvangen is possible via hurtigbåt (rapid boat) from Bergen or via the European route E16 highway. Geiteryggen can be reached via highway 50 from Hol in Hallingdal.
The ancient passage through the mountains can be traveled on foot via Norwegian Mountain Touring Association (DNT) marked tracks: Finse - Geiteryggen, Raggsteindalen (at Strandafjorden) - Geiteryggen or the track Iungsdalen - Stemberdalen.
Another DNT track leads from Hallingskeid through Såtedalen, along north west side of Omnsvatnet and further over Bakkahelleren along Geiteryggvatnet to Geiteryggen.
The original proposal for routing the Bergen Line had it passing through Geiteryggen; if these plans had been carried out the railway tracks would have followed this trace to Hallingskeid.
View towards Stemberdalen
Stemberdalen has an elevation of 1025 meters. the valley is wide and open with gradual mountains slopes and open areas covered with farm places. Photo taken in 1961.
Photographer: Frode Inge Helland
Mountain highland at Geiteryggen. View over Geiteryggvatnet (vatn = lake) westwards towards Bakkahelleren and Såtedalen (dal = valley).
Photographer: Frode Inge Helland
2001.Sommerklopp (sommer= summer,klopp = small bridge) across Rossdøla between Geiteryggen and Stemberdalen. Bolhovd can be seen in the background.
Down the long valley, descending from the open mountain highland at Geiteryggen (1,232 m in elevation) the landscape becomes gradually more broken. At Stemberdalen, (also called Steinbergdalen, Stemmerdalen, Stodmerrdalen) at about 1100 m in elevation, the valley is wide and open with gradual mountains slopes and open areas covered with farm places. Earlier, before dams pooled the river into reservoirs, the river flowed gradually in broad turns which could be navigated by small boats. From Stemberdalen the valley again narrows with the hillsides steepening and the river channel increasing in gradient.
Video from open sharing on Youtube. Produced by Bjørn Roheim
At Østerbø (Øvstebø, Aurdal), at about 900 m., for a limited stretch the timberline reaches up to the middle of the hillsides. The river widens to a calm lake, Aurdalsvatnet, which is now regulated for hydroelectric power generation. From Østerbø the valley becomes steeper and more narrow as it passes downwards to Vassbygdi (vass = water, bygd = settlement, parish). The mountain flanks rise steeply from the bottom of the valley.
The river has cut deep gorges, where it is diverted to the south, then turning north again at Heimrebø, until it resumes it original course to the northwest. From here the river follows a gorge so deep that the valley bottom is impassable. At the depopulated Almen region, the valley is partly passable along the river. The valley then gradually widens until it meets Midjedalen in Vassbygdi. From here to Aurlandsvangen, the bottom of the valley is relatively flat and even and the mountain flanks ascend steeply. Access to Aurlandsvangen is cut off by Vassbygdvatnet; the road bypasses the Vassbygvatnet through a tunnel. First you need to take bus from Vassbygdi til Aurlandsvangen, and then change bus in Aurlandsvangen for bus til Flåm. Timetables bus and Aurlandsvangen - Flåm .
Old traffic arteries
The tracks between Aurlandsvangen and Hol were by far the shortest routes between eastern Norway and western Norway. From ancient times Aurlandsdalen thus was one of the most important connections between Vestlandet and Østlandet. It was only recently that it became possible to drive cattle along the valley floor, made possible by blasting of a new passage, Sinjarheimsgaldene, in the cliff face at the Sinjarheim farm in 1870 and at Nesbøgaldene in the 1930s. Before 1930 cattle had to be driven
over the mountain from Nesbø to Østerbø. At both Sinjarheimsgalden and Nesbøgaldene one had use wooden ladders to ascend across the vertical rock faces.
Before 1870 the cattle drives had to take the long detour, either over the Langfjellet mountain and down to Østerbø or over Stonndalen to Stemberdalen, or alternatively over Låvidalen to Geiteryggen. From there the journey continued down to Vierbotn via Sveingardsbotn further along Strandafjorden to Hol in Hallingdal.
1960. View towards Storebotn. Today the highway follows the river along the western bank (i.e., to the right). Photographer: Frode Inge Helland
Nesbøgalden heading toward Østerbø. 1960.
