Mardalsfossen was a waterfall that certainly impressed Julie and I, and we tended to think of it in much the same way that we think of Yosemite Falls. In fact, going into our visit to this falls in July 2005, we learned that it was one of Norway’s tallest waterfalls at 655m or 705m (depending on who you talk to though the former came from a sign we saw) with one of its tiers having a freefall of 297m or 358m (again, depending on who you talk to) also making it one of the country’s tallest in this category as well. In fact, it seemed like almost everything about this waterfall would suggest that we should have scored it a rare 5, and indeed, we really wanted to. So why didn’t we?
Well, the thing was that this waterfall was also the victim of hydroelectric developments that caused it to be regulated to an extent that it would no longer flow year-round. This occurred despite a group of about 300 protestors forming a human-linked chain to prevent the work from commencing. The hydro work ultimately finished in 1973. Fortunately for visitors like us, the administrators compromised by letting this waterfall flow from June 20 to August 20 (pretty much during the tourist season of Summer). I guess this was an acceptable compromise considering this one could’ve gone the way of Mongefossen, Tyssestrengene, or Ringedalsfossen among others where they hardly flow at all given their sacrifice for the cause of energy.Julie and I were first able to see the falls from across the lake Eikesdalvatnet along the county road 191, which was only completed in 1991. Prior to its completion, the primary means of getting across this lake was by boat. Throughout the drive along the narrow road hugging the eastern shores of the lake, we couldn’t find a suitable pullout to get cleaner looks at the falls from outside the car. So we had to settle for views from within the car itself. Fortunately, the road wasn’t heavily used, but we were concerned about blocking traffic. In any case, these more distant views of Mardalsfossen allowed us to better appreciate its full height as well as the picturesque Yosemite-like granite cliffs that the falls plunged over as the Mardøla made its way towards the lake and the rest of the scenic valley Eiksedalen.
We’d eventually get onto a hike to the base of Mardalsfossen that took us about 30- to 45 minutes each way. From the large car park at its trailhead (see directions below), we walked along the unpaved road towards a signed fork (which was something we noticed on the way in so we knew where we were to walk once we got out of the car). Then, we took the spur path and walked gently uphill for about 10 minutes. At that point, there was a clearing and a sign indicating that Mardalsfossen was another 30 minutes (2km) further along the now much narrower and primitive foot trail.
The foot trail persisted as it weaved through a forested area. About half way through the walk, we saw another waterfall on the Ytste Mardøla watercourse on the cliff opposite Mardalsfossen. Even though this was a waterfall Julie and I didn’t expect to see and it seemed to be one of those “throw in” waterfalls that was easily overlooked given its close proximity to the real Mardalsfossen, this falls was no slouch itself. I wondered if this waterfall was called Ytste Mardalsfossen after the name of the alternate watercourse.
Once we got towards the end of the trail, it got increasingly rocky and less vegetated. It was from here that we got somewhat decent views of the falls while feeling some of its mist. However, one thing Julie and I noticed was that the falls didn’t appear quite as tall from so close as it did from across the lake. The upper tier also appeared to show less of itself since it was a little more set back from the lower drop that was before us. In any case, I suppose we could’ve walked all the way to the base of the falls, but we were content with the views you see at the top of this page.
We drove in from Åndalsnes, where we followed the Rv64 around Isfjorden then continued east on Road 660 along southern shores of Langfjorden. After about 76km of driving from Åndalsnes, we arrived in Eresfjord township where we turned off from the main road to our right onto the county road 191 leading deep into Eikesdalen.
Heading south from Eresfjord on county road 191, we followed the eastern shores of Eikesdalsvatnet for about 27km until it junctioned with the local road 117 just past a bridge at the southern tip of the lake. We then took the signed fork and turned right onto the local road 117, which was an unpaved gravel road. We took it to where there was a large car park, and on that last unsealed stretch, we passed by the signposted trailhead which we would eventually backtrack to on foot as part of the hike.
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