Tjornadalsfossen

Oddadalen, Hordaland County, Norway

About Tjornadalsfossen


Hiking Distance: 800m round trip (base); 1.6km round trip (upper view); 2.3km round trip (Bygdeborg)
Suggested Time: 30-45 minutes (base of falls only); around 90-120 minutes (Bygdeborg)

Date first visited: 2005-06-24
Date last visited: 2019-06-23

Waterfall Latitude: 60.02304
Waterfall Longitude: 6.56664

Tjornadalsfossen (Tjørnadalsfossen; pronounced “TYURD-nuh-dahls-foss-un”) was a waterfall that we almost missed out on for we weren’t really aware of its presence.

Indeed, it took an accidental stop, which we did to improve our view of Strondsfossen (on the other side of the lake Sandvinvatnet) before this waterfall caught us by surprise!

Oddadalen_119_06232019 - Unobstructed and elevated view of Tjørnadalsfossen as seen in June 2019
Unobstructed and elevated view of Tjørnadalsfossen as seen in June 2019

This falls turned and twisted its way down the eastern wall of Oddadalen making it very tall.

I had some trouble trying to find a satisfyingly full contextual view, which got me to do a little exploring to see if there was a better way to experience it.

Over the years, I managed to find two very different approaches to better appreciate Tjørnadalsfossen.

Experiencing Tjørnadalsfossen – getting closer to its bottom

The most straightforward way that I know of to get a more intimate look at Tjornadalsfossen was by getting a bottom up look at it.

Oddadalen_082_06232019 - The barricade preventing any vehicular access onto this old road leading up towards Tjørnadalsfossen
The barricade preventing any vehicular access onto this old road leading up towards Tjørnadalsfossen

To do that, I had to go up the tractor road that quickly rose up the east end of Oddadalen Valley immediately from the car park or pullout (see directions.

This road only allowed pedestrians though I’m sure the barricade may be opened only for particular local uses since the road seemed to have some degree of recent (albeit very infrequent) use.

In any case, the road switchbacked at least a couple of times with several informal paths scrambling closer to the stream that Tjornadalsfossen was on.

However, I kept ascending this road until it started to flatten out about 600m from the trailhead.

Oddadalen_166_06232019 - Ascending the road to get up closer to Tjørnadalsfossen
Ascending the road to get up closer to Tjørnadalsfossen

That was when I spotted a more obvious scrambling path on the left into the shaded forested area.

After a short scramble through to the opposite side of the narrow patch of woods, I then found myself at the banks of the stream responsible for Tjørnadalsfossen.

This was where I got satisfying bottom up views of Tjørnadalsfossen though getting a full photo of it either required stitching or a decent wide angle.

After having my fill of the falls, I then turned back and went back downhill to the trailhead.

Tjornadalsfossen_009_jx_06242005 - Tjørnadalsfossen as seen from our first visit in June 2005
Tjørnadalsfossen as seen from our first visit in June 2005

Overall, this short excursion would probably take around 30 minutes total.

By the way, the road continued further to the south towards Hildal as well as Bygdeborg (the location of an old fort).

I didn’t keep going on this path so I can’t say anything more about it.

Experiencing Tjørnadalsfossen – hiking the Saga Trail to Bygdeborg

On my second visit to this part of Norway in late June 2019, I noticed Bygdeborg signs, and I decided that I ought to take a look to see what it’s about.

Oddadalen_087_06232019 - Signs pointing the way to get to Bygdeborg near Tjørnadalsfossen
Signs pointing the way to get to Bygdeborg near Tjørnadalsfossen

I believe the word means “hillfort” and apparently Norway had quite a few of these back in the day.

According to the signs here, the Bygdeborg of Sandvin was believed to have been in use from the Iron Age to the Viking Age.

This fort took advantage of its favorable hillside position so it was easy to defend, and it blended in with the surroundings so it was well concealed.

