Stigfossen and Tverrdalsfossen (Trollstigen)

Trollstigen, More og Romsdal County, Norway

About Stigfossen and Tverrdalsfossen (Trollstigen)


Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2005-07-02
Date last visited: 2019-07-17

Waterfall Latitude: 62.45557
Waterfall Longitude: 7.67135

Stigfossen and Tverrdalsfossen were the pair of waterfalls framing the famous 11-turn serpentine road called Trollstigen (“the troll ladder”).

This memorable drive up (or down) the steep switchbacking road while seeing at least one of the two waterfalls at all times was a sight to behold.

Trollstigen_010_07022005 - Stigfossen and the wall necessitating Trollstigen as seen in our first visit in July 2005
Stigfossen and the wall necessitating Trollstigen as seen in our first visit in July 2005

It also felt like deja vu because we had a similar experience on a different serpentine road (also featuring a pair of waterfalls flanking it) at the Stalheimskleiva at the head of the Nærøydal Valley in Stalheim.

Having gone through that other serpentine road, we knew what to expect in terms of taking it slow while also looking for opportunities to pull over and relish in the glorious scenery around us.

In the 14 years since our first visit in early July 2005, we noticed on our return visit quite a few changes at Trollstigen.

For starters, this place has grown in popularity (even though it was already pretty popular back then)!

Trollstigen_181_07172019 - Looking towards Tverrdalsfossen (or 'Trollfossen') as seen from one of the new lookout platforms during our 2019 visit
Looking towards Tverrdalsfossen (or ‘Trollfossen’) as seen from one of the new lookout platforms during our 2019 visit

Second, we noticed that they have a pretty modern visitor center and cafe with some degree of intervention on the stream responsible for Stigfossen.

Finally, we noticed at least three official lookouts where overhanging platforms with see-through floors were featured.

We definitely didn’t recall seeing these before on our first visit.

So while these changes may have better accommodated the increased visitation, it definitely changed the overall experience as a whole.

Trollstigen_156_07172019 - New lookout platforms that weren't there on our first visit in 2005 seemed to have enhanced the experience when we came back in 2019, especially since it appeared to better accommodate the increased visitor numbers
New lookout platforms that weren’t there on our first visit in 2005 seemed to have enhanced the experience when we came back in 2019, especially since it appeared to better accommodate the increased visitor numbers

One could argue the merits of these changes, but in my mind, we had a better experience on our second visit than on our first visit.

Even though the clouds kind of impacted the views from time-to-time on that second visit, at least they weren’t so persistent that we couldn’t see anything at all, especially since the weather was starting to clear up!

Stigfossen from Trollstigen

The larger waterfall that we noticed as we approached Trollstigen was Stigfossen, which we thought was the main waterfall.

We were able to see this 180m waterfall from various angles at several parts of the serpentine road.

Trollstigen_039_jx_07022005 - Climbing the switchbacks of Trollstigen alongside Stigfossen as seen from our first visit in early July 2005
Climbing the switchbacks of Trollstigen alongside Stigfossen as seen from our first visit in early July 2005

The progression for us started with a full frontal view near the bottom of the road just after the Trollstigen’s first two switchbacks.

More than two-thirds the way up the road we then approached the bridge Stigfossbrua where we got a little sprayed by the mist of Stigfossen’s uppermost sections of its cascade.

Ultimately, when we reached the very top of Trollstigen at Stigrøra, we would get to experience Stigfossen once again but this time from the top down with the Isterdal Valley acting as a backdrop.

Tverrdalsfossen from Trollstigen

Tverrdalsfossen was the other waterfall tumbling opposite Trollstigen of Stigfossen, and it seemed to have a more vertical drop than Stigfossen.

Trollstigen_091_jx_07022005 - Looking across Trollstigen towards Tverrdalsfossen as seen in early July 2005
Looking across Trollstigen towards Tverrdalsfossen as seen in early July 2005

It even seemed to be taller than Stigfossen as well, which we noticed quite readily when we viewed both waterfalls from higher vantage points.

We actually were quite surprised that this falls didn’t have an official name like Stigfossen did (at least according to Norgeskart).

That said, the falls did tumble on the Tverrelva so it could be why our Adventure Roads in Norway book called it Tverrdalsfossen.

In any case, we used to informally call this waterfall “Trollfossen”.

Trollstigen_049_07172019 - Context of the Trollstigen Road with Tverrdalsfossen tumbling towards part of the road as seen during our drive in 2019
Context of the Trollstigen Road with Tverrdalsfossen tumbling towards part of the road as seen during our drive in 2019

Unlike with Stigfossen, there seemed to be fewer pullouts or opportunities (if any) to better enjoy this waterfall outside of the car while on the Trollstigen serpentine road.

