In our South-West Norway itinerary there were 3 hikes on my bucket list and Kjerag was one of them. I could totally see myself stepping on that boulder and show the world how brave I was. Since it is located relatively close to Preikestolen we planned to do both in 2 days but ended up doing both in the same one. I still don’t know how that happened, since hiking to Kjerag is definitely not something you can just improvise. While doing Preikestolen and Kjerag in the same day shouldn’t be an issue for experienced hikers, I recommend others to take more time. If the weather cooperates, both hikes will be something you will never forget.
Why is hiking to Kjerag so popular?
With 1.084 meters Kjerag is the tallest peak in the Lysefjord. Like with most epic trails, hiking to Kjerag is not only about the goal, it is about the journey and the scenic views on the way. However, again like with most epic hikes, a surprise awaits at the end. Two surprises, actually. The first one is the breathtaking view of the cliffs rising above Lysefjord. The second is called Kjeragbolten and it is the ultimate goal for most hikers and “insta” tourists. Kjeragbolten is a boulder, captured between 2 cliffs, 984 meters above Lysefjord. Crazy people stand in line to get their photo taken on the giant rock, adrenaline junkies go base jumping, and smart people like me just stay on the solid ground and try to survive.
Note: I’ll use both names (Kjerag and Kjeragbolten) in this post, just to score some Google points. 😉
Kjerag hiking in numbers
Speaking of basic information, the first logical question is “How long does the Kjeragbolten hike take”. The total distance is around 11 km with the elevation gain of 570 meters. In theory, it is a 6 – 8 hours roundtrip. We did it in 4 (photo breaks not included), and remember, we hiked to Preikestolen in the same day.
- Distance: 11 km (7 miles)
- Elevation Gain: 570 meters
- Difficulty: Demanding
- Length of Time: 6 to 8 hours
Where is Kjeragbolten located and how to get there?
Kjerag is located in Southern Norway, around 15-minute car drive on a “zig-zag” road from Lysebotn. It lies above Lysefjord, on the opposite side of Preikestolen and with only around 40 km aerial distance. However, don’t let the proximity mislead you, like it did in our case. We knew it would take a ferry ride to reach Kjerag from Preikestolen, but we didn’t know we would need to book a spot in advance. There are of course many ways to reach Lysebotn, but if you are going to follow our itinerary, don’t repeat our mistakes.
After returning from Preikestolen we had breakfast in Lilland Hotel (our base camp) and left around 11 AM. Since the weather was still nice and we were not too tired, we decided to hike to Kjerag in the afternoon. We took our time for the scenic drive and made several stopovers before we reached Songesand at around 1 PM. Cold shower surprise: the next ferry was at scheduled at 2.30 PM and we were told we couldn’t get on it with a car unless we had pre-booked a ticket. To cut things short: we took the risk and waited for the ferry, we got lucky, paid 200 NOK and 1 hour later we got off in Lsyebotn.
Tip: some ferries in Norway are “pay and ride” and some are “prebooked only”. Do your homework!
Where to park and how much it costs?
If you are self-driving, you need to park at Øygardstøl and there is NO alternative parking close to the starting point of the Kjerag hike. The parking fee is 200 NOK (it hurts, I know!), but at least the car park is huge and you’ll also find toilets and a restaurant there. You can also take a bus, but you’ll need to do some homework for that by yourself.
Kjerag trail description
The trailhead starts immediately from the car park and this is also where the fun begins. By fun, I mean climbing and (optionally) holding onto the chains for the first quarter of the trail. We had good shoes so for us the chains were more a “mark” where to go. But be careful, even with good shoes, especially the descent can be slippery, if the rocks are wet. Along the way there are a few signs pointing to the direction and you can also follow the red T’s on the rocks.
After this climb you are facing 2 more “ups and downs”, surrounded by beautiful views of green valleys and small lakes with occasional sightings of Lysefjord. After the final climb the terrain levels out and it feels like you are walking on Mars. It also feels like forever until you reach the sign Kjerag summit. It is basically in the middle of nowhere and it is not your final destination. The Kjeragbolten plateau is around 5-10 minutes further.
When you reach the plateau, you will immediately see the boulder and start organizing who will take photos first. In our case, Ales was the first and the only one to step on to Kjeragbolten, while I was shitting my pants, holding the camera. When it was my turn, I just sneak peaked onto the rock and turned back. I had hoped that Kjeragbolten only seemed scary on the photos but unfortunately it was not the case. It actually is scary AF and it was also covered with sand so it was an immediate and definite “no way” for me.
Where to stay near Kjerag
Best option for those who want to start the hike early, is Lysebotn, however there are not many rooms available in town. The safest and cheapest option (besides wild camping) is Stavanger, just keep in mind it is a 2.5 hours’ drive from the car park. At least you don’t need a ferry for this route. Stavanger is actually a good starting point for both, Preikestolen and Kjerag hike, not to mention it also has an airport with connections to Oslo and the rest of Norway. In our case, were very happy with staying at Lilland Brewery hotel.
p.s. You can also check Airbnb – if you don’t have Airbnb account, register via this link to get a 30 € discount for your first booking (the total cost of your booking has to be over 300€).
Best time for hiking to Kjeragbolten
From the seasons point of view, the safest (and also the busiest) period are summer months, which can be extended from June to September. During the winter months the road is usually closed due to snow, not to mention that hiking in snow can be dangerous. From daylight point of view, I would recommend the early start to reach the top in the morning. In our case (late July) the sunlight in the late afternoon was not the best for photography.
Tip: I don’t recommend the hike in bad weather, especially rain and fog. You can easily get lost.
Is hiking to Kjerag worth it?
First, let me say that any person with reasonable fitness ability can do this hike. It is not a walk in the park as it does involve some modest climbing but if you take your time, you’ll be ok. On the other hand, I don’t recommend stepping onto Kjeragbolten to anyone with vertigo issues. The moment I saw “what lies beneath” I couldn’t care less about Instagram likes anymore. Better safe than sorry. However, Kjerag hike is worth it even if you don’t plan to step onto Kjerag. The views of the cliffs, the Kjeragfossen waterfall and the fjord from the plateau are simply one of a kind.
Would you step onto the Kjeragbolten? Have you done it before? Scroll down for comments, I would love to hear your thoughts! 😉