Hardanger Fruit Trail
Distance: 3.7 miles (6 km)
Time: 2 hours
Surface: Local Roads, Paths, Gardens
Norwegian farmers have been growing fruit in Hardanger since monks first introduced fruit farming to the area in the late 1200s. Cherries, pears, apples, plums-almost half of the fruit consumed by Norwegians comes from the orchards around Lofthus. These fields can be walked in a delightful amble along the Hardanger Fruit Trail, through what locals affectionately refer to as “Norway’s Orchard.”
The Hardanger apple, Hard anger pear, Hardanger morello cherry, and Hardanger plum are now all “protected geographic names,” such is the regard in which they are held. Throughout Europe these fruits are known for their fresh, tangy flavors, flavors that you can taste for yourself by shopping at the various small stalls set up along the quaint rural roads.
The Hardanger Fruit Trail takes you through the orchards of local Hardanger farmers, and it is a particularly lovely stroll in May when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, or in August just prior to the apple harvest. A mix of sealed and unsealed roads punctuated with large information boards takes you to the farms around Opedal. There, you can stroll among some of the 600,000 fruit trees that make up the orchards of Ullensvang, and meet some of the local growers who are only too happy to talk you through the science of fruit growing and help you to appreciate the art of growing fruit above 60 degrees of latitude.
If you want to extend the walk after finishing the Hardanger Fruit Trail, you can take a side trail to the nearby Skredhaugen Folk Museum, with its collection of preserved-timber farm buildings, or return to Lofthus and talk to the experts at the Norwegian institute for Agriculture on how to grow the perfect fruit.