Both waterfalls had good volume though Stigfossen’s volume was much more significant and probably most likely to be year-round.

Finally, to not get confused about which waterfall was which, as you face Trollstigen on the ascent, Stigfossen would be the waterfall on the right while Tverrdalsfossen would be the waterfall next to the switchbacks on the left.

Ongoing work on Trollstigen

During our first visit in early July 2005, there was quite a bit of construction work going on, especially near the bottom of the road.

Trollstigen_150_07172019 - New walkways and steps were built over the years between our visits in 2005 and 2019 so now it appears that the trails at Trollstigen could better handle the volume of foot traffic
New walkways and steps were built over the years between our visits in 2005 and 2019 so now it appears that the trails at Trollstigen could better handle the volume of foot traffic

Julie and I had read a sign there talking about how the work sought to re-route a 600m stretch of road covering a pair of switchbacks due to its vulnerability to rockfalls.

From looking at the top down photo shown on the sign, a combination of the steep walls of Trollstigen combined with the water from Tverrdalsfossen seemed to present this engineering challenge.

When we returned to Trollstigen in July 2019, the construction work seemed to be completed as we saw no signs of construction while the road seemed to feature longer switchbacks than what we remembered.

As I looked back at our trip photos, I couldn’t help but notice there were now unused remnants of Trollstigen paralleling the current road though you’d have to really pay attention to notice them.

The Trollstigen Panoramas

Trollstigen_043_cropped_07022005 - View into Isterdalen from the top of Trollstigen as seen from early July 2005 when those new lookout decks weren't available
View into Isterdalen from the top of Trollstigen as seen from early July 2005 when those new lookout decks weren’t available

While driving the Trollstigen presented a big part of the overall experience, the other involved getting out of the car to experience the panoramas at the very top of Isterdalen’s headwall.

When we first visited in early July 2005, there were semi-formal trails that led from the car park on the right (west) side of the Fv63 to views looking back into the Isterdal Valley.

It was tricky to get an all-encompassing view simply because the panorama was too expansive to capture it all (the serpentine road and the valley with waterfalls) in a single camera frame.

In order to bring more into the frame, we needed some additional aids like a wide angle lens.

Trollstigen_109_07172019 - Looking back towards the new cafe and visitor center at the top of Trollstigen.  Note also the degree of intervention in the stream as all this was just above the drop of Stigfossen
Looking back towards the new cafe and visitor center at the top of Trollstigen. Note also the degree of intervention in the stream as all this was just above the drop of Stigfossen

I never recalled there being guardrails nor viewing platforms, and we basically went as far down the cliffs as we were willing to risk before the dropoffs became too steep in order to improve our views.

When we returned to Trollstigen in mid-July 2019, the area was completely redone.

Not only did they move the car park to the left (east) side, they redid the visitor center as well as created a boardwalk that skirted along the stream responsible for Stigfossen before branching off to different viewing platforms.

During the boardwalk, we noticed there was some degree of intervention on the stream in the form of calm pools as well as man-made channels to keep the water funneled towards Stigfossen, especially in times of flood.

Trollstigen_290_07172019 - Looking back at some of the modifications made to the stream feeding Stigfossen though they didn't appear to adversely impact the overall stream flow
Looking back at some of the modifications made to the stream feeding Stigfossen though they didn’t appear to adversely impact the overall stream flow

The boardwalk then branched off into a pair of spurs, where the left fork went right to the brink of Stigfossen.

Meanwhile, the path on the right followed along the cliff top before reaching a pair of sanctioned overlooks with the very last one featuring a gratings to allow you to see through to the dropoff below.

These overlooks provided a more direct look into the Isterdal Valley while also providing opportunities to get elevated views of the front of both Stigfossen as well as Tverrdalsfossen (though not at the same time).

In fact, the extent of these viewing decks allowed us the ability to get better looks at the Trollstigen switchbacks together with the Isterdal Valley in ways we never could have done the first time around when this infrastructure didn’t occur.

Trollstigen_161_07172019 - Our 2019 experience at Trollstigen really felt completely different largely because of the new lookout platforms yielding new viewing angles that were previously unavailable in 2005
Our 2019 experience at Trollstigen really felt completely different largely because of the new lookout platforms yielding new viewing angles that were previously unavailable in 2005

Although it would probably take no more than an hour to properly experience all the overlooks, I’d imagine you’d want to take your time due to the sheer amount of tourist traffic here as well as to just enjoy the landscape.

We also noticed some people forsake the main trails to each of the overlooks in favor of longer trails climbing even higher to more elevated and lesser-developed vantage points.

