Hjellefossen 

Ardal Municipality / Utladalen / Jotunheimen National Park, Sogn og Fjordane County, Norway

Rating: 3.5     Difficulty: 1
Hjellefossen

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Hjellefossen (I think is pronounced "YELL-eh-foss-un") was the first of the major unregulated waterfalls we saw in Utladalen Valley. However, with this waterfall, we didn't have to do any hiking to see it. It had a conspicuously forceful flow as the Hjelledøla made its 120m drop (though I've seen it reported to be 240m, which I thought was rather generous) into the Utladal Valley as it fed the River Utla right before a turf-roofed building besides the nearest car park (see directions below. It turned out that this turf-roofed building was a very clean restroom (one of the cleanest we had ever seen especially considering that most restrooms in Nature tended to be dingy and grungy).

Julie and I managed to get a few views of the falls both from the restroom area as well as from a misty bridge over the Hjelledøla Stream. There were power lines running alongside the road which kind of took away from the viewing experience. That said, we felt the best views were probably from further away (say the restroom and car park area), which provided us with the waterfall's context. It proved to us that sometimes the closest view of the falls wasn't necessarily the best.

By the way, the turf-roofed building that we saw at Hjellefossen was the first time that Julie and I had ever seen such a building in person. Later on in this trip and through the years, we'd come to learn that they were actually quite common throughout Scandinavia though we witnessed them personally in both Norway and Iceland. Apparently, it was a practice that went on for centuries in Scandinavia. Sometimes I wonder how these buildings would rate in a LEED certification considering it made use of local resources and seemed to blend in well with the landscape.

Utladalen was our introduction into Jotunheimen National Park (even though it was technically not in the main highlands that the park was most known for). Jotunheimen (pronounced "YOOT-un-hai-mun") I believe translated as the "Home of the Giants," which was probably in reference to the tall mountains in the park. But as you can see from this waterfall, the mountains weren't the only things that were tall! Another thing about Utladalen was that it apparently was said to have the highest concentration of unregulated (and protected) waterfalls in Norway, which was something we came to appreciate later during our visit as we went deeper into the Utladal Valley.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

The main waterfall further into the Utladal Valley was Vettisfossen, one of the tallest unregulated singular free-falling waterfalls in Norway. Hjellefossen was merely on the way there.The main waterfall further into the Utladal Valley was Vettisfossen, one of the tallest unregulated singular free-falling waterfalls in Norway. Hjellefossen was merely on the way there.
Another major waterfall that we would see later on while hiking into Utladalen was AvdalsfossenAnother major waterfall that we would see later on while hiking into Utladalen to Vettisfossen was Avdalsfossen
After visiting Hjellefossen and the other Utladalen Waterfalls earlier in the day, we then took the Summer-route to Turtagrø via Fardalen as kind of a back way to Lustrafjorden and SkjoldenAfter visiting Hjellefossen and the other Utladalen Waterfalls earlier in the day, we then took the Summer-route to Turtagrø via Fardalen as kind of a back way to Lustrafjorden and Skjolden
This was the scenic Lustrafjorden from our accommodation in Skjolden, where we had spent the night after doing our Utladalen hike the day beforeThis was the scenic Lustrafjorden from our accommodation in Skjolden, where we had spent the night after doing our Utladalen hike the day before
On the Utladalsvegen somewhere near Øvre Årdal as we were approaching some waterfallOn the Utladalsvegen somewhere near Øvre Årdal as we were approaching some waterfall

This was a waterfall we saw somewhere between Øvre Årdal and the trailhead for the Utladalen hikeThis was a waterfall we saw somewhere between Øvre Årdal and the trailhead for the Utladalen hike

Some other waterfall seen near Øvre Årdal on our way to UtladalenSome other waterfall seen near Øvre Årdal on our way to Utladalen

Still more random waterfalls seen on the drive between Øvre Årdal and UtladalenStill more random waterfalls seen on the drive between Øvre Årdal and Utladalen

This tall stringy waterfall was also seen near Øvre Årdal on our way to UtladalenThis tall stringy waterfall was also seen near Øvre Årdal on our way to Utladalen

Approaching Hjellefossen from the road UtladalsvegenApproaching the waterfall from the road Utladalsvegen

Looking directly at Hjellefossen from the road bridge, but note the annoying power line above that we were trying to avoidLooking directly at the falls from the road bridge, but note the annoying power line above that we were trying to avoid

Julie checking out Hjellefossen one last time after we came back from our Vettisfossen hikeJulie checking out the falls one last time after we came back from our Vettisfossen hike


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS




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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Julie and I visited Hjellefossen after leaving the town of Lærdal (sometimes written as Lærdalsøyri on the maps). From there, we drove about 53km on the Road 53 through the Fodnes Tunnel (Fodnestunnelen) then along the eastern shores of Årdalsfjorden to the town of industrial town of Årdal.

Within the town of Årdal, we turned left on Storevegen, then turned right on Utladalsvegen towards Øvre Årdal (Upper Årdal). After about 6km on this road (which entered Utladal Valley), we arrived at the car park and turf-roofed bathroom, which was on our left. Hjellefossen was besides the road on our right.

For context, Årdal was 225km (3.5 hours drive) west of Lillehammer, 303km (over 4 hours drive) northwest of Oslo, and 253km (nearly 4 hours drive) northeast of Bergen.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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