we will be traveling from Balestrand up the the Geiranger area, and would like to spend 4 days in the area hiking, biking, taking a tour on the fjord. where should we stay? Loen? Geiranger? Grades?
In the area there is a LOT of great hiking and spectacular scenery! Geiranger is a good place to stay for cruising the fjord and hiking the area. There are trails that go along the mountains overlooking the fjord. There is also a really nice area to hike if you drive up behind the town of Geiranger - near the top of the pass there is a spectacular waterfall (you can't miss it) with a few mountains farms you can walk to.
Along the Trollstigen Pass road there are hundreds of trails going off to either side. Some go through lush forests and others, at the higher elevations, have you crossing moon-like landscapes. The whole area is just amazing. I think that a couple of nights in Geiranger would be plenty.
There is some nice hiking around the Alesund area as well - we really liked Runde Island - you can hike to the top of the island for spectacular views across the ocean and up the coastline. The island is teeming with hundreds of thousands of birds - you can take a boat ride around the island to see them nesting on the cliffs. Puffins, gannets, all sorts of interesting birds if you like that kind of thing!
When we were there we stayed in a tiny little town called Straumgjerdet just southeast of Alesund. There are trails that go from just behind the soccer field in the town. They lead up through the forest to several mountain farms that are in various states of ruin - they are still used by the families in summertime but they aren't always there. Some of the trails that go further up into the mountains of the Sunmore Alps in this area and afford amazing views over the whole area.
One thing we found about hiking in Norway is that the ground can be just saturated with water...like a sponge. You step and your foot forms a puddle with water rising up the sides of your boots - definitely bring waterproof boots! We had no idea and had pretty wet feet all summer!
Thank you so much. Your information I am sure will be very helpful.