The maps even suggested that one of these trails ultimately would lead to the Trollveggen (the “Troll Wall”) overlooking Romsdal Valley.

For the record, on our second visit in 2019, it took us about 90 minutes away from the car (not counting an hour-long lunch) before we then moved on.

Origins and Plans for Trollstigen

Trollstigen_096_jx_07022005 - Construction work going on at Trollstigen when we first made our visit back in early July 2005
Construction work going on at Trollstigen when we first made our visit back in early July 2005

As Julie and I read more about Trollstigen, we learned that it opened in July 1936 after eight years of construction under the reign of King Haakon VII.

Given its dramatic scenery that I’ve been waxing poetic about throughout this page, it was said that Trollstigen was the most traveled tourist road in Norway.

We can anecdotally corroborate this claim given how many people we had to share the narrow serpentine road (as well as the overlooks) with on our both of our visits.

Supposedly, the Norwegian road authority, Statens Vegvesen, had big plans for the stretch of road Fv63 that included Geiranger and Trollstigen back when we made our first visit in early July 2005.

Trollstigen_192_07172019 - If you look towards the center right of this photo between the clouds, you'll notice where Trollstigen had been re-routed as the thinner road (to the left of the main route) was no longer in use
If you look towards the center right of this photo between the clouds, you’ll notice where Trollstigen had been re-routed as the thinner road (to the left of the main route) was no longer in use

They wanted to make the so-called Atlantic Ocean Road (Atlantershavsveien) as part of the National Tourist Road system to further establish Norway as a self-driving destination, which seemed to make a lot of sense.

We’re not sure if these big plans have been completely executed or not since we didn’t see any specific designation on the roads making this connection (though I’m sure they’re in the literature).

When we made our drive doing a similar connection in 2019, it started from Sunndalsøra, went through Kristiansund and the Atlantic Road, then went through Åndalsnes to ascend the Trollstigen en route to Ålesund.

Beyond Trollstigen and the Valldal Plateau

Although Trollstigen deservedly gets the notoriety and the accompanying traffic, the hits didn’t end there.

Trollstigen_317_07172019 - Further up the Fv63 from Trollstigen, we encountered this attractive cascade, which I believe was called Strupen
Further up the Fv63 from Trollstigen, we encountered this attractive cascade, which I believe was called Strupen

As we continued further south on the Fv63, we encountered more sights including waterfalls, lakes, mountains, and a wide valley called Valldalen.

Although technically this wasn’t part of the Trollstigen experience, I tended to think of them together considering that they were close enough to not want to miss out (especially when driving across the plateau).

Among the waterfalls in or near the Valldalen Plateau included the cascade called Strupen as well as the high volume Slufsafossen in Valldalen.

We also witnessed more alpine lakes and tarns backed by more nameless cascades as well as tall peaks.

Trollstigen_327_07172019 - Slufsafossen and the Valldalen Valley as we were looking south from the municipality boundaries of Norddal and Rauma
Slufsafossen and the Valldalen Valley as we were looking south from the municipality boundaries of Norddal and Rauma

Indeed, it seemed like people in the know used this area as a more laid back scenic alternative to the crowds at Trollstigen (or perhaps they already did Trollstigen earlier and wanted a place to unwind a bit).

As far as I was concerned, the waterfalls and the scenery reached as far as the municipality boundary between Rauma and Norddal.

There were large pullouts in the area both around Strupen as well as by the municipality boundary sign to better take in the scenery.

I recalled when we first passed through Valldalen in early July 2005, the entire plateau was covered in snow except for where the road was.

When we returned in July 2019, the snow was mostly gone, which made the waterfalls here (especially Slufsafossen) stand out against the rocks and moss.

Valldalen_006_jx_07022005 - Valldalen (beyond Trollstigen and spanning the plateau between Isterdalen and Tafjorden) was still covered in a lot of snow when we first came here in early July 2005. Notice the difference between this photo and the one before it
Valldalen (beyond Trollstigen and spanning the plateau between Isterdalen and Tafjorden) was still covered in a lot of snow when we first came here in early July 2005. Notice the difference between this photo and the one before it

I guess that kind of gives you an idea of how the experiences can differ from year to year.

Authorities

Stigfossen and Tverrdalsfossen reside in the Rauma Municipality near Åndalsnes in Møre og Romsdal County, Norway. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website or Facebook page.

