Stalheimsfossen and Sivlefossen

Stalheimskleiva / Stalheim, Hordaland County, Norway

About Stalheimsfossen and Sivlefossen


Hiking Distance: roadside; 1.8km round trip (base of Stalheimsfossen)
Suggested Time: 30 minutes (base of Stalheimsfossen)

Date first visited: 2005-06-27
Date last visited: 2019-07-23

Waterfall Latitude: 60.83441
Waterfall Longitude: 6.68585

Stalheimsfossen and Sivlefossen were the two giant waterfalls tumbling on opposite sides of the serpentine road known as Stalheimskleiva.

In addition to the waterfalls, we saw a lot of scenery packed into this tight area since it sat right at the head of the narrow and precipitous Nærøydal Valley.

Stalheimskleiva_093_07232019 - Sivlefossen as seen from a steep footpath on our 2019 Norway trip
Sivlefossen as seen from a steep footpath on our 2019 Norway trip

According to the literature, Stalheimsfossen was said to be 126m tall while Sivlefossen was said to be 142m tall, which I can corroborate on Norgeskart.

Interestingly, I also saw a sign claiming that Stalheimsfossen dropped 120m while Sivlefossen dropped a whopping 240m, which I think was a typo.

While we easily saw both waterfalls on the Stalheimskleiva Road, there were also trails that allowed us to experience each waterfall on a more intimate level.

Experiencing Stalheimsfossen and Sivlefossen from Stalheimskleiva

We started the drive on the Stalheimskleiva from a short distance beyond the Stalheim Hotel on the Stalheimsvegen (see directions below).

Stalheimskleiva_016_jx_06272005 - Stalheimsfossen as seen from the Stalheimskleiva on our first visit to Norway in 2005
Stalheimsfossen as seen from the Stalheimskleiva on our first visit to Norway in 2005

As we descended the serpentine road, we really weren’t able to see the waterfalls in earnest until we were at about the third or fourth hairpin turn.

Once we spotted the waterfalls, we then had to figure out how to pull over and better enjoy the sights without blocking traffic.

This made me wonder if it would have been better to ride a bike (with good brakes of course) or walking the entire 1.5km stretch of road.

Regardless, when we got down to around the half-way point of Stalheimskleiva, we took advantage of a pullout that yielded perhaps our best roadside view of Sivlefossen.

Stalheimskleiva_017_06272005 - Sivlefossen as seen from Stalheimskleiva on our first Norway trip in 2005
Sivlefossen as seen from Stalheimskleiva on our first Norway trip in 2005

In fact, on our return visit in 2019, we noticed a narrow trail of use that linked Stalheimskleiva up with a more direct footpath that ran right in front of the Sivlefossen waterfall for an even better and more intimate experience of it.

At the top of the Sivlefossen was said to be the namesake Sivle Farm where Per Sivle (one of Norway’s most dear poets and writers) once lived.

Once the road descended amongst the trees at the floor of the Nærøydal Valley, the views were no more.

However, shortly after crossing the bridge over the Stalheimselvi, we then encountered a car park area near a trail leading to the base of Stalheimsfossen.

The Short Walk to the base of Stalheimsfossen

Stalheimskleiva_109_07232019 - The short and flat trail running alongside the Nærøyselva on the way to the base of Stalheimsfossen
The short and flat trail running alongside the Nærøyselva on the way to the base of Stalheimsfossen

The signs indicated at the short walk to the base of Stalheimsfossen was about 900m (in each direction).

This path was gentle and mostly flat (even wheelchair accessible) as it followed along the rushing Nærøy River (Nærøyselva).

We found this walk to be a very relaxing experience, which contrasted with the drama and white-knuckle driving on the Stalheimskleiva itself.

Most of the walk was within the shade or cover of flanking trees, but once we got into the spray zone of the falls, there was a noticeable clearing where we could view the falls on the approach to the end at the viewing area.

Stalheimskleiva_031_jx_06272005 - Approaching the base of Stalheimsfossen
Approaching the base of Stalheimsfossen

A sign here explained that the spray zone from the waterfalls made it difficult for trees to grow there, and hence the clearing that allowed us to get good views of Stalheimsfossen.

Julie and I spent a total of 30 minutes on this walk on our first visit in 2005.

On my second visit in 2019, I spent 25 minutes in total, but I was also racing an incoming tour bus crowd knowing that it would be a bit hectic and crowded when they would make it to the trail’s end if I didn’t beat them to the punch.

Stalheimskleiva History

According to a sign here, Stalheimskleiva was built between 1842-1849, and it was originally part of a royal postal route connecting Copenhagen, Oslo, and Bergen.

Stalheimskleiva_109_07232019 - The short and flat trail running alongside the Nærøyselva on the way to the base of Stalheimsfossen
The short and flat trail running alongside the Nærøyselva on the way to the base of Stalheimsfossen

They also refer to this route as the Kongevegen om Stalheim (the Royal Road at Stalheim) since it was an important corridor connecting at least Oslo and Bergen in otherwise very steep and rough terrain.

