-

Enhancing the Trails up Sukkertoppen Mountain to Encourage Sustainable Use

Casual walkers and children will be able to ascend Norway’s Sukkertoppen Mountain more easily thanks to an innovative trail that also safeguards the surrounding nature from erosion.

Photo: Sukkertoppen Vel

With an unhindered 360-degree panorama that looks out over sea, fjords and coast – and gives a bird’s eye view of the nearby town of Ålesund – Sukkertoppen’s summit is a popular destination in western Norway. For the area’s many visitors and local people alike, Sukkertoppen or ‘Sugar-loaf Mountain’ is a rewarding hike, a place to walk the dog, a daily stroll, or a fresh challenge to be undertaken.

In total, approximately 50,000 people ascend this long ridge every year. But with that level of human traffic, the paths have fallen into poor condition. Access has become difficult for people who are less fit or less able, including the young and the old. Moreover, with many wet sections, walkers tend to fan out in search of secure footing, and thus widen the area impacted by their passing. 

Improving access to protect the surroundings

To restore and improve the access to Sukkertoppen for everyone, members of the local sports club Sif/Hessa IL envisioned an exciting new trail that would ascend the north side of Sukkertoppen. Upon reaching the east-west ridgeline, the new path will then join the existing path that follows the ridgeline to the summit, some 1,030 feet above sea level. 

The new access path will avoid the need for so many people to use the current path up to the ridgeline, which ascends the southern side of Sukkertoppen. At the same time, the new access path will channel the visitors along a clearly established route, allowing the surrounding nature to recuperate and flourish undisturbed by excessive footfall.

Exciting features along the way

The various parts of the new trail will consist of gravel paths and steps made of natural stone. Where the track will ascend particularly steep hillsides, its creators will use floating bridges made of steel. By using floating bridges over the most challenging parts of the trail such as these, they will thus be able to lift walkers above the path entirely, avoiding the erosion caused by thousands of people scrabbling for traction.

The plan is to also use smaller steel platforms as ‘viewing ramps’ that will protrude over drops below like dramatic balconies, upon which people can pause and enjoy the view. 

This infrastructure is being erected with support from Hurtigruten Foundation of NOK 50,000 (approx. €4,850), using helicopters to lift heavy items such as bags of gravel, and relying on the strength and determination of local sports club members and tradespeople complete the work.

Better facilities for locals and tourists

Because the new track will begin on the edge of the area of Osane, it will make Sukkertoppen more readily available to this population centre, as well as to the nearby town of Ålesund, which is home to 70,000 people. At the starting point of the track there will be improved parking and toilet facilities, and a new sports hall. 

By making the mountain more readily accessible to more people with different fitness levels, the project will help encourage tourists, kindergartens, schools, and sports associations to use Sukkertoppen daily. As such, the project is a valuable investment that can provide health benefits to locals and tourists for generations to come, while preserving and respecting the glorious nature they come here to enjoy.

About the work on Sukkertoppen’s trails  

The work on the trails is being led by members of the local sports club Sif/Hessa IL, who have established a voluntary and independent department called Sukkertoppen Vel.

You can see more on their Facebook page and Instagram profile. 

Where can I learn more about Sukkertoppen Mountain?

You can see more information about Sukkertoppen Mountain on VisitNorway’s website.