The Jotunheim Ski Trail

Written by Niamh Mangan, Guest 02 October 2023

Last modified on 29 February 2024
Crossing frozen lakes in the Jotunheim Crossing frozen lakes in the Jotunheim

The excitement level is high as I sit on the Norwegian train heading north to Otta, to join the new Tracks & Trails trip along the famous Jotunheim Ski Trail in the 'Land of the Giants'.  The Jotunheim is a name which ranks high in terms of the legendary landscapes of Norway, and I cannot wait to explore it in winter. 

The Jotunheim is perhaps the most famous mountain range in Norway. It is home to the highest mountains and has spectacular summits and views in a landscape which feels remote and truly wild. It's not often that we find ourselves in a corner of the world where the reindeer outnumber the humans on the trail each day. 


On arrival at Lemonsjø Fjellstue I’m feeling very happy as I sit in my beautiful wooden cabin, and enjoy an open log fire.  I already know that I am with a great group of skiers, a super Tracks & Trails guide and we have had a fabulous welcome from our lovely hosts, the Furuset family. The first evening we always have a briefing where our guide/instructor will talk us through the week, and answers any questions required, we also usually pick up any hire skis and make sure our boots fit and are comfortable. Dinner was outstanding - we are in a remote valley and the food and service was incredible. I am thinking this is going to be a good week!

As is often the way with these isolated hotels/mountain lodges the people who run them are priceless. Genuine'locals' who have been offering food and shelter to skiers for generations. Our chef is Tor-Ivor and believe me he does an excellent job.  His sister and our hostess, Mari, tells us all about the food and its origins and we are served by her children.  Lemonsjø is very much a thriving family business and while we are there they calmly feed 275 people on Mother’s Day and host 4 weddings (but fortunately no funerals!).


Skiing past icicles while snow is softly falling in the Jotunheim


I love that these active trips which allow me to switch off and simply settle into the rhythm of the ski day.  It's a case of great breakfast, ski all day, then back to base for a sauna, tea & coffee on tap and an evening of relaxation.  We’ve designated the cabin I’m in as the venue for pre-dinner drinks and I’m not entirely sure whether that’s because of my Irish pedigree or because it’s closest to the hotel and dinner!  Our cabin has a log fire which my lovely cabin companion seems to be able to get going nearly instantly while I get the easy job of preparing drinks and snacks. It's handy having a fridge and freezer full of ice, and we can rustle up a cuppa whenever we fancy one.  

We spend four nights at Lemonsjø before it's time to move on to our next destination and I’m very sorry to leave.  We’ve had brilliant varied skiing around Lemonsjø Lake, through pretty hamlets and forests and up towards the high mountains on trails cut for us by Tor-Ivar, though how he finds the time to get away from the kitchen I really don't know. We've had wonderful snow, some exhilarating swooping downhills and, since temperatures have gone up a bit, it’s the perfect week to try out my new 'skin tech' skis.  They’re a great success and, while part of me is missing morning waxing sessions, I’ve now learned how to glidewax my skis in the evening.  Another bonus of a Tracks & Trails trip is that you learn about far more than just skiing.

Mastering the art of the ski selfie - thanks to Graeme!


Wednesday morning we say our goodbyes and set off on a journey deeper into the Jotunheim that immediately has descents and undulating scooter tracks through birch forests to Sjodalen where we spend just one night by the river.  We ski straight off the trail and into Reception! We arrive to discover our bags are already in our cosy rustic cabins (big thanks to Erik & Torill) and we eat dinner in an amazing wigwam structure that feels like we have landed in a "Lord of the Rings' movie set with a roaring fire in a pit in the centre. Breakfast the following morning is served to our door in a beautiful basket with enough food to feed an army.   

We only spend one night at Sjodalen, before heading off on Thursday morning on the final leg of our journey and an outstanding day in the valleys and foothills of the wilder mountain ranges, we’re definitely now in the ‘Land of the Giants’.  We start on narrow birch forest trails, we then contour around a lake surrounded by high mountains and, after a lovely section in the foothills of the mountains, we finish with what for me is the highlight of the day – 5km (3 miles) across the lake to Bessheim on a track which rapidly fills in with spindrift as light snow begins to fall.  An exhilarating experience as we take it in turns to break trail and learn that, while it’s hard work, being in front gives you the best views!


Total perfection and the ski tracks pressed just for us 


Our trip ends with two nights at the lovely Bessheim Fjellstue where yet again food features highly on the agenda and in our thoughts! We knew our Norwegian hosts on this week’s trip liaised to cut ski trails for us, but I suspect there was also some friendly competition on the food side.  Serious Brownie points to Bjørn, the owner and chef, especially for the melt in the mouth fish starter and the juniper berry sorbet. I love the fact that Norwegians in general still seem very connected to the land, and in all of our accommodation on this trip there would be tales of how they collected the berries for the pudding themselves, or created the home made jams, or cured the reindeer meat themselves.I’ll have to starve myself for at least a week when I go home.

Stunning locations for our stays in this remote valley

Our final day is bittersweet.  I’m sad the trip is coming to an end, but we have fresh snow so it’s a day to go out and have fun.  We skied 17km (10.6 miles) with a lovely mixture of skiing across the lake, up towards the high mountains and back home by the Gjendsheim hut and a rollercoaster trail of ups and downs.  No views today unfortunately and it’s cold and windy, but the snow is great and it’s a good day to practice some ‘skiing by touch’ - I’m very grateful for all the tips I got the previous week, those drills are really paying off.  And, since the snow is soft and fluffy, the odd tumble isn’t a problem.  

Would I recommend this trip?  Would I do it again?  Yes and Yes!  The whole area has quite a remote feel and we saw very few other people, but it was all very relaxed and comfortable.  Great accommodation, hosts and food.  Excellent guiding and quite a bit of ski instruction as we journeyed with the ongoing option of extra tuition on request when we finished every day.  Good quality boots and skis for those renting, and fantastic varied skiing.  Thanks very much Tracks & Trails – another fabulous trip in the bag.

This trip is offered at two different levels, the Jotunheim Cross Country Ski which is graded Intermediate, and the Jotunheim Ski Trail which is graded Advanced. This is basically the same trip but delivered at different levels to allow more skiers to enjoy this beautiful part of Norway. 

Keep up to date with Tracks and Trails through our newsletter, click here to sign up. For more information about our cross-country ski trips, either custom or Scheduled Departures, speak to one of our expert team by calling +44 (0) 20 8144 64442 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. In addition to cross-country skiing we offer snowshoeing in winter, and in summer hiking, and trail running.