It’s this aspect of the excursion to Bygdeborg that ultimately translated into a fairly demanding and nearly vertical hike to get there.

Oddadalen_089_06232019 - Just to give you an idea of how steep and tricky the hike up to Bygdeborg was, here's a photo of the slope as well as the red Ts on the trees that I had to really look for in order to not get lost
Just to give you an idea of how steep and tricky the hike up to Bygdeborg was, here’s a photo of the slope as well as the red Ts on the trees that I had to really look for in order to not get lost

So starting from the trailhead, I went up the tractor road, but at the first switchback, I noticed a sign and arrow pointing the way about 1km to Bygdeborg.

Taking this smaller path, it immediately disappeared right into the thicket of trees and started to climb very steeply.

The path was easy to lose because there was a combination of pine needles and moss all over the ground (concealing what would otherwise be a discernable trail of use).

Often times, I’d have to look for red Ts to assure myself that I hadn’t lost the path.

Oddadalen_101_06232019 - Once above the initial climb, I was able to get this partial view of Strondsfossen.  The view would have been really nice if the trees weren't in the way because the lake Sandvinvatnet wouldn't look so flat from up here
Once above the initial climb, I was able to get this partial view of Strondsfossen. The view would have been really nice if the trees weren’t in the way because the lake Sandvinvatnet wouldn’t look so flat from up here

In any case, this path steeply climbed for maybe the next 200-250m, but it seemed like it was a lot longer than that.

Indeed, this Saga Trail really made me experience how difficult it was to access these hillforts.

Eventually, when the initial climb flattened out somewhat, I had a brief flat or gently climbing stretch where I started to get some partial elevated views back across Sandvinvatnet towards Strondsfossen.

However, it didn’t take long before I reached the next obstacle.

Oddadalen_104_06232019 - The pair of local women who didn't hesitate when they scaled this wall obstacle to continue towards Bygdeborg
The pair of local women who didn’t hesitate when they scaled this wall obstacle to continue towards Bygdeborg

At this point, I encountered a bit of a rock wall, where further progress required scaling it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see any red Ts or cairns in the immediate area, and it wasn’t until I saw some locals who knew what they were doing unhesitatingly scaling this wall.

Whatever you do at this point, don’t make the mistake I made and follow the other trails of use that avoided this climb.

They quickly degenerated into an overgrown scramble anyways.

Oddadalen_108_06232019 - Direct elevated view from an informal trail of use spur path off the Bygdeborg Saga Trail towards Tjørnadalsfossen
Direct elevated view from an informal trail of use spur path off the Bygdeborg Saga Trail towards Tjørnadalsfossen

After scaling the rock wall, the narrow path became obvious to follow once again.

Along the way, I spotted some informal trails of use to the left, which actually afforded me some unsanctioned-but-nice views of Tjørnadalsfossen.

The Bygdeborg Trail continued onwards on a ridge before making another very steep climb.

It was only at the top of the secondary climb did I finally start to see some signs of civilization (in the form a sign as well as some kind of register (or geocache?).

Oddadalen_141_06232019 - Looking back towards Tjørnadalsfossen from the clearing where Bygdeborg used to be
Looking back towards Tjørnadalsfossen from the clearing where Bygdeborg used to be

Indeed, up at this small clearing, where I could get a nice angled view back towards Tjornadalsfossen, there really wasn’t much in the way of any visible evidence of the hillfort being here.

I noticed merely lots of stones since this fort focused more on blending in with the surroundings while also taking advantage of its lofty position for defense.

After having my fill of this location, I had a choice of continuing on the trail towards Hildal (another kilometer away) before backtracking on the tractor road for 2km back to the trailhead (for a 4km loop).

However, I opted to go back the way I came, which meant having to go back through the rough terrain to regain the first switchback near the trailhead.

