Go mountain biking in Norway for that tremendous sense of freedom you get from scraggly forest trails, or just take your bike out into the open country.
Dodging rocks, roots and twigs equals … happiness? Well, this is what many people who have tried racing along a single-track forest trail would say, experiencing an adrenalin rush that is not easily matched. Others have discovered the joy of cycling through more gentle hills in the forests.
And for sure Norway’s topography lends itself fabulously well to MTB, what with mountains and vast forests, and the dramatic vistas that accompany them. Thanks to the so called Right to Roam act (Norwegian Allemansretten), you are free to bike through most places in the countryside (but do ask the locals for any exceptions and look out for signs).
As a nation, we have definitely started exploring our countryside by bike, across highland plateaus and into unknown off-road areas.
Several skiing resorts, for example Hafjell, Trysil and Geilo, have bike parks for mountain biking and downhill, and they open up their lift systems for bikers in the summer. Hafjell Bike Park is particularly well-known since they hosted the mountain bike world championships in 2014. MTB is not just for pros though – most bike parks have options for beginners and children, so the whole family can join in.
Just bear in mind that we do care about our nature, and spending time outdoors comes with responsibilities. Avoid making new trails, show care, slow down and be nice to hikers and fellow bikers. This way, everyone can have a big smile on their face for the mountain-top selfie. It’s the smiles, not the miles, that counts.
Last but not least ... Look after yourself and remember to protect yourself by wearing a helmet.
The single track (as the name implies) is about the same width as the mountain bike itself. Anything larger simply wouldn’t fit. It is not to be confused with a service road or fireroad, as the latter could support a four-wheel off-road vehicle. These single tracks typically double as hiking paths, through forests or across mountains and plains. Still, they can be as different as night and day: Some are smooth and flowing, others are more like rough forest paths riddled with rocks and roots.
Some trails, notably in dedicated mountain biking areas, are incredibly smooth, and accessible no matter your age or skill – though they can still pose a challenge for professionals who take them on at higher speeds. Others are more inherently challenging.
Henrik Alpers is the leading man in Norway for everything related to two wheels powered by hard working legs. Among numerous initiatives and activities, he is also the editor-in-chief at Landevei, a magazine for MTB enthusiasts. Here Alpers recommends his five favourite mountain biking spots; single track bliss and major attractions for bikers.
Hafjell has quickly become an epicentre for cycling enthusiasts of all levels. The underestimated MTB part of the park is at least as rich in experiences as the downhill area, and most definitely worth a visit. The nearby Sjusjøen Mountain Bike Park offers equally exciting biking possibilities.
Already well established as Norway’s largest winter sports destination, Trysil is about to gain widespread credit for its new biking facilities. Trysil Bike Arena has more than 100 kilometres of family friendly single tracks and marked routes, both in the mountain and in the forest. The single track field Gullia is full of fun challenges for the whole family. The Fjellekspressen lift brings people and bikes up in the mountain throughout the summer.
A fun, 8-kilometre long path with many adjoining tracks. Top features include diverse ground surfaces and charming wooden bridges created by local carpenters. Opened only a few years ago, Tungvekteren has already become a favourite for both families and MTB enthusiasts, many of whom don’t hesitate to come from afar. There are also plenty of routes to try in the area around Arendal. For more information about Tungvekteren, please contact Arendal Singletrack.
Barely any capital in the world offers such an immense, preserved forest only a short trip from the city centre. The Oslo-based starting points Holmenkollen, Frognerseteren, Sørkedalen and Sognsvann are all easy to reach by public transport. Further possibilities for adventurous mountain biking are found if you enter Nordmarka from the west or the north. Nordmarka has several sports cabins and traditional eateries that serve homemade food, among them Ullevålseter. (Photo: Visit Oslo/Tord Baklund)
The diverse biking challenges of Drammensmarka and Finnemarka suit both easy-paced families and enthusiasts who prefer long, demanding trips. There are several good starting points for excursions in the Drammen region, for example Ulevann Krokstad Skauen, Engersetra and Drammen Skisenter.
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Manners and common sense on the trail
Having great trails to ride on is not a right, but a privilege. The Norwegian Organization for Mountain Biking (NOTS) urges everyone to be considerate of the trails and ski trails. Here are the most important guidelines for trail-wit.
As long as you understand and follow a few basic rules and regulations, you are free to walk almost everywhere in the Norwegian countryside. Outdoor recreation is an important part of the national identity, and access to nature is considered a right established by law.
The so called right of access (“allemannsretten”) is a traditional right from ancient times. Since 1957, it has been part of the Outdoor Recreation Act. It ensures that everybody can experience nature, even on larger privately owned areas.
The main rules are easy: Be considerate and thoughtful. Make sure you pick up your rubbish and show respect for nature and people – in other words, leave the landscape as you would want to find it.
The right to roam applies to open country, sometimes also known as “unfenced land”, which is land that is not cultivated. In Norway, the term covers most shores, bogs, forests and mountains. Small islands of uncultivated land within cultivated land are not regarded as open country.