Steep hike to Mount Oksen 1241 masl.
From the top of Mount Oksen, you'll get the best view in Hardanger. See the fjords and mountains, such as Samlafjorden, Sørfjorden, Eidfjorden, Granvinsfjorden, and the mountain areas of Voss and Hardanger - all at once! Most people are able to go all the way to the top, but the trail is very steep in some areas.
Oksen is a peninsula at the north side of the Hardanger Fjord. Its strategic location made it part of the ancient coastal defense system. In times of unrest, a bonfire would be lit at the mountain, signalizing that unfriendly ships were coming, and that the local defense should mobilize. This system was in use until the end of the Napoleonic wars.
How to arrive at the start of the hike and parking: At the north end of the Hardanger Bridge, there is a roundabout inside the mountain. Drive in the direction of Ulvik. When out of the tunnel (in Vallavik) take road Fv 302, direction Djønno/Tjoflot. Drive this road to the end, about 17 km. There is a little dirt road starting at Tjoflot going up to about 250 masl. It is ok to drive with small cars. At the end of the dirt road, there is a parking place.
Shuttlebus Hardanger offers, on request, transportation and pick-up service to/from the starting and ending point of the hiking trail. Booking information available here.
Season: End of June/mid-September, when it is snow free. Do not go in bad weather.
Start trail: At the end of the dirt road, about 2 km from Tjoflot, 250 masl.
End trail: Top of Mount Oksen, 1241 masl.
Public transport: No
Marking/Info boards: There is an information board at one of the boat houses at Tjoflot, one at the end of the dirt road, and one at Vindhovden 640 masl. The trail is unmarked, but a sign indicates where to go where the trail splits. The trail is used frequently, and is easy to follow.
Grading: This is a demanding hike. There are no dangerous passages along the trail, but it is steep all the way. There are two particularly steep parts: at between 400 and 600 masl. and 800-1100 masl.
Height difference: From the parking at 250 masl. to the top of Oksen 1241 masl, the height difference is approximately 990 meters.
Time: From the parking to the top of Oksen, it takes from 2 to 4 hours one way. A round-trip lasts about 3.5 to 6 hours.
Description: Drive road Fv 302 to Tjoflot, and continue driving on a dirt road suitable for cars. There is an information board at the parking place. The trail is steep, and goes through some dense spruce forest. Vindhovden is a summer pasture about 640 masl., the view to Samlafjorden and Sørfjorden is great from there. The trail is particularly steep at between 400 and 600 masl. and 800-1100 masl. From the top of Mount Oksen the view is the best in the region. Several of the Hardangerfjord’s many branches can be seen from there: Samlafjorden, Sørfjorden, Eidfjorden, Granvinsfjorden, and the mountain areas of Voss and Hardanger.
The southern part of Mount Oksen, named Veten, is where the view is best. This was also the location of the bonfire which was lit to warn people in times of war.
Advice: Take your time and do not rush up the steep trail. Take photographs on the way up, before you are out of strength. Remember to write your name in the book in the box at the top. Do not go in bad weather. Oksen is often surrounded by fog, which can make it difficult to find the trail on the way down. Bring nutritious food, drink and warm clothes. It can be cold and windy on the mountain.
Variation: Take a different trail down, to for example Djønno, or Selstad at Granvinsfjorden, or Stokksel in Granvin. These trails are unmarked and difficult to find, so a map is necessary.