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Hiking Pulpit Rock, Norway (PULPIT ROCK HIKE GUIDE)

by Lisa Stentvedt
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Is hiking Pulpit Rock on your bucket list? It was on mine for a long, long time – even though I live in Norway and could technically have done the Pulpit Rock hike whenever I wanted to in the past few years. But, it took a pandemic and a few months at home to make me finally head to the Stavanger area to hike Pulpit Rock. And boy, am I glad I finally did! The Pulpit Rock hike (or the Preikestolen hike, if you prefer to use the Norwegian name for it), exceeded my expectations in so many ways, and I am excited to share them all in this guide to hiking Pulpit Rock!

Keep reading for all the information you need about the Pulpit Rock trail, Pulpit Rock parking, a quick guide to where to stay when hiking Pulpit Rock, and the Pulpit Rock hike time (of course)!

Side note: Pulpit Rock is one of several hikes in Norway I recommend (click to read about them all).

Preikestolen/Pulpit Rock is a 7-hour drive from Flåm and Aurland, so if you are planning a trip to Norway and want to do it all, do bear this in mind. We actually made the drive down to the area and back home in two days, so it is definitely doable if you have your base by the Sognefjord (if you do, make sure to get a copy of my travel guide to the area here!) and want to make a quick trip down to do the hike.

Our two days looked like this:

  • Wednesday: drive 7 hours from Aurland to Preikestolen Basecamp, via Odda and the beautiful Hardanger region
  • Stay at one of the cabins at Preikestolen Fjellstue, where dogs are allowed (we brought my friend’s chow-chow)
  • Thursday: get up early for the hike, and make it back down to the trail head by 1pm
  • Drive back home the same way we came
  • Get home by 9pm Thursday night

As you can see; it is definitely doable to hike Preikestolen and still keep your base by the Sognefjord area. But you will need to stay one night there, and I recommend you book this in advance. I dive into more details on the accommodations by Pulpit Rock below, but know that if you want to stay at Preikestolen Basecamp (right at the trail head), you need to book early.

hiking pulpit rock, Norway view
Hiking Pulpit Rock is a Bucket List Item for many people (myself included)!

Pulpit Rock Hike Basics

Let’s start with some of the basics that you need to know before hiking Pulpit Rock. There are so many things people ask before a big hike like this, such as the Pulpit Rock hike time, the length (in kilometres or yards or whatever measurement unit you use), where to find parking and the difficulty of the hike. The latter two I have included in the next section (what you need to know, but first, let’s look at the facts about the hike.

Pulpit Rock Hiking Trail Information

  • Trail length: 4 kilometres each way (or 3,9 to be exact)
  • Height above sea level (trail head): 270 metres above sea level
  • Height above sea level (at the end): 604 metres above sea level
  • Total elevation of the hike: 334 metres (around 1100 feet)
  • Hike difficulty: Red (according to the Norwegian classifications)
  • Trail type: A mix of rocks/steps, pathways over marsh, prepped trails and natural forest trails.
  • Hike time: 2 hours each way
pulpit rock hike, sign
There are plenty of signs along the hike.

Hiking Pulpit Rock: What you need to know

As mentioned above, I want to give you a few pointers and must-knows before you hike. This mainly relates to three common topics people want to discuss when it comes to hiking Pulpit Rock: the amount of people doing the hike, the parking facilities, and the difficulty of the hike.

People

First things first. Yes, the hike gets incredibly busy (especially in the summer months from June to August). I have heard from friends who have hiked when it has been busy (in July) that they did not even go out to the edge of the rock itself, out of fear because there were so many people there. So, if you are afraid of heights, make sure you hike when there are not that many people on the trail (tips on this below!).

Regardless, prepare yourself for a lot of people (this is, after all, one of the most famous hikes in Norway), to avoid yourself the annoyance when you realise you may have to hike in a queue.

Pulpit Rock Parking

Next topic: the parking situation at the Pulpit Rock trail head.

There is a public parking lot (with toilets) at the trail head, where you can park your car for the day while you go on the hike. But, bear in mind that parking is expensive and somewhat limited. In 2020, the cost of parking is 250 kroner per day.

However, parking is free for guests staying at Preikestolen Basecamp (where we stayed). This is one of the reasons I recommend booking a night here before your hike (more below).

