Rondane National Park is the oldest of many national parks in Norway, and was established in 1962. Where I work is, I believe, the most popular way in to the national park. It’s easy to access on train from Oslo, and from this side you can access most of the ten 2000m peaks – some quite easily, some that require a longer or more strenous hike. There are several reasons why I think it’s a really nice place to come: the views are amazing, even if you decide not to climb a mountain, since the mountains lay like a small range and at their roots is a massive plateau with trails along the mountain bases or by rivers; the mountains are sort of grouped together, and you can therefore hike several different peaks without having to move each night; some of the mountains offer a challenge, while other are a lot more accommodating; there is a river flowing from the mountains all the way down to Otta which offers a few gorgeous waterfalls that are all only a short walk from the roads. Rondane is the driest part of Norway, so it’s an arid landscape. Most of the park is above the alpine, but around the edges there are charming woods of white birch which are glorious to look at in the autumn glow. Otherwise, the ground take on a red and orange colour from lichen. You can find blueberries and lingonberries, heather and moss.
There are two main access points to the mountains from this side of the park: Peer-Gynt hytta and Rondvassbu. Peer Gynt hytta has a small kiosk and small huts for rent, but it’s not always open. It’s an 8km walk there from the hotel I work at, and the trail is mostly flat. While the main part crosses the open plateau, the first section passes some nice waterfalls, some cabins, a White birch wood, and past some bogs. Rondvassbu is a much larger facility and offers rooms, food and snacks/coffees. From the closest car-park (Spranget) there’s an 8km into the cabins, which are also by the trailhead for most of the summits. Bikes are available for rental at the car park (100kr each way) for those who wish to save time, because the hike there takes a good while.
Smiubelgin/Bråkdalsbelgen (1915m, 3-4h, access from Peer-Gynt hytta)
This is not a mountain, but a mountain range. In English it’s given the name ‘The Forge’. The official trail here only goes up to one peak, to a summit called Bråkdalsbelgen at 1915m. The hike up takes you over one smaller peak and down a little again, but not much. It is relatively easy. I found this to be perhaps the second easiest hike of the ones I am going to discuss in this post. It offers a great view, into a sort of valley on the back with small tarns of greenish water collected from snowmelts and rain. A great view here of Trolltinden. I decided to walk onwards along the ridge a little bit, both to extend the hike and to prevent going back the same way as I came up. I walked over Ljosåbelgen (1948) and went down from the ridge at the tip of Hoggsbeitet, and found my way to the river going along Store Ula river.
I appreciated this hike a lot, because it gave me several new views and different angles, since it’s quite far from the other mountains I hiked. Also, Peer-Gynt hytta is an extremely charming location, with tiny stone cabins and a riverbed of white rocks.
Veslesmeden (2015m, 4-5h, access from Rondvassbu)
This was the first hike I did, and while I started off with very heavy feet and felt like I was dying, the hike is not all that hard. It’s known as the most child-friendly of the summits, because it only gets very steep at the very end. I actually hiked this trail without knowing where it would end, as I just picked a path and followed it (which is a really, really stupid thing to do, because if something had happened no one would know where to look for me), and I reached the summit almost by surprise (it was foggy). Often I find that you keep thinking you must be close to the top, but I did not feel this urgency at this hike, which I think means I didn’t find it too exhausting. This is the only mountain with access from Rondvassbu that lays to the left, so it offers a great view of Storronden and Rondeslottet. It also connects to Storsmeden (2016m) by a ridge, but I would not recommend crossing it, without the proper mountaineering experience, as it is very steep close to Storsmeden, and when I hiked the ridge I felt reckless in a I-might-die-here-way, and will not do so again.
Storronden (2138m, 4-5h, access from Rondvassbu)
This mountain reminds me a little of a pyramid, specifically the Sun Pyriamid in Teotihuacán in México. The trail goes almost straight the whole hike, and flattens our a little bit two times. It is, more than any of the other mountains, a massive pile of rocks, so the trail is very uneven and most of the time it’s just marked so you know you’re going in the right direction. It gets fairly steep, but doesn’t require much climbing. It is significantly easier than Rondeslottet, and is almost as high up. Offers some really nice views. I’ve hiked up twice, once when it’s been freezing on top and once when it’s been shrouded in clouds.
Rondeslottet (2178m, 5-6, access from Rondvassbu)
This is the highest of the peaks in Rondane, and it’s one of the toughest hikes. It is still very possible to do, as long as you are prepared to do some climbing. The hike goes over another peak, Vinjeronden at 2044m, so the trail first climbs Vinjeronden, then drops in order to climb up again to the summit – so you get a double 2000m peak on this hike. The hike between Vinjeronden and Rondeslottet is approximately 1 hour. It took me and my brother around 7 hours to hike from Spranget, up Rondeslottet, and back to Spranget. The views on top are, again, stunning – you can’t really go wrong with the views anywhere in the park, but if you want a more challenging hike then Rondeslottet or Trolltinden would be my suggestion.
Trolltinden (2018m, unknown length, access from Rondvassbu)
Trolltinden lies behind the Smiubelgin edge, in what is sometimes referred to as the backyard of Rondane. The peak is a magnificent one, and to reach it from this side of the park the trail goes on the top of a very narrow edge. I thought it would be no harder than Rondeslottet at it’s steepest, but we actually abandoned the idea of reaching the top when we saw how steep it actually was. We made it as far as the lower summit, when the trail suddenly stooped and then rose in a fashion that made it seem like it required actions closer to actual rock climbing than hiking. The Norwegian hiking foundation (DNT) has stopped caring for the trail – it’s still there but for reasons I don’t know they are no longer clearing the path and maintaining the markings. This also made us a little more cautious. There are guided tours from Rondvassbu once or twice a weak for 500 NOK – with a guide I think I would have felt safe enough to hike it. We did see one other hiker doing it, but they were way ahead of us so we did not talk with them. It looked like an amazing, crazy hike, so if the chance to hike it comes up I wouldn’t discourage it, however I do suggest being extremely careful if attempting it, and I wouldn’t recommend it for unexperienced hikers. I would have liked to return with a guide, but I don’t think I will have time.