- Distance: self-determined. You cycle the same way there and back. Up to the highest point it is about 21/22 km. You can cycle a bit further, but then it comes to a dead end.
- Start: Driva, camping Smegarden.
- Partly signposted with signs of the Gudbrandsdalsleden.
- Download the GPS-track.
- Road survace: gravel road
- Highest point of the stage in metres: segment A is 1341 m high and segment is B is 1314 m high (and no, that's not a typo...). The start is 533 m high.
- Difficulty: moderate. There are some steep parts;
- Best season: half of June to the end of September (as long as there is no snowfall);
- Type of bicycle: a bike with at least seven gears. Race bikes are unsuitable (too thin tyres);
- Crowdedness: very quiet. You may occasionally meet a pilgrim
If you cycle the Gudbrandsdalsleden, you have to cycle on the highway between Hjerkinn (or Kongsvold) and Driva. The hikers walk more or less parallel to the highway, but much higher, through the mountains. The reason that you have to cycle on the highway, the E6, is because there is no alternative. A part of the hiking route, over Vårstigen, is absolutely not cycleable. But another part is! Through Vinstradalen. The reason why that part is not included in the cycling guide is because, cycling from the south, you cannot get there (because it can only be reached via Vårstigen). And from the north it is a dead end (because: Vårstigen).
The map (click/tap to enlarge) shows the (official) hiking route in black and the cycling route in red. The red arrows point to the part you can't cycle. The green arrow points to the part that can be cycled.
For those who are interesting, I'll tell you something more about Vårstigen, the 'spring path' below in this article.
Cycling through Vinstradalen
However, the section through Vinstradalen, 'the valley of Vinstra', is well worth cycling there and back from Driva. If you are cycling the Gudbrandsdalsleden, consider taking a 'day off' and booking an extra night at Smegarden campsite to undertake the day trip from the campsite. As the route is a dead end, you cycle up and back the same way. Or to put it another way: you cycle up and down again, after all, you are going into the mountains. After 17 kilometres, there are two options. Both go up a bit further and then down. But since you go back the same way, you can also decide when to stop and cycle back. Maybe that's at the highest point, then you won't have to climb after that.
The route follows an easy-to-cycle 'grusvei' (gravel road) and largely follows the Gudbrandsdalsleden (hiking trail) in the opposite direction. You start at an altitude of 530 metres and after less than ten kilometres you have reached the tree line. Once at the top, a kilometre-long winding road follows along the Vinstra river with breathtaking views over the plateau and the bare mountain walls towering above. After 17 kilometres, the route bends to the left, and you can choose between two options.
The A route continues more than 9 km further east. First follow some gently sloping kilometres until the road comes to a dead end. You can continue on an unpaved path to a small lake. You then first climb 100 metres and then descend 200 metres until you reach the lake shore.
The B route continues on the grusvei (Gudbrandsdalsleden) to the point where it turns into Vårstigen and you can't (and shouldn't) go further. This stage is 7.5 km long. After a short steep part, the trail go up slightly till the sign 1314 moh (meter over havet = above sea-level). The last kilometres mostly descend. As this is quite steep, you might consider stopping at the highest point and cycle back.
N.B. I have not cycled the A and B options myself. In fact, I have never been there (yet). However, I have been given these two options as tips, with assurances that it is beautiful to cycle. I look forward to still cycling both stretches myself in the summer of 2024.
On the way
At km. 3: the Mikaels kapell, a hidden gem along the Gudbrandsdalsleden.
St. Michael’s Chapel was especially built for pilgrims. A charming wooden chapel, flanked by a modest clock tower. Behind the altar is a window by way of altar frontal. The window offers a magnificent view on creation and more precisely on the mountains of Oppdal. The name of archangel Michael has been chosen because of the excavation of a bronze Michael statue, called Rise-engel, 500 m north of the chapel. For more pictures, see Futured Mikaels kapell.
At km. 5 Waterfall
At km 10.5: Water source with clean drinking water
At km. 15: Ryphusan. When you see a collection of dark buildings in the valley you see Ryphusan farm. The unstaffed cabin is recognizable by the portrayal of a pilgrim on the wall, on the right side of the road on a rather flaked off red-painted building. You can possibly spend the night there, but it is also a lovely break spot. Be sure to take a look inside.
If you stay at Smegarden, you can use the toilets of the campsite. Also, toilets can be found halfway, at Ryphusan.
Drinking water from rivers and streams
Apart from the water source at km 10.5, you can get drinking water from the river at Ryphusan (see photo).
Food and drinks
Bring your own food and drink. There are no supermarkets in the area. If you come from the south, Dombås is the last option for shopping. Coming from the north is Oppdal the last option for shopping.
For emergency food: Smegarden campsite has a small kiosk and in Ryphusan there are some long-term storable products you can use (payment: Paypal or cash).
- Smegarden campsite
Open: all year round. Prices: see website: Smegarden.no. Cabins and own tent. Meals self-catering. Bed linen at extra charge. Kiosk (small selection) on campsite. Tip: book two nights and leave your tent and luggage during the day. The trip through Vinstradalen can easily be done in one day.
Open: June - October/November (until snow has fallen). Unmanned hut with 10 beds. Meals self-catered, gas cooker available. Own sleeping bag necessary. Water from the river. Toilet outside. Next to the hut is an army tent with about six beds. Payment via Pay pal, Vipps or cash (NOK 250).
Vårstigen, or spring path, on the mountain side of Drivdalen was already mentioned in 1182 as part of the route the pilgrims took to Nidaros. The steep narrow path was used when the melting snow in the spring make the route through the valley impassable. The river had to be crossed a number of times and when the water had risen too much and the currents were too strong, this became impossible. Vårstigen was feared by all its users. Falling stones and slippery surfaces made it into a daunting undertaking for travellers on foot as well as on horseback. In the 18th century the path was widened and even carriages with royal passengers went up. When you are at the foot of Vårstigen you can hardly imagine a horse-drawn carriage was able to make it to the top.