Photographer: Frode Inge Helland
The Aurlandsdalen valley is a well known hiking trail in Norway with its fabulous nature and contrasting countryside. The valley is rich in history and packed with culture.
Finse – Geiterygghytta, 5 hours – From July
Mountain Stage from Finse to Geiterygghytta cabin over the peak St. Paul with great views. Throughout the hike, you have a view of high mountain peaks, snow glaciers, and sparkling mountain lakes Hardangerjøkulen in south and Skarvheimen and Jotunheimen in the north. About.5 hours / 15.5 km.
2. Geiterygghytta – Stemmerdalen – (Steinbergdalen) 3 hours - Østerbø 4 hours - total 7 hours
Follow the path up from the construction road north of the lodge and ascend the west side of Sundhellerskarvet. Here the path forks off to Kongshelleren and Lungsdalen. The path to Steinbergdalshytta (Mountain lodge) continues northwards and cross Rausdalen valley. There are still several stone huts or wooden cabins where the drovers stayed in the summer months. Another climb west of Bolhovd to Breibakka. Magnificent view over Stemmerdalen valley. The path descends diagonally along the mountainside to Steinbergdalshytta – Mountain lodge. Steinbergdalen Tourist cabin is closed. It is possible to take the local bus to Østerbø if you want to end the trip here. Timetable bus: www.ruteinfo.net
The next stage on the trip to the Aurlandsdalen Valley is a 4-hour hike from Stemmerdalen to Østerbø.
On this trip you will enjoy the best view over the mountains and fells. Signs along the road as well as the explanations in this brochure will provide you with information about particularly beautiful viewing points, about abandoned mountain pasture cabins and the names of rivers and lakes.
Rejoin the path up the slope north of the lodge and continue the ascent. Fine view over Stemmerdalen. The path joins an old route by Grøna dam. Continue over the Grøna river bridge, up past Grønestølen and down to Østerbø Fjellstove and Østerbø Turisthytte - Mountain lodges. The view towards Aurdalen from Grønnestølskleivi is well worth a mention.
Østerbø is the area around Aurdalsvatnet. There were two farms there, and the last was abandoned as late as 1907. Visitors to the area should see the little graveyard. The fact that the mountain people had to have their own graveyard bears witness to the long and difficult way home to the village and the church. Østerbø is a beautiful pearl of nature. On the flat, green-clad embankments around Aurdalsvatnet Lake, you will find trekking cabins built on the sites of the old farms.
4. Østerbø – Vassbygdi, 6-7 Hours – From end of May
Geneal information about the last stage
The last stage of the hike stretches from Østerbø to Vassbygdi. It is considered to be a day’s hike of 6-7 hours. Here you will find an Aurlandsdalen Valley untouched by power project developments or other modern interventions in nature and landscapes. The path takes you past canyons and gorges, down steep slopes, surrounded by high and ragged mountain formations and it is an unforgettable experience for walkers. One should stop at the sites of the old farms of Nesbø, Sinjarheim and Almen. Many of the old houses are still there and pay witness to times past.
There are many sayings and stories connected to the more unusual names of places one meets on the road. Worth mentioning is the strange rock cauldron with a tarn, named Vetlahelvete – "Little hell". Right beside it stood what used to be Likbjørki, a tree where they hung up bodies at night to prevent animals from taking them, on the road back to the graveyard in Aurland. When we see a living room in Almen placed under a huge stone to stay safe from rock slides, one can imagine all the difficulties people endured.
Tour description last stage
This section of the valley is famous. Past the old cemetery and over the Langedøla bridge; continue past Viki to the once notorious Nesbøgalden (this was a system of ramshackle vertical and horizontal ladders fastened to cracks in the rock). Now a wide pathway has been blasted into the cliff face along the Nesbø-vatnet.
The path continues past picturesque Nesbø to a fork at Tirtesva. The original route is now restored, and it provides much better views than the path along the river. Handrails and steps assist the steep descent from Bjønnstigvarden. The walk continues past Svartatjødn. We recommend a visit to the «Vetlahelvete» cave to the west of the path.
