Hiking the Iconic Pulpit Rock, Norway
Firstly, in case you’re wondering, Pulpit Rock also goes by the name of Preikostolen. So why is it named Pulpit Rock? Well, it looks like a preacher’s pulpit – the raised stand in front of the preacher they use during a sermon.
Why is Pulpit Rock so special? This flattish section of rock, shaped during the last ice age over 10,000 years ago, covers an area of about 25 square metres but it has a sheer drop of 604m all the way down to Lysefjord (a 42-kilometre long fjord). The reward when reaching Pulpit Rock? Stunning panoramic views from this amazing natural wonder.
Did you know that Pulpit Rock was discovered in 1896 and the first tourist travelled to the top of Preikestolen in the early 1900s. Now, it draws more than 300,000 visitors per year!
Who is able to hike Pulpit Rock Norway?
It’s good news! The hike is geared towards people of all ages. We saw both kids and older people on the hike – everyone chooses their own pace that’s comfortable for them. The trail has parts where you ascend for a bit which is then followed by flatter parts and this continues like this to the top. This means that it’s not a hard up-hill grind all the way. You don’t have to be super-fit but you are expected to have at least an average level of fitness.
However, let’s look at a few need-to-know facts that you should be aware of before tackling this iconic hike.
Summary of Pulpit Rock Norway Hike Details
- Length of Pulpit Rock Hike: Roundtrip totalling 7.6 kilometres
- Hiking time (round trip): anything from 2 to 5 hours (walk fast or walk slow – you decide!)
- Technical difficulty: Medium (as classed on a Norwegian hiking site )
- Hike elevation gain: 350m (from the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge car park to Pulpit Rock; see elevation profile below)
- Hiking Season: All year (in wintertime you will likely encounter snow so using a guide is recommended)
- Drones: Flying a drone near the summit is illegal. There is a sign indicating the point past which you cannot fly a drone.
- Busiest months: June to September
- Car park cost: (car park at Preikestolen Mountain Lodge): 220 NOK without a time limit
- Toilets: adjacent to the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge car park
- Drinking-Water: you will need to take your own drinking water with you
- Use of Sunscreen and a hat in Summer is wise
Total elevation gain of the hike = approx. 350m
Hiking ‘Level of Difficulty’ – Pulpit Rock Norway
Pulpit Rock or Preikestolen falls into the Medium (Blue) intermediate level.
Norway classifies its walks and hikes based on difficulty levels with colours that are used both nationally and internationally. Here is a summary of the levels: (For detailed information, see Norway’s hiking difficulty levels criteria further down in this article.)
- Easy (Green) – Novice Hikers / No experience necessary / <300m altitude / < 5 kilometre trail length
- Medium (Blue) – Intermediate some hiking experience / average fitness level / <600m altitude / < 10 kilometre trail length
- Demanding (Red) – Experienced walkers / high fitness level / <1000m altitude / < 20 kilometre trail length
- Expert (Black) – Longer and more technical hikes / Experienced hikers / high fitness level / unlimited altitude and trail length
Map: Pulpit Rock Norway Hiking Route
Pulpit Rock Hike Decision
There’s no doubt, Norway has some spectacular hikes. The serenity coupled with postcard-perfect scenery is just so invigorating. Having completed many Norwegian hikes during our 9 months spent here, the famous Pulpit Rock was definitely one of the iconic hikes we wanted to tackle.
Earlier in the day, we had conquered Kjeragbolten, a challenging 12-kilometre hike to the ‘bolt in the mountain’ requiring tenacity to overcome a crippling fear of heights – read our Kjeragbolten article. With a good ten hours of sunlight left, we committed to throwing our energies into hiking the iconic Pulpit Rock Norway.
We should say though, in hindsight, that hiking both Kjerag and Pulpit Rock on the same day was physically demanding and we would recommend spreading the hikes over two days. Below is the view from the town of Lysebotn out into Lysefjord. Lysebotn is situated at the very eastern end of the fjord and is the long body of water seen from both Kjerag and Preikestolen.
View of Lysefjord from Lysebotn
Video – Pulpit Rock Hike Norway
Here are the hike highlights in a short 1-minute Youtube clip.
Pulpit Rock Hike Begins
The Preikestolen Mountain Lodge car park is where the hike begins. Directions to the start of the trail are well signed. Following a gravel road soon leads to the beginning of the hiking trail. As with all other Norwegian hiking trails, the red ‘T’ painted on the rocks act as trail markers ensuring that you head in the right direction.
Preikestolen hiking path signage – Pulpit Rock Norway
The initial part of the uphill trail meanders through some pretty scenery before reaching the rocky section which you need to pick through carefully. Soon after, you reach the ascent of stepping stones. Hundreds of metres were laid by Nepalese Sherpas to ensure that hikers had solid a footing.
It is at the steepest part of the climb where the physical size of these steps becomes a little too high and a little too long. The natural left-right-left foot action for the ascent of each step is out-of-sync. Instead, we stepped out left then right on the same step, then stepped up on the left foot. Two steps across, one up. Repeat for the next couple of hundred metres. It’s not a complaint, it just felt out-of-whack.
Stony part at the beginning of Preikestolen hike
Mid-Way Part of the Pulpit Rock Norway Hike
Progressing onwards past the steep steps, the hiking trail opens out onto a wide, open expanse. A long, gentle uphill trail lays ahead. Close by here is a serene, little lake where the temptation to stop and swim for some, was just too much.
