Nestled in the beautiful Jotunheimen National Park, you find the breathtaking Besseggen Ridge hike. With more than 60.000 tourists every year, it is one of the most famous mountain hikes in Norway. From the Besseggen Ridge, you get an incredible view of the Gjende Lake and Bessvatnet, separated with just this small ridge. In this blog post, we tell you everything you need to know about hiking the Besseggen Ridge and experiencing one of Norway's most famous hikes.
About the hike
6 to 8 hours
Out & Back Trail
Easy - Moderate - Difficult - Expert
Hiking the Besseggen ridge is not for the faint-hearted. It is a long and demanding hike with some steep sections, where you have to climb with your hands and feet. The hike over the ridge is 14,3 kilometer, with a total elevation of around 1100m.
The ‘complete’ Besseggen Ridge hike is a point to point hike between Memurubu and Gjendesheim. To get to Memurubu, you have to take a boat over de Gjende lake. This is what we did and this is the hike we explain further in this blog post.
You can also hike in the other direction from Gjendesheim and take the boat at Memurubu back. We recommend you to take the boat first and start hiking in Memurubu. This way, you do the climbing parts uphill, which we think is safer. Also, if you hike from Gjendesheim to Memurubu, you have to finish your hike before the last return boat at 4.55pm.
It is also possible to make it a loop hike and walk back along the Gjende lake. We heard that it is not recommended to do this in one day. If you want to do this whole loop hike, it is better to take a tent and stay the night along the trail.
There is another alternative loop hike, that does not require the boat either. This hike is 5 kilometer longer than the common Besseggen hike (19,3km) and takes you around the Bessvatnet. During this hike, you also get this impressive view on the two lakes separated by the ridge.
If you want to hike in the direction of Memurubu to Gjendesheim, you first have to take the boat the Memurubu. Here, you start ascending up a steep path between some little trees. During the first 3,5km, you ascend around 500m. It is a tough ascend but you can already enjoy some beautiful views of the surroundings and the Gjende Lake. After this first steep part, ascending and descending start alternating, so you can catch your breath.
After hiking for around two hours, you start getting a good view of the Bessvatnet and the ridge. Before you get to the ridge, you first have to do a quite steep descent to the lake. This lake marks the half-way point of the hike.
Then it is time to start climbing up the real Besseggen Ridge. From afar, it really looks like a super steep and long climb, but we found it just a little less heavy than it looks. Know that the ridge becomes narrower, the higher you get and that certain parts are really steep. You need to use both hands and feet to climb to the top. But once you make it to the top and you turn around, you will see what you did it for. The views of the two lakes separated by the ridge are just truly amazing!
When to hike
The best time to hike the Besseggen Ridge Hike is during summer and fall, from Mid June to mid October. This is also the period the Gjende boats run.
During the high season in July and August and during the weekends, it can get really crowded along the trail. Also the boat fills up quickly. We therefor recommend you to hike in June or September, to really enjoy the beauty of these surroundings.
In winter, the ridge is filled with ice and snow, making it a dangerous place to hike. You can do the hike in the winter, but only during a guided tour with a specialized guide. There may be snow on the trail until early June.
As there are some steep sections and parts that require gripping both hands and feet, this hike is not recommended in bad weather conditions. This hike is best done on a sunny and clear day.
How to get there
The boat between Memurubu and Gjendesheim
If you want to hike the ‘regular’ Besseggen Ridge point to point hike, you have to take a boat to the start or end your hike. We recommend you to first take the boat in Gjendesheim and start your hike in Memurubu. This way, you do the climbing parts uphill.
You have to book your boat tickets on https://www.gjende.no/en/. It is recommended to book your tickets well in advance, as the Besseggen Ridge hike is a very popular hike and the boat fills up quickly.
Long term parking
If you are traveling with a car or campervan and want to do the complete hike, you have to park your car at Reinsvangen. It’s 1,7km from the boat terminal, so you have to take the shuttle or walk an extra 1,7km.
You can find more information and buy your parking and shuttle ticket on https://gjendepark.no/. It is also possible to pay your parking and shuttle ticket at the parking lot, but make sure you arrive in time so you won’t miss your boat.
In the morning, the shuttles drives regularly until the boat leaves. In the afternoon, the shuttle drives back from the boat terminal to the parking lot every half an hour between 3pm and 8pm.
Short term parking
At the Gjende lake, there is also a parking lot, but this is only for short term parking (max 2hours). It is not possible to leave your car here, if you want to hike Besseggen.
Tips & Safety considerations
Important hiking tips!
Wear proper shoes as you'll have to clamber over slippery rocks
There are no facilities along the way, so bring enough food and water with you
Sun protection is a must on sunny days as you'll have to walk a while whitout shelter
The weather in the mountains can change quickly. Always check the weather predictions before you start hiking.
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