Oddadalen_161_06232019 - Facing the steep descent back down to the tractor road after having returned from Bygdeborg
Facing the steep descent back down to the tractor road after having returned from Bygdeborg

Overall, this hike was said to be 2km round trip, but it took me a little over 90 minutes to do it given the rough hiking conditions.

Authorities

Tjornadalsfossen resides near the town and municipality of Odda in Hordaland County, Norway. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website or Facebook page.

Oddadalen_084_06232019 - Ascending the tractor road to get closer to both Bygdeborg and Tjørnadalsfossen during my visit in June 2019
Oddadalen_085_06232019 - Norwegian locals really don't like people doing nature calls on their property. I saw numerous signs like these during my visit in June 2019
Oddadalen_090_06232019 - On the initial rough climb to get up to Bygdeborg as seen during my June 2019 visit
Oddadalen_092_06232019 - More rough ascending on the Saga Trail to Bygdeborg in June 2019, where I really had to pay attention to where I was going
Oddadalen_093_06232019 - Near the top of the initial climb on the Saga Trail to Bygdeborg during my hike in June 2019
Oddadalen_094_06232019 - About to scale the last of the initial climb on the Saga Trail to Bygdeborg during my visit in June 2019
Oddadalen_096_06232019 - After the initial climb, I managed to get some obstructed views across Sandvinvatnet towards Strondsfossen during my June 2019 visit
Oddadalen_100_06232019 - Looking up at the rock wall obstacle that I had to scale to continue on the Saga Trail to Bygdeborg in June 2019. I think a red T would have really come in handy here because it wasn't at all obvious to have to do this climb, especially in the presence of false trails down below
Oddadalen_102_06232019 - When I noticed these Norwegians doing the hike to Bygdeborg, I noticed that perhaps they might lead the way to Bygdeborg where I ended up getting lost on my June 2019 visit. So I followed them to see where they went
Oddadalen_105_06232019 - It wasn't until I saw the couple of locals go up this rock wall did I realize that the Saga Trail continued on to Bygdeborg in that manner. So my June 2019 hike could continue
Oddadalen_106_06232019 - Above the rock wall on my June 2019 visit, the narrow trail started to flatten out again as it was flanked by low lying vegetation
Oddadalen_109_06232019 - View towards Tjørnadalsfossen from one of the trails of use deviating from the Saga Trail to Bygdeborg
Oddadalen_114_06232019 - Looking in the other direction from Tjørnadalsfossen on my June 2019 hike, I got this partial view of Strondsfossen, where I really wished there was a clearer view from this height to see both the Sandvinvatnet Lake and Strondsfossen together in a far more superior view than from the Rv13 down below
Oddadalen_117_06232019 - Continuing on the Saga Trail to Bygdeborg during my June 2019 hike
Oddadalen_118_06232019 - Spotting another use-trail that deviated from the Saga Trail to Bygdeborg and led to an open view of Tjørnadalsfossen during my June 2019 hike
Oddadalen_122_06232019 - This was the unobstructed view of Tjørnadalsfossen from the end of the use-trail during my June 2019 visit
Oddadalen_127_06232019 - Context of the continuation of the Saga Trail to Bygdeborg and a partial view of Tjørnadalsfossen during my June 2019 hike
Oddadalen_129_06232019 - The first red T that I saw since the beginning of this June 2019 hike happened to be at the start of the next steep ascent en route to Bygdeborg
Oddadalen_130_06232019 - Looking up at the steep climb to get up to Bygdeborg during my June 2019 visit
Oddadalen_131_06232019 - Once again, the terrain was rough and rooty on this secondary ascent en route to Bygdeborg in June 2019
Oddadalen_133_06232019 - More ascending to approach Bygdeborg during my hike in June 2019
Oddadalen_136_06232019 - This was the view of Tjørnadalsfossen that I got from the location of Bygdeborg in June 2019
Oddadalen_137_06232019 - Signage letting me know that I finally made it to Bygdeborg on my June 2019 visit.  To the untrained eye, you wouldn't be able to tell otherwise
Oddadalen_157_06232019 - Looking down towards a road tunnel on Rv13 while hiking back from Bygdeborg during my June 2019 visit
Oddadalen_158_06232019 - On the way back down to the tractor road from Bygdeborg on my June 2019 visit, I got this view towards the mouth of Sandvinvatnet and Odda
Oddadalen_165_06232019 - Back on the tractor road leading up to a close-up look at Tjørnadalsfossen as well as Hildal during my June 2019 visit
Oddadalen_168_06232019 - One of many false paths deviating from the tractor road promising to provide a look at Tjørnadalsfossen as seen during my June 2019 visit
Oddadalen_170_06232019 - This was the scrambling path that I took to get a good look at Tjørnadalsfossen in June 2019
Oddadalen_171_06232019 - Looking ahead towards the continuation of the road towards Hildal before scrambling into the trees for a close-up look up at Tjornadalsfossen during my June 2019 visit
Oddadalen_175_06232019 - This was the coveted bottoms-up look at Tjørnadalsfossen during my June 2019 visit
Oddadalen_180_06232019 - After having my fill of the close-up look of Tjørnadalsfossen in June 2019, I then went back down the hill to the car park
Oddadalen_181_06232019 - Finally making it back to the car park for both Bygdeborg and Tjørnadalsfossen to end my June 2019 visit
Tjornadalsfossen_001_jx_06242005 - Looking up at part of Tjornadalsfossen when I first noticed it while looking to improve my experience with Strondsfossen during our June 2005 visit
Tjornadalsfossen_001_06242005 - Looking way up from the Rv13 towards Tjørnadalsfossen from back in June 2005
Tjornadalsfossen_011_06242005 - Near the upper end of the climb up the unsealed road as I tried to improve my view of Tjørnadalsfossen on my first visit in June 2005
Tjornadalsfossen_010_06242005 - The path I took through the tree canopy to get a better look at Tjørnadalsfossen in June 2005, which didn't look like it changed a whole lot over the years
Tjornadalsfossen_009_06242005 - Looking up towards the top of Tjørnadalsfossen. I only got partial views back in June 2005 because I didn't have a wide angle and stitching was awkward back then
Tjornadalsfossen_008_06242005 - Looking towards the lower tiers of Tjørnadalsfossen
Tjornadalsfossen_005_6_combined_06242005 - This is a stitched photograph of Tjørnadalsfossen to try to get it all in one shot

