Mount Skåla is the highest mountain in the Loen area. The peak reaches 1,848 meters above sea level, and you can walk to the very top. On the hiking difficulty scale, the route is marked as a black hike, making it one of the most challenging trails in the region. The walk starts approximately 1-km away from Loen and it’s an 8-km trek to the top.
The hike up Mount Skåla is hugely rewarding, surrounding you with beautiful scenery. You begin your journey with a hike into the forest, passing delicious blueberries and stunning waterfalls. Eventually you will reach a mountain stream. The water in the stream is so clean that you can drink it from it. The fresh mountain water is perfectly pure and it tastes delicious. As soon as you cross a bridge over the stream, the elevation becomes steeper and the trail more challenging.
Upon reaching a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains, a sign will indicate you still have 3-kms to the top – and that’s where the fun really starts. The road to the top is paved with rocks and snow. The landscape becomes moon-like, and you will struggle to see anything green nearby. With every single step, the trail becomes more and more challenging but all you need do is look behind you. The scene is full of glaciers, lakes and snow-capped mountain peaks. If anything can keep you on track to the top of Skåla, then that view will do it.
As you approach the top of the mountain, a rounded tower such as you might expect to see in Lord of the Rings, slowly emerges before you. A Norwegian doctor and his friends built the tower as a retreat to refresh body and soul. A new cabin was recently built beside the tower, and you can now spend the night on top of the mountain. An evening at the top of Mount Skåla is totally worth it, as the daylight fades you’ll witness the most breath-taking sunset you’ve ever seen.
The cabin and the tower are self-service, so most of the time there is no host to welcome you. You will find an honesty box where you can pay for a night’s stay. You should bring your own food to cook, although caretakers regularly stock the cabin with food just in case.
If you ask the locals how long it takes to get to the top of Mount Skåla, they will answer about 3-4 hours, which I call ‘’Norwegian hours’’. For other Europeans it takes between 5-6 hours. Every year in the middle of August, hikers from all over the world come here to attempt the Skåla Opp run. It’s the one of the longest up-hill races in Europe.
The Skåla Opp is known for the impressive time in which contestants manage to complete the course. The record so far is 1 hour and 7 minutes. There is a prize available to anyone you can break this record: 300,000 NOK (approximately £30,000)! That is a huge prize, but for me, the experience of walking up Mount Skåla is its own reward. The spectacular scenery and unimaginable beauty of the area make the trek to the top of Mount Skåla an unforgettable experience.