Sarpefossen (Sarp Falls)

Sarpsborg, Ostfold County, Norway

About Sarpefossen (Sarp Falls)


Hiking Distance: about 250m round trip
Suggested Time: 15-30 minutes

Date first visited: 2019-06-16
Date last visited: 2019-06-16

Waterfall Latitude: 59.27618
Waterfall Longitude: 11.1308

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Sarpefossen (Sarp Falls; also referred to as Sarpsfossen) showed itself to us as a frighteningly powerful waterfall on the Glomma River in the city of Sarpsborg.

Ordinarily I don’t tend to look kindly upon regulated waterfalls, especially with ugly man-made structures built all around it for the sole purpose of exploiting them.

Sarpsfossen_019_06162019 - Sarpefossen or Sarpsfossen
Sarpefossen or Sarpsfossen

However, for this waterfall, we couldn’t deny the raw power of the Glomma River gushing and crashing over its 20m drop.

As it did this, it left a deafening roar and lots of aerated white- (or brown-) water filling the width of the river before finally calming down a bit further downstream.

Norway’s Equivalent of Niagara Falls

In many ways, Sarp Falls reminded me very much of Niagara Falls.

I say this because Sarpefossen’s role in providing convenient hydroelectricity for Norway pretty much echoed the impact that Niagara Falls had on the entire eastern seaboard once it was tapped for hydroelectricity.

Sarpsfossen_059_06162019 - Looking towards the signs, picnic tables, and industrial developments surrounding Sarpefossen
Looking towards the signs, picnic tables, and industrial developments surrounding Sarpefossen

Once the waterfall could provide reliable electricity, it then set the stage for industrializing the rest of Norway.

According to the signs here, the earliest documentation of harnessing the power of the waterfall claimed of such exploitation for mill use during city founder Olav Haraldson’s time in the 13th century.

However, it wasn’t until 1899 when the excess power (for carbide production) became repurposed for electricity.

The power output ultimately led to both Sarpsborg and Fredrikstad to have electricity since the turn of the 20th century.

Sarpsfossen_067_06162019 - Looking downstream from the Route 118 bridge towards the brink of Sarpefossen
Looking downstream from the Route 118 bridge towards the brink of Sarpefossen

As far as the waterfall’s output, Sarpefossen tends to have a mean flow of 600 cubic meters per second.

However, during the Spring flood, this flow has been recorded to go as high as 3500 cubic meters per second.

Unfortunately, during our visit, the stream flow gauge was off so we could not determine where the powerful flow we had witnessed sat within this statistical range.

Experiencing Sarpefossen

We basically treated this as a quick stopover as we made the long drive from Gothenburg to Oslo with a late lunch in the city center of Sarpsborg.

Sarpsfossen_005_06162019 - Tahia and Julie on the walkway leading to the utsikt (overlook) for Sarpsfossen
Tahia and Julie on the walkway leading to the utsikt (overlook) for Sarpsfossen

From an unmarked clearing within the industrial complex next to the Sarp Falls (see directions below), we then followed the signs onto a narrow walkway.

This walkway led us to an utsikt (lookout) perched right above the rushing water of the Glomma River.

The awesome power of the river almost made it seem to us like it made the ground tremble!

It only took us barely 15-20 minutes to experience the falls from here.

Sarpsfossen_023_06162019 - As far down the overlook area as I could go to look back up at Sarpsfossen
As far down the overlook area as I could go to look back up at Sarpsfossen

However, we spent a few more minutes checking out the signs here (all in Norwegian) as well as a rather dicey bridge view further upstream of the falls along the busy Route 118.

Viewing Sarpefossen from the Route 118 Bridge

It turned out that viewing Sarpefossen from this bridge was not a particularly satisfying experience mostly because I was far enough upstream of the falls to not get a good view of it from there.

I pretty much saw mostly a closed walkway reaching out over the width of the brink of Sarp Falls as well as a lot of mist rising right below it.

That said, if you do wish to see this view, all you have to do is to walk up the road ramp connecting the Sarpefossen complex to the Route 118.

Sarpsfossen_071_06162019 - This should give you an idea of how narrow the shoulder was for pedestrians on the Route 118 Bridge above Sarpsfossen, which made me wonder if pedestrians were even supposed to be on here at all
This should give you an idea of how narrow the shoulder was for pedestrians on the Route 118 Bridge above Sarpsfossen, which made me wonder if pedestrians were even supposed to be on here at all

Then, try to stay on the shoulder of the busy road until you get far enough along the bridge to get your views.

