Trollkirka: A colorful, underground surprise
This article is also available in: Dutch
On an extremely hot day in August, while we were on our way to visit the Atlantic Road, we stumbled upon a tiny parking lot in Fræna, Møre og Romsdal. We found a sign there, saying ‘Trollkirka’, but most of it was in Norwegian. While eating our sandwiches we tried to figure out what it said. Something about flashlights? Bart-Jan convinced me to go figure out what this was all about. And the reward turned out to be way bigger than we thought.
How do you get to Trollkirka?
Trollkirka, also known as Trollkyrkja, literally means ‘Troll’s Church. The church is a collection of underground corridors linking several colorful limestone caves to eachother. You can park the car along Riksveg 64 and follow the signs to Trollkirka. The hike takes approximately 1,5 hours up and one hour down. As said on the sign, it’s adviced to bring a flashlight (preferably a headlight) with you and you should probably wear waterproof boots too..
Nature reserve Trollkirkedalen
You’ll be hiking through a protected nature reserve called Trollkirkedalen until you reach the Trollkirka caves at 484 meters above sea level. The peat soil provides calcium rich soil, so the area is full of unique plant species and orchids that are threatened with extinction. Along the way you will come across little signs that describe what plants are growing there. Be careful with wandering of the tracks, because you never know what kind of plants you’ll be accidentally murdering.
The perfect hike for a hot day
Aside from lots of green, you will also come across lots of water. Small creeks, cute waterfalls and also lots of mud. The first time we undertook this hike it was 27°C (who says Norway is cold?!), so we took advantage of all the small creeks A LOT. During the climb we saw a couple of little kids playing in the waterfalls and tiny swimming pools carved by nature. So you could even decide to bring a towel and take a dip!
Before we knew it we arrived at the entrance of the first Trollkirka cave. A cold breeze greeted us. We couldn’t see passed a few rocks, as it was really dark inside. I hesitated, but Bart-Jan was already way ahead of me and rushed into the cave. We had to use both hands and feet to get into the cave, so I was really glad I brought my headlight.
A colorful, underground surprise
It’s impossible to get lost in the caves, so just follow the loud noise and keep going. If you decide to crawl into one of the tiny passages, you’ll hit a dead end. Bart-Jan tried that out for you. Don’t forget to mind your head, because you wouldn’t be the first one climbing out of the caves with a head wound! Eventually you’ll reach the spectacle that you came for: a giant limestone bowl, overgrown with bright green moss, with a waterfall coming down from the top. The waterfall is so gorgeous to look at, there’s a high chance you’ll accidentally get too close and become wet. But it’s so worth it.
Indiana Jones and the Trollkirka caves
The limestone caves have been carved out by the water through thousands of years. If you look very close, you can see the different layers of stone in the walls. But this cave isn’t all! When you walk out of the cave and climb a bit further up, you’ll get to the next Trollkirka cave. The only way to reach it is to go down a really shaky ladder! You can’t miss it. And you’ll found out why this place is called Trollkirka very soon.
‘Cursing’ in the Troll’s church
I couldn’t help myself and yelled “Oh my god!” the first time I entred the cave. Because look at those colors! It was so special.. I could hardly believe we were the only ones there, as I thought this cave was even more beautiful than the first one. Apparently only a handful of people know there’s a second cave!
(Update: we went back here in 2018 and the second cave still turned out to be a hidden gem!)
At leat you know where to find it now! So if you’re ever on your way to the Atlantic Road and decide to go hiking in the neighbourhood, so should go visit Trollkirka. The hike is really doable – even for beginners – and the reward is amazing! Besides the caves are really cool, so it’s a perfect place to visit on a hot summers day. And if you’re really ambitious you could even dive into the idyllic Trollvatnet before you hike down.