Hesten (556 m / 1824 ft) is one of the most famous destinations in Senja Island, along with the neighboring Segla mountain. The peaks are located north of the island of Senja, in Fjordgård. Hesten is probably the most popular 'Instagram mountain' in Senja – the epic photos of Segla are mainly taken from Hesten.
Senja Island is Norway's second largest island, right after Lofoten. Often called ‘Lofoten's little sister’, Senja offers equally stunning landscapes with dramatic mountains and deep turquoise shimmering fjords. The number of tourists has increased in Senja in recent years, and the most popular mountains are crowded during the high season.
From the top of Hesten, great panoramic views open up to the surroundings, but the view is dominated by the vertically rising Segla right next to it. If you can take your eyes off Segla, there are also beautiful views of the Mefjorden fjord and Grytetippen in the direction of the Øyfjorden fjord.
Arrival and parking at Hesten
The Hesten trail can be found on the northern side of the Fjordgård and Segla or Barden trails, at the northwest corner of the Segla road. At the trailhead, below the ski slope, there is a sign for the route. Hesten's trail is marked with blue dots on the rocks, there is no risk of getting lost.
From the Hesten route, you can only reach the peaks of Hesten and the neighboring Stavelitippen and the foot of Segla. You have to come back by the same route. However, from the same route you can also visit the difficult and also 'instagrammable' destination Kongeporten (The King's Bridge) and the Inste Kongen summit.
Due to the increased number of tourists, changes have been made to the parking and camping facilities in the Fjordgård area. In the popular Purkneset, camping is no longer allowed, and you are not allowed to leave your car on the side of the street. A new large parking lot has been built near Purkneset (not in use yet in July 2022).
There is no parking in the immediate vicinity of the Hesten trailhead. However, the village is small, and the distances are short, so you can quickly walk from anywhere to the Hesten trail. A large parking area can be found at the southern end of Fjordgård, above the school building, about 500 meters (1640 ft) away. Parking is not free.
The Hesten hiking trail is classified as demanding. The trail is mostly quite easy, but right near the top there are a few slightly difficult and airy sections. In my opinion, Hesten is a bit more challenging than Barden, because of the scrambling at the peak, and the same level as Sukkertoppen near Hamn.
Hesten trail starts with a steep ascent to the ski slope, that grows low bushes. The gravel path quickly turns into a turf path. At the bottom of the ski slope, right at the beginning of the route, there is a small shelter with benches.
Some distance away, there is a wooden bench where you can rest your feet. The trail curves to the right and gets a little gentler. Soon you can see the roofs of the buildings in Fjordgård behind the bushes.
The slope becomes muddy. Duckboards have been built to cross the only stream on the route, which flows through a denser birch forest. Colorful summer flowers grow abundantly around the stream.
There are no other water points on the Hesten trail, so you should take enough drinking water with you. Although the brook looks like a clear mountain stream, in such a crowded area it might not be a good idea to drink directly from the stream.
Along the way, you will come across several nice big stones, where you can take a break while climbing. However, you may have to wait for your turn to sit on the rock. You may also end up photographing other hikers several times.
Higher up on the route, there are several trails running on the slopes. If you turn left, you will reach the ridge between Hesten and Segla, from where you can continue to the top of Hesten. The Hesten trail turns towards the ridge between Hesten and Stavelitippen peak. The steepest part of the route is the climb to this ridge. However, the trail stretch is not difficult, even though it is steep.
The saddle between Hesten and Stavelitippen is wide and flat, as if made for a picnic or at least a short scenic break. On the north side there is a wonderful view of the Øyfjorden fjord. It is easy to see from the green terrain that the entire valley is more or less boggy. You can reach Kongeporten by hiking through the Korkedalen valley.
There is an area between Segla and Hesten where you can find several worn-out tent sites. When viewed from above, the round brown spots stand out clearly. In the evening and in the early morning, colorful tents dot the slope.
On the ridge, turn left towards Hesten summit. The ascent on the Hesten ridge is quite easy and the slope is gentle. The trail runs between large stones and boulders.
The most difficult part of the Hesten route is near the top. There are several alternative paths, but many seemed to choose climbing on the wall on the Segla side. In a few places, you must use your hands when scrambling. A drop of several meters does not feel too airy, perhaps because the slope below is very gentle. I had to pack my camera here to climb.
The peak of Hesten is a bit of a maze, there are little platforms for viewing the scenery on all sides. There are probably so many people that you may have to wait for your turn to get those Instagram pics. There is also a green mailbox at the top, you can leave your signature in the guest book.
The Hesten hike can also be done as a slightly longer loop, because from the top you can continue to the foot of Segla along the saddle. The wall on the fjord side of the ridge is almost vertical. If you are uncomfortable with heights, you should stay further away from the edge.
You can't get to the top of Segla directly from Hesten, because the north wall of Segla is completely vertical. The best way to admire Segla is from the top of Hesten.
According to the statistics of my sports watch, the total distance was 5 km, and the ascent was about 550 m. The experience was mainly a sports performance, because the peaceful admiration of the scenery at the top (the best part of climbing a mountain) was quite impossible due to the large number of people and noise.
Tip: If you're looking for a peaceful destination in Senja, I definitely recommend the Barden trail. Barden is a favorite of the locals, and I don't wonder why - the trail is really pleasant the whole way and the scenery is perhaps the most beautiful in Senja!
See also Senja's other destinations:
Barden - the best sunset in Senja
Grytetippen - amazing views to Fjordgård
Sukkertoppen - short but stunning trail near Hamn
- Destination: Fjordgård, Senja, Norway
- Distance: 2.3 km (1.43 miles) one way
- Difficulty: moderate / demanding (a bit challenging climbing at the top)
- Duration: 2-3 h
- When to go: June to September
- Where to stay: camping in the mountains, hotel accommodation in Fjordgård