Romsdalen_315_07162019 - About to drive into Isterdalen, which was the valley containing the Trollstigen at its head during our July 2019 visit. Note that this photo and the next several shots took place on this day
Trollstigen_008_07172019 - Isterdalen featured steep walls reminiscent of a smaller version of Romsdal Valley
Trollstigen_019_07172019 - Approaching Stigfossen and the Trollstigen, but the low clouds impacted the visual experience on our 2019 visit
Trollstigen_036_07172019 - Looking up towards what Tverrdalsfossen would reveal of itself given the low clouds during our July 2019 visit
Trollstigen_065_07172019 - Approaching the misty bridge traversing Stigfossen as part of the Trollstigen serpentine road
Trollstigen_073_07172019 - Bikers sharing the road with motorists on the Trollstigen with Stigfossen in the background
Trollstigen_097_07172019 - The boardwalk past the Trollstigen Visitor Center leading out to the overlooks (utsiktpunkter)
Trollstigen_100_07172019 - Large procession of people on the boardwalks, which gives you an idea of how crowded and busy it can get at Trollstigen
Trollstigen_102_07172019 - Looking across the visitor center and towards Bispen (the Bishop) as we were walking out to the overlooks
Trollstigen_104_07172019 - Looking back towards the fancy Trollstigen Cafe and Visitor Center across from a very clear man-modified pond
Trollstigen_112_07172019 - Looking towards Tverrdalsfossen and some of the boardwalks and overlooks to the right of it
Trollstigen_119_07172019 - On the busy walkway connecting the overlooks peering right into Isterdalen and the Trollstigen
Trollstigen_124_07172019 - Context of Tverrdalsfossen and the furthest developed overlook at Trollstigen
Trollstigen_126_07172019 - Looking over the brink of Stigfossen towards Isterdalen and the Trollstigen
Trollstigen_139_07172019 - Context of the walkway from the second lookout over Trollstigen
Trollstigen_163_07172019 - Looking down at Stigfossen from an angle that I wouldn't think was safely possible when we first came here in 2005
Trollstigen_170_07172019 - Clouds were kind of the wildcard on our 2019 visit at Trollstigen where they were quite fickle about letting us have a good viewing experience
Trollstigen_186_07172019 - The top of Stigfossen seen together with Bispen and some neighboring mountains from the new Trollstigen Lookouts
Trollstigen_224_07172019 - A moment where the low clouds prevented anyone from seeing anything at the Trollstigen viewpoints
Trollstigen_244_07172019 - Context of the last (overhanging) lookout for Trollstigen and Isterdalen
Trollstigen_259_07172019 - Looking back at the last lookout backed by Tverrdalsfossen and the imposing mountain in the background
Trollstigen_275_07172019 - An unusual moment where I was able to see both Stigfossen (albeit its brink) and Tverrdalsfossen in the same photo
Trollstigen_277_07172019 - Looking back to the Trollstigen Visitor Center though I did notice quite a few people were not using the boardwalks and thus scarring the landscape
Trollstigen_280_07172019 - Walking towards the overlook right at the brink of Stigfossen
Trollstigen_281_07172019 - The lookout by the brink of Stigfossen was also an overhanging lookout
Trollstigen_300_07172019 - When we returned to the car park, we saw that there were at least a half-dozen workers directing traffic and cars stretched almost as far as the eye can see
Trollstigen_304_07172019 - Looking downstream from the Strupen with a traffic jam on the topleft of this picture which was the Trollstigen car park
Trollstigen_312_07172019 - Direct look at Strupen
Trollstigen_316_07172019 - Looking back at the traffic jam for Trollstigen.  Good thing we weren't part of this crowd
Trollstigen_319_07172019 - Looking in the distance towards some slanting cascade with some people chilling out on the hillside there
Trollstigen_324_07172019 - Looking back towards Trollstigen as well as Bispen as we were heading deeper into Valldalen
Trollstigen_329_07172019 - Zoomed in on the Slufsafossen, which was the most conspicuous waterfall in Valldalen
Trollstigen_346_07172019 - Looking back towards the Rauma Municipality from Valldalen
Trollstigen_347_07172019 - Looking forward towards the Norddal Municipality
Trollstigen_355_07172019 - Following behind some slow traffic as we were entering Valldalen
Trollstigen_367_07172019 - Even more surprise cascades seen in the background as we were passing through Valldalen via the Fv63
Trollstigen_371_07172019 - Looking up towards some side cascade while passing through Valldalen along the Fv63
Trollstigen_377_07172019 - Heading towards the southern end of Valldalen where there were still more tall mountains flanking the Fv63
Trollstigen_004_jx_07022005 - On the Road 63 towards Trollstigen shortly after leaving the E136 as seen on our first visit in early July 2005. This photo and the rest of the photos in this gallery took place on this day
Trollstigen_010_jx_07022005 - On the Fv63 getting closer to Trollstigen. Note on this photo (taken in 2005), you can already start to see Stigfossen in the distance
Trollstigen_007_07022005 - Approaching Trollstigen with Tverrdalsfossen to our left as seen in 2005
Trollstigen_025_jx_07022005 - The imposing wall that Trollstigen would ascend with Stigfossen coming into view (taken in 2005)
Trollstigen_013_07022005 - Looking towards Tverrdalsfossen to our left as we started to go up Trollstigen in 2005
Trollstigen_021_07022005 - About to enter the first switchback of Trollstigen with this view of Stigfossen alongside the serpentine road. Note the construction work going on in 2005
Trollstigen_033_jx_07022005 - Higher up Trollstigen with this closeup view of Tverrdalsfossen in early July 2005
Trollstigen_041_jx_07022005 - On Trollstigen with Stigfossen and more steep switchbacks further ahead
Trollstigen_044_jx_07022005 - Approaching a switchback turning right before Tverrdalsfossen.  Notice the slope on the continuation of the road showing how steep Trollstigen was
Trollstigen_024_07022005 - Looking up at the upper sections of Stigfossen from the Trollstigen road next to the bridge Stigfossbrua in 2005
Trollstigen_052_jx_07022005 - Looking into Isterdalen from within the switchbacks of Trollstigen
Trollstigen_059_jx_07022005 - Now we were high enough on Trollstigen to feel like we were at eye level with the top of Tverrdalsfossen
Trollstigen_061_jx_07022005 - Following someone on a bike as we were approaching a switchback near the top of Stigfossen. Even in 2005, bikes were still a popular way to tour Norway
Trollstigen_071_jx_07022005 - Looking down at part of Stigfossen tumbling besides a switchback
Trollstigen_077_jx_07022005 - Looking towards Storgrovfjellet and the top of Tverrdalsfossen from the last stretch of Trollstigen
Valldalen_010_jx_07022005 - Looking towards a waterfall along Valldalen well upstream and further south from Trollstigen.  Possibly on the Slufså watercourse, so could it be called Slufsåfossen?
Valldalen_016_jx_07022005 - Back at that waterfall on Slufså seen in Valldalen on our way back to Trollstigen in 2005
Trollstigen_086_jx_07022005 - Now we were descending Trollstigen, but it seemed like there were some clouds starting to hang lower later that evening in 2005
Trollstigen_087_jx_07022005 - Following a car on our way down Trollstigen, using low gear to ensure we wouldn't wear out our brakes
Trollstigen_088_jx_07022005 - Still following a car on the narrow road as we were headed back down Trollstigen. Notice how easy it was for that driver to take up the whole road showing how narrow it was

