At the beginning of our trip to Norway, the weather was not very friendly. Majestic mountains disappeared into the fog and a curtain of heavy rain blocked the view. We checked the weather forecast every day and impatiently hoped for at least a small stain of blue sky.
Finally, the forecast predicted cloudy but no rain. This was very important for us because an exacting part of our road trip lied ahead of us – Trollstigen, the road which is open for some months only, normally from mid-May to October, the date changes according to snow/weather conditions.
Trollstigen is known as the Troll’s Staircase. Even a traffic sign warns about those demonic creatures! The figure on it reminds of a devil dressed up as a hiker with a rucksack on his back. Though he doesn’t have any wart on his nose, instead of that, a miniature tree is growing on it – well, we are in Norway… However, we didn’t meet any trolls there. They must have hidden somewhere to escape the rays of the shaky sun which appeared from behind the clouds now and then.
The total distance of the Troll’s Road is 12,2 km, it is a part of the County Road 63. We were approaching it from the north, from the small town of Åndalsnes. Soon, Trollvegen, a high steep mountainside which reaches almost 1,800 m appeared in front of us. Already from here, we could see how the road winds up.
At the foot of the mountain, the road steeps up to 800 m in 11 narrow hairpin turns. Every bend has a sign with its own name, mostly named after the working team or the person who supervised the construction on this part of the road. It took 8 years to build this road because it wasn’t possible to continue to work during the long winters. The road was opened on 31st of July 1936 by the Norwegian King Haakon VII. On both borders, the Troll’s Path is lined with a dashed line, it reminded me of lockstitches on a tailored cloth. The big stones laid in rows along the outer roadside in other parts of the path resembled battlements at a medieval fortress.
Each bend offered a different angle of the view of the mountain and road. This is why you need to have not only a driver in your car but also a photographer who can use every opportunity to take all those pictures. The scenery is completed by the Stigfossen waterfall. At the beginning, it looks like it falls down from heaven, but later on, you will also see its upper part. The waterfall falls 320 m down, it slides on the rocky massif, sprinkles icy drops on the cars driving on the stony bridge and flows through the valley as a narrow silver ribbon which disappears somewhere into the endlessness.
Approximately 3,000 vehicles pass the road daily, the ones that are over 12,4 m long are prohibited, we didn’t see any buses but a lot of caravans. The highest point of the road is 852 m above sea level.
In 2012, a new visitor center was opened. It is very sensitively incorporated into the natural surroundings. It was projected by the Norwegian architectural firm Reiulf Ramstad Architects. Apart from the main building built of concrete, glass and corten steel with its typical rusty coating, there are paths, railings and viewing platforms at the top of the pass. All the views of the majestic surrounding mountains are magnificent.
According to old Norwegian legends, trolls roam here every night but in the moment they are hit by morning sunlight they turn into stones and their stone bodies create the rocky cliffs. So the visitors build their own trolls from stones laid on each other, you can find some of them even in dangerous places.
It was very windy on the viewing platforms, the wind quickly moved the clouds in the sky, they threw huge shadows on the mountains which increased the mystical atmosphere of this place. We went slowly back to the parking lot. From this side, we could also better see the water basins of the river Istra which forms the Stigfossen waterfall and glass walls of the shops with souvenirs. While the architects successfully fit their building into nature, it would be better not to mention some of the products which are sold in those shops…
It is better to have one more look at the typical Norwegian wooden houses and wild surrounding nature and then continue to Geiranger, the famous Norwegian fjord.
Practical links we used:
Actual weather forecast in Norway: here
Actual situation of the Norwegian roads: here
Text: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri
Fotos: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri