Trollstigen – The Troll’s road – is an impressive piece of road building where the road snakes and climbs its way up and up along steep mountainsides. Every bend has its own name, most of them named for one of the foremen that led the construction gangs that built the road. The bends and curves bear witness to the skill of the constructors, built up on the base rock of the steep mountainsides, or hewn by hand into the mountain itself.
The road is narrow with a gradient of 9 %, but passing pockets have been incorporated and traffic normally flows without problem. The longest permitted length of vehicles is 13.1 metres. Trollstigen is both fascinating and a test of the nerves, and if you don’t have a good head for heights perhaps you should let someone else drive.
The road, which is closed during the winter months, is currently visited by in the region of 600 000 travellers and tourists between June and October/November, making it one the most popular tourist venues in Norway. The road at its a highest point is 852 masl, and lies on the municipal boundary between Rauma and Norddal.
From the north, Trollstigen is the gateway to Destination Geirangerfjord –Trollstigen’s geographic area. The road is usually opened at the turn of the month May/June and closes when the snows arrive, usually at the turn of the month October/November.
Trollstigen, with its characteristic waterfall, Stigfossen, is encircled by mighty mountains, reaching an impressive 1600 masl. To the west you can see Mount Bispen (1462 masl), Kongen (1614 masl) and Dronninga (1544 masl). To the east the rocky Stigbottshornet (1583 masl) and Storgrovfjellet (1629 masl). The old pack road has been restored and is favourite and exciting footpath for those who wish to experience Trollstigen on foot.
The road was opened on 31st July 1936 by the then King of Norway Haakon VII, who at the opening ceremony gave the road the name Trollstigvegen (the stretch between Øvstestølen and Bøsetra). The population of Valldal had long waited for better road communications over the mountains, and now they finally had something to celebrate. For several hundred years (1533–1875) the Romsdals Market (The Mart) had been a vital annual event for trade and social life in the area, so access over the mountains was an important factor for farmers who bought and sold both horses and cattle.
Farmers on both sides of mountain had worked hard and long with no payment to construct a road, and in 1891 there was a cart track/pack road leading to the population centres closest to the mountain on both sides. In 1905 work commenced on a road for horses and riders over the mountain. The road was finished in 1913, but there was still only a pack road in the steepest section. Things were however gathering speed, and Department Engineer Nils Hovdenak, who had planned the horse road, put on the pressure to have the horse road/pack road widened to accommodate wheeled traffic. In a letter dated 5th October 1916, the Labour Party gave the go ahead for work to start on the construction of the Valldalen–Romsdalen road. Work started on the Valldal side, with the construction of new bridges over the Valldøla River near Gudbrandsjuvet (1919), at Hoel (1921) and Krike (1926–27). Work started on the Romsdal side in 1928, and 8 years later the impressive road over the mountain could be opened.