Steinsdalsfossen (The Stone Valley Falls) was a waterfall that seemed to have a lot of fanfare and notoriety (at least that was our impression when we were researching for our trip).
When we visited the falls in June 2005, we certainly found it to be one of the more popular places in the country as it consistently received tour bus traffic and scores of people.
When we returned in June 2019, they seemed to have expanded the parking lot while also sporting a visitor center as well as a handful of souvenir shops.
Indeed, the waterfall was as popular as ever!
Although Steinsdalsfossen possessed a modest size (generously said to be 46m tall) and its roadside location ensured its popularity, it was also one of the few waterfalls in the country where we could go behind it.
In fact, we think that last attribute could very well be the main reason why this waterfall continues to be popular to this day!
In any case, I had read that this was Norway’s 5th most popular attraction in the country.
We’re not sure how accurate that statement was, but we definitely couldn’t deny its popularity in general so expect to share this place with many other people.
One of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s Favorite Places
While doing a little research on this falls, I learned that apparently this waterfall was a favorite of Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.
It was said that he would frequently visit Steinsdalsfossen every Summer (except a couple of them) between 1889 and the start of World War I in 1914.
As a result of this, it was said that some people would refer to this waterfall as the “Kaiser Wilhelm Falls.”
When Julie and I first visited the falls back in late June 2005, we pretty much started our visit from right in front of the waterfall itself.
That was because both the busy car park area and the souvenir shops pretty much sat right before the bridge fronting the waterfall.
When we came back in late June 2019, we had to walk from the car park, which was a little further away (see directions below) before walking over a historical stone arched bridge towards what seemed to be relocated souvenir shops.
This commercialized area seemed to be on the opposite side of the bridges that still fronted Steinsdalsfossen.
Then, we saw that there was a well-developed sloping walkway that led up to the backside of the falls so naturally we did that.
While I’m generally not used to paved walkways going behind waterfalls, this one had enough of a setback that it seemed perfectly safe for them to do this.
The footpath ended on the other side of the waterfall, where there was a looking peering right back at the Steinsdalsfossen in profile as well as views of the valley in the general direction of Norheimsund.
There really wasn’t much more to this visit so after having our fill of this very easy-to-visit waterfall, we then returned the way we came.
It turned out that our visit took about an hour away from the car, but we very easily could have spent less time here if we didn’t browse around the souvenir shops.
Other Steinsdalsfossen Attributes
Steinsdalsfossen looked to be a permanent year-round waterfall sourced by the Mykla Lake (Myklavatnet) way up in the highlands before feeding into Steinsdalselva (Steinsdals River).
The river itself meandered through the valley Steinsdalen.
That said, I had read that the falls could freeze over in the Winter.
From the presence of a couple of black poles with lights on them, it also occurred to me that they would floodlight Steinsdalsfossen at night.
Since Julie and I only visited on a cloudy afternoon in June 2005 and on a cloudy late morning in June 2019, we didn’t get to see it lit up at night nor frozen over.
The nearest town to the falls is Norheimsund, which is about 3km east along Mv7 on the western shores of the Hardanger Fjord (Hardangerfjorden).
In our first visit back in June 2005, Julie and I actually visited this waterfall immediately after making a brief visit to the city of Bergen.
That required us to drive about 37km to the north and east along the E16.
Then, we left the E16 to continue onto the Mv7 for another 41km to the falls while passing by a few other waterfalls along the way including the impressive Fossen Bratte some 20km east of the E16 just before a tunnel.
This drive would take well over an hour to drive, and it might even take longer due to the high volume of traffic on this stretch of road.
On our second visit back in June 2019, we visited Steinsdalsfossen after making a long drive southwest of Granvin.
It took us over an hour to drive the 52km from Granvin to Steinsdalsfossen.
For geographical context, Norheimsund was about 50km (about an hour drive) southwest of Granvin, about 76km (about 90 minutes drive) south of Voss” target=”_blank”>Voss, 78km (about 90 minutes drive) west of Eidfjord, and 77km (under 90 minutes drive, typically) east of Bergen.
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