Pedaling atop a mountain ridge, rushing through tight single track forest trails or just taking your mountain bike out into open country gives a tremendous sense of freedom.
Dodging rocks, roots and twigs … equals happiness? It sure does for many of those who have tried racing on two wheels along a single-track mountain bike trail, experiencing a rush of adrenaline that is not easily matched.
In Norway, everyone is free to enjoy the great outdoors thanks to the Right to Roam act. That means you are, in principle, free to bike most places through open country (ask locals if there are exceptions or look out for a sign). Sparsely populated and with few large cities, Norway is characterized by large forests, mountainous and varied landscapes, and the dramatic vistas that accompany them.
Norwegians are opening their eyes to the possibility of exploring the country by bike – be it fatbiking in winter, mountain biking across highland plateaus, renting bikes at explicitly facilitated off-road biking areas with single-tracks and flow trails, scaling mountains or heading into the unknown.
Bear in mind that we care about our nature and the pleasures of spending time there. Try not to make 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. Remember always to wear a helmet for security.
The single track (as the name implies) is about the same width of 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, while 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 at higher speeds. Others, obviously, 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.
In Norway, you can walk nearly anywhere you want. Outdoor recreation has become a major part of the national identity, and is established by law. You are free to enjoy the great outdoors – as long as you pick up your rubbish and show respect for nature.
There are a few rules and regulations to keep the unique right of access enjoyable for everyone. The main rules are easy: Be considerate and thoughtful. Don’t damage nature and other surroundings. Leave the landscape as you would want to find it.
The right of access (“allemannsretten”) is a traditional right from ancient times, and since 1957 it has been part of the Outdoor Recreation Act. It ensures that everybody can experience nature, even on larger privately owned areas.
This 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.
You are in Norway, therefore no reason to stay indoors. Here are some fun things to do, whether you're visiting the coast, the mountains or somewhere in between.
Whether you want a challenging slog up a mountain top or a gentle trip between pretty small towns, the varied landscape in Norway will provide you with a suitable challenge.