Global Adventures | Cross-Country Ski Routes of Norway

In this piece from Mountaineer magazine, learn the history of Nordic skiing and preview the itinerary for an upcoming cross-country skiing Global Adventure in Norway in March 2022.
Cindy Hoover Cindy Hoover
Global Adventures Leader
October 19, 2021

Written by Cindy Hoover and Cheri Solien


As the birthplace of Nordic skiing, it’s safe to say that the Norwegians have fine-tuned the art of cross-country skiing. From skis, Swix Wax, and Rottefella bindings to the Birkebeinerrennet and eating waffles on the trail, cross-country skiing is deeply embedded in Norwegian history and culture.

Long ago, during the Norwegian civil war of 1206, two Norwegian loyalists completed a legendary cross-country ski trip. With their legs wrapped in birch bark, the men traveled over 22 miles on skis to rescue the king’s son and bring him back to safety. The prince was later crowned king, marking the end of the civil war.

The Birkebeinerrennet Race

Today nearly 10,000 local and international skiers participate in the Birkebeinerrennet, an iconic 54 km (33 mi) race from Rena to Lillehammer that honors the brave loyalists’ successful expedition. Just like in medieval times, the challenging route crosses two mountains and travels through breathtaking scenery, and racers even carry a 3.5 kg pack – the same weight as the fabled infant heir to the throne. Leaving Lillehammer behind, one can travel further north by train to visit numerous other trail systems. Skiers can stay in mountain hotels as a base for day trips, or travel along the long ski route and complete a point-to-point ski. Two ski trails in this network are the Peer Gynt and the Troll Trail Systems.

Peer Gynt Trail System

The Peer Gynt Trail System, located northwest of Lillehammer in the Gudbrandsdalen Valley, is set between three national parks and provides a stunning winter backdrop for the crosscountry skier. Peer Gynt is an 80 km trail that connects over 600 km of well-groomed ski trails in this rural countryside region. Intermediate skiers on track skis are best suited for the seemingly endless choices of interconnected ski trails. Whether you choose to ski point-to-point starting in Espedalen and stay at mountain hotels along the route, or just sample a few hotels and explore the surrounding areas in a leisurely fashion, you’re sure to have a wonderful time.

Troll Trail System

For a more challenging ski, try the Troll Trail System. Starting north at Høvringen near Rondane National Park and ending south in Lillehammer, this 155 km ski trail is perfect for more experienced cross-country skiers. As a few sections are ungroomed, partial metal-edged skis are recommended. Here as well you have the option to ski from one mountain hotel to the next, passing through varied northern terrain characterized by stunted, frost-covered trees.

Accommodations

Hotel hot wax stations, luggage transport from one hotel to the next, and well-marked, groomed trails can be found on all three of these major trails. Due to winter storms and whiteouts, skiers must come prepared (at least the Ten Essentials, if not more!), know and use Norway’s Mountain Code of Safety, and be able to navigate with a map and compass when trail signage and way-markings have disappeared in a whiteout.

Gorgeous winter views of mountains, plateaus, forests, old Nordic farms, frozen lakes, and more await the adventurous cross-country skier. Enjoy Nordic hospitality at its best and ski to your heart’s content in a country that prides itself on its national pastime – skiing!

JOIN GLOBAL ADVENTURES IN NORWAY - MARCH 2022

Are you an intermediate cross-country skier? Join our upcoming cross-country skiing Global Adventure in Norway in March 2022! This will be a two-week lodge-based trip, in which we will cross-country ski between mountain hotels on a large network of beautifully groomed, intermediate trails. Visit Mountaineers.org/global-adventures-norway-2022 for more information.


This article originally appeared in our Fall 2021 issue of Mountaineer Magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, visit our  magazine archive.

Lead image by Shari Hogshead.