Towering 604 metres above the stunning Lysefjord, the first time I saw the Pulpit Rock on Instagram, I knew I MUST get there. In fact, a huge part of my first Norwegian trip was centered around this hike in Preikestolen, other than visiting Bergen and doing Norway In A Nutshell (the most overwhelming day I had in Norway!)!
Pulpit Rock in Norway – Everyone flocks to hike it
Pulpit Rock, also known as Preikestolen, draws 300,000 visitors each year. Even if you divide that number by 365 days, without considering that Preikestolen actually is not hiking season all year round, or when Tom Cruise needed to be there filming for a new Mission Impossible movie, it’s still a large number of people up on that mountain each day.
8.35am: Starting the hike to Preikestolen!
Being extra paranoid about crowds, my friends and I decided to go very early – even earlier than the first available buses.
From the map, you can see that there’re 3 elevations from the beginning that will be more challenging, before the path becomes easier at the end.
Pulpit Rock is supposed to be a relatively easy hike..
I tried finding information online before going, but couldn’t find enough about Pulpit Rock’s hike difficulty. My fit friend, Caroline (The Travelling Sloth), reassured me that the hike will be fine.
You can see it’s always these two people leading the way, while my other girlfriend and I struggled behind 😂
9.05am – reaching the first viewpoint!
After huffing and puffing and wondering what I’ve gotta all of us into, we conquered the first challenging elevation and reached the first viewpoint! By now, I’ve taken off my winter jacket. Look at this lake view, our first reward!
The hiking trail at Pulpit Rock was made possible by Nepalese sherpas.
For years, Nepalese sherpas have been helping to restore/rebuild the trail with giant rocks and slabs. All thanks to them, even us, the unfit travelers, can hike up to Pulpit Rock. Have you ever thought about how they got the rocks there? Each piece of rock on your trail carried much effort and skills.
To be sure you’re on the right trail, look out for the red “T” marked along the way. You’ll also see little signposts telling how far you’ve come, and how far away the summit is. The trail is 6km each way.
From hiking Pulpit Rock, I realized I don’t really have a problem hiking big steps upwards! It must be #thighpower from Warrior yoga poses 😄
Then this flat trail!
More steps again.. You can see the snake-shaped flat path at the back! This is the steepest part of the hiking trail.
You know what’s the most frustrating part about the hike? I’ll be hiking and congratulating myself silently that I’m going strong, stepping up huge stones continuously. Then I’ll look up and see Caroline sitting relaxedly on a huge rock, way up above where I was, waiting for the rest of us to reach. 😠
There’s a pool.. sometimes, people set up their tents over here, according to my friend who has hiked Preikestolen many times.
First peek at the stunning Lysefjord!
I know the photo above looked quite like it, but nope, that’s NOT the popular spot you’re hoping to reach. The famous plateau is just a bit further up. Ps that girl with the backpack = Caroline, so far away ahead yet again 😠
10:50am: Reached the peak at Pulpit Rock!
After 2 hours of hiking, here we are at the peak of Pulpit Rock. I was delighted to finally be there in person! There wasn’t much of a crowd yet, thankfully.
It’s a pretty flat plateau, which makes this an excellent location for photos. To get to the edge, I sat down, leaned a bit backward, then inched my butt slowly towards the edge. Just be very careful.
I don’t have a phobia of heights, yet I found it pretty terrifying to be sitting so precariously at the edge! I did lean forward to see, just a little bit, before freezing in position so my friend can help me take photos from the opposite cliff.
You can go even higher
You can hike even higher up than this plateau. With the help of my friends (I have #ShortGirlProblems), we managed to pull our asses up! It was more quiet at the top. We sat and had snacks, enjoying the magnificent view. It was windy up there and soon enough, I had to put on my winter jacket again.
Is Pulpit Rock difficult to hike?
Firstly, the answer is relative to a person’s fitness level. I’m not very fit, but I’m healthy, with good limbs. If you’d read enough of my blog, you’ll also know I keep up with a regular yoga practice, so I’m not that unfit as well. I don’t do gym, I don’t run, and I don’t do any sports that require a lot of stamina.
Many articles defined Pulpit Rock as a “moderately easy hike”, while on Visit Norway, they defined it as “moderately demanding”.
I would say hiking Preikestolen is definitely NOT THAT EASY.
I might have problems if I were hiking alone, because of my height (I’m 5ft petite). We were blessed with fine weather and dry ground all the time, so my wearing of Skechers shoes turned out fine. In wet weather, it would be more dangerous. Other than the uneven, high rocks, there are also huge boulders, some which might require you to slide down a little somehow.
