Pikefossen was one of the few easily-accessible named waterfalls that we’ve encountered in Finnmark County (it might be the only one!).
Unlike most of the waterfalls we’ve seen throughout Norway, this one was more of the wide river variety, where it was much wider than it was tall.
The waterfall was said to be 8m tall, but its width across both its segments could be around 75-100m in total.
The word “pike” means girl in Norwegian, and supposedly it got this name after a girl servant was thrown into the waterfall by her angry master.
Allegedly, he did this because the girl managed to allow a herd of his reindeer to drown during the course of her herding duties while her master was on travel.
Speaking of the river, Pikefossen flowed on the Kautokeino-Alta River, which was said to have played an important role in shaping human habitation in Finnmarksvidda (the Finnmark Plateau) for thousands of years.
Except for the lower third closer to Alta, the river remains largely undeveloped so it provides good salmon fishing as well as a good source of hydration for reindeer herding (both of which are important to the Sami way of life).
By the way, the Sami name for this waterfall was Nieidagorzi.
From the parking and picnic area, I really didn’t have to do much other than to walk a few paces to the overlooks.
At these overlooks, I could peer across the Kautokeino-Alta River right at the wide waterfall.
While I could just call it a visit being content with these views, I did notice lots of use trails that ultimately sought ways to descend to the level of the river.
The paths closest to the overlooks were very steep, and I’d argue they’re not suitable for descending due to the bad footing and the potential for causing rockfalls.
However, the trails of use continued to follow the rim of the gorge until I spotted a less steep use trail that eventually led down to the level of the river slightly to the south side of Pikefossen.
I didn’t have my GPS with me when I did this scramble so I can’t say for sure what the distances were, but I know I had spent around 35 minutes away from the car.
So it couldn’t have been that far.
That said, the mosquitos were also quite bad during my July 2019 visit so perhaps the short amount of time spent here also reflected my need to keep moving!
Finally, I don’t know how sanctioned such scrambling is considering the impact it has on the landscape.
There was certainly no signage advocating the use of the trails-of-use and scrambling paths.
However, I can totally imagine that salmon fishers would try to take advantage of these trails to get to the river level and try their luck by the waterfall.
Since we stayed in Alta, I’ll describe the driving directions in that manner.
From Alta, I drove on the E6 (and its excruciatingly slow speed limits) until we reached its junction with the E45.
Then, I drove south on the E45 for about 84km before reaching the signed turnoff for Pikefossen on the left.
Something remarkable about this drive was that it passed through an extensively flat and straight stretch of the Finnmark Plateau so the speed limits here were the fastest that I’ve seen throughout Norway!
Of course, you do have to mind the reindeer on the roads so you can’t go too crazy gunning it on the E45.
For some geographical context, Alta was 130km (about 1.5 hours drive) north of Kautokeino, 164km (over 2 hours drive) east of Storslett, 207km (about 3 hours drive) southwest of Honningsvåg, 393km (under 6 hours drive without a ferry) east of Tromsø, 462km (about 6 hours drive) west of Kirkenes, and 482km (under 7 hours drive) north of Narvik.
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