Given the road’s positioning between both Stalheimsfossen and Sivlefossen, I found the Stalheimskleiva experience to be similar to the Trollstigen experience, where it also had two waterfalls flanking the steep serpentine road.

That said, Stalheimskleiva was a lot shorter and steeper, and perhaps that’s why it felt like the quieter of the two roads.

As of our latest visit in 2019, it also seemed like the road was one-way as it only descended shortly after passing by the Stalheim Hotel and the vicinity of the Sivle Farm.

Stalheimskleiva_015_jx_06272005 - Looking back at the context of Stalheimsfossen and the Stalheim Hotel
Looking back at the context of Stalheimsfossen and the Stalheim Hotel

Apparently, this road used to accommodate uphill traffic though I’m sure the 20% grade must have made it difficult on older cars or those that lacked the horsepower to ascend such an incline.

The current location of the Stalheim Hotel (at the top of Stalheimskleiva) was the result of the owner Johann Andersen moving his hotel from Voss to Stalheim in 1885.

Since that time, one of its more prominent guests was Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, who would visit every year for the 25 years from 1889 to the first World War.

Even though we took it for granted on our visits to Stalheimskleiva, it wasn’t until the 1950s when the serpentine road was improved to allow for motor vehicles.

Authorities

Stalheimsfossen and Sivlefossen reside in the Voss Municipality near Stalheim in Hordaland County, Norway. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website or Facebook page.

Naeroydalen_161_07232019 - Believe it or not, we could actually see Stalheimsfossen as well as part of Sivlefossen as we drove west along the E16 approaching the Stalheimstunnelen in the Nærøydal Valley. This photo was taken during our late July 2019 visit, and the next several shots are taken on this day
Stalheimskleiva_025_07232019 - Looking down at the context of the E16 road and the lower entrance to the Stalheimstunnelen at the head of the Nærøydal Valley
Stalheimskleiva_027_07232019 - Looking towards the Sivle Farm from the Stalheim Hotel Terrace
Stalheimskleiva_043_07232019 - Looking back towards the Stalheim Hotel as we were approaching the Stalheimskleiva descending into Nærøydal Valley
Stalheimskleiva_047_07232019 - Some kind of runic monument as we were making our way to the Stalheimskleiva on the descent into the Nærøydal Valley
Stalheimskleiva_052_07232019 - Going down the first switchback of Stalheimskleiva with the Nærøydal Valley in the background
Stalheimskleiva_059_07232019 - Looking towards Sivlefossen as we descended on the Stalheimskleiva towards the Nærøydal Valley
Stalheimskleiva_065_07232019 - Approaching a switchback on the Stalheimskleiva with the Stalheimsfossen in the background
Stalheimskleiva_081_07232019 - This was where we were able to park the car off Stalheimskleiva and go on a short walk to the front of Sivlefossen
Stalheimskleiva_080_07232019 - However, the pullout that we stopped at on the Stalheimskleiva had this giant bump that might have been an artifact of the steep incline and someone driving over unsettled tar
Stalheimskleiva_085_07232019 - View of Sivlefossen from the Stalheimskleiva switchback nearest to the falls itself
Stalheimskleiva_086_07232019 - Following a short trail of use leading from Stalheimskleiva to a footpath right in front of Sivlefossen
Stalheimskleiva_092_07232019 - A viewing platform closest to Sivlefossen
Stalheimskleiva_091_07232019 - Direct view of Sivlefossen from the footpath running before its gorge
Stalheimskleiva_098_07232019 - Apparently, I wasn't alone in checking out Sivlefossen while doing the Stalheimskleiva Road
Stalheimskleiva_102_07232019 - Looking back at the bottom of the Stalheimskleiva where the wrong-way signs indicate that you can only go downhill on the serpentine road
Stalheimskleiva_104_07232019 - Start of the short walk to the base of Stalheimsfossen
Stalheimskleiva_110_07232019 - The walk to the base of Stalheimsfossen followed along the Nærøy River for its entire length
Stalheimskleiva_111_07232019 - Some interesting rock formations hinting at the kind of geology that gave rise to the narrowness of the Nærøydal Valley as well as the Stalheimsfossen itself
Stalheimskleiva_112_07232019 - Starting to see Stalheimsfossen as soon as the vegetation started clearing up near the end of the trail
Stalheimskleiva_117_07232019 - Approaching the end of the Stalheimsfossen Trail just as a couple was leaving
Stalheimskleiva_119_07232019 - Checking out Stalheimsfossen from the lookout at the end of the trail
Stalheimskleiva_125_07232019 - I had Stalheimsfossen to myself for a couple of minutes before the tour bus crowd showed up during my 2019 visit
Stalheimskleiva_127_07232019 - Looking back at the tour group approaching the lookout at the base of Stalheimsfossen
Stalheimskleiva_129_07232019 - One of the wildflowers blooming by the Stalheimsfossen Trail in the Nærøydal Valley
Stalheimskleiva_136_07232019 - Noticing some mossy rocks on the return hike from Stalheimsfossen
Stalheimskleiva_012_jx_06272005 - Prior to driving down Stalheimskleiva, we visited the Stalheim Hotel and its terrace. This photo was taken from our first trip to Norway in 2005. The rest of the photos in this gallery were taken on this day
Stalheimskleiva_003_jx_06272005 - This was the view of Nærøydalen from the Stalheim Hotel Terrace on our first visit to Norway in 2005
Stalheimskleiva_015_jx_06272005 - Looking back at Stalheimsfossen and the Stalheim Hotel in context on our first visit to Norway in 2005
Stalheimskleiva_009_jx_06272005 - This was the view through one of the World War II bunkers that was set up here.  This particular bunker had the word 'Lorelei' at its entrance, which made me wonder if this was from the Nazi occupation of Norway since I last recalled that name from a hazardous bend on the Romantic Rhine in Germany
Stalheimskleiva_013_jx_06272005 - About to approach one of the first of 13 switchbacks of Stalheimskleiva as seen in 2005
Stalheimskleiva_014_jx_06272005 - As we started to descend Stalheimskleiva, we started to get partial views of Stalheimsfossen and the mountains beyond
Stalheimskleiva_013_06272005 - Our views of Stalheimsfossen improved even more by the time we got down to about the third switchback
Stalheimskleiva_016_06272005 - More contextual view of Stalheimsfossen between the third and fourth switchback
Stalheimskleiva_019_06272005 - As we descended further down Stalheimskleiva, we started to see the impressive Sivlefossen.  This picture was from our 2005 trip to Norway
Stalheimskleiva_020_06272005 - Somewhere near the half-way point down Stalheimskleiva was probably our cleanest view of Sivlefossen as seen in 2005
Stalheimskleiva_025_06272005 - Further down Stalheimskleiva, we started to get more direct views of Stalheimsfossen
Stalheimskleiva_026_06272005 - Julie on the well-developed walk to the base of Stalheimsfossen during our first trip to Norway in 2005
Stalheimskleiva_027_06272005 - The walk now followed the Nærøy River
Stalheimskleiva_028_06272005 - Julie walking quicker as she started to see Stalheimsfossen up ahead
Stalheimskleiva_032_06272005 - Julie approaching the end of the walk and the base of Stalheimsfossen during our 2005 trip to Norway
Stalheimskleiva_033_06272005 - Stalheimsfossen from the end of the walk as seen on our first trip to Norway in 2005

