Muldalsfossen was one waterfall that haunted me ever since I made my first visit back in July 2005.
Unfortunately with that first visit, I had failed to properly experience the waterfall due to some confusion on my part regarding the whereabouts of the proper viewing spot.
When I came back in July 2019, I was determined to finish the hike, which was made easier by the presence of clearer and more frequent signage.
The end result was the photo you see above, where I finally got to see directly the 350m waterfall (180-200m of which was said to freefall according to my Norgeskart measurements).
The Perilous Tafjord Topography
Unless you’re on a boat on the Tafjord, you’ll need to earn your proper sighting of Muldalsfossen with a demanding “W” hike.
This hike required me to climb way up to the Muldal Farm by the brink of Muldalsfossen before descending on a nearly equally steep trail on the other side of the Muldalselva losing almost all of the elevation that I had gained on the way up.
Now you may wonder why not have a shorter and more direct trail that goes straight up to the overlook instead?
I believe the answer lies in the steep terrain of the Tafjord topography, which was exemplified in the Tafjord Rockslide Disaster of April 1934.
When the event took place, nearly 2 million cubic meters of rock plunged right into the Tafjord and created a tsunami that killed 40 people living near the fjord’s shores.
It was very similar to the pair of disasters that took place in Lodalen beneath the Ramnefjellfossen in Sogn og Fjordane County.
In any case, I bring up this trajedy because the verticality of the surrounding walls of Tafjorden maximized the force of impact of the rocks diving onto the water.
We could still see the scars of where the landslide took place near the Heggurfossen waterfall.
And so it was this vertical topography that also caused a nearly sheer cliff to act as a barrier between the overlook of Muldalsfossen and the trailhead car park directly below it.
Therefore, there was no safe shortcut, and properly experiencing the waterfall required the roundabout, up-and-down route to get to the overlook.
Regulation of Muldalselva
Each time I’ve made my visits in the early Summer (July 2005 and 2019), the falls seemed to have acceptable flow despite it being tapped for hydroelectric power since 1969.
Signs at the trailhead as well as along the trail warned of floods that would come without warning, which already clued me into the compromised condition of the Muldalsfossen.
When the falls was regulated, at first, it was said to have reduced its flow to the point of disappearance.
However, I’ve read that the authorities had made a recommendation to maintain a minimum flow to keep the river (and thus Muldalsfossen) flowing.
Whether this flow would be allowed to persist through the Summer months remains to be seen, but barring a severe storm or excess reserves, it will unlikely have the prior flow from before when it was a tourist attraction since the 19th century.
The Muldalsfossen Experience – The Climb to the Muldal Farm
The Muldalsfossen hike began from a dedicated but unsigned car park just outside the Heggurtunnelen and by the Tafjord’s shores (see directions below).
After leaving the car, I had to walk along the local road Fv92 further south crossing a bridge over the Muldalselva before I noticed a signed footpath forking to the left and immediately climbing steeply above the fjord.
By the way, on my second hike here, the vegetation happened to be open enough to notice the top of Muldalsfossen from this bridge.
At that point, I began what turned out to be a tiring climb where I counted 13 switchbacks covering a length of 2km.
I noticed recently that the locals have generously placed signs letting me know my progress as they’d identify which switchback I was on.
The trail was basically a fairly wide and well-graded ATV road that the Muldal Farm inhabitants and workers would use to access the farm in a motorized manner.
During most of this strenuous part of the hike, I got great open views across Tafjorden towards the waterfall that I think was called Slufsåfossen (or it could be “Pinåfossen” on the Pinå Stream though it was hard to tell from the maps).
It wasn’t until I was on about the 10th or 11th switchback before I even started to get a glimpse of Muldalsfossen.
However, the views from this side of the Muldalselva were unsatisfying and overgrown.
The photo you see above was from one of those upper switchbacks (it was also my mistake on my first visit that I settled for this view instead of persisting and pressing on).
The houses you see next to the falls belonged to the Muldal Farm.
Once I was finally done with this climb, I found myself at another bridge upstream of the top of the falls as well as next to the aforementioned Muldal Farm.
Looking further upstream, I got a glimpse of the attractive Muldalen Valley while looking in the other direction over the brink of the falls against the afternoon sun towards the Slufsåfossen.
My mistake on the first hike was that I didn’t keep going through the Muldal Farm. Instead, I had turned back here, and I had never lived down that mistake until I came back here 14 years later.
I knew that I had made a mistake in the first place because we got a local tourist brochure of Muldalsfossen that showed an unobstructed view revealing its entire drop.
The Muldalsfossen Experience – Descending to the Overlook
After crossing the bridge over the Muldalselva, I then walked through the Muldal Farm, which appeared to be active and in use as of my visit in 2019.
Painted arrows and signs now ensured that I had to keep going to reach Muldalsfossen.
Once I was past the farm, the arrows then pointed me onto a narrower trail that hugged ledges and went down another series of steep switchbacks.
While the climb to get to the Muldal Farm involved a tame ATV road, this trail was way more primitive.
As I descended lower on the trail, I knew that I would have to gain back all that elevation loss to return to the Muldal Farm on the return hike.
Eventually after 700m (or 20 minutes) from the Muldal Farm, I finally started to see the front of the Muldalsfossen.
While there were some informal cliff-side views of the surprisingly hidden ravine that the falls dropped into, the end of the trail had the best vantage point because I could better see the small green plunge pool at the very bottom from there.
Even though the falls did look like it had seen better days before regulation, it was still a satisfying experience when I finally got to do it properly on my 2019 visit.
I even managed to witness an early afternoon rainbow across its wispy drop.
Confirming my suspicions about the Tafjord terrain, sheer cliffs dropped right down towards the Fv92 road and the Tafjord below.
False trails still kept descending from the overlook as I’m sure people have tried to find shortcuts to not have to go all the way back up to the Muldal Farm, but I just sucked it up and went back the way I came when I was done with the falls.
Overall, I had spent about 2.5 hours away from the car, and my GPS logs suggested that I had hiked about 5.4km round trip (2.7km each way).
Perhaps on a more leisurely pace, I’m sure I could have taken longer on the trail, but the long downhill on the ATV road practically invited me to do a little trail running to ride the momentum of gravity as I went from switchback to switchback.
We’ll describe the driving directions from the town of Åndalsnes since that was where we stayed when we did the drive out to Muldalsfossen.
From the junction of the E136 and Fv64 in the town of Åndalsnes, we drove southeast along the E136 for about 4.3km to the junction with the Fv63 to our right.
We then crossed the bridge over the Rauma River and followed the Fv63 for the next 54km to the junction with the Fv92 at the town of Valldalen.
We then turned left to go onto the Fv92 and drove for about 11km to a car park on the left, which was right before the bridge and after the exit of the Heggurtunnelen.
Overall, this drive (not counting stopping at Trollstigen) would take about 75-90 minutes depending on traffic.
For context, Åndalsnes was 128km (under 2 hours drive) west of Sunndalsøra, about 54km (over an hour drive) northeast of Valldalen, 87km (over 2 hours drive with a ferry crossing) northeast of Geiranger, 105km (under 90 minutes drive) northwest of Dombås, 108km (90 minutes drive) east of Ålesund, 303km (over 4 hours drive) southwest of Trondheim, 442km (over 5.5 hours drive) northwest of Oslo, and 508km (8 hours drive) northeast of Bergen.
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