Day Hikes in Norway

Hiking Guide to Kattanakken – The Epic Viewpoint Of The Briksdalsbreen Glacier In Norway

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Briksdalsbreen glacier tongue is one of Norway’s most visited tourist attractions. During the summer, hundreds of people walk the path from the Briksdalsbreen visitor centre to the glacier’s viewpoint.

Unfortunately, the glacier has retreated significantly in recent years. Nowadays, if you want a better glimpse of it, you can hike to Kattanakken—a great but challenging day hike.

11 Things to Know about the Hike to Kattanakken

The hike to Kattanakken is included in many of my Norway road trip plans. If you are a keen hiker and adventurer, you should check them out.

  1. Oslo to Oslo in 10-14 days: across the mountain and fjords of Norway
  2. Bergen to Bergen in 7-10 days for hiking enthusiasts
  3. Ålesund to Ålesund in 10 days for adventure lovers

1. Kattanakken day hike: the stats

Kattanakken Day Hike 3
  • Distance roundtrip: 11 km / 6.8 mi
  • Time required: 6-8 hours
  • Total Ascent: 1300 m / 4265 ft
  • Type of hike: out and back
  • When to go: mid-July – September
  • Parking: Briksdalsbreen
  • Parking fee: 75 NOK

2. Where is the Kattanakken hike?

Kattanakken Day Hike 4

Kattanakken means the cat’s neck in Norwegian. I have gone through many web pages and couldn’t find why it received that name. If I were to guess, it would probably have something to do with the ridgeline’s shape- the hike’s last part.

The hike is in Vestland County, on the West of Jostedalsbreen National Par. This is one of Norway’s most visited National Parks, famous for its glacier field, which it was named after.

The nearest towns are Olden and Loen. Both are top tourist destinations in Norway.

3. The map of the Kattanakken hike

Above, you can see the path I followed from the car park. I measured the distance, elevation gain, and route with my Garmin Fenix watch.

This map is just an outline for the hike and should not be used for navigation. If you would like to see a more detailed map, you can view it here.

4. How difficult is the Kattanakken hike?

Kattanakken Day Hike 7

The whole route is described in Norwegian as extra krevende which means very demanding. It should only be undertaken by expert hikers, as a lot of scrambling is involved, and it starts at around 1000 meters above sea level.

I had to turn around circa 80% into the hike because it had gotten steep, and my dog had trouble climbing some sections. I realized that even if we made it to the top, the way down, having him strapped to me at all times, would be a nightmare.

Chains are installed in the steepest sections. If you don’t feel comfortable scrambling, you can still hike most of the trail and skip the last part. You will still get a lot out of it in terms of views!

5. The best time of year to hike Kattanakken

Kattanakken Day Hike 13

My friend and I had perfect weather conditions when we hiked to Kattanakken. However, bear in mind that this is more of an exception than a reality in Norway.

Summer, particularly July, can be quite rainy. However, precipitation decreases in August and September, which seem to be the best months for hiking.

According to a few online reports, June is still a no-go for hiking to Kattanakken. Snow tends to linger for a long time at higher elevations. October can be hit or miss, but generally speaking, tackling this hike should still be okay.

6. How to get to the Kattanakken trailhead

Kattanakken Day Hike 20
The sign where the trail branches off

Kattanakken branches off another famous trail in the area – the Briksdalsbreen Glacier Viewpoint Trail. Both start in the same spot, near the visitor centre and a restaurant.

To get there, you have to take road no. FV724 from Olden all the way until the end of the valley. This is a fantastic drive with several viewpoints of Oldenvatnet Lake and the surrounding mountains.

There is a huge parking area with a few sections built on different levels. The higher you park, the shorter your approach to the visitor centre. Parking here is not cheap and costs 75 NOK for the whole day.

It’s worth mentioning that the upper car park is reserved for buses only.

7. The highlights of the Kattanakken hike

There were 3 things that I particularly loved about this hike:

  1. The views of the glacier tongues
  2. The views of the valley and Lake Oldenvatnet
  3. Blueberries

The first two are probably self-explanatory. As for the blueberries, Norway is full of them! Once we decided to turn around, we just lodged ourselves on a small plateau, where lots of blueberry bushes could be found, and stuffed our faces with freshly picked blueberries.

Jasper loves them, too. When it comes to blueberries, he turns into a little bear. Overall, it was a great way to replenish our lost calories, and on this hike, you will lose a lot.

