Consider brushing up on your Norse mythology before venturing to northern Norway for one of Europe’s most surprising hikes. “It’s like God himself took his ax and made a mark in the Earth.” That’s how adventurer Trygve Nygård prepares his guests for the views during walks to the rim of Northern Europe’s largest canyon, which stretches more than 7 miles in length.
If you’re wondering why you should head to roughly 70 degrees north on the globe (that’s above Alaska) to hike, it all has to do with the stunning scenery that awaits at Alta Canyon. After a nearly treeless trek over a section of the Finnmarksvidda plateau, where you’re lucky to run into another hiker, you are met with a shockingly verdant view into a canyon below — one cut through by one of the world’s most famous salmon fishing rivers.
“This is the Arctic. We are far north of Hudson Bay when it comes to latitude, so you need to know what you’re doing here,” says Nygård. “People have died [on the same mountain where the canyon is] during a blizzard in July.”
The trail itself is a natural one of rocks and marshy, muddy patches. It begins on a mountain plateau, with relatively flat and undulating terrain and almost no trees at all. Keep an eye out for stout and sturdy reindeer owned by an indigenous Sami herder. Relatively easy, the path winds for about 1 1/2 miles to the canyon’s rim, along which you’ll walk for another 2 miles or so to reach the grand finale viewpoint.