Sarpsfossen (also referred to as Sarpefossen in the Norgeskart map) 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.
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, Sarpsfossen reminded me very much of Niagara Falls.
I say this because Sarpsfossen’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.
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.
As far as the waterfall’s output, Sarpsfossen 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.
From an unmarked clearing within the industrial complex next to the 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.
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 Sarpsfossen from the Route 118 Bridge
It turned out that viewing Sarpsfossen 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 Sarpsfossen 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 Sarpsfossen complex to the Route 118.
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.
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.
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).
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 Sarpsfossen 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 Sarpsfossen 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.
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.
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