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From the junction of the E136 and Fv64 in the town of Åndalsnes, we drove southeast along the E136 for about 4.3km to the junction with the Fv63 to our right.

Trollstigen_093_07172019 - The busy car park at the Trollstigen Visitor Center
The busy car park at the Trollstigen Visitor Center

We then crossed the bridge over the Rauma River and followed the Fv63 for the next 10.5km to a fairly well-defined viewing area for Stigfossen. This was just past the first two switchbacks on the Trollstigen Road.

The car park area for the Trollstigen Visitor Center and Cafe was another 4.5km up the serpentine road.

Overall, this drive should take no more than 30 minutes.

Going in the other direction from the town of Valldal, we would drive about 34km north on the Fv63 to the Trollstigen Visitor Center parking.

Trollstigen_090_07172019 - Context of the Bispen overlooking the car park for the Trollstigen Visitor Center
Context of the Bispen overlooking the car park for the Trollstigen Visitor Center

For context, Åndalsnes was 128km (under 2 hours drive) west of Sunndalsøra, about 54km (over an hour drive) northeast of Valldalen, 87km (over 2 hours drive with a ferry crossing) northeast of Geiranger, 105km (under 90 minutes drive) northwest of Dombås, 108km (90 minutes drive) east of Ålesund, 303km (over 4 hours drive) southwest of Trondheim, 442km (over 5.5 hours drive) northwest of Oslo, and 508km (8 hours drive) northeast of Bergen.

Disappointing sweep covering the bases of Stigfossen and Tverrdalsfossen at the bottom of Trollstigen


Sweep from the 2nd new viewing platform starting with Tverrdalsfossen before panning over to the top of Stigfossen then ending with the classic view of the serpentine road


Video from the furthermost of the new lookout platforms taking in both Stigfossen and Tverrdalsfossen as well as the classic view of Trollstigen fronting Isterdalen


Sweep of the upper cascades upstream from Stigfossen that I believe might be called Strupen

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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of 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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