One of our favorite outdoor destinations for hiking with kids is Norway. Hardly any other country makes it so easy to undertake long hikes with small children. In almost untouched nature. The mountain huts build a unique net of infrastructure, and you are allowed to camp almost everywhere. Particularly helpful for a trekking family are the numerous self-catering huts. This way it is possible to hike from hut to hut without having to walk too wide distances. Many of these huts contain a food storage cabinet available for all hikers (well, you will have to pay some money). This also applies to the Fjordruta Cabins (page in Norwegian, but map and pictures are international; or in German the book about this hiking trail) near Trondheim.
Now follows the description of one stage of our hike from hut to hut, then as a family of four. The day begins at a hut with the pithy name Grytbakksetra somewhere in the middle of the Fjordruta. We plan to reach Hermannhytta at the end of the day, which is about 16 kilometers away. This distance marks the maximum of the possibilities of our self-walking (almost) four-year-old hiking girl at that time. And even the (almost) two-year old hiking-boy will eventually push for arrival at the next hut. So we try to get away early in the morning. After changing diapers, breakfast, brushing our teeth, cleaning up the hut, of course.
First, we unsuspectingly follow the sign pointing out “Hermannhytta” directly at our hut. This immediately leads us to a river. And a smiley who laughs at us from the other side from a rock. Aha, so one is supposed to wade through here. Crossing rivers is sometimes an adventure even without children. With children it quickly becomes an expedition. Either the children walk through the cold water themselves, then the river must be very shallow and clear. Or they are carried. Then the carrying parents want the shallow and clear ford. Potentially exhausting operation, this one.
But: didn’t we just walk over a bridge at this same river a a few hundred meters upstream the day before? That sounds much more relaxed, for starters! So, off through the bushes, a bit along the shore, to the bridge. Although it has no railing, it seems quite trustworthy and comfortable. Over with us!
A few meters further down the other side of the river, we find some impressive giant cairns. Our hiking girl is highly interested and explores them from all sides. Since we do not have a guide, we have no idea what particular kind of attraction presents itself here. No matter, it’s nice to look at! Back on the actual path, there follows a bit of easy hilly terrain. According to the map, the remaining trip today should be quite straightforward now: we cross one, two, three more or less extensive valleys. And then we are at the next hut.
The first valley turns out to be wetland. Fortunately there is an easy crosses on one end of it. The children are still running and exploring the path enthusiastically, even uphill. On the next hill it is very idyllic (see cover picture), and from there on we quite soon reach valley number two. Now with only one walking child left – our little one got himself a place in the child carrier and fell asleep by now.
From above you can already see that this next valley is “decorated” by the second river of the day. Very picturesque to look at. Only this time without a bridge. Somehow we will have to go through there. Fortunately, in this valley (despite abundant rain in recent days) there does not semme to be much water right now. And the waymarking reliably leads to a quite clear and shallow ford. So wading through feels just a bit cold on the feet, and for the dad a little heavier on the shoulders. Carrying two children at once provides the advantage that you do not have to go through the water three times. And that one child does not have to wait alone on a riverbank. Especially since the smaller one right now still seems to be sleeping. This time the wading goes quite well.
After the river the scenery becomes even more idyllic. If the Fjordruta overall is more of a modern hiking path, well-worn and provided with plenty of red markings, it is now rather lonely regarding the pathfinding. With a few small detours (“could the path possibly go there?”), we walk through this great landscape. A deserted farmhouse only emphasizes the wildness of nature. And so we soon climb the second ridge of the day. This one is signficantly broader than the first one, and so despite the beautiful lakes on the way, this walk soon starts feeling long.
So it is obviously time for a nice break now. Which anyway is already being urgently urgently requested by the children. On the picture you can see how the freshly sated hikers move on again (very small, back left). And leave the leftovers for the father. Also noteworthy: a little later we meet another hiker. The first one for several days! In fact, he passes us by quite quickly. Trekking without little kids is a bit faster.
The scenery is characterized by beautiful lakes, wide landscape, and the occational hill to cross. Those lakes are nice for parents as children, for the kids especially so because they can throw things in there. Also the hills feel mostly nice, and all hikers are still motivated at crossing them (see below) …
And we (finally) see the next plain. It seems huge! Meaning, of course: it looks beautiful! But right now we are indeed more impressed by the distance – and that we still want to move through there today. Behind it there is an exciting mountain panorama: the mountains of Trollhemen (“home of the Trolls”)! Just as we descend into the big valley we see that more civilization can be found here. So we pass a veritable hamlet and even cross (after another break in the valley) a proper (gravel) road. Numerous small Norwegian holiday homes are scattered in the lake landscape.
Our little boy, who is currently walking on his own feed again, is making acquaintance with a particularly insidious mud hole that he first discovers when he stumbles into it. His whole food fits in there. And his reaction clearly indicates he does not find this funny. And that he wants the resulting mess to be cleaned up immediately now! In the meantime we are all becoming increasingly goal-oriented and remain only moderately interested in the attractive landscape. A cave well worth visiting (which was praised in our travel guide at home) we skip unceremonially.
After crossing below a not so attractive power line, we approach the last mountain ridge of the day. Or just the second to last? Or that before? In fact, our forecast of the last hill turns out to be wrong several times before we finally get to it.
But from there it is really not far any more: actually we quite soon reach the goal of the day, the Hermannhytta. And we also need to reach it badly! The motivation for going on among our children had already gone far downhill one or two hills before. And even the prospect of rest, food, games at the hut does not motivate them very much any more. Luckily we are arriving now. And fortunately, there is plenty of food in the hut. We immediately start eating enthusiastically.
After having managed this (for our team) long distance, we use the contemplative and cozy hut for a well deserved rest day. The cabin is just wonderfully comfortable, the sun is shining, there is no one around but us. And even a working radio is here for our two party kids! Welcome time to relax, to indulge in landscape and hiking and to plan for our next hiking day. And there will be quite some more still in this holiday. We have regained quite some freedom in comparison to our family’s humble hiking beginnings. What a wonderful family experience!
In summary, the Fjordruta is well suited for first trekking experiences with children (or even daily hikes from the next parking lot). Suitability and easiness for families result from the good infrastructure with plenty of mountain huts, the almost always excellently marked trails and the usually tranquil ambience. And the distances from hut to hut are relatively short. And, finally, there is an airport (Kristiansund) and a regular bus connection directly at the hiking trail. Civilization is usually only a few hours away and yet invisible. Quite a good compromise for families with small children.
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