Hiking Preikestolen, more commonly known as “Pulpit Rock,” is one of the most popular things to do in Norway. Nothing was going to stand in the way of completing this hike.
Here are the visitor numbers for Preikestolen. Visiting numbers were even high during the pandemic.
With that level of popularity comes many questions.
Is it best to hike early or late? What happens if there aren’t any parking spaces available? Is the difficulty rating one that is “true to size” or has it been inflated because of the wide range of hiking ability?
We drove from Stavanger to Preikestolen. It was a quick 50-minute drive to the lower parking lot.
The drive took us through a subsea two-tunnel system called Ryfast.
The Hundvag Tunnel connects Stavanger to the island of Hundvag. It’s a medium-length tunnel by Norwegian standards, measuring 5.5 kilometers (3.4 miles) long.
After passing through that tunnel, we “came up for air” on the island and then descended into the longest and deepest underwater road tunnel in the world.
The Ryfylke Tunnel is 14.4 kilometers (8.9 miles) long and connects the island of Hundvag to the village of Tau. It was the longest tunnel we drove through in Norway.
These tunnels are newish, having opened in April 2020 and December 2019, respectively. The Hundvag Tunnel helped ease bridge congestion and the Ryfylke Tunnel omitted the need to take a ferry (woo hoo!).
It was smooth sailing once we reached Tau and before we knew it, we were at the parking lot.
Protip: There is a Spar supermarket in Jørpeland, about 10 minutes before the parking lot when coming from Stavanger.
Parking and trailhead amenities
There are upper and lower parking lots at Preikestolen and it’s important to know which parking lot your car is parked in. The parking lots are far apart and there are trails from each parking lot that join to form one trail to Preikestolen.
On the return journey from the top, the trail Ys and if you don’t know which parking lot your car is parked in, you may end up doing a lot of extra hiking.
The upper parking lot is the first parking lot we approached on our drive to Preikestolen. I wasn’t aware that there were two parking lots when we left Stavanger for Preikestolen so I was confused at first.
We glanced in the upper parking lot and it looked like its main clientele was campervans so we continued driving to the lower parking lot. The lower parking lot is where the amenities are located (information kiosk, toilets, cafe, and gift shop).
Coach buses also use the lower parking lot as their ‘bus station’.
Protip: The lower parking lot is preferred, however, because it is lower in elevation, it requires more uphill hiking to get to the top.
The parking lot scanned the license plate upon entry and we followed the one-way IKEA labyrinth and found a parking space.
Note: We visited Preikestolen at the end of June, arriving at 10:30am. There were plenty of spaces available when we arrived and when we left.
The lower parking lot has a capacity for 1,000 vehicles but as we drove through the myriad of connecting lots, I wasn’t sure if there was a capacity for 500 vehicles much less 1,000 vehicles.
The parking fee was 250 NOK and was paid at the payment machine near the information kiosk before exiting the parking lot. We paid by credit card and I’m not sure if cash or VIPPS payments are accepted.
Note: The current exchange rate between NOK and USD is about 10:1, so, 250 NOK is about $25 USD.
Upon exiting, the license plate was scanned again and the barrier arm lifted when the payment was confirmed.
Protip: Take a photo of your license plate number because it needs to be entered when paying.
All proceeds from the parking fee cover staffing and infrastructure projects and this place has undergone a lot of infrastructure projects in recent years.
For this hike, I recommend proper hiking shoes and hiking poles. This hike could be done in trainers/athletic shoes but I wouldn’t recommend it because the rocks can be slippery.
As for hiking poles, they just make hiking easier by turning humans into mountain goats, so buy yourself a pair!
We filled up on a big breakfast at our hotel and then immediately drove to Preikestolen.
The breakfast was enough to carry me through the hike. After the hike, I devoured a piece of leftover pizza that we’d brought with us and had left in the car. It was enough food to satisfy my hunger but more food would have been better.
The hike is 8 km (5 miles) roundtrip and was estimated to take 4-5 hours which is overstated in my opinion. It took us two and a half hours roundtrip, not including time at the top.
Traffic on the trail was medium and due to the wide range of hiking ability and pace, we sometimes got caught in long queues behind hikers moving at a slower pace.
