Besseggen Ridge in Jotunheimen
Besseggen is one of Norway's most popular mountain classics. Some would argue that it is a must-do hike for all Norwegians. An estimated 60,000 people walk the Besseggen ridge every year. The green waters of the Gjende lake, cradled amidst the steep mountains of the majestic Jotunheimen National Park, create the perfect scenery. Bessvatnet lake, on the opposite side of the ridge, is considered to be Norway's clearest lake, where you can see as far as 30 meters below the surface of the water.
It is possible to walk the Besseggen ridge in both directions. You can either start westward at Gjendeosen or take the Gjende boat to Memurubu and trek eastward back to Gjendeosen. Lots of people come here during high season. During low season and on weekdays, it is not so busy and you can enjoy the tranquility of nature and the stunning surroundings.
News for summer 2017: You have to book your ticket on the Gjende Boat in advance. Some departures are already sold out, so order your tickets as soon as possible. Buy ticket here!
Besseggen with guide: Gjendeguiden can guide you to a safe trip.
How long does the hike take?
Most people need between 6 and 8 hours to walk Besseggen, including breaks. Besseggen is a long hike with a rise of nearly 1,000 meters. Even though certain parts of the hike might require some scrambling, most hikers will not experience any difficulties.
When is the best time of the year to walk Besseggen? In the winter time, the ridge is filled with snow and ice, and it´s often snow on the ridge to middle of june. A normal the season for Besseggen are when the Gjende Boat is running, from middle of June to middle of October.
Fear of heights?
What do you do if you discover that you afraid of heights? Many before you have had this experience. You can turn around on the ridge and hike back to Memurubu or follow a trail along the Bessvatnet Lake to Bessheim or Gjendesheim. You can also find someone who will help you focus on the trail and not on the height. After you have reached the top of the ridge, there is nothing else to fear. From the highest peak Veslfjellet, you start descending to Gjendesheim.
What to bring?
- Mountain footwear
- Spare socks
- Basic first aid kit
- Blister band aids
- Thermal wear
- Wind and waterproof jacket and trousers
- Gloves and cap
- Drink (at least 1 liter)
- Packed lunch
- Map and compass / GPS
- Candy for good spirits
- Camera for “been-there-done-that” photos
- Cash or bank card for the boat and souvenirs
Accommodation, transportation and meals
All three tourist cabins Gjendesheim, Memurubu and Gjendebu lie on the banks of the Gjende lake and suit well as starting points for the hike. Besseggen Mountain Park, Maurvangen with camping and cabin rental facilities is another suitable accommodation for Besseggen hikers. There is a bus connection between Reinsvangen, Gjendeosen and the Gjende boat jetty. If you choose to stay at Bessheim, you can decide whether you want to drive to Gjendeosen first or hike all the way.
You will find some unique accommodations if you follow the Sjodalen valley toward Vågå. Nordre Ekre Gardshotell in Heidal offers packages, which include accommodation, meals, maps and tickets to the Gjende boat. The parking area at Gjendeosen is often full during the peak season. In this case, you can use the shuttle service from the Reinsvangen Parking area. When you stay at Gjendesheim, you get free parking at the tourist cabin. Another option is taking an express bus (Valdresekspressen) to Reinsvangen/Maurvangen.
The Gjende Boat at Gjendeosen operates throughout the summer offering shuttle service between Gjendesheim, Memurubu and Gjendebu. As it may get very busy during peak season, it is advisable to arrive early or book tickets in advance.
Other options near Besseggen
In addition to Besseggen, the area offers countless opportunities for hiking, fishing and biking on dry trails and roads. There is a trail bike rental at Gjendesheim.
Check out the following hiking trips near Besseggen:
Walking trail along the Gjende lake
A beautiful trail following the banks of the Gjende lake under the steep mountainsides of Besseggen is an easier alternative for children and adults who think that Besseggen might be too challenging or too scary. The trail follows the up-and-down terrain, yet it is an easy 3-4 hours walk. There is considerable vegetation along the trail, lots of great fishing spots and fine picnic areas with breathtaking views. Sometimes, it is just as enjoyable to look up at the mountains as it is to look down from them and this route is proof of that.
Jo Gjende Trail
Less known is the spectacular Jostigen trail, winding up from the Gjende lake to the middle of the Besseggen ridge. The trail follows the remnants of an old path that the famous Norwegian outdoorsman Jo Gjende took when he hunted reindeer high in the mountains. The path has some very steep passages and is physically demanding. It is recommended to those who are used to hiking in steep terrain.
From Gjendesheim, follow the path along the lake. It takes about 1½ hours, before the trail starts winding upward away from Gjende. After 500 meters of scrambling, you reach the main trail that goes over Besseggen. The hike takes about 6 hours.
Walk on the other side of the Gjende Lake. Enjoy the view over the water and watch a line of hikers ascend Besseggen. The trail is not marked. It is therefore recommended to have a map of the area or to bring along a guide. There is some scrambling to do before one reaches the ridge. It is possible to either take the same way back or follow the ridge down towards Leirungsåi. From there, one can either turn left towards Øvre Leirungen or right following the path to Gjendeosen. The trail is not explicitly marked, yet easily distinguishable. It takes 5-6 hours for the circuit and two hours less for the return trip.