Looking for a hike with great views in the south of Norway, we inevitably came across the well-known hike over the Besseggen ridge. The view from up there seems breathtakingly beautiful in the photos. However, since we tend to avoid the tourist crowds, we hesitate. Looking for alternatives to the tour on the Besseggen ridge, I eventually find Knutshøe. The tour is about 14.2 kilometers long as a round trip and you don’t need a boat transfer. So we are completely independent and can go at our own pace.
Hike up Knutshøe
|Length||About 14.2 km, depending on the parking lot you take|
|Altitude meters||About 560 m up and down again|
|Parking||The parking lot is quite small, a second parking lot is located about 1 kilometer away. Parking along the street is also possible.|
|Walking direction||First up Knutshøe and then back through the valley. That way you always walk in the direction of the great view. Looking back is worth it anyway!|
|Walking time||Knutshøe is also a busy place! The next morning (Saturday) we saw a long queue of more than 20 people forming at the first climbing spot. Avoid the weekend, the high season or switch to the afternoon. Then you have the path almost for yourself.|
|Hiking with a dog||Two tricky climbs, one right at the beginning and one just before the summit. Your dog will need support there. Only for experienced dog-human teams or dogs that can be carried well in a backpack.|
Starting the day with a gloomy weather outlook
By the way, our pace means that we are always a little later in the morning. Getting up early is not our thing, especially not on vacation. And so we are still sitting at the breakfast table in the camper around 12 o’clock, looking up at the dull, rainy sky. Actually the weather was supposed to be better. We ask ourselves whether the tour makes sense today at all. Well first of all we pack everything together and drive the 20 minutes that still separate us from the trails parking lot. And these 20 minutes of driving really make the difference. When we arrive, the sky just clears up.
Insider tip Knutshøe? Obviously not – the parking lot is already crowded when we arrive
However, the parking lot is now – around 1:30 pm – already completely full of cars. Even on the side of the road the cars are parked. We return to a second parking lot located one kilometer back on the road. From here the tour is about 1.5 kilometers longer, but we have a good parking here. We quickly pack up a few things and around 2 pm we start.
The tour is listed with 5-6 hours hiking time and the sun sets now in early September around 8:30 pm. Well, that should be good. The Knutshøe is already completely visible from the parking lot and the ridge looks impressive from down here. We quickly reach the foot of the mountain and from now on it’s uphill.
A dog on the Knutshøe – I wonder if that’ s a good idea?
On the Internet, by the way, I have read different opinions about whether you can do the trail over Knutshøe with dogs. From “any dog can do it without problems” to “anyone who takes a dog here is an animal torturer” I have read everything. We therefore will make an opinion of our own.
Shortly after going uphill, we reach the first crux, where there is a small climbing section. Even as a human you should now be free of vertigo. However, those who are and remain calm will not encounter any major problems here. For Lando, though, it’s a different story. While Manuel guides him from above, I support him by pushing him up from below.
What may sound easy here was actually quite tricky. My knees were pretty wobbly after the short climb with Lando. Please consider well whether you want to go on this tour with a dog. He should be a confident climber who trusts you and keeps calm. Alternatively, we know people who take smaller dogs in their backpacks in these situations.
The ridge of Knutshøe is easy to walk on
After the climbing section, we continue to climb gently. The ridge is not particularly narrow at any point, so that the tour is easy apart from the climbing sections. However, we do not see the summit for a long time, and a new hilltop awaits us after each one we climbed. Before the actual summit, the trail descends several meters before it becomes very steep again.
During the last meters before the summit, the second climbing spot awaits us. Shortly before we meet three Norwegians who are amazed that we have made it up here with Lando. They themselves somehow managed to avoid the first climbing spot. Despite their explanation and a later look at the map, we do not know exactly which way they took. By the way, the three of them remain the only people we meet on this tour.
Climbing with a dog requires some practice
But back to the second climbing spot. This one seems much more exposed to me, here you can fall a few meters if you’re not careful. And unlike the section at the beginning, this one is a bit longer, so that we are both standing in the wall at the same time and Lando in the middle. Lando stays super calm and lets us guide him to exactly the right spots. While Manuel continues to climb, he stays seated. Then I climb a bit closer to him, looking for a safe place to stand, and help Lando to climb up. From above, Manuel secures him.
After about a quarter of an hour, we have also mastered the second climbing section, but a pocket-sized dog would certainly have been more practical here. A few more steps and then we stand on the summit! The view of the turquoise blue Gjende on one side and the river Øvre Leirungen and the Leirungsdalen with the river delta is impressive. In addition, the sun shines brightly and we definitely do not need the warm clothes we brought.
After the summit the way back is simple
While slowly descending on the other side of the ridge, you can also take a similar photo as on the Besseggen ridge: here, too, you can see two lakes separated only by a narrow piece of rock. However, I find the river delta in the fall colors even more impressive than the photos I’ve seen of the Besseggen ridge. But each of the two tours is probably worthwhile, since the views are still different.
After three and a half hours of ascent, the way back is actually very fast. We are back at the camper in time for sunset and need only two and a half hours from the summit to here. The path through the valley is easy to walk but definitely worth looking around. While the lake lies smooth and crystal clear in front of us in the soft evening light, the sun slowly sets in our backs and bathes the mountains in a mystical light!
Start and finish is a parking lot right next to the road FV 51. A little further there is another larger and better paved parking lot, which is well marked. However, when we wanted to hike it was crowded.
We often read in the description of walks, which run on wide field paths, that mandatory surefootedness and good condition are necessary. Even though this is mentioned far too often and almost inflationary in our eyes, at least surefootedness is required for the hike over the ridge of Knutshøe. Also a certain basic fitness is helpful. There are 560 meters of ascent and descent. In parts the trail is so steep that it turns into easy climbing.
We have successfully walked the trail with Lando. So it is definitely possible to do this trail with a dog. However, you should be a good dog-human team: Lando needed our support in the climbing sections and it only worked because he trusts us absolutely in such passages. A dog that panics can become a serious danger for himself and others.