I arrived in Trondheim in 2011 taking chance of European university exchanges program. I stayed because I could find there a balance between being part of the society and go kayaking on daily basis on myriads of beautiful rivers.
Trondheim was fonded in 997 by the viking king Olav Tryggavson, it was then named Nidaros from the river Nidelva and remained the capital for 3 centuries during middle age, the massive gothic cathedral frem then still illustrates today the prestige of this historical city. It has the nature of Nidelva valley ending its journey through swedish mountains and greens lands of trondelag into the sea downtown. With 150 000 inhabitants, Trondheim is today the 3rd city in Norway after Oslo and Bergen and has various social life opportunities – work, cultural and sport activities and communities around them. It is fairly centrally located in Norway and a drive away from near and far rivers of the kingdom.
Trondheim is located 63° N, a latitude where the 4 seasons are strongly rythming the year. In spring rivers break free from ice and after the iceberg has been carried down to the sea by the first flood of the season, kayaking season can start. This is as early as March for the water closest to the sea. By the end of may all rivers are free from winter.
June is the peak season with snow melting and by the end of the month sun barely go under horizon allowing midnight sun kayaking. Vegetation is at its best too and portaging or walks to the rivers happens among ferns higher than you.
Water flow slowly reduces offering stable medium flow in July and dropping into August. In September autumn arrives, low water runs in canyon are the obvious choice. One must be reactive to the rain as rivers respond fast and dont keep flow long. By the start of November minus degrees established themselves and flow becomes really low while waterfalls spray covers river walls with ice. It is time to enter winter kayaking on downtown Nidelva that runs all year long.
Living in Trondheim you will call the following rivers local.
The real local river is Nidelva that has decent flow all year round. The first section is a 3km easy class 2 in company of ducks and salmons, it is perfect for cardio and social kayaking and starts right below the Leirfossen dam. The other section is the rapid of Nordsetfossen about 15km upstream, a classic trondersk style of class 3 to 4 moves full of rocks underwater that keep yourself motivated to nail the line and dont pass upside down. Here a short christmas video of Nidelva:
East of Trondheim are Sona, Forra and Vigda, the tributaries to the Stjordalselva and Garberg, tributary to Nidelva.
Sona is the secret pearl of Trondelag. Plenty of steep continuous rollercoaster and 2 bigger rapids, namely the bridge double drop with a large pool at the bottom… which entrance is compromised by a powerful stopper that circulate deep down to about 6 meters below the surface at the foot of the second drop, just after comes a scenic late boof followed by a field of not very impressive but sticky holes. If you start above the first drop you get one more big rapid, water must be high enough to cover the flat rock at the landing for that one. Sona runs down a low gorge in the wood for about 2 km, the run takes 15 min when you dont stop. You can virtually walk out everywhere if you are ready for steep forest walk, so at least when you break your paddle you can easily escape back to the road. Sona season starts in April it is then cold but beautiful, watch it out :
Forra is the bigger sister of Sona. The river shares with Sona the drop-to-drop style and not so clean rapids, though when you know where to go it has plenty of sweet moves and the scenery alone is worth reaching the level to be able to paddle it. It has many beautiful rapids and a cool clean 6 m ish waterfall. It is a class 4 run with class 5 consequences, it has 3 more complex rapids that can be hiked around. The run is only about 5km but takes at least 3 hours. Once you are in the canyon, you cannot get out. Forra river runs out of a lake, I have heard countless stories of how beautiful this top flat meandering section is, for a romantic, lonely, family or with-a-dog trip in a Canadian canoe.
Vigda is the tributary of Forra that cruises in open high terrain in the woods it is a pleasant long run and would have decent flow when Forra is way too high.
Garberg has its source in the national park Skarvan og Roltdalen characterized by large untouched mountains and forests, and flows down to the major Selbu lake elevation 157 meters on the reach of Nidelva river on its way from Sweden to Trondheim, the lake is gigantic and has a depth greater than 200 m. it is an easy class 4 in the woods with a more serious double drop at take out. When flow is high holes become nasty, in the type closed hydraulic on a slide. There are plenty of berries and mushrooms there.
Another major group of rivers are the south ones. It is yearly celebrated by the Trondelagsrunden festival at the end of may.
First on the way south is Gaulfossen, a 1km long volume run composed of several or one rapid depending on the levels : the river is runned from 20 cms to 450 cms, it becomes committing on high flows and like any canyon feels way bigger from a kayak perspective than from what you see walking on the top. The region of Storen has plenty of sections in Fora, Hauka, Bua and Sokna. Adventurous borderline questionable isolate section where one visit is probably enough; quality of the magnificent classic Bua canyon, fairy tale scenery of upper Bua, big water runs on lower bua or Sokna on snow melt peak, or friendly to new-beginners on normal flows. Further south is the only blue water river of Trøndelag, Driva. Driva is characterised by clean rapids and offers many sections from class 2 to 4, the Graura canyon committing by its isolation many hundred meters down from the road between vertical walls is a beautiful run of harder rapids in pool drop style. The Grovu tributary to Driva is probably the most demanding run of Trondheim region. It is both steep, technical and continuous and runs in isolate canyon. It is amazing.
And last but not least comes the coast rivers, where trip finish in the sea. One scenic fairly easy run to bring along new kayakers is Homla river that start below a huge scenic rather unrunnable waterfall. Fosen area located on the other bank of Trondheim fjord has still rivers to explore. One of them is the Nordelva, a mysterious run that should be considered seriously as it tragically saw a death accident.
Welcome to Trondheim ! Thanks to all the beautiful people who let me be part of this fun community, as well as all visitors and new comers that keep it alive and growing. My thoughts go finally to Benjamin Hjort who has been an inspiration through its love and commitment towards the river and the people. He left this world some years ago but his legacy is present in us.