Vettisfossen is a wild amount of water free falling 275m to the rocks below. Understandably, you can hear it before you see it! The waterfalls itself was wonderful to see, but adsorbing the whole landscape together left me stunned. Majestic waterfalls and vibrant greens makes you think that darfs and giants could walk out at any second.
There is plenty to keep you occupied and intrigued along this hike! It can be a whole day affair if you choose to explore the other trails. First there is the museum at the trail head (remember to bring a few kroners to donate!), then there is the incredible story and hike up to Avdal Guard which was a farm abandoned in 1962 and then restored as a tourist cabin (accommodates up to 22 pers).
As for the smaller waterfalls along the route, there are almost too many to count! One that stands out (maybe because it was also boosting a rainbow that day) is Avdalfossen. Perfect spot to dip your feet if you’re brave enough for those ice cold waters.
This is a long, hard, but extremely rewarding hike.
Once in Øvre Årdal, there is signage directing you towards Vettisfossen. You’re looking for Utladalsvegen road which follows the river. The first impressively large waterfalls you see on the right of the road is Hjellefossen. Continue past this waterfalls until you reach a small parking lot at the end of the road. Do not parking in the staff parking (like we accidentally did) or along the narrow road. To make sure you get a spot, arrive early (prior to 9am).
The overview is that from the parking lot you’re going to continue on a clearly marked path through a ridiculously stunning valley for approximately 6.5kms to reach the base of the waterfalls. There will also be opportunities to split off to hike up to Avdalen farm and the top of Vettisfossen.
Alright, let break down this hike. Starting at the parking lot, there are two useful bits of information to take note of. The first is the length and approximate hiking time for each trail. Note that these are what I call ‘Norwegian Hiking Times’ and maybe, just maybe, you should factor in additional time. The second is the big white board that indicates how many bridges (and their names) you’ll cross on the trail to Vettifossen.
The trailhead is at the first little bunch of buildings where there is the museum describing the land and culture, along with washrooms and cafe. Continuing forward, we hiked the obvious trail that followed the river at the base of the valley. The trail itself is more of a wide gravel/dirt road that is relative flat and very easy to walk. On this trail you’ll pass multiple waterfalls on the left of the valley…it’s hard not to take-all-the-pictures. The whole area is lush green and the waters are a gorgeous bright aqua. There are information placards along the way describing multiple points of interest – read them! It’s interesting. Once you pass the last listed bridge (I wish I still had that picture to share), you get to a portion of the trail that is paved. This is where we thought that the waterfalls was just around the corner, ha ha, but nope.
Continue along this path until you reach a few houses, that cluster of red buildings up above is where the trail splits but first you have to follow the switchbacks to get there. Once there, at the little guard house, the left trail running along the fence is to the base of Vettisfossen and the trail on your right is to hike up the top. We chose the base for a full view of the waterfalls. This is where the trail gets rocky in spots and steeper in elevation and dips. There are guide ropes along certain sections to help you along. Once you veer back into the bushes/trees, the base of the waterfalls will quickly come into view. It is magnificent in my mind. Let me know if you agreed! Pictures simply do not this place justice.