The hike was mostly uphill and the uphill began immediately at the parking lot with a steep gravel road.
The elevation gain of this hike is 500 m / 1,640 ft and that includes the extra uphill required after a few short downhill sections.
Most of the incline work was done via stone steps or by scrambling up rocks. My hiking poles came in handy, turning me from a two-legged human into a four-legged mountain goat.
There were a couple flat sections that were paved with stone pavers or wooden walkways. The section right before the outcrop was also flat. All are great examples of the infrastructure that’s been put in place to make this hike accessible to the masses.
One of my favorite things about this hike were the distance markers. We always knew how far we’d hiked and how far we had to go.
We hiked much faster than I anticipated, especially considering how I struggled on a much less difficult hike two days prior.
I didn’t know how many people to expect at the outcrop. The parking lot was not full and there wasn’t that much traffic on the trail but it was anybody’s guess as to what was waiting for us at the top.
We turned the corner and the outcrop came into view. I was pleased with the number of people. It wasn’t too crowded.
I walked to the edge of the outcrop to see the view of Lysefjord. Peter stayed back on the ledge due to his fear of heights. I made friends with a dog who I believed to be a social media influencer and a dad/son duo who asked me to take their photo (they also believed the dog was an influencer).
As always, the view did not disappoint.
When I turned around to find Peter, I noticed that there was actually a queue of people on the outcrop, patiently waiting their turn to take a photo at the corner.
Not only did I not notice this queue when we got to the outcrop, but I also walked through it to get to the edge of the outcrop.
I found Peter and he said he had a protip for me. I was all ears.
He said that observed a couple where the woman stood in the queue and the man stood on the ledge near where Peter was sitting.
When it was the woman’s turn for a photo in the corner of the outcrop, she handed her phone to the person behind her in the queue. Once her photo was taken, she turned toward the ledge, and her co-hiker took her photo.
It was a genius 2-4-1 photo op and so we copycatted it.
I joined the queue and made a deal with the couple in front of me to take their photo in return for taking a photo of me. Peter stayed on the ledge and waited for my turn.
Preikestolen is shaped like the letter L. Below is a mostly accurate rendering I created of Preikestolen to help explain this photo protip.
Mostly accurate rendering legend:
- Yellow arrow = trail leading to Preikestolen
- Blue wavy lines = fjord water
- X = spot where a person stands to get their photo taken
- 1 = person in the photo-taking queue who takes a photo of X
- 2 = co-hiker of X who also takes a photo of X
Our plan went off without a hitch except I forgot to tell person #1 that Peter (#2) was on the ledge and that he would also be taking photos of me.
When it was my turn, I walked to the X and faced person #1. When I felt #1 had enough time to snap enough photos, I turned 90° and faced the ledge so that Peter could take photos of me.
My 90° swivel completely confused person #1 and, guys, he was such a good human. He kept taking photos of me even though he was probably like what is she doing and am I supposed to be taking photos of her sideways?
Below is a photo of me from Peter’s (#2) vantage point on the ledge. The other person in the photo who is standing is person #1 (aka good human).
After I felt like Peter had enough time to snap enough photos, I walked back to person #1. I assumed person #1 had figured out that there was someone on the ledge taking photos of me so I didn’t even explain myself which was a little regrettable. I thanked him and we went our separate ways.
I met back up with Peter and took a few more photos and then we began our descent to the parking lot. Traffic on the trail coming up to the top seemed heavier than it did when we hiked up.
This hike gets a difficulty rating of 4/10.
It took us 76 minutes to hike up (outbound) and 80 minutes to hike down (return).
Unlike our prior hikes, I tracked the outbound and return hikes separately.
I did not take any photos on the outbound journey and we didn’t stop on our way up. All photos were taken on the return journey which overstated the time by 15 minutes or so.
What we’d do differently
What would we do differently if we were to do our hike over again?
Below is a list of resources we used to prep for the hike.
|Norway’s weather forecasting system||Link|
|Wikipedia – Preikestolen||Link|
|AllTrails – Preikestolen||Link|
|Visit Norway – Preikestolen||Link|
Next: our hike to Kjeragbolten.