Hike difficulty

As mentioned above in the hike facts, the hike is rated as a Red hike by Norwegian standards. In Norway, we rate our hikes from easiest to hardest using the following colours: Green, Blue, Red, Black. So, as you can see, Pulpit Rock has been given the second hardest grading, which requires a certain level of hiking experience.

Personally, I thought the hike would be a lot harder, based on this difficulty. If you watch the video from the hike below, you’ll see that I also say this on-screen. I found the steep bits to be just hard enough to get you out of breath, but then the trail would flatten out so you could catch it again.

Also, if you have seen my video from the Stegastein hike (watch it here), you’ll notice that that hike is also classified as Red. However, it was a lot harder.

Bear in mind that I am Norwegian, and probably have a different view on the difficulty of a hike from someone from the US, for example (thank you to the person who pointed this out on Instagram when I called the Pulpit Rock hike “easy”).

A few Tips for Hiking Pulpit Rock

Before you go, know that main season for hiking is from April to October. Outside of the season, there is snow on the trail/at the top, and in order to safely do the hike I recommend bringing a local guide. From November to March, there are not so many people doing the hike, and you will have the trail (and the Pulpit Rock itself) more to yourself). However, there is limited daylight, and so it is not recommended that you start the hike any later than the below hours.

  • November: start no later than 12:00/noon
  • December and January: start no later than 11:00/11am
  • February: start no later than 12:00/noon
  • March: start no later than 13:00/1pm

In order to avoid the biggest crowds in the summer, I strongly recommend you start the hike before 9am, or even before 8am if you can. The days in June-August are very long, so you can even start the hike at 6am and still have daylight from the get-go. Alternatively, you could hike the night before and camp at the top (about 20 minutes from the top there is a flat area where you can safely pitch a tent).

However, as mentioned before, both to get an early start and avoid the hefty parking fees, I recommend you stay at either the hotel or cabins (or even the hostel) at Preikestolen Basecamp (also called Preikestolen Fjellstue). Book your stay here.

preikestolen hike, view from the top
The views of Lysefjorden from Preikestolen are stunning!

The Pulpit Rock Trail

As mentioned, the trail itself is mixed, and you’ll find yourself walking up steep gravel hills (for the first 10-15 minutes), climbing boulders and rock stairs (several times), strolling across wooden pathways over marshlands, and hiking through forrest trails. I really enjoyed the hike, much because of the variety in it. You barely have time to get tired of the first part of the hike (the gravel trails), before you reach a plateau and you can continue through the forrest in a new type of landscape.

Video from the hike

Of course I brought my camera and GoPro along for the hike in order to make a vlog about the experience! You can check out the video below to get an idea of what it was like to hike Pulpit Rock!

Pulpit Rock Tours

Many people prefer going on a guided hike with a local, experienced hiker when they travel. I completely understand this, and have included a few recommendations for Pulpit Rock hiking tours below, if this is your preference. As mentioned above, if you want to hike in the winter, I recommend bringing a guide along.

Where to stay when hiking Preikestolen

Now, I have mentioned this several times already, but when doing the Preikestolen hike, it is key to get up early and get going before the crowds (unless you are hiking during a pandemic, like me). Therefore, staying near the trail head (or even camping at the top) comes highly recommended.

As there is only one place to stay at the base of the hike, that is where I ended up staying, and where I recommend you stay. Preikestolen Basecamp (also known as Preikestolen Fjellstue and Hostel) offers free parking and breakfast for hikers, and you are able to get a fresh start, ready to take on the hike day.

Side note: make sure to book in advance. As mentioned, this is the only accommodation at the base of the hike, and it books out early.

Final Advice

Thank you for reading all the way through this article on hiking Pulpit Rock, Norway! I know you are going to have an amazing time, and that the hike itself will be worth it. It took us 2 hours, quite exactly, to reach the top, and we were lucky to have hardly any people there (we started the hike at 8am in May). However, on the hike back down, we met couples and families every 20 metres. So, my advice on starting the hike early goes!

We also met families with young children along the trail, so if you are travelling with your family and want to do the Preikestolen hike with children; go ahead! Just plan for a little extra time along the way (I recommend planning for at least 2 hours each way, plus a stop at the top, regardless of whether you are hiking with children or not).

If you want to keep reading, head this way for my top recommendations for hikes in Norway!

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