Mid-part of the Pulpit Rock hike opens out onto rocky, gently-inclining ground
Enticing? Oh, yes … Pulpit Rock Norway Hike
Pulpit Rock Norway hike is well marked
Nearing the end of Pulpit Rock Norway Hike
Further on, there are some small wooden pedestrian bridges with accompanying handrails on each side to keep you veering too close to the edge.
Bridge and accompanying hand-rails with a mountain outlook thrown in – Pulpit Rock Norway Hike
The final leg of the Pulpit Rock hike, paralleling the precipice
Topping a false mountain peak doesn’t bring Pulpit Rock into view as yet, but it does deliver the beginning of some spectacular views that you can expect from here all the way to the top (see below image). Don’t hold your breath yet as the main event is still another 500m or so away.
The trail follows the cliff face with a gentle incline. At this point, if you have children with you, you need to warn them of the danger of falling off the edge. There are no fall barriers or handrails so tred with caution.
In places, you’ll then need to step over narrow but deep fissures. Here you can see in the gap the 600m drop all the way down to Lysefjord.
This crevasse opening gives views right down to the water beneath Preikestolen
Pulpit Rock: Mission Accomplished
The last 100m of the hike brought Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen) into view. Wow, it sure was impressive. It was now 8 pm, the crowds had all but disappeared, and we shared this masterpiece of mother nature with just a handful of other people.
Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen) Plateau
The famous ‘Pulpit Rock’
Some of the hikers were carrying tents with the intent to camp near the plateau for the night. The photo below shows a small green tent perched close by the cliffs.
Views from the Pulpit Rock plateau – look for the green tent near the cliff face
Postcard views of Lysefjord – A perfect example of nature working its magic
Walking out onto Pulpit Rock and drawing close to the edge for the first time was exhilarating. The feeling was a combination of fulfilling our dream of hiking the mighty Pulpit Rock, the awe of this majestic landscape and now that I think back, surges of adrenalin spiking my survival instinct into action. That 600m drop was worthy of the utmost respect.
Before us, this phenomenal landscape of grey craggy, grey cliffs, deep crystalline blue fjords and postcard views was certainly quintessential Norway.
Taking time to absorb the beauty and re-charge for Preikestolen return hike
Descent from Pulpit Rock
The return journey is relatively quick, not only because it is downhill but also because of the distraction of reminiscing about the wonderful moments of this Pulpit Rock Norway hike.
Did the Pulpit Rock Norway hike live up to your expectations? What was the highlight of the hike? Drop a comment below as we would love to hear your thoughts.
If you want further reading then feel free to visit the Fjord Norway site.
Getting to Preikestolen From Stavanger
Driving Your Own Vehicle
1) NEW: the Ryfelke tunnel is now open. Drive directly from Stavanger to Preikestolen underneath Lysefjord. The 38-kilometre trip takes around 45 minutes. An automatic vehicle toll system is in place. Vehicles without an Auto-PASS tag will need to sign-up for an account with Auto-PASS where you can access your toll invoices.
Cost: Vehicles (<3.5t): Regular and zero-emission are charged at NOK 140 (approx. €12.00).
Cost: Vehicles (>3.5t): Charged at NOK 420 (approx. €37.00).
(The Ryfylke tunnel is the world’s longest and deepest subsea road tunnel for traffic, and provides a road link between Strand in Ryfylke and Stavanger on Nord-Jæren.)
2) By Ferry from Lauvvika to Oanes: Drive from Stavanger to Lauvivika for the ferry to Oanes then drive to Preikestolen. Total travel time is around 1.5-hours. The ferry across Lysefjord takes 8-minutes with departures per hour from each side. Buy tickets on the ferry. The ferry operates all year.
Ferry Cost: Adult NOK 30, Child NOK 17, Car with driver NOK 80 (You can also buy tickets online from Norled.No. and check out the ferry timetable)
3) Ferry from Stavanger to Tau – a 1-hour ferry trip followed by a 20 min drive (36 km) to the Preikestolen car park.
Ferry Cost: Adult NOK 60, Child NOK 30, Car with driver NOK 182. The ferry has a departure every 45 minutes.
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Norway’s ‘Degree of Difficulty’ Levels for Hiking
There are 4 different hiking difficulty/grading levels corresponding to 4 different colours from easy (Green) to hard (Black). Click here to return up the page.
Each level has particular parameters:
- No special skills required
- Generally short walks
- Special symbols in use for areas that are suitable for wheelchair/prams
- Altitude < 300 m
- Hike length < 5 km
- Path enables easy walking and obstruction-free
- No streams to be crossed
- Moderate ascents – no steep or difficult sections.
- Average fitness
- Basic skills
- Altitude < 600 m
- Trail length < 10 km
- Trail may have more challenging sections than Green difficulty
- Trail may be rocky; No streams to be crossed
- Ascents generally are moderate, but can include some steep slopes
- Certain parts may be considered risky for some
- Experienced walkers
- Good fitness level
- Good equipment including hiking boots
- Altitude < 1000 m
- Hiking trail < 20 km
- Trail may open terrain, steep slopes, rocky, scree and rugged mountains with up to 2 stream crossings
- Trail may include some technical parts with climbing and several exposed sections
- Experienced hikers
- High level of fitness
- Good equipment and hiking boots required
- Knowledge of maps and use of a compass
- No limits on the altitude gain or length of the trail
- Trail is more technical trails than “red” with a number of streams to cross
- Trail may have long ascents on uneven, exposed paths with technical sections over narrow ridges and smooth rock
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