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To get to the Stalheimskleiva, we first have to get to the Stalheim Hotel.

From Flåm, we would drive about 31km west on the E16 (passing through two long tunnels in the beginning and one more at the end) before turning right onto the signposted turnoff for Stalheim on the right.

Then, we’d drive 1.3km to the Stalheim Hotel.

Stalheimskleiva_049_07232019 - The road between Stalheim Hotel and the very top of the Stalheimskleiva
The road between Stalheim Hotel and the very top of the Stalheimskleiva

Soon after the hotel, we reached a fork where we kept right to go onto the Stalheimskleiva, where the switchbacks started roughly 400m later.

Overall, this drive would take a little over a half-hour.

Going in the opposite direction from Voss, we would drive north on the E16 for about 34km to the Stalheimsvegen (before the Stalheimtunnelen).

Once on the Stalheimsvegen, we then drove the remaining 1.2km to the Stalheim Hotel, and then another 400-500m or so to the start of the Stalheimskleiva.

This drive would also take a little over 30 minutes.

Stalheimskleiva_103_07232019 - The car park to go on the short walk leading to the base of Stalheimsfossen
The car park to go on the short walk leading to the base of Stalheimsfossen

At the bottom of the Stalheimskleiva, there was a car park where the trail to the base of Stalheimsfossen began.

It was also possible to drive directly to the car park for the base of Stalheimsfossen without going on the Stalheimskleiva by leaving the E16 about 200m before the Stalheimstunnelen (if heading west; or after the tunnel if heading east).

For geographical context, Flåm was about 15km (about 15 minutes drive) south of Aurland, 20km (under 30 minutes drive) east of Gudvangen, 41km (over 30 minutes drive) south of Lærdal, 66km (an hour drive) northeast of Voss, about 72km (an hour drive) southwest of Årdalstangen, 284km (over 3.5 hours drive with a ferry crossing) northeast of Bergen, and 312km (over 5 hours drive) northwest of Oslo.

Short sweep of Sivlefossen from one of the upper switchbacks


Short sweep of Sivlefossen from one of the lower switchbacks near a shortcut spur trail to the walking path


Sweep of the closest view of Sivlefossen that I could get from the steep walking path along its stream


Short downstream to upstream sweep of Stalheimsfossen before panning along its entire drop

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Tagged with: voss, vossevangen, vossestrand, oppheim, stalheimskleiva, stalheim, stalheim hotel, terrace, naeroydalen, flam, aurland, sogn og fjordane, hordaland, norway, waterfall, stalheimsfossen, sivlefossen



Visitor Comments:

Stalheimsfossen – Thanks September 5, 2010 8:15 pm by Ty - I took a picture from Stalheim Hotel's terrace when I was 11 and it looks identical to yours. I didn't actually remember where in Norway I took it as we went to so many places but i was trying to find out in case I wanted to revisit one day! So thanks for that! ...Read More

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