Stage 1: Gjendesheim to Memurubu

1st stage of the Historical Hiking Route in Jotunheimen

  • Difficulty: Demanding
  • Distance: 13.6 kilometers (point‑to‑point)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,140 meters
  • Duration: 7–9 hours

The first stage of the Historical Hiking Route in Jotunheimen takes you from Gjendesheim to Memurubu over Besseggen Ridge. This route is not only one of the world’s most famous hikes, but it is located in the heart of Jotunheimen National Park and rooted in the history of Norwegian mountain life and outdoor culture.

From the historical cabin at Gjendesheim, the hike takes you up along the impressive Besseggen Ridge. Besseggen Ridge presents iconic views over Gjende, and Bessvatnet lakes before descending to Memrubu tourist cabin. The cabin is located on the north side of the Gjende lake.

The incredible vistas, impressive peaks, and surrounding landscape have inspired some of Norway’s most influential artists, musicians, and writers.

Besseggen Ridge has even been written into literary history by the famous Norwegian author, Henrik Ibsen, who detailed the spectacular ridge in his known piece, Peer Gynt. Some believe his writing actually refers to the majestic nearby mountain, Knutshøe. No matter what, this trek from Gjendesheim to Memurubu takes you through some of Norway’s most profound historical culture and nature.

Despite the challenging route, more than 60,000 hikers complete the trip during the short summer season. That makes Besseggen one of the most accomplished hiking routes in Norway.

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Trail description

From Gjendesheim, one of DNT’s original cabins, the Historical Hiking Route starts with a climb upwards towards Veslefjellet. The route will take you up the impressive stone stairs, built by sherpas from Nepal, to lessen the erosion along the trail.

After the longest climb up 800 meters, a different heart-rate awaits you as you start to hike west along the iconic and breathtaking Besseggen Ridge. The majority of hikers walk along the ridge in the opposite direction and miss the stunning panoramic views, which surround you during the descent towards Memurubu. The final downhill section can be demanding on your knees after a long day of hiking, so take your time.

Note: The trail becomes extremely difficult in rainy weather. Make sure to look at the forecast and talk with locals or fellow hikers before embarking on the trek. Due to the short season, the trail is often very crowded in good weather.

Facts

  • The tourist cabin at the beginning of the hike, Gjendesheim, is one of The Norwegian Trekking Associations’ first cabins which was opened in 1878.
  • The hike along Besseggen Ridge has been chosen as one of the world’s top-20 hikes by National Geographic.
  • To avoid the masses, aim to hike on a weekday in September.