Elizabeth Sturdy describes how she fell in love with Bymarka through skiing and provides tips for new Trønders on how to embrace Trondheim's incredible nature reserve.
In many places, spring means flowers budding and green grass growing.
While that’s true for late spring here in Trondheim, April and May are PRIME time for skiing, and Bymarka is one of the best spots in Trondheim for it! The snow still covers the beautiful nature reserve that’s almost right inside the city, and you can enjoy daylight from 7 am to 7 pm and beyond, the perfect conditions for those of us obsessed with the fluffy white stuff.
Bymarka is a large park and nature reserve situated west of Trondheim’s city centre. It is an area of 80 square kilometres, with over 100 km of cross-country ski tracks and more than 200 km of hiking trails.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy Bymarka without skis, but I believe it’s important to understand this incredible hobby and sport at the heart of Norwegian culture.
Let’s explore my journey with this mysterious art before diving into my top 7 tips (and map) on how to get the most out of Bymarka in spring!
To ski or not to ski?
Do you love to ski? Or have you tried a few times and didn't enjoy it? Or have you never been close to strapping on skis in your life? You’re not alone!
My first winter in Trondheim, I went once with an American/Norwegian couple that my husband and I met at a pub quiz. His grandpa had a garage full of skis! Grandpa set us all up, and we managed to make it to Elgsethytta. It was a fun adventure, but I was unstable and slow. I didn’t try again that winter.
By the time my second Norwegian winter arrived, I had decided. The only way to balance my work and studies with the darkness was to embrace the Norwegian winter. I was determined to work on my mental and physical health by learning to ski — and it paid off big time.
My partner and I headed to the shops, and the salesperson fitted us for a basic classic ski package:
Skis based on our weight and height
Boots that fit our feet well
Poles based on our height
A month later, we got fjellski (mountain skis) too!
After work, we went skiing in the dark on the lit tracks at Storsvigen. I fell many times and had little control. I was lucky to have the help of my patient husband and a friend who used to be a ski instructor. I slowly learned how to control my legs/knees/hips, and skis when facing a big scary hill.
I went on weekend trips with friends to Bymarka and cabins. By Easter break, I was feeling confident enough to go big. My husband and I completed a 4-day DNT cabin-to-cabin trip in Sylan (on the Swedish border).
By May, I was hooked. I had enough muscle memory and strength to enjoy the sport. I loved seeing my progress on the loops in Bymarka as a whole new world right next to the city opened up to me. I loved the fresh air, sunshine, and beautiful snow-covered forest. I loved the cosy cabins and the exercise endorphins.
In my eighth winter in Trondheim, I enjoy skiing 1-3 times per week and often post pictures from my adventures. I work as a mindset, career, and confidence coach. This winter, I’ve found my clients and friends asking me for skiing tips just as often as mindset!
Here are my top 7 tips to make the most of Trondheim’s greatest resource:
1. Layers layers layers
“No bad weather, only bad clothing” is classic Norwegian advice. When learning to ski, this is especially true. The temperature, wind, and weather vary greatly from morning to afternoon. The clothes you need to sit down and eat a kvikk lunsj in differ from those you need to ski comfortably.
Cotton kills. Wool wins. Always check the weather before your trip and adjust your pack accordingly. You can find an excellent overview of the layers you should consider in this guide by The Norwegian Trekking Association. You can find all the clothing and gear at Trondheim's second-hand and sporting goods stores.
I've found feeling safe on your feet equally important when you're not on skis! Invest in pigsko (spikes for your shoes). These make walking around town or Bymarka when it's icy less scary and more fun! Most sporting goods stores sell plastic ones you can wear over your shoes. You can also visit Loplabbet in the centre and ask them to add spikes to an old pair of shoes. I bought a pair of shoes with built-in spikes this winter, and I wish I had done this years ago!
2. GET SKIS!
There are many ways to do this if you don’t want to buy new skis yet. I recommend starting with wax-free, or felleski, so you don’t have to worry about waxing techniques.
You don’t have to own skis to get started! Don’t hesitate to ask a friendly Norwegian or international with extra skis and boots if you can borrow them. You can also check out
If you’re a bit unsure of what to buy and want to get professional help, it’s best to visit a sporting goods store and get fitted for a pair of skis. Trondheim has many great stores, such as XXL, Intersport, Sport Outlet, Axel Brunn, and Skandinavisk Høyfjellutsyr, who can help you get started!
3. Start going to Bymarka, right now!
Creating a new routine is always tough, and the biggest threshold is simply showing up. One of the first steps is realising just how easy it is to go to Bymarka and how unique Trondheim is to have such a great natural area in the city. You don’t even need a car!
Bus 26 goes to Skistua regularly and you can find the exact times in the ATB app. You can take great walks from Skistua, but skiing is the biggest attraction in spring. You’ll see plenty of people on board the bus with their cross-country skis.
You can find beginner-friendly flat(ish) areas for cross-country skiing in the open area below the Skistua. A bit further down the road is Henriksåsen parking lot which has a relatively flat 1-kilometre path towards Elgsethytta. The Ski Club's Daily Conditions and Recommendations and The Ski Tracks are two sites to check while planning your trip.
Even if you’ve tried downhill before, cross-country skiing requires different muscles and techniques. I highly recommend investing in lessons to get the most out of Bymarka.
Skiklubben.no offers ski courses for adults and children, families and friends, and large and small groups. Just remember that you must book lessons in advance.
But also check with the unions, organisations, and nonprofits you’re connected to. You’d be surprised how many offer ski lessons and outings.
5. Consistency = improvement = enjoyment
It will be hard to improve if you only go a few times per winter, just like any new gym routine or sport. I recommend going once a week for multiple weeks and finding a friend or group willing to go with you.
Fall, get back up, and keep trying. You will get better!
6. Embrace the hytta!
Ready to try a slightly longer trip but need help figuring out where to start? Make it the goal of the trip to reach one of the many 'hyttas' or warming cabins and cafes.
Entering Grønlia or Elgsethytta, you’ll be greeted by friendly staff, the smell of strong coffee, and freshly baked treats. This makes steps 1-5 all worth it! Here, Visit Trondheim shares information and links to the unique cabins in Trondheim.
7. Prevent ‘hanger’ and make the most out of your breaks
You may get hungry and tired while out skiing. I recommend the following to make the most of your breaks.
First, you may have gotten quite sweaty from your skiing adventure. It’s nice to have a few extra layers in your bag, especially a wool base layer shirt, socks, and gloves.
Now that you’re nice and dry, it’s best to not directly sit on the ice or snow-covered bench. Pack a sit mat or “sitteunderlag.” Traditionally made of wool or fur, you can also buy them in foam and other synthetic materials.
Finally, prevent ‘hanger' and fuel the second part of your journey with a snack and warm drink. I often pack a protein bar or sandwich and a thermos with tea or cocoa, especially if I’m not headed to a cabin. Traditionally at Easter, Norwegians pack kvikk lunsj (Norwegian kit-kat), oranges, and Solo — all of these items will be on sale around Easter!
This list is not exhaustive, but I hope this article inspires you to try skiing this spring. Here is a map with links to most of the stores and places mentioned in this article. Figure out what gear and spots work best for you, grab a friend or colleague, and enjoy Bymarka. God tur!