Borgund, Sogn og Fjordane County, Norway

About Sjurhaugfossen

Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2019-07-22
Date last visited: 2019-07-22

Waterfall Latitude: 61.05006
Waterfall Longitude: 7.752

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Sjurhaugfossen was a roadside waterfall flowing on the Lærdalselvi River nestled deep in a gorge near the Borgund Stave Church.

According to the Norgeskart map, the falls could be as little as 5m tall or if you count all the contour lines over its run, then it could be as much as 15m.

Kongevegen_033_07222019 - Trying to see as much of Sjurhaugfossen as I possibly could to at least make the height figure seem more credible
Trying to see as much of Sjurhaugfossen as I possibly could to at least make the height figure seem more credible

The literature tends to say this waterfall was 10m tall and that salmon can jump the falls to continue upstream.

Other than that, we’re actually not sure what’s so special about this waterfall as it seemed to be nothing more than rapids situated next to a historical route.

The route was part of the so-called Kongevegen (the Royal Road), which was once a steep and dangerous road between the town of Seltun and the famed Borgund Stave Church prior to it being re-routed in the 1870s.

That said, we didn’t have to go on the longer, more historical three-day trek to experience Sjurhaugfossen via the original 1793 road though it would have been more atmospheric .

Anyways, Sjurhaugfossen was kind of our waterfalling excuse to see one of Norway’s largest and best preserved stave churches at Borgund.

Kongevegen_043_07222019 - Closer look at the main drop of Sjurhaugfossen and the bridge above it
Closer look at the main drop of Sjurhaugfossen and the bridge above it

We didn’t take very long to experience the Sjurhaugfossen as we pretty much watched it from along the railed lookout areas peering right into the gorge.

We only went as far as the small bridge just upstream of the falls, which provided us a look at the depth of the gorge with the Lærdalselvi still cutting it deeper.

Overall, we wound up spending about 10 minutes before we had our fill and moved on.

The Borgund Stave Church

This could very well be the most well-known of the stave churches in Norway, even though it wasn’t a UNESCO World Heritage site like the one in Urnes by the Lusterfjord.

However, it was said to have been built in the 12th or 13th centuries, and could very well be the largest as well as best-preserved (i.e. the fewest alterations) of the stave churches left in Norway.

Borgund_072_07222019 - The Borgund Stave Church fronted by some kind of wooden bell tower
The Borgund Stave Church fronted by some kind of wooden bell tower

In fact, this stave church and the surrounding infrastructure seemed to accommodate a higher flow of traffic since it sat in the Lærdal Valley along with the high-traffic E16 road.

So this was a busy stave church to say the least.

Due to its size and ability to retain its original form, apparently Borgund Stave Church had been modeled elsewhere such as the reconstruction of the Fantoft Stave Church near Bergen as well as other such churches in Germany and the United States.

The Vindhellavegen Part of the Kongevegen over Filefjell

We saw numerous signs with “Kongevegen” (or King’s Road) on them when we drove along the Fv630 from Borgund Stave Church to Sjurhaugfossen.

We only took this route since we had missed Sjurhaugfossen on our first trip to Norway in 2005, and we wanted to make sure we didn’t blow past it like before.

That meant we took the Fv630 to avoid using the Borgundstunnelen (even though we technically didn’t have to) just so we could slow down and take our time.

Kongevegen_009_07222019 - The man-modified or man-made waterfall near the car park for Vindhella along the Kongevegen or 'Royal Road'
The man-modified or man-made waterfall near the car park for Vindhella along the Kongevegen or ‘Royal Road’

Anyways, this road followed the old E16 along Lærdalselvi through small hamlets as well as a small man-modified waterfall on the river itself near a car park at Vindhella.

Upon looking at the signs at Vindhella, that was when I came to realize that there was also a hiking trail that connected Vindhella with Borgund over the Vindhella Pass.

This trail turned out to be a steep 2.7km road following the original route when the Kongevegen opened in 1793 though it had been used before as an old goat trail that became a footpath.

Apparently, due to this heritage, the Vindhellavegen played an important part of the overall Kongevegen winning a couple of different awards – Vakre Vegar Pris and Europa Nostra Cultural Heritage Award.

Maybe on a future trip, we’ll actually do this walk and feel a sense of what earlier travelers wishing to go between eastern and western Norway had to go through.


Sjurhaugfossen resides in the Læerdal Municipality near Borgund in Sogn og Fjordane County, Norway. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website or Facebook page.

Borgund_003_07222019 - On the drive along the E16 towards both Borgund and Sjurhaugfossen, we spotted these waterfalls though I'm not exactly sure which streams they were on
Kongevegen_026_07222019 - Looking along the Kongevegen from the car park at Sjurhaugfossen
Kongevegen_027_07222019 - Looking towards the turbulent rapids or chutes of Sjurhaugfossen with some onlookers for a sense of scale
Kongevegen_030_07222019 - Looking towards the main drop of Sjurhaugfossen directly beneath the road bridge
Kongevegen_031_07222019 - Looking downstream from the car park at the context of a tunnel on the Kongevegen with more rapids or tiers of Sjurhaugfossen
Kongevegen_040_07222019 - Looking upstream from the bridge above Sjurhaugfossen

Sjurhaugfossen was situated to the east of the town of Lærdal (or Lærdalsøyri).

To get there from the sentrum in Lærdal, we pretty much drove east into the Lærdal Valley along the Rv5.

After about 7km, the Rv5 became the E16 (just past the turnoff for the long Lærdalstunnelen).

Kongevegen_016_07222019 - The car park at Sjurhaugfossen
The car park at Sjurhaugfossen

In another 22km afterwards, we had to turn left onto the Fv630 (Kongevegen) immediately after leaving the Seltatunnelen.

The car park for Sjurhaugfossen was near this turnoff.

Overall, this drive should take less than 30 minutes.

If you’re coming from the Borgund Stave Church, then you can either take the quick way or the Kongevegen way.

For the quick way, you’d go north on the Fv630 for under 2km before heading west on the E16 through the Borgundstunnelen for 4km.

The aforementioned turnoff to get back onto the Fv630 was on the right.

Kongevegen_018_07222019 - Context of the Kvambergstunnelen on the E16 as seen from the Sjurhaugfossen car park
Context of the Kvambergstunnelen on the E16 as seen from the Sjurhaugfossen car park

For the Kongevegen route, you’d drive south on the Fv630 for about a little over 6km before you’d park at the car park for Sjurhaugfossen.

For geographical context, Lærdal was about 31km (under 30 minutes drive) south of Årdalstangen, 36km (over 30 minutes drive) north of Aurland, 41km (over 30 minutes drive) north of Flåm, 90km (under 2 hours drive) south of Skjolden, 206km (over 3 hours drive with a ferry crossing) northeast of Bergen, and 284km (over 4 hours drive) northwest of Oslo.

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Video looking down into the gorge to try to show as much of the rapids and waterfalls down there as possible

Video showing as much of the falls as I could see before going to the bridge for a more top down look

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Tagged with: laerdal, borgund, stave church, sogn og fjordane, norway, waterfall, rapids, kongevegen

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