Hiking Preikestolen during the off-season is adventurous, but also very different from hiking during peak-season (June, July and August). Nature presents itself from a completely different angle, and you are more likely to hike in solitude.
In this article, we share all the do’s and don’ts when hiking Preikestolen off-season, when, why and how. Be prepared and read about the seasons, weather and trail conditions, clothes and equipment, planning, transport and guiding services, and everything else.
Have a safe hike!
Avoid the crowds and discover the beauty of the off-season
Traditionally, June, July and August are peak-season months at Preikestolen. These months, days are very long, and the weather is often nice for hiking. During this period, especially on sunny weekends, many visitors hike to Preikestolen. On peak days, this may lead to full parking lots, some on-trail crowding, and waiting lines at the most popular picture locations.
If you can travel other times of the year, we can highly recommend visiting Preikestolen off-season. Every season has its own charm and beauty, and you are very likely to have it all (almost) to yourself. Few have discovered the magic of autumn, winter and spring at Preikestolen. Those who do come here in these seasons are often surprised by the contrasts and tranquility they find in nature. Visitors get a closer interaction with nature and seem to be more relaxed and satisfied with their visit, hike and overall experience of the natural scenery.
By September, visitor numbers have dropped significantly. Nature slowly prepares for the long winter. During the months of September, October, November, and December, the days shorten. The shadows become longer with every day. Constant changing lights create fascinating contrasts. Lysefjord means ‘Fjord of Lights’ – with reason! Autumn is the season of the flame-colored foliage. The trees turn yellow, orange and red – creating fantastic opportunities for vibrant pictures.
Early in the year, January, February and March provide visitors with cool, crisp air and the stillness of Norway’s long, dark winter. This time of year, extra precaution must be taken in terms of preparations, clothes and equipment. Those who come well-prepared for a mid-winter hike have the possibility to hike in near-solitude. Preikestolen and the Lysefjord are often blanketed in snow and ice.
As spring arrives in April and May, bright green colors start mixing with the white of snow. Creeks and waterfalls swell due to melting snow. The busy summer season is not far away, but visitor number are still quite low, especially on weekdays.
The table below can give you a good sense of the abundance of hikers at Preikestolen, average temperature, rain and sunshine throughout the year.
at the Top
|January||-4°C / 25°F||22||1||11:00 am|
|February||-4°C / 25°F||20||3||12:00 am|
|March||-1°C / 30°F||18||5||1:00 pm|
|April||1°C / 34°F||17||6||3:00 pm|
|May||5°C / 41°F||17||7||4:30 pm|
|June||9°C / 48°F||17||8||5:30 pm|
|July||10°C / 50°F||18||7||5:30 pm|
|August||10°C / 50°F||21||6||4:30 pm|
|September||7°C / 45°F||24||4||2:30 pm|
|October||4°C / 39°F||24||3||1:00 pm|
|November||0°C / 32°F||26||1||12:00 am|
|December||-3°C / 27°F||24||1||11:00 am|
Daylight is key – start in time
Norway is the country of the midnight sun and polar night. During summer, the sun does not set many places in Norway. Equally, during winter, the sun does not rise many places in our country, and the northern lights have become one of our major tourist attractions.
Therefore, it is both interesting and important to know that Preikestolen is situated in Southwestern Norway. This has the following implications for you as a visitor:
- During winter, the sun does rise in our part of the country. However, it rises above the horizon for a very limited number of hours. The shortest winter days last for about 6.5 hours. When hiking during short winter days, leave enough time to make sure you’ll be back at the trailhead before dark.
- Located approximately 1,500 km south of the Arctic Circle, your chances of seeing the northern lights in our region during winter are close to zero.
- During summer, the sun does set in our part of the country. Even though it can be light until midnight during days with good weather, keep in mind that it still gets dark at some point.
Always leave enough time to make sure you’ll be back to the trailhead before dark. In case of unplanned delays, always bring a flashlight!
In the table above, we have listed the latest time you should start the hike, for every month of the year. Please respect these times.
Share your plans – listen to advice
Because of the heightened need for safety, we strongly recommend against hiking alone outside peak-season. Always tell someone about your hiking plans, and the time you expect to be back home. This information is crucial in the event anything happens to you.
The parking facilities at the trailhead are staffed year-round. We recommend you ask the staff about current conditions and other relevant information and read all the signs and instructions.
We strongly advise listening to our trailhead staff’s advice, especially when they tell you not to hike without proper gear.
Most important: when you are being told not to hike due to dangerous weather and/or trail conditions – respect this!
Our staff is present for your safety and well-being. It is highly uncomfortable for our staff members having to argue with you. In the past, hikers have gotten into trouble in the mountains due to ignorance. Please help us increase your safety and reduce the number of rescue operations.
Tip!If you are travelling from far and/or want to make sure you can safely hike up Preikestolen, plan to stay an extra day in the area. That way, you increase your chances of being able to do the hike – and enjoy it!
Always keep an eye on the weather forecast, and don’t take any risks! In Norway, the weather conditions in the mountains are often very different than the weather conditions in the city.
If the weather is forecasted to be very poor, please cancel or reschedule your hike. If you decide to hike in less-than-ideal weather, allow extra time to ensure that you can finish your hike before sundown. Be aware that the forecast may be incorrect or change severely and rapidly, especially outside peak-season.
