About Preikestolen Waterfalls
This Preikestolen Waterfalls page was kind of my waterfalling excuse to talk about the ways we experienced the famous and impressive Preikestolen formation.
That said, I did spot some noteworthy waterfalls on both the hike to get to Preikestolen as well as the cruise into the Lysefjorden to experience the Hengjanefossen.
Preikestolen (translated as “pulpit rock” or literally “the priest’s chair”) was a curious plateau surrounded on three sides by vertical cliffs dropping almost right into the waters of the Lysefjorden.
While no one comes here just to witness the waterfalls, they do provide interesting “background” attractions to further add to the overall experience of Preikestolen.
So we describe the waterfalls on this page with that in mind.
That said, we managed to experience Preikestolen from above via a moderate hike as well as from below from a cruise that started and ended in Stavanger.
The Lysefjord Cruise
The selling point of doing the Lysefjord Cruise was to experience the scenic Lysefjorden itself from within the waters of the fjord.
A major draw for us was to get right in front of the Hengjane Waterfall, which was one of the few named waterfalls spilling onto the fjord itself.
To my knowledge, the fjord cruise was the most common way to experience that waterfall. I’m not aware of any other sanctioned means of experiencing it from land.
From the city center in Stavanger, we managed to book and hop on to one of the popular scheduled cruises that leaves from the guest harbor and returns there.
For the most part, the cruise went through fairly featureless stretch of entering the Høgsfjorden then veering into Lysefjorden while avoiding Frafjorden.
Of the three-hour cruise, perhaps 90 minutes or so was spent in the Lysefjorden itself.
The cruise went as far as the Hengjane Waterfall before turning back, but it also spent time beneath the Preikestolen (looking small from below) as well as the Fantahola (basically a deep chasm).
As far as I know, the Hengjane Waterfall as the only waterfall of note that we noticed during the cruise.
Insofar as scenic attractions were concerned, this cruise was a bit on the light side.
However, we found the experience to be more about relaxing and experiencing Norway in relative comfort.
The Hike to Preikestolen
For a more interactive and immersive experience, I had to hike to the Preikestolen itself.
To make a long story short, hiking to Preikestolen and back required about 4 hours to cover the 8km round trip distance, plus perhaps another 2km of scrambling around looking for alternate overlooks.
During the hike, I didn’t see any significant waterfalls until about 3.8km from the trailhead.
This was where the trail was mostly on sloping granite, and I managed to witness a long cascade on an unnamed creek at the head of Neverdalen.
When I finally reached the Preikestolen in another 200m or so, I was able to look across the Lysefjorden towards a waterfall tumbling right into the fjord.
According to the maps, I believe this waterfall belonged to the Fossåna stream, which seemed to drain some lakes and tarns.
But as far as waterfalling experiences went, those two waterfalls were pretty much it.
However, as far as the Preikestolen hike was concerned, the key things to keep in mind were the following:
- This was a very busy trail full of tour bus passengers from all over the world
- The trail relentlessly climbed 334m with most of the elevation gain in the first 2km
- The trail surface was hard granite, which was killer on the knees, especially on the return hike
- Parking wasn’t cheap (I paid about 250 NOK)
Below, I’ll give you a more detailed account of what my hike to Preikestolen was like.
The Hike to Preikestolen: Relentless Climbing
From the spacious car park, I followed some pretty easy signage to get onto the wide and immediately ascending trail.
Given the heavy traffic on this trail, it’s hard to miss.
In any case, the initial ascent went for about 500m.
I could tell straight away that the trail consisted mostly of hard granite or granite rocks that the trail makers used to make steps.
I noticed many people brought trekking poles, and while it may be a nuissance to carry them for the whole hike, I can see the wisdom in having them.
After all, if they’re used properly, they can absorb some of the shock on the knees when descending (especially on the return hike).
Once the initial ascent ended, the trail flattened out momentarily for the next 300m or so.
The trail switched from an open plateau with brief views over a lake (Revsvatnet) before passing through some forested terrain.
After another mild ascent, the trail flattened out once again. However, this time, it passed through some marshy areas.
Authorities had set up boardwalks to keep hikers from sinking into the muck as well as to protect the soil.
This persisted until about 1.5km from the car park.
Then, the steepest part of the ascent began, which also happened to be the most difficult part of the hike.
Indeed, this next section gained at least over 200-300m in a half-kilometer.
The surface remained unrelenting as it was pretty much all granite and hard rocks so with every step, the joints were met with bone jarring shocks from the impact.
Eventually, after making it to the summit of this part of the hike, I started to see signs again, which indicated that I still had another 2km (maybe a little under that) to go to reach Preikestolen.
While I took my breath, I managed to look back in the direction of the car park where I could see almost all the way out to the sea (or at least the wider fjords that Lysefjorden joined up with).
The Hike to Preikestolen: The Latter Half
The next 2km of the hike pretty much undulated over mostly granite terrain.
For the most part, it hugged some minor cliffs as well as skirted around tarns and small lakes.
After another 750m from the signs at the top of the brutal climb (or about 3km from the trailhead), I reached a trail junction where the other path had signage telling would-be hikers that it didn’t go to Preikestolen.