8. Facilities along the Kattanakken trail

Kattanakken Day Hike 2

There are toilets at the parking lot and in the Cafeteria near the trailhead (paid). Other than that, it’s just pure wilderness.

Remember always to bring out what you brought in, including fruit peels or food rest. It’s never okay to leave them on the trail! Unfortunately, this is a trend I often see on hikes around the World.

9. Kattanakken: trail description

For the first 30 minutes of the hike, you follow the wide, well-maintained path that takes tourists to the Briksdalsbreen glacier viewpoint.

You then turn right into the forest. The intersection is marked with an information board for the Kattanakken trail and a sign hanging on one of the trees. This stands right before you reach the second bridge.

After walking through a forest for the first 10 minutes, you will reach a section with flat rocks. These rocks can get very slippery when wet, so step cautiously. The next two hours are mostly spent in the forest, with a few glimpses of the Briksdalsbreen glacier tongue behind you.

It’s a steep trail with lots of roots and rocks. The reward doesn’t come easily, but trust me. It will be worth it!

The last hour is spent scrambling across big boulders and rocks. I would not do this in bad weather and trail conditions. As mentioned, we did turn around at this point because it got too sketchy with my dog in tow.

The entire trail is marked with red marks in the shape of a letter T painted on rocks and trees. I found them difficult to follow in the scrambling section. You have to pay attention to avoid losing the trail.

READ MORE: 30 Best Day Hikes and Via Ferratas in the Fjord Region of Norway

10. What to bring and wear on a Kattanakken hike

Kattanakken Day Hike 6
710T6PmcwQL. AC SL1500

Black Diamond Trekking Poles

I never leave on a trail without a pair of my trusted Black Diamond Carbon Z Poles. At 300 grams a pair, they are hard to compete with.

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hanwag womens alverstone ii gtx walking boots detail 7

Hanwag Hiking Boots

My longest-lasting pair of hiking boots (and I went through quite a few) is the Hanwag Alverstone. They were perfect for muddy Norwegian trails.

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51y975lX+wL. AC SL1080

HydraPak Hydration Bladder

There is no better way to stay hydrated on the trails than to have constant and direct access to your water without taking your backpack off. Thanks to its slim design, the hose coming out of the side of the bladder, and a magnet clip that makes the hose attachment easy, I find the HydraPak the best water bladder on the market.

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Merino Wool Socks

I always carry two pairs of socks in my day pack and always have them on me during multiday backpacking trails. Merino wool fibres and their unique properties are resistant to odours.

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patagonia womens granite crest jacket waterproof jacket

Hardshell Rain Jacket

You would be mad not to bring a rain jacket on a hiking holiday trip to Norway. Patagonia’s sustainability efforts make it my go-to outdoor clothing brand.

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91kfKZtkJnL. AC SL1500

Osprey Hikelite 18 Liter Backpack

Osprey backpacks have accompanied me since the humble beginnings of this website. I think they offer the perfect fit without sacrificing their usability.

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11. Where to stay nearby 

If you are travelling in a campervan, I recommend staying at Oldevatn Camping. It’s a well-maintained ground with waterfront camper parking spaces. The views are amazing. There is direct access to another great hike in the area—Klovane. It’s also possible to rent cabins, a popular accommodation option in Norway.

If you want to be close to the trailhead and the glacier viewpoint, book your stay at the Briksdalsbre Fjellstove. The hike starts just outside this hotel.

Another great place to stay is in Loen and the Alexandra Hotel. Loen offers great access to many glacier viewpoints in the Jostedalsbreen National Park and is home to the famous Via Ferrata Loen.

Other hikes and activities to experience nearby

Klovane Day Hike Norway 22

Klovane

It’s a great, slightly easier, and shorter alternative. You can see the summit of Klovane from Kattanakken. You don’t get to see many glacier tongues up and close, but the views of Lake Oldenvatnet from Klovane are jaw-dropping.

Rakssetra

A quick-to-reach old mountain farm with amazing views over Innvikfjord and into the Olden Valley. The whole hike takes 1.5-2 hours to complete.

Via Ferrata Loen

Via Ferrata Loen is the most famous Via Ferrata in Norway, thanks to its long suspension bridge along the route. It takes climbers to the top of Mount Hoven, high above the Innvikfjord.

Gamle scenic route

This is a historically important route that connected the West with the East. The Gamle Scenic Route runs through alpine areas, remains unpaved in a few places, and has sides laid with long rows of guard stones.

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