Descend once again to the river, and walk to the bridge over the Veiverdalselvi river. Ascend to Sinjarheim farm. On the way, you pass the tiny Almen farm situated beneath a towering rock overhang. Continue along the river to Belle in Vassbygdi. Road/ bus connection to Aurland/Flåm/Bergen and eastwards via Østerbø to Steinbergdalen (Stemmerdalen), Geiteryggen.
Access to Aurlandsvangen/Flåm is cut off by Vassbygdvatnet; the road bypasses the Vassbygvatnet through a tunnel. First you need to take bus from Vassbygdi til Aurlandsvangen, and then change bus in Aurlandsvangen for bus til Flåm. Timetables bus Vassbygdi - Aurlandsvangen and Aurlandsvangen - Flåm .
Almastova is not big, just one room, and gives evidence
o the dangerous and modest lives the people, just a
few generations back, endured in this valley.
Photographer: Frode Inge Helland
1961. Nesbø. Before 1930, the cattle drives had to take the path upwards Gravadalen to the left of the farm and pass over the mountain to Østerbø to avoid Nesbøgalden. Photographer: Frode Inge Helland
Vetlehelvete (vetle = little, helvete = hell).
Open pothole beneath Bjødnastigen Bjødn (bjørn = bear, stigen = path or ladder).
Photographer: Frode Inge Helland
Beautiful species that call the Aurlandsdalen Valley home
Wild reindeer dominate animal life in the high mountains around Aurland. Deer are found below in the forest-clad hillsides. Other wild animals are wolverine, fox, pine marten, cairn cat, mink and otter.
The golden eagle is among the numerous bird types that nest in the Aurlandsdalen Valley and is not an unusual sight circling high above the valley and mountains.
The Aurland Valley and its tributary valleys contain the best grazing areas of Vestlandet, Western Norway. In the high mountains around the valley, there is valuable hunting terrain for wild reindeer and there is trout fishing in the watercourses.
Plant life (flora)
Thanks to the major variation in the landscape, the geological structure and the climate, plant life in the Aurlandsdalen Valley is rich and varied.
Flower-lovers can enjoy many colourful blooms and botanists can revel in more rare plants.
Early in spring the purple saxifrage raudsildra (saxifraga opposititfolia) blooms and later the splendid mountain lily (saxifrage coteledon) can be found in large amounts. Indeed, in certain years whole mountainsides can be covered in these beautiful flowers.
One of the rarer plants is angelica (angelica archangelica) and wild rhubarb (rheum undulata).
Image: Mountain lily (saxifrage coteledon). Photographer
Leisure fishermen that visit the Aurlandsdalen Valley will find many good places for trout fishing both in lakes and rivers. Both places of accommodation at Østerbø sell fishing permits that entitle you to fish both in the main river and in the many fishing lakes in the mountains.
FINSE - AURLANDSDALEN
Eat | Sleep
When you have finished the adventurous hike from Finse to Vassbygdi, Aurlandsvangen, or Flåm, more attractions are still in line, whether you can or have time;
Wikipedia, Ut.no, dnt.no, sognefjord.no
Ættebok for Aurland, bind 2 - fram til omlag 1900, Anders Ohnstad. Utgiver: Aurland sogelag. Bergen boktrykk 1964.( Norwegian. Family history for Aurland)
Aurland bygdebok, fram til omlag 1920. Anders Ohnstad. Utgiver: Aurland sogelag. Bergen boktrykk 1964. (Norwegian. Settlement history until 1920.
Bach, Tron; Johannes Gjerdåker (1994). Aurlandsdalen: ei kulturhistorisk vandring frå fjell til fjære (in Norwegian). Oslo: Cappelen. ISBN 82-02-14675-5. (Cultural history.)
Den norske turistforenings årbok 1927. Grøndahl & søns boktrykkeri 1927. (Norwegian. Yearbook for The Norwegian Tourist Association. 1927)
Ohnstad, Anders (1990). Aurland bygdebok: fra 1835 til 1985 (in Norwegian). Aurland: Aurland sogelag. ISBN 82-992261-0-4. (Settlement history 1835 - 1985.)
Archives for Sogn og Fjordane (in Norwegian)
Aurlandsdalen (in Norwegian)
Youtube video - Produced by Bjørn Roheim
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