Adventure Travel – Norway: Home of the Giants
Norway's Jotunheimen National Park bristles with glacier-clad peaks amid northern Europe's highest mountains, but a five-star hut system makes it a place you can bring your kids. And mom.
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View the full GPS track at: backpacker.com/hikes/2006784
GET THERE Fly to Oslo, bus to Gjendesheim, and from Spiterstulen back to Oslo. Bus drivers accept major credit cards, except for the segment from Spiterstulen to Lom (bring about 50 Norwegian kroner in cash per adult). Bus info: nor-way.no
SEASON July to September (but summer snow cover can vary greatly from year to year)
HUTS Staffed shelters serve meals (and sell sack lunches). Self-service huts provide stoves and cookware and have nonperishable food for sale (or BYO). Parties of fewer than five don’t need reservations (recommended at Gjendesheim, which is popular). Norwegian huts will not turn away trekkers, but overflow guests get a mattress on the floor.
COST Expect to pay about 555 to 660 Norwegian kroner per person ($100 to $115; less for children) for lodging and three meals at Norwegian Trekking Association huts (includes discount for $100 membership; contact below). Huts accept major credit cards.
ROUTE Trails are signed and easy to follow. Numerous options let you design a route to suit your group.
MAPS Jotunheimen 1:50,000 two-map set (about $42; bit.ly/norwaymaps) is available at staffed DNT huts, including Gjendesheim.
GUIDEBOOK Walking in Norway, by Connie Roos ($19; cicerone.co.uk)
INFO english.turistforeningen.no (Norwegian Trekking Association) and visitnorway.com
Prep the Entire Family
Boost anticipation and plan smart to create happy trail memories.
-Set goals Determine your trophy hike, then work up to that level by selecting training routes that increase in difficulty. Reduce anxiety Got worriers? Get them books about your destination. Inspire them to get excited about wildlife and history.
-Motivate Kids aren’t inspired by scenery. Instead, promise them things they’re interested in: lakes for fishing or swimming, campsite competitions, rocks to climb, and special treats.
-Think short Most kids can walk about a half-mile for each year of age, so a four-year-old should be able to pound out two miles. Kids are usually most energetic in the morning. Add at least an hour of trail time for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain, and limit distance so you’re not hiking all day. Plan regular rest/play stops.
-Handle a meltdown When group members are grumpy, assume they’re hungry, thirsty, tired, hot, or cold. Have food, water, and layers on hand, and take time to rest. For more strategies for successful family camping, check out BACKPACKER’s Hiking and Backpacking with Kids ($13; falcon.com).
Sore feet, sleeping cold, getting soaked. These things can ruin a trip even for adults; don’t expect kids to suffer.
Boots Don’t use off-the-shelf street shoes for hikes longer than a few miles or with heavy packs. We like: The North Face’s Vindicator WP ($65; 9.9 oz.; thenorthface.com).
Pack Unless Hero Dad is carrying it all, get a kid pack with adult features. We like: Deuter’s Fox 30 ($99; 2 lbs. 7 oz.; deuterusa.com)
Shell Choose a jacket with a waterproof/breathable membrane and built-in hood. We like: Marmot’s Precip ($65; 9.7 oz.; marmot.com) Sleeping bag Get a bag sized right so kids don’ carry extra weight. We like: Deuter’ Starlight EXP ($89; 2 lbs. 3 oz.; deuterusa.com).