The Pulpit Rock is easily one of the highlights of Norway. Some would say more: Lonely Planet has published “1000 Ultimate Sights”. The Pulpit Rock is on top of their list of “Most Breathtaking Viewing Platforms”.
The Lysefjord in south-western Norway is a perfect example of a Norwegian fjord: Steep mountains, rough scenery, spectacular views, a lot of weather. It also serves as a superb hiking ground for numerous trips. This is one of them.
“Sometimes it’s best to leave it to nature. While glass floors and skyscrapers can be impressive, in Norway, it’s a mighty lump of stone that offers the best outlook. Preikestolen — Pulpit Rock — looms 604m above Lysefjord, one of myriad incisions along Norway’s west coast. There are mountains aplenty hereabouts, but this summit seems built for purpose: its almost perfectly flat top juts out over the water (no safety barriers here), commanding uninterrupted, if vertiginous, views. Scarier still, peer down the cracks in Preikestolen’s surface — caused by 10,000 years of glacial action — and hope no new ones form just then…”
Preikestolen hike – View from the hike to Preikestolen
“The Pulpit Rock is among the most famous tourist attractions in Norway. More than 120 000 tourists visit the place every year. No other tourist attraction in the country encourages people to walk so far in order to experience the magnificent and unspoilt nature of the fjords and mountains. You need 4 – 6 hours for the round trip … to the Pulpit Rock. The trek has a difference in altitude of 330 meters, and you have to negotiate a track that spans all sorts of terrain. Through wooden areas and over marshes as well as across tough taluses and hard Lysefjord granite. From The Pulpit Rock you have an unlimited view of the Lysefjord and its surrounding mountains. Remember to wear sturdy shoes, warm clothes and to bring a packed lunch.”
In my own view the Pulpit Rock is a “must see” on a visit to Norway. (Although I might add that Kjerag is even more spectacular.) Beware though, the number of visitors have doubled over the last few years, to 250,000 and more.
Preikestolen hike – Watch your step even before you reach the Pulpit Rock
The Rock is a 3.8 km and two hour walk from Preikestolhytta (the mountain lodge with a large and not inexpensive parking lot), although we made it in 45 minutes the last time I went there. In the high season there are long queues up certain parts of the hike, so you should take account of that. There are also reports of visitors (mainly foreigners not accustomed to Norwegian mountain hikes) wearing city shoes (high heels and so on). Forget it. You need good hiking boots.
The first climb is quite steep but offers a great view of Preikestolhytta and even as far as Stavanger. Then the good path, well marked, leads you to a steep climb up some large boulders in a ravine. This is where many foreigners face a tough challenge. Fortunately this ravine has become easier to climb over the last few years as a result of stairs made of rocks have come into place.
From top of that ravine there is a comparatively easy walk towards the cliff. There are fantastic views of the mountains all around you. Suddenly you are there. The Pulpit Rock is in front of you, 604 metres above the fjord.
The video below and pictures, are from a visit in 2003. Some images are even older.
Some people have a tendency to lean over the cliff and look down, others do not dare to walk out onto the large cliff. The first time I was on the Pulpit Rock, there was a group gathering on one of corners ready for a group photo shot. They backed and got closely together on the command of a photographer who was keen on getting the right angle and focus. They backed even more until some of them stood on the very edge of the cliff. Luckily the photographer decided he had the right focus and shot that picture without serious things happening.
I returned in 2013 and made the following video.
Most people arrive here on the ferry (about 40 mins) from Stavanger to Tau. If you bring your own car, the road from here is piece of cake and well signposted. There will in the summer season be a bus waiting at Tau to drive you (20 mins) to the “base camp” at the Preikestolen Lodge. This is where your hike starts.
Remember: Bring plenty of water, food and good shoes/boots and clothing. The weather in this part of the world changes rapidly – a warm sunny day may turn into a rainstorm in a few hours. Bring enough clothes to meet the cold, wet and windy climate you will most likely meet here. You will have to be in a good shape – Norwegian mountain paths are unlike any you have been to before. This is not a walk in the park, visitors have been known to be rescued from the trail.
If you take this into account, you will have a wonderful hike.
All blog entries and videos in this series
This article is the third in a series of hiking descriptions from the Lysefjord area in south-west Norway.