Also note that the weather at the parking lot/trailhead can be very different compared with what it is like at Preikestolen. It is colder, and often windier and rainier at the top. Visibility can also be worse further up the trail. Don’t get fooled by ‘perfect conditions’ when you start your hike. Again, please listen to and respect what our staff tells you. Always turn around if you suspect the conditions may become unsafe.
In Norway, the conditions along trails are often very different from summer to winter. Due to snow and/or ice, trails are often slippery during the winter. At times, they may not even be visible. It’s important to be aware that rocks, streams, and cracks in the landscape may be disguised by snow cover. When approaching cliffs, make sure that you are standing on solid ground, and not on hardened snow that has formed overhanging cornices.
Make sure that you are always able to follow the official trail – not just someone else’s footsteps. The trail is marked with red T’s, painted on rock. As they are not always visible due to snow, you will also find reflective iron poles along the trail, stating the distance to both Preikestolen as well as back to the trailhead.
If you believe you have taken a wrong turn, retrace your steps until you locate the trail. If you are uncertain about your navigation skills – consider hiking with a guide. Lastly, always listen to advice of the locals you may encounter along the trail.
Clothing and equipment
When it’s cold outside, it’s crucially important that you bring along appropriate clothing and equipment. Hypothermia and frost bite are among the greatest risks during off-season hikes. Make sure that your clothing will keep you warm and bring plenty of extra layers to use during breaks and/or if you accidentally get wet.
When temperatures drop below 5C/41F, it’s important to cover exposed skin.
Wind chill factor will make you feel much colder than the temperature says, and this effect will get worse the stronger the wind. If you’re wet, hypothermia and frostbite may not be far away – unless you are well prepared and dressed.
To ease your preparations, we have composed a handy packing list for you.
Above-ankle, water/mud-proof hiking boots will give you the best support and grip and ensure warm and dry feet. Use a pair of warm socks. It can be an idea to bring an extra pair of socks to change into, in case you sweat a lot or do get wet for whatever reason.
Tip! Sneakers, trainers or leisure shoes are a no-go, especially outside peak-season, as the trail can be wet, muddy, slippery and covered with ice or snow.
Fleece or woolen hat that covers your ears + a buff or balaclava for extra protection of the exposed parts of your neck, throat, and face (during the coldest months).
Water/wind-resistant fleece or woolen mittens. Mittens are preferable to gloves, as your hands will stay warmer if your fingers are in contact.
Woolen base-layer + fleece or woolen mid-layer + water and wind-proof jacket with an attached hood.
Tip!Wool will keep you warm even when wet. We see a lot of people hiking in cotton clothes and/or without water-proof jackets. Keeping yourself warm and dry will keep you happy!
Woolen long johns (key to staying warm during the winter!) + water and wind-proof hiking pants.
Tip! Hiking in jeans is uncomfortable and potentially dangerous, especially outside peak-season. When wet, jeans become very heavy and start scrubbing your skin. Since they do not dry, they will cool you down fast. In lower temperatures, you can risk getting hypothermic.
Equipment & necessities
Small backpack + extra clothes + compass/map/mobile phone/GPS/flashlight (inside a plastic bag to protect against moisture).
Food & water
When hiking in lower temperatures, your body will burn more calories. Plan on bringing along plenty of food. It’s smart to have a thermos with something warm to drink during your break. People often forget to drink enough water while hiking. Although it’s a novelty to eat snow, don’t rely on doing so for your water supply. Avoid yellow snow! Lastly, remember that exposed water bottles and hoses may freeze during the hike.
Note: Please respect nature, year-round.‘Pack it in, pack it out’ – Don’t leave anything, including trash, behind.
Should I join a guided tour?
For a successful self-guided hike during off-season, you must
- be fit, healthy, and up for the challenge
- have previous off-season mountain hiking experience
- have good hand-eye-feet coordination and balance
- have appropriate clothing, equipment, food and water
- be prepared to face the changing weather conditions
Especially during the darkest and coldest time of year with the most volatile climate (November throughout March), and on days with challenging weather and trail conditions, we recommend hiking with a guide.
A skilled guide can turn a less-than-ideal day into a fantastic experience!
With a guided tour:
- you don’t have the hassle of thinking about logistics
Book it, relax and enjoy your hike
- you’re better prepared for a safe hike
Get information in advance. Rent boots and clothes if necessary. Let the guide worry about safety checks
- you’re hiking with a local
Get inside knowledge about the region’s nature & cultural heritage
- you get the most out of your experience
Avoid the crowds. Discover hidden views and trails. Get the best pictures
- you meet new friends
Transportation and logistics
Travelling by car
There are two routes between Stavanger and Preikestolen
- Drive from Stavanger to Lauvvik, then take the car ferry to Oanes. From there, drive 20 minutes until you reach the parking area/trailhead.
- From Stavanger, take the car ferry from Fiskepiren to Tau. Drive 25 minutes until you reach the parking area/trailhead.
Travelling by public transport
When travelling from Stavanger, take the car ferry from Fiskepiren to Tau. From March throughout November, you can take a bus from Tau to the parking area/trailhead. Alternatively, you can take a taxi.