St Olavsleden leaves Olden along a forest trail and at the bend of Leverangerälven river, there is a ruin of Munkeby monastry from 1180. There is also a new Maria monastery built by the Order of Cistercians. You can buy cheese in the monastery store and stay at the pilgrim hostel 400 meters further down. You hike on through the forest and follow Tomtvatnet for a few kilometres. This is followed by a steep walk uphill to the Tomtvasslia viewpoint. The route continues along a trail and eventually along a road down toward Markabygda.
Chose a route: outer or inner trail
At Munkeby in Levanger the route splits into the inner and outer trail.
The outer trail
St Olavsleden’s outer trail passes through towns and villages along the Trondheim fjord. There are plenty of historical sites along the way. The trail mostly goes along tarmac roads where it is easy to find grocery stores. On the outer trail you can stay in simple pilgrim inns and in larger hotels. If you choose the outer trail you will have to travel by boat from Frosta/Tautra either to Steinvikholmen or directly to Trondheim. As there are no regular boats operating this route, the Stiklestad Pilgrim Center has an agreement with a local boat owner. Read more about the Pilgrimage Boat 2020 here.
The inner trail
The inner trail of St Olavsleden passes through deep forests. This is a route of stillness and nature. The hike mostly follows forest trails and gravel roads. Shops are few and far-between on the inner trail, so you either need to carry your food or buy food at the simple pilgrim inns along the trail. Accommodation and food must be pre-booked.
Lakes in a row (inner trail)
Through Skjelstadmarka you can hike along a small path through the forest to Tyldvatnet and Rådal. An alternative route follows a gravel road passing through Bulandsvatnet and Ausevatnet. If you follow the gravel road you will find a small, self-catering pilgrim hostel in Borås.
You enter the deep Hållådalen valley and pass 3,000-year-old stone carvings in an idyllic cultural landscape on the way down to the larger town of Stjørdal. Ersgard, east of Stjørdal, offers accommodation on a 250-year-old farm. In the evening you can try your luck fishing in the river.
The trail passes Lånke church and you can take a dip at Hells bathing area located where Stjørdalsälven enters the fjord. The trail mounts Gjevingåsen – a dreaded path for the pilgrims of the past as they were attacked by robbers and wild animals here. Further along in the forest you will find Folden farm, an organic farm where you can stay the night.
At Bakken St Olavsleden joins the Romboleden trail that comes from Mostadmark in the east. The trail continues through forests to Engan farm. At Saksvikskorsen there used to be a cross where pilgrims stopped as they finally saw their destination Nidaros. You can look out over the fjord and the great city from here.
Into the city
From Ranheim church you stroll along the beach, around Leangbukta and into the Ringve botanical gardens and a museum of music history. You walk along Lade allé past churches and below the walls around Kristiansten fortress towering above the city. Alongside Nidälven river, you will see colourful wooden buildings on stilts and you cross Gamle bybro bridge. You have now reached the ultimate destination of your journey – Nidaros Cathedral.
Construction of the cathedral on top of St. Olav’s tomb began in 1070 and it soon became a destination for pilgrims who sought comfort and help. Enjoy the magnificent Nidaros Cathedral with its beautiful stained-glass window, high arches and all the sculptures along the western wall. Climb the steps of the tower and see Trondheim and the surrounding blue fjord from above – and now feel peace in your pilgrim soul.
Trondheim is Norway’s third most populous city. It is an historical oasis, but also a modern university city and centre for maritime, technology and medical research. In the cosy inner city, there are many nice cafés and shops housed in old wooden buildings. In the harbour you can buy fresh prawns and fish. Take a boat to Munkholmen where there was once a monastery in medieval times.
Near the cathedral you’ll find Nidaros pilgrimsgård a meeting place with a retreat, seminars and guided tours. There is a pilgrim priest here that will sign your Olavsbrevet, a diploma for hikers that have walked more than 100 km. There is also accommodation that serves breakfast.
Great cultural festival
One of Norway’s largest cultural festivals, the Olavsfestdagene, takes place every year, at the end of July. Plays, church services and concerts are held – including rock, pop, folk music and opera. There is also a historic market with jesters and crafts. You are transported back to the medieval times and can see forging and become a stone cutter for a day.