Bordalsgjelet (the “Bordal Gorge”; pronounced “BOR-dahls-yell-uh”) was what I consider to be kind of as close to an inside-the-gorge experience as I got in Norway.
In any case, with this Norwegian version, I experienced a compact gorge with a cascading waterfall at the very end of its trail.
Compared with the German or Austrian gorges, this Norwegian one was smaller, but it was just as atmospheric as I was surrounded by high gorge walls while hearing the roar of the 8m cascade reverberating within the canyon depths.
This cascade was the lone waterfall that I encountered when I did this hike, but I noticed another one (possibly 6m tall) from the road bridge spanning the Bordalselvi, which was the main river cutting through this gorge.
However, I’d imagine that during wetter weather or when there would be more snowmelt in the late Spring or early Summer, then there could be more waterfalls spilling from the sides of the gorge walls right into the canyon (or onto the trail itself)!
In addition to the cascades, my Bordalsgjelet experience also brought allowed me to view potholes and to sit on rest benches within alcoves.
Such formations hinted at the forces at play where water from a glacier ate away at the softer phyllite rocks while leaving the harder quartzite and granite walls behind at the end of the last Ice Age.
Once I knew where to find the main part of Bordalsgjelet (not as easy as you’d think; see the section below), then I only hiked for roughly 400m or less round trip.
Focusing on just the gorge itself, it took me about 20 minutes in total to experience it, but I did further exploration to see what else the gorge had to offer, which I’ll get into below where I go over the experience in more detail.
It was also possible to hike the whole way from the sentrum of Voss, but I’d imagine you would need at least 2 hours to go the whole 5km round trip distance plus allowing additional time to linger in the gorge itself.
Experiencing Bordalsgjelet’s Main Part
From the car park (see directions below), I walked up to the first switchback on the road before I encountered a gate.
After passing through the gate, I then went onto a short 200m path that descended along a railing going towards a metal gate right at the mouth of the main part of the gorge.
Just the metal gate, the trail went right along the ledges of the narrowest part of the Bordal Gorge.
This tight stretch passed by two dark alcoves with rest benches on them, and just a few minutes thereafter, the trail ended with a direct view of a cascade on the Bordalselvi.
It was difficult to appreciate the entire cascade because some of it tumbled unseen right below the trail, but it was a nice change-of-pace considering I hadn’t encountered anything like this in all the places that we’ve been to in Norway.
After having my fill of the canyon, I then returned back the way I came to the unpaved car park.
As far as seeing waterfalls, I also walked to the road bridge where I managed to look down into the gorge upstream and see another tight 6m cascade along with some more potholes drilled into the base of the gorge walls.
Other Aspects of Bordalsgjelet
Now earlier in this write-up, I did mention that it was surprisingly easy to miss out on the Bordalsgjelet.
The reason for this was that there was another trail next to the unpaved car park that descended to the underside of the road bridge.
This steep path was perhaps no more 100m long, and besides checking out the bridge, it also revealed a line of interesting potholes at the base of the gorge.
While it was tempting to think this was the end of the Bordalsgjelet experience, it would have been very disappointing if the experience was limited to just this short trail.
Indeed, I noticed another group of hikers when I was here, and all they did was this short path before they left.
So they made the mistake of missing out on the main gorge that I described earlier in this write-up, which was just up the unpaved road!
In addition to the underside of the bridge, I also managed to explore a different short trail that started downhill along the road (probably about 100m from the bridge).
This other trail descended to the mouth of the Bordalsgjelet where I saw other tiny cascades (they probably don’t count as waterfalls) as well as the unusual perspective of being near the bottom of the gorge.
A sign for Bordalsgjelet at the start of this trail pointed away from this path since it wasn’t the actual main attraction so that’s why I would consider this little trail optional for this excursion.
The Longer Walk from Voss to Bordalsgjelet
If you don’t have a car, there was also the option of doing a walk from the Voss city center to the Bordalsgjelet, which would cover a distance of about 2.5km (5km round trip).
There was a large car park just to the south of a main road (Uttrågata) next to the Prestegardsalleen so if you’re not staying in Voss, I suppose you could park here to start the longer hike if you wanted to.
This path would pretty much start from the Voss city center, then follow along the gravel Prestegardsalleen along the eastern shores of the lake Vangsvatnet (the dominant lake next to Voss).
This path cut through the Prestegardsmoen, which was a large sandy and gravel area deposited by a glacial moraine from the last Ice Age.
Anyways, this path ultimately led to the bridge (called Tintrabrua) crossing the Vosso River just opposite Prestegardsmoen.
There was also another small car park on the other side of the bridge (roughly at the half-way point of the hike).
At that point, signs pointed the way to Bordalsgjelet, which followed along some local streets (namely Russarvegen and Gjernesmoen) before following along the Fv311 (Gjernesvegen).
Eventually, after 1.2km from the Tintrabrua bridge, the Fv311 crossed over a bridge spanning the Bordalsgjelet, and the unpaved car park was just on the far side of the bridge.
From there, the main part of the gorge was up the unpaved road past the car park at the gate sitting at the first switchback.
I actually thought about doing this longer hike instead of driving to the Bordalsgjelet Trailhead, but in my confusion about trying to make sense of the literature, I actually parked at the small car park at Tintrabrua.
Then, I did the 1.2km walk from there, which took me about 20 minutes each way to get to the start of the interesting part of the gorge.
To get to the car park for Bordalsgjelet, I’ll describe the route from Voss city center since that was how I did it.
You can use GoogleMaps or other routing apps to get you to Voss from wherever you may be starting your drive from.
So from roundabout at the junction of the E16 and Evangervegen (west of the Voss sentrum), I drove on Evangervegen for about 1.6km (Evangervegen became Uttrågata within the Voss sentrum itself).
Note that in this Evangervegen-Uttrågata stretch, there were car parks on the right at about 900m from the aforementioned roundabout, if you wanted to park there and do the longer 5km return walk to Bordalsgjelet via Prestegardsmoen.
In any case, right after crossing the road bridge over the Vosso, I then took the next right turn (leading to Gjernes).
I then followed this road (Gjernesvegen or Fv311) for about 2.1km to the unpaved car park just on the far side of the bridge spanning the Bordalsgjelet gorge.
Note that I did have the option of parking by the Tintrabrua after taking the turnoff onto Russarvegen about 1km south of the start of Gjernesvegen. This would have been useful for cutting the hike in half.
If you’re going in the other direction, from the turnoff for Gjernes leaving the Rv13, I’d then drive about 1.4km to the start of the Gjernesvegen on the left.
From there, I’d then drive the remaining 2.1km to the car park for Bordalsgjelet.
For geographical context, Voss” target=”_blank”>Voss was about 51km (under an hour drive) northwest of Eidfjord, about 66km (about an hour drive) southwest of Flåm, about 91km (90 minutes drive) north of Odda, about 103km (over 90 minutes drive) northeast of Bergen, and 360km (well over 5 hours drive) west of Oslo.
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