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Unlike most of the waterfalls in Oddadalen, Tjornadalsfossen was not easily spotted from the road.

You basically need to find the Bygdeborg Hillfort car park or pullout, which was right at the bottom of a closed off tractor road.

To get there, you can take the Rv13 south from the Odda sentrum for roughly a little over 5km.

Oddadalen_080_06232019 - The trailhead for Tjornadalsfossen
The trailhead for Tjornadalsfossen

The car park and trailhead will be on the left, which seemed to have enough space for at least a half-dozen cars or so.

Coming from the other direction, it was about 9km north of the kiosk at the Låtefoss Waterfall.

For some geographical context, Odda is 17km (under 30 minutes drive) north of Skare, 42km (about 45 minutes drive) north of Røldal, 72km (about 1 hour drive) northeast of Etne, 134km (about 3 hours drive with a ferry crossing) east of Bergen, 179km (over 3 hours drive with some ferry crossings) north of Stavanger, and 323km (about 5 hours drive) west of Oslo.

Bottom up sweep from a short detour view after leaving the road now acting as a trail for hikers and mountain bikers


Semi-circular sweep revealing Tjornadalsfossen as seen from above the blocking trees along the Hillfort Saga Trail

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Tagged with: odda, hordaland, sorfjorden, sorfjord, tyssedal, oddadalen, fjord, norway, waterfall, sandvevatnet, strondsfossen, sandvinvatnet, strandsfossen, tjornadalsfossen



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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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