Just keep in mind, however, that the shoulder was quite narrow so I tended to have this irrational fear that one of the cars might clip me even though I stood on the shoulder of the road.

Authorities

Sarpefossen (Sarp Falls or Sarpsfossen) is located in both the municipality and city of Sarpsborg in Østfold County, Norway. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit the local government website.

Sarpsfossen_003_06162019 - Tahia and Julie following the signs to the overlook for Sarpsfossen
Sarpsfossen_006_06162019 - On the narrow walkway leading to the overlook, which was right on the other side of that narrow passageway
Sarpsfossen_009_06162019 - Our first look at the frightful display of raw power on Sarpsfossen
Sarpsfossen_011_06162019 - Looking downstream from the sheer turbulence of Sarpsfossen
Sarpsfossen_012_06162019 - Context of another visitor checking out the raw power of Sarpsfossen
Sarpsfossen_015_06162019 - Another look into the frothing mess of Sarpsfossen
Sarpsfossen_016_06162019 - More zoomed in where the Sarpsfossen drops appeared to be converging
Sarpsfossen_032_06162019 - Julie and Tahia strolling around trying to see what else we might be able to check out while at Sarpsfossen
Sarpsfossen_049_06162019 - Looking across Sarpsfossen towards some more industrial developments on the other side of the Glomma River
Sarpsfossen_055_06162019 - Looking up at the Route 118 bridge, which was where I was going up to just to see what the view would be like from there
Sarpsfossen_057_06162019 - Looking back at the hydroelectric developments at Sarpsfossen, where as you can see, the stream gauge on the left side of the building was not operating.  However, the air temperature thermometer on the right was functioning
Sarpsfossen_061_06162019 - Looking downstream towards Sarpsfossen as I was walking on the Route 118 Bridge
Sarpsfossen_070_06162019 - Focused right at the turbulence of Sarpsfossen and the closed catwalk right above it from the Route 118 Bridge

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We visited Sarpefossen (Sarp Falls or Sarpsfossen) as short post-lunch stop in Sarpsborg, Norway during our long drive north between Gothenburg, Sweden and Oslo, Norway.

Since Sarpsborg is easily reached by the E6 motorway, I’ll just describe how we managed to drive to it a couple of the motorway exits.

The most straightforward way to reach Sarpsfossen would be to take the exit 5 just on the south side of the Glomma River Bridge.

This exit would take you to the roundabout to go northeast on the Route 111 (though GoogleMaps calls it Route 22).

Sarpsfossen_001_06162019 - This clearing where both Brattveien and Knut Bryns Vei intersected was where we managed to find a parking spot at Sarpsfossen
This clearing where both Brattveien and Knut Bryns Vei intersected was where we managed to find a parking spot at Sarpsfossen

Continuing northeast on Route 111 for about 2.5km, we would then turn left onto Brattveien, where we could find a place to park somewhere near the power plant. We happened to find a large unmarked clearing just before Brattveien intersected with Knut Bryns Vei.

We also noticed that there could be an opportunity to park closer to the power plant a little further upstream from Sarpsfossen.

Another way to go to Sarp Falls from the E6 would be to exit the E6 at exit 7 to go east on the Route 114, which then would become the Route 118.

We’d then follow the Route 118 for about 4.5km crossing over a bridge spanning the Glomma River. Just beyond this bridge, the Knut Bryns Vei led down a ramp to the Sarp Falls complex.

Finally, there was also an in-between exit 6, which went right to the Sarpsborg sentrum (city center). From the city center, we were able to navigate our way to the Route 118 (St Nikolas Gate) and turn right to go further to the east.

Sarpsfossen_072_06162019 - Looking down from the descending ramp on Knut Bryns Vei towards both Sarpsfossen's brink and a clearing where I think it might be kosher to park the car
Looking down from the descending ramp on Knut Bryns Vei towards both Sarpsfossen’s brink and a clearing where I think it might be kosher to park the car

Then, we’d turn right just after the Glomma Bridge to descend on Knut Bryns Vei.

For geographical context, Sarpsborg, Norway was about 89km (over an hour drive) south of Oslo, 205km (over 2 hours drive) north of Gothenburg, Sweden, 284km (over 4 hours drive) northeast of Kristiansand, and 504km (about 6 hours drive) west of Stockholm, Sweden.

Sweep showing the frightful display of power from the overlook platform at a couple of different spots


Sweep showing the breadth of the Glomma River as seen from the road bridge just upstream of the Sarp Falls

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Tagged with: sarpsborg, ostfold, norway, glomma, hydroelectricity, dam



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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