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Seven cabin to cabin hikes you should try this summer!

Outdoorsman and author Marius Nergård Pettersen has grown up in Norwegian nature. Here are his favourite cabin to cabin hikes.

More and more people are fulfilling their dream of hiking Norway’s mountains and forests, causing visitor numbers for tourist-cabins over the last decade to explode.

A person you might meet when you spend the night in one of The Norwegian Trekking Association’s (DNT) many tourist cabins, is journalist, photographer, author, and lecturer Marius Nergård Pettersen.

This man has been passionate about nature and trekking since childhood, and he has published eight books on outdoor life. In the latest, he covers Norway’s vast and wonderful selection of tourist huts.

“I grew up in a family who treasured nature highly. The feeling of freedom and mastery that you get while spending time in the great outdoors is something that was instilled in me at an early age”, he says.

An ideal entry point

Even though an experienced hiker like Nergård Pettersen is happy to pack a tent and camping stove and disappear along unmarked tracks, Norway’s tourist cabins maintain a special place in his heart. He defines them not only as a practical, comfortable and social means of experiencing Norway’s nature, but also as an ideal entry point for beginners.

“You walk along marked paths, before arriving in a nice and warm room. You have the option of drying your clothes, sleeping in a comfortable bed, cooking food and meeting other hikers along the way. All this and more makes cabin to cabin hiking easily accessible for everyone”, he says.

A cabin to cabin hike is often completed in a few days. Nergård Pettersen, however, hopes that more people will attempt some of the longer routes Norway has to offer.

“With my book, I hope people will be inspired to try out some long term trekking. The feeling of being surrounded by nature for a week or two is completely unique”, he says.

But with more than 550 cabins under The Norwegian Trekking Association and more than 20,000 kilometres of marked paths, where do you start? To help you along, Marius Nergård Pettersen gives you seven of Norway’s most memorable cabin to cabin summer hikes.

1. An educational journey along Lake Gjende

Difficulty: Demanding
Duration: 2–3 days
Cabins: Staffed lodges

Walking along Lake Gjende in the Jotunheimen mountains in Eastern Norway is, according to Nergård Pettersen, an educational journey.

“You start from The Norwegian Trekking Association's oldest tourist cabin, Gjendebu, located in the inner parts of the lake before you continue to Memurubu and Gjendesheim”, he says.

On the first day, you will walk over Bukkelægret, an old trading-route heading up from the lake's edge. The trail has a steep elevation of several hundred meters before you cross over into mountainous scenery and are rewarded with gorgeous views.

From there, the route descends to Gjende and Memurubu, before continuing to Besseggen the next day. If you haven’t been here before, it will soon become obvious why Besseggen remains one of Norway’s more popular hiking destinations. If the weather is nice, this hike will make a lasting impression.

2. Crossing Nordmarka

Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 3–5 days
Cabins: No-service cabins

Nergård Pettersen has always been a fan of “close” hikes, meaning experiences in nature that don’t require you to go far away from home. He himself lives in Oslo, where he recommends crossing the Nordmarka forest.

“You start from Tversjøen, furthest north in Nordmarka, and follow the route via the cabins Sinnerdammen, Katnosdammen, Kikutstua, Kobberhaughytta and all the way to Frognerseteren. The hike will take three to five days, depending on your pace, and can be regarded as fairly easy”, he says.

The daily stints from cabin to cabin may be short, but the hike takes you through beautiful and fascinating scenery. You start off surrounded by old-growth forest and nature reserves, before you continue through every variation of nature Nordmarka has to offer, with beautiful viewpoints and bodies of water both large and small.

3. Around the Lysefjord

Difficulty: Demanding, but can be adjusted
Duration: 6–7 days, but can be split into sections
Cabins: Staffed, self-service, and no-service cabins

The route which most inspired Nergård Pettersen to lace up his hiking boots while writing the book takes visitors on a magnificent trip around the Lysefjord in Fjord Norway.

“The route will take you through natural wonders such as The Pulpit Rock and Kjerag, along with seven different cabins”, he explains.

The route is six to seven days long, but it can be divided into sections along the way – like many of the longer cabin to cabin hikes. On this journey, a ferry enables you to start and finish wherever you like.

The Lysefjord hike includes steep and dramatic stretches with drops several hundred meters deep, along with pleasant sections along the water’s edge. A beautiful and varied hike.

4. Wanderings in the Children’s World of Nature

Difficulty: Easy 
Duration: 3–4 days
Cabins: No-service cabins

The Children’s Natural World – as the area is called by The Norwegian Trekking Association – is a tiny mountainous speck east of Trollheimen in Trøndelag. Here, cabins are modelled after old “sælehus”, a type of wanderers’ homes commonly found during the middle ages.

“These are only five to nine kilometres apart through easy terrain, making the area perfectly adapted for small feet. Its a low difficulty hike, but not to the point where it becomes boring”, Nergård Pettersen says.

The landscape you’ll experience is both mysterious and fascinating, with climbable peaks, old-growth forest and fishing lakes spread out along the trail. All the cabins on this hike trek are no-service, meaning you’ll have to bring your own food, sheets and sleeping bag.

5. The wild and wonderful Aurlandsdalen valley

Difficulty: Medium
Duration: 2–3 days
Cabins: Staffed lodges

The Aurlandsdalen valley in Fjord Norway is a gorgeous river valley that starts in Skarvheimen north of Hardangervidda and continues towards the Sognefjord. On this hike, you’ll begin at Geiterygghytta before heading onwards to Østerbø and Vassbygdi by the Aurlandsfjord.

“Along the way, you’ll have experienced one of Norway’s most beautiful valleys, with amazing waterfalls and exiting terrain. You start on the upper parts of the mountains before ascending gradually through the valley”, says the hiking expert.

When you arrive at Østerbø you’ll be somewhere around the tree line, before walking deep below steep valley sides and gradually towards thicker vegetation.

6. Across the Tromsø city mountain

Difficulty: Medium
Duration: 2–4 days
Cabins: No-service cabins

Another close-to-home hike passes over what many call the Tromsø city mountain. Here you’ll start on a trail near Snarbyeidet east of Tromsø in Northern Norway, which takes hikers slowly, but steadily back towards the city. This is a two to four day trip with four no-service cabins available along the way.

The hike takes you through coastal mountain landscapes – hilly, but pleasant for walking – with peaks and open landscapes wherever you are. Near the end of the trail, it’s possible to climb the 1238-metre-high Tromsdalstinden and be awarded with magnificent views.

7. Hiking the Nordmøre fjord route

Difficulty: Medium to demanding
Duration: 13 days (which can be divided into sections)
Cabins: Self-service cabins

“Finally, we have a true long-distance trek. The Nordmøre fjord route starts in Kristiansund in Fjord Norway and takes you on a two-week adventure”, says Nergård Pettersen.

Parts of the Nordmøre route can be described as demanding, but several sections are reasonably short. The landscape is defined by fjords and mountains, with lots of hilly, but rewarding hiking along the low-lying tree line.

Some cabins lie right by the sea, where you’ll have access to both boats and great fishing. The viewpoints are ample, as opposed to the numbers of hikers. This is one of the routes where you’ll frequently find yourself walking in solitude.

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