Steinsdalsfossen (The Stone Valley Falls) was a waterfall that seemed to have a lot of fanfare and notoriety (at least that was our impression when we were researching for our trip). When we visited the falls in June 2005, we certainly found it to be one of the more popular places in the country as it consistently received tour bus traffic and scores of people. We weren’t quite sure exactly what was it about this modestly-sized waterfall (generously said to be 46m tall) that warranted this notoriety, but we wondered if it had more to do with being so easily accessible as well as being one of those rare waterfalls that we were able to walk behind. I had read that this was Norway’s 5th most popular attraction in the country, but we’re not sure how accurate that statement was.
While doing a little research on this falls, I learned that apparently this waterfall was a favorite of Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. It was said that he would frequently visit Steinsdalsfossen every Summer (except a couple of them) between 1889 and the start of World War I in 1914. As a result of this, it was said that some people would refer to this waterfall as the “Kaiser Wilhelm Falls.”
When Julie and I visited the falls, we pretty much took photos of its front from the busy car park area where there were many souvenir shops. Then, we saw that there was a well-developed sloping walkway that led up to the backside of the falls so naturally we did that. This was probably one of the more developed walkways that went behind a waterfall that we could remember. In any case, from the backside of the falls, we could look out towards the Mv7 motorway as well as the souvenir shops below. It looked like the walking path kept going, but we were pretty content to turn back from behind the falls and return to the car park. From the Mv7, we also managed to get a second glimpse of Steinsdalsfossen after filling up on petrol and a quick hot dog (pølse) takeaway dinner to the east of the falls near Norheimsund.
Steinsdalsfossen looked to be a permanent year-round waterfall sourced by the Mykla Lake (Myklavatnet) way up in the highlands before feeding into Steinsdalselva (Steinsdals River), which itself meandered through the valley Steinsdalen. That said, I had read that the falls could freeze over in the Winter. I had also read that there were floodlights at the base of the falls so it could be lit up at night. Since Julie and I only visited on a cloudy afternoon in June 2005, we didn’t get to see it lit up at night nor frozen over.
The nearest town to the falls is Norheimsund, which is about 3km east along Mv7 on the western shores of the Hardanger Fjord (Hardangerfjorden).
Julie and I actually visited this waterfall immediately after making a brief visit to the city of Bergen. That required us to drive about 37km to the north and east along the E16, then we left the E16 to continue onto the Mv7 for another 41km to the falls while passing by a few other waterfalls along the way including the impressive Fossen Bratte some 20km east of the E16 just before a tunnel.
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