So continuing on with the main trail, it traversed more granite plateaus before resuming another round of climbing along a combination of steps and cliffhugging ledges.
As the trail continued to climb a sloping granite incline (roughly 3.75km from the trailhead or 750m from the last trail junction), I managed to get views into the depths of the adjacent side valley called Neverdalen.
And that was where I noticed a thin but long cascade draining unnamed lake or tarn.
Not much longer beyond the views over Neverdalen, the trail continued hugging cliff ledges, but this time it started to approach the dropoffs facing Lysefjorden.
The trail then veered to the right and followed more wide ledges before finally arriving right on top of Preikestolen.
While I found the experience here to be thrilling (and for many this was the turnaround point of the hike), it left me wanting more in terms of having good views as well as photos of the Preikestolen in context with the Lysefjord itself.
The Hike to Preikestolen: Alternate Views
While the scramble I am about to describe don’t count towards the 8km round trip distance of the official trail, I found it worth the additional effort.
I managed to find red Ts marking the way as soon as I turned around and faced away from Preikestolen.
At that point, I saw faint scrambling paths bringing me up above the immediate granite wall.
Next, I had to scramble around and follow more red Ts along with trails of use, which actually led me further away from Preikestolen.
Eventually, the trail curved to the left and went up another steep incline or wall to get up to the next plateau.
Once above that climb, the trail curved left some more before yielding an interesting top down view of Preikestolen from almost right above it.
At this point, I had scrambled about 250m from the top of Preikestolen to get to this unsigned lookout.
After getting my fill of this unusual view of the famous pulpit rock, the trail continued further inland as it seemed to go even further away from Preikestolen.
In another 200m beyond the unusual view of Preikestolen, I found a trail of use veering back towards Lysefjord on my left.
At this point, I had to do a little route finding because there were lots of false trails so I definitely had to exercise caution here.
After descending then ascending a bouldery gully, I then found a trail that took me a fair bit even higher on a cliff-hugging trail.
Eventually after 400m from the last view of Preikestolen, I reached a protrusion on a ledge overlooking the Preikestolen backed by Lysefjorden.
This was my turnaround point as I was very happy with this commanding view.
While I’m sure I could have extended my exploration, it was getting late at night so I had to start heading back to ensure I’d be back in time to catch one of the last ferries back to Lauvvik from Oanes.
That said, I did find some mild difficulty trying to backtrack the way I came as it wasn’t obvious where my original trail had disappeared to.
These were the times where a bit of hiking experience and staying calm paid off to regain the main trail and be well on my way to the bone jarring descent back to the trailhead.
Overall, this additional scrambling to the alternate views of Preikestolen took me about a little under an hour covering around 1.3km round trip.
The Preikestolen Waterfalls (as well as the Preikestolen itself) sat in the town and municipality of Forsand in Rogaland County, Norway. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit the Preikestolen Foundation website.
For driving directions, I’m assuming that we’ll start the drive in Stavanger since that was how we did it.
The first option of doing the cruise from Stavanger is pretty straightforward, but we’ll still provide directions on the car park we wound up using since parking would otherwise be difficult (and expensive) to find.
The second option of doing the Preikestolen hike involved a drive that took nearly an hour, and it involved going across a ferry.
Let’s get into each of the driving routes.
Driving to a car park near the Stavanger Guest Harbor
There are several parking garages as well as possible street parking, but no matter where you go, it’s not cheap to park during weekday business hours.
There are also time limits so unless you refill your parking time in an area that allows for the EZ-Park mobile app, you’re better off going to a parking structure.
We managed to find parking at St Olav Parking Structure in Stavanger so we’ll describe that as if you’re entering the city for the first time on the E39.
Since you’re most likely entering Stavanger via the E39, just take that road all the way to the city center eventually turning left onto Løkkeveien, then turning right in 300m onto Arne Rettedals Gate.
In about 100m, turn right onto Knud Holms Gate (there should be a P sign pointing this way by now), and the entrance to the underground parking structure should be visible on your right.
Driving to the Preikestolen Car Park from Stavanger
From Stavanger, I had to take the E39 south for about 19km to the junction with the Rv13 in Sandnes.
Once on the Rv13, I followed the signs for Lauvvik (which pretty much followed the Rv13), and took this road for the next 24km or so before reaching the ferry dock at Lauvvik.
Then, I took the ferry across to Oanes, where I then continued driving the Rv13 for just under 12km to a signed turnoff for Preikestolen on the right.
Once on that access road, I took it nearly 5km to its end, where I then reached the fairly big car park for Preikestolen at the end of the road.
Overall this drive took me about an hour, including the ferry crossing.
One thing worth mentioning is that the ferry does have a closing time. I don’t have the exact details, but I think they stop running either at 11pm or some time a little after from Oanes back to Lauvvik.
That’s something to consider if you get a late start like I did, because you don’t want to be stranded on the other side of the ferry if you have to get back to Stavanger or elsewhere!
For geographical context, Stavanger was about 35km (a little over a half-hour drive) north of Gjesdal, 52km (under an hour drive) northwest of Dirdal, 57km (under an hour drive) northwest of Gilja, 159km (over 2.5 hours drive) west of Rysstad, and 249km (over 3.5 hours drive) northwest of Kristiansand.
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