When summer hits in Norway, all bets are off. You're welcome to roam the lands under allemansretten ("the freedom to roam"), picking blueberries and camping where you see fit, but there's also a handful of epic trails you may wish to stick to on your journey. Some explore different countries, some explore different centuries — let's dive in.
If there's any region in Norway that's most well-known for epic hiking, it's likely Trollheimen, the land of the trolls. Southwest of Trondheim, picture glacial-carved valleys, crystal blue lakes, soaring, snow-capped mountains, and lush greenery as far as the eye can see. Think the grandeur of Glacier or Banff National Parks — but your only company is your backpack.
You'll start off in Oppdal. Here, check the weather, pack your belongings, and get ready (if there's time, head to Vang, one of the largest Viking cemeteries in existence). Then, hop in the car for a quick drive to Storlidalen — you're now in the heart of Trollheimen. On a gravel road, you'll head toward Lake Tovatna and the marked trail to Kårvatn, surrounded by mountains the entire way. Once the sun starts to "set," you'll be near your cabin in Kårvatn.
Day two is when you start tackling some elevation. On the trail toward Todalen, you'll climb up Bjøråskaret — steep, sure, but even the most expert hikers will want to stop plenty to take in this view: The Innerdalen valley is widely regarded as being the most picturesque valley in the entire country. You'll then descend into this lush greenery, ending at the summer farm, Rennsdølsetra.
Day three is the ultimate kicker (even more beautiful than the previous two). You start down low in the marshier areas, climbing up through the gate of Innerdalen and to your highest peak: Meskaret. From there, you'll be able to see 12 miles deep into the Storlidalen valley. Then it's back to Lake Tovatna (on the other side); the trek ends here, though if you wish, you can take another day to climb the nearby tower of Innerdalstårnet.
Duration: 3-4 days
Hiking from Finland to Norway's Arctic
Hiking in the Arctic Circle during summer, the never-setting sun having no say over your movement, the wilderness of multiple countries untouched and pristine — this is a trip of superlatives. Starting in the remote village of Kilpisjärvi, Finland, you'll spend the first couple of days crossing the Arctic tundra (think less Antarctica and more above-the-treeline in Rocky Mountain National Park).
And then you come upon a green oasis, a low valley of lakes, forests of birch, and berries ripe for the picking. Take your moment of respite, as the terrain turns rocky on the approach to Finland's highest peak, Halti. But your motivation likely won't wane, as what lies just beyond is Norway and a descent into the valley.
Once in the valley toward Goulasjávri, it's a quick drive to the Lyngenfjord to recap and relax. Though, for the record, Reisa National Park isn't far away. Should you wish to continue, Nordkalottleden goes through here — we'll discuss that trek in a bit — and the entire park landscape is dotted with spectacular waterfalls, river-carved canyons, and even Stone Age rock art.
Duration: 6-8 days
Hiking Finland to Norway to Sweden
Hiking across Scandinavia is the kind of thing you put on your resume. It also starts out in Kilpisjärvi, Finland, quickly blazing a trail through Malla Strict Nature Reserve and around the end of Lake Goldajärvi. You'll pass river gorge after river gorge, eventually coming upon the Insdalen Valley.
From here, the elevation gains slowly (no steep ascents!). You'll be beneath cliffs on all sides, snow high in the hills, and mountain streams all around. Rostahytta cabin is your destination for the night, and then it's a day through wide open valley plains. That is, until you reach the shadows of Pältsa (you're in Sweden now!), a peak raising around 5,000 feet into the air. Your next cabin (Pältsastugan) has a sauna, so soak in the steam before heading back up the fell to Lake Kilpisjärvi. A quick jaunt across the tundra and you're back to real life — or just stay in Kilpisjärvi. No one would blame you.
Duration: 7 days
Hiking the Nordkalottleden
Find the Appalachian Trail too mundane? Try hiking the Nordkalottleden, the northernmost hiking trail in all of Europe, entirely within the Arctic Circle. It's just under 500 miles of wild and desolate terrain, crisscrossing borders 15 times through Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Wide valleys of birch and pine rise to barren plateaus which fall to mountain streams and lakes, from Kautokeino (Finnmark, Northern Norway) to the south in Sulitjelma (Norway) or Kvikkjokk (Sweden) — your choice as to your final destination. The trail also passes through four national parks: Øvre Dividal National Park, Reisa National Park, Abisko National Park, and Padjelanta National Park.
A handful of other distinguished trails are part of this route, like the Nordlandsruta, the Nordkalott, the Padjelantaleden, and the Kungsleden. Because of all this interconnectedness, you're going to find cabins studding the entire path. Most are going to be unstaffed (so bring your own food!)—but along the parts that intersect with Kungsleden and Padjelantaleden, staffed cabins are common, along with meals and available provisions. For research purposes, know that the respective assocations for each country are the DNT, the STF, and the Finnish Forest Administration.
Duration: Up to 45 days
Hiking the St. Olav's Ways
Want a side of history with that hike? The St. Olav's Ways have that in spades. They're a series of pilgrim paths, all leading to the Nidaros cathedral in Trondheim. The concept has been around for 1,000 years, and while it's rooted in religion (Christians the world over used to make this journey), now people take on the trek for any number of reasons — similar to the Camino de Santiago, but far less well-known. You could do it for the education, for the endless wild scenery, for yourself, for God. Whichever you choose, it'll be an incredibly personal experience regardless.
The six paths total over 2,000 kilometers, or nearly 1,250 miles. You don't have to do every inch! It's not one continuous line; some paths start in Oslo, others in Lillehammer, Dovrefjell, or on the Swedish border. You'll traverse open terrain, of course (this is Norway we're talking about), but you'll also stumble upon ancient villages, small farms, and centuries of lore. With such distance, it should be obvious that you'll get a taste of everything: the agricultural Hamar region (stop at the glass cathedral of Hamar, if you can), the Gudbrandsdalen valley, the mighty Dovre mountain plateau, the deep woods of Trøndelag, and the quaint — often historic — farms, cabins, and inns along the way. (Hint: Take a short-and-tasty detour to search for "moose tacos" at the Budsjord farm in the Gudbrandsdalen valley.)
St. Olav's Day is July 29th, and those with interest in the pilgrimage often aim for this day. You, of course, can take it on whenever you like (though summer is obviously recommended). The Nidaros Cathedral — the burial site of St. Olav — is open year-round.
Duration: Around a month