During our trip, midway at one of the elevation spots, part of the trail was cordoned off because workers were actively doing restoration work to the trail. This resulted in us venturing away from the trail, hiking upwards over grass, soil and even having to hold onto tree-trunks to pull ourselves upwards. If it’s crowded, it would be quite an issue. You can search Google or even check TripAdvisor and learn that on peak seasons, the hike can get wayyyy too crowded. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the hike if that’s the case!
With that said, I wouldn’t recommend very young kids to follow along for this hike.
How to get to Pulpit Rock from Stavanger
The nearest city to get to Preikestolen is Stavanger.
My friends and I based ourselves in Stavanger, and made this hike a day trip starting from early morning.
Method 1: Ferry+bus Combo – Take a ferry from Stavanger to Tau, then a bus to the base of Pulpit Rock.
In hiking season (between April and October – check first before going), you can purchase two-way combo tickets online. These tickets are valid for usage within your chosen date, including your ferry trip between Stavanger (Fiskepiren ferry terminal) and Tau. From Tau, buses will send you to the foot of Pulpit Rock.
Don’t forget to check the schedule for the bus that leaves Preikestolen!
Method 2: Drive over by car
My friend who was living in Stavanger, picked us up at Fiskepiren ferry terminal in Stavanger in her car. We then took the car ferry across to Tau and continued driving to Preikestolen’s carpark.
What to Know Before You Go Hike Pulpit Rock!
1. Check if the trail is open for hiking before you plan the trip.
It’s actually open all year round, with the exception of special events such as Tom Cruise needing to film a new Mission Impossible on the plateau. However, the hiking season is certain months, beyond which it will be too cold and you’ll need special equipment such as crampons to hike safely.
2. There are no entrance fees.
The only fees you’ll be paying would be the parking fee (if you drove) or the transport methods you took to Pulpit Rock.
3. Check weather conditions and plan your hike according to the forecast.
The location that you should be checking for Pulpit Rock’s weather forecast is not “Stavanger”, but “Forsand”. The weather can also change drastically, so make sure you’re prepared! We had referenced closely to the hourly weather forecast one night before, and therefore were keeping track along the way, knowing rain will arrive at a certain time.
By the time we were on the car ferry from Tau back to Stavanger, it was already starting to rain.
4. You might not see good views.
In clear weather, you’ll see good views at Pulpit Rock’s lookout. On cloudy days though, all you’ll see are.. clouds. I’ll say, pray to the weather gods before your hike! ;p
5. The edge of the cliff is a straight drop down to the bottom.
Be smart, mindful, careful, and don’t lean over too much if you really must sit at the edge for photos.
6. There are NO toilets along the entire trail.
The only toilets you get are at the base of the mountain, near the carpark, so use them before you start the hike. The hiking trail is also pretty exposed a hike all around (as in everyone can see you), so I’m not sure how people settle their businesses!
7. Bring snacks and water (but also watch your water intake).
After hiking for 2-3 hours, you’ll be very hungry at the summit. We had breakfast right before leaving Stavanger and were already famished when we reached the top. I ate a few small cookies before we descended. By the time we reached Stavanger for a very late lunch, my gastric was giving me hell.
8. Wear layers & non-skid shoes.
You might feel cold before hiking, but once you start ascending, you’ll feel warm fast enough. At the top, you might feel too cold again, before hiking down and feeling hot again. Therefore, wear layers for your hike that you can add or remove along the way.
As for shoes, I hiked it in Skechers track shoes and had no problems. However, I was blessed because it was wonderfully sunny weather, so the ground was dry. I have to mention that Norway’s weather can switch really fast. By the time we left Preikestolen, it was already starting to rain.
9. Start early if you can (again this depends on weather).
We reached Preikestolen’s carpark really early, before the first bus even arrived from Tau. This helped us gain some headstart away from crowds. Only just a few Thai tourists were starting the hike at the same time. However, I’d also read about crowds very early in the morning (especially in summer). Manage your expectations and you’ll be happy 🙂
10. You won’t be hiking all 604m of elevation.
Although Pulpit Rock is at a height of 604m above sea level, you’ll be 270m above sea level already when you start your hike, so don’t be too afraid it’s too much of a climb.
11. Plan about 2 hours for each way, and 1 hour to hang out at the top.
Time passes really quickly when you’re up there – waiting for your turn to take photos; wandering around the area; admiring Pulpit Rock’s splendid sceneries.
Are you intending to hike Pulpit Rock when you head to Norway?
More posts to read!
• (Norway) How we underestimated Bergen’s highest mountain: Mt Ulriken
• (Norway) 12 photos to inspire you to go hike in Norway
• (Norway) 6 days in Norway: How much did it cost?
• (Tokyo) Hiking Mt Takao in Japan, solo!
• (Bali) Hiking the gorgeous Campuhan Ridge Walk in Bali
Hiked: May 2017
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Photos of me at the plateau were taken by my friend, Beng.
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