Trolltunga holds a very special place in my heart, for many different reasons. It was the place of many firsts for me; my first tough multiday trekking with a very (!) heavy backpack, my first frostbite and my very first business idea. It was like nothing I had ever seen before in Europe and it gave me a sense of what the world must’ve looked like before humans walked the surface. The whole experience was almost mythical; with extreme cold, lingering darkness and rolling mist over the dramatic backdrops. Trolltunga truly was an unspoiled and enchanted awakening for me.
The first time I traveled to Norway was in 2018; my boyfriend at the time, our two dogs and I were drawn to the apparent unparalled freedom of the country. We considered ourselves to be pretty fit and knowledgable at the time (spoileralert: we weren’t) but reading all the warnings about the demanding character of Nowegian trails kinda scared us into adopting a fairly heavy training regime in advance. So we spent several paychecks on ‘Scandinavia – proof’ gear (cried at the register), hiked countless of stairways with our ridiculously heavy backpacks and unknowingly set out for the adventure of a lifetime.
Trolltunga is without a doubt the most spectacular rock formation in Norway. The ‘Trolltongue’ has become a desired hiking destination with its vertical drop of 700 meters above the Ringedalsvatnet Lake. However, it is also one of the most challenging hiking destinations in the world. Many people underestimate the demanding level of this hike and suffer from exhaustion, hypothermia or worse because of it. Apparently rescues are said to be performed on a regular basis so make sure both you and your dog are up for the challenge. I didn’t see any other dogs on the trail at the time and many people told me that they weren’t even sure if it was possible. I’m here to tell you that it is! But preparation and vigilance is key!
On this trail you’ll cross countless roaring waterfalls and rivers, ascend about 1000m on steep mountain ridges and might find yourself some snow and ice on the trail, even during summer. We had to cross several sketchy suspension bridges so make sure your dog is used to walking over wire. The trail consists of several strenuous climbs over boulders, slippery granite and rough terrain. I didn’t have to use dogboots; even though it is fairly rugged, most of the trail consists of granite slopes so you’ll find it isn’t too hard on their feet.
Water and weather
Be aware that mountainareas can create their own weathersystem that is very hard to predict. The weather can change quickly and even in summertime temperatures can suddenly drop. I had read all the warnings at the time and I thought I was well prepared but Trolltunga proved me otherwise. We were there in August and we went through several cycles of every season in a matter of hours. I think I changed my outfit 86 times on the way up; going from a warm summerday to a fullblown winterstorm and back in the blink of an eye. Even though I never experienced so much cold and rain on a trekking in my life, it didn’t bother me at all. The rain seemed to fit the country so well, like it complemented its mythical landscapes and accentuated the daunting desolation.
The trail offers no shade or protection whatsoever; so be aware that both you and your dog are completely exposed to the elements every step of the way. You’ll pass many rivers and waterfalls so there’s no need to carry a whole lot of extra water; you can just refill it as you run out. There is also plenty of opportunity for your dog to cool off in the abundant glacial rivers so even though there is no shade, the hike should be fairly doable for your dog in case of warm weather.
Camping at Trolltunga
Trolltunga doesn’t offer any adjacent mountain huts or cabins. So if you wish to fully experience the beauty of Trolltunga and stay overnight, you’re going to have to bring your own tent and camp out in the mountains.
I severly underestimated the temperature at night and never considered the possibility that Nova might get cold as well. I completely overlooked the fact that when her coat gets wet, it takes about a full day to dry. Needless to say Norway was a whole new level of wet. She had been swimming and we suffered heavy rainfall along the way so by the time the temperatures started to drop she was still soaking wet.
The temperatures dropped far below zero that night and both Nova and I severely suffered. We troubleshooted our way through the night and I ended up wrapping her in our insulated cooking blanket. Apparently this was enough to stop her from shivering relentlessly so she comfortably fell asleep after all. Meanwhile I woke up with black blisters on my fingers the next day which turned out to be mild frostbite. Lesson learned.
There is plenty of information available on what to bring for yourself on this demanding trail. You’ll notice that most of the websites and blogs emphasize the difficulty of the trail and will repeatedly warn you. Take these recommendations seriously! The thrillseeker in me tends to take these kinds of warnings with a grain of salt but after having experienced the harsh environment of Trolltunga myself I can only attest to the truth of these warnings. However, you probably won’t find any recommendations on what doggear to bring on this trip so hopefully I can provide you with some knowledge on that topic. Based on my experiences I would strongly advice the use of the following three items for your dog:
Protect your dog from the cold, hard rocks with an insulated sleepingpad. This will also reduce the chance of them trying to climb on your expensive sleep system in the middle of the night and destroying it in the proces.
There are a lot of expensive lightweight dogmatrasses on the market but an insulated foam sleeping pad will do just fine.
Protect your dog from getting soaking wet on the trail. You are guaranteed of rain in Norway and your dog will probably not be dry in time before bedtime. A rainjacket also prevents them from basically flooding your tent.
After this trip I bought a non – insulated Ruffwear rain jacket. It provides a lot of coverage and is also usable in warmer climates.
The sleepingpad and raincoat might suffice for keeping your dog warm at night. However, if you have a dog that tends to get cold easily, make sure to bring a jacket for them as well.
Ruffwear offers several jackets designed for mountain conditions. Nowadays I use a water- and windproof jacket to protect her from the harsh elements.
Final wolftrail rating
The views of the trail definitely allow for a 5 – star rating. However, the strenuous character of the trail and the harsh weather might pose a challenge for some dogs. However, with some preparation and management this trail makes for a highly recommended 4 – star experience that is definitely suitable for physically fit dogs