Kleivafossen was basically my waterfalling excuse to talk about our memorable out-and-back hike up to the terminus of the Briksdal Glacier (Briksdalsbreen). The falls was actually around the half-way point up the hike, and even though we didn’t have to do the entire hike up to the glacier terminus to see this waterfall, it would have been a huge mistake not to finish the hike. That was why I made the hiking difficulty at the top of this page a 3.5 because I think it would be crazy not to do the whole thing. There was also the option of going up most of this trail on a motorized electric cart as well as by horse and carriage, but as you can see from difficulty rating, we didn’t pay money to do those other ways of saving ourselves the exercise.
That said, Julie and I almost quit prematurely thinking this waterfall was good enough to see as it was getting late in the day. Yet for each time we questioned the sanity of continuing on, we kept asking ourselves that we made it up here already so why not keep going to the end? It was a good thing we decided this because we ended up with another one of those surreal experiences that still stayed with us well after our trip to Norway was over.Anyways, Kleivafossen was the waterfall that we saw frequently on numerous tourist brochues showing some kind of horse-pulling carriage crossing a bridge that passed right it. Although we didn’t get such a photo duplicating the tourist literature during our evening visit, the waterfall itself was certainly no slouch in its own right as it tumbled alongside the switchbacks of the trail then momentarily split before tumbling further into the head of Oldedalen. As we kept going, we would soon learn later on in the hike that this waterfall had the distinction of being the only major waterfall directly sourced by the beautiful Briksdal Glacier.
The hike from the car park was mostly uphill practically the entire way. It was roughly at the first mile or so (roughly 1.6km) that we started to see Kleivafossen from afar, and then from up close by the bridge crossing before it. Immediately thereafter, we had to ascend several switchbacks which definitely made us sweat and breathe a bit heavier. Eventually as the switchbacks flattened out, we then crossed another bridge over the watercourse above the waterfall before the trail followed along the northern side of the watercourse.
It was only at this point that we finally started to see Briksdalsbreen up ahead of us, and that merely hastened our steps while giving us a bit of a second wind to complete the hike. Eventually after about 90 minutes from the car park, we finally made it to the glacier terminus. We could see there were icebergs in the lake left behind by the receding glacier as well as other glacier arms higher up the Briksdalen Valley such as Tjøtabreen and its associated waterfalls. There were no ropes or guardrails preventing us from getting right up to the wall of ice itself (which we did) though in hindsight, we probably played with fate as the ice could calf at any minute and collapse on us.
Anyways, we did see a couple of well-equipped people doing a glacier walk atop Briksdalsbreen, but having done one of these in New Zealand at Franz Josef the year before our visit to Norway, we didn’t feel the need to do it this time around. When we finally pried ourselves away from the glorious scene at the glacier terminus softly lit by the setting evening sun, we headed back the way we came. It only took us 60 minutes to make it back all the way to the car park by Volefossen, but we were definitely able to see that waterfall at eye level on our way down.
Finally, we do have to mention that throughout our walk to and from the glacier while passing Kleivafossen en route, there were swarms of annoying black flies that wouldn’t leave us alone. At least these insects were non-biting, but they very easily got into our noses, eyes, and mouths, and as much as we wanted to stop and take our time, the flies kind of kept us moving along.
To get to the trailhead, follow the directions to Volefossen, which was roughly 22km away along the local road 724 from the Road 60. The car park was right at the foot of Volefossen, and it seemed fairly large enough for us to find parking space without issues. Whether that was a consequence of our late afternoon early evening arrival remains to be seen.
There was a visitor center by the car park, where we could have booked a tram ride to go up to the glacier instead of walking. I believe there were also glacier walks on the icefield itself that could be booked from here as well.
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