|Estimated net time||2-2½ hours|
|Drinking water||No reliable sources of drinking water.|
|GSM coverage||Coverage throughout the route (July 2009).|
|Parking||Room for many cars around trail head.|
|Start height||148 metres|
|Vertical metres||260 metres for the roundtrip (including climb of tower)|
|Trip distance||6.3 km|
Linnekleppen trail head.|
Park here for hike to Linnekleppen.
From Rakkestad drive road 124 east, signed for "Aremark". From where road 124 starts from road 111 drive 17.7 km and you will see a sign for "Linnekleppen" on your left hand side. Drive another few metres and you will see a small car park on the left hand side. If this car park is full you can continue another few metres to a second car park.
From the car park walk along the wide path, which is marked by blue paint. This path goes more or less directly north, all the way to Linnekleppen. The whole route is relatively flat, with a few ups and downs along the way. At the summit there is a 17 metres high tower, and in order to get any reasonable view you need to climb this tower.
The descent is best done by reversing the ascent route.
12. July 2009
Having arrived Sarpsborg the night before, I was determined to do one of the few mountains within reasonable driving distance this Sunday morning. And since Linnekleppen satisfied the criteria "not visited before, a mountain, supposedly good views, and within reasonable driving distance" making this the target for the day was close to a no-brainer.
Elisabeth and me left Sarpsborg after breakfast, and after a 35 minutes drive we found ourselves at the Linnekleppen trail head by road 124. There were no other cars at the car park, which was one of my reasons to start early, so that the chance of having to queue to get up tower was minimal. The path towards Linnekleppen was very wet after the last two weeks of rain in southern Norway, and as opposed to the terrain we are used to on the west coast of Norway it is so flat here that the water cannot just run off the mountain sides. But the path was wide and offered plenty of opportunities to avoid the bigger ponds.
When we got to the summit we saw smoke coming out of the chimney of the small cabin at the foot of the tower, and soon a man emerged. I asked him if we were allowed to climb the tower, and he said "no problem, if you can cope with the exposure". To play safe I didn't say much about us being used to exposure, and instead thanked him and followed him to the top. The view, of course, was completely different to what you would normally expect after having climbed a mountain since all we basically saw was miles and miles of forest, and the odd bump. But it was still an impressive view, in particular because of the huge area of land that lay out in front of us. Adding to the view was the extensive knowledge of our "guide". He, Per Evensen, was spending his 9th summer at Linnekleppen looking for fires in all of Østfold and also across into Sweden, spending the three summer months here. He spends all his time, with a few exceptions if e.g. it's raining heavily, up in the tower, night and day, on the look-out for smoke. And on a normal summer he would identify tens of fires, which usually don't evolve into bigger fires because they have been spotted early.
Per is the 12th guard in a little over 100 years, and he told us he had been keen to find out what it would be like spending three months every summer in loneliness, but he hadn't really had the chance to find out since it was an average of around 30 persons visiting Linnekleppen every day during the summer (of which only half of them made it up to the top of the tower). As per 2009 the tower at Linnekleppen is the only manned watch tower for fires in all of Europe.
After a while up in the tower Per asked us if we noticed that the tower was swinging. I had to admit that I hadn't noticed before he told us, but it was a clear swing from side to side of the whole building; one of the reasons I'm more happy with mountains than shaky buildings ...
We spent a lot of time talking with Per, having had various land marks pointed out, taken photos, and signed the registration book. A thought I got was that he was probably as useful for the local tourist industry as he was as a fire watcher, and certainly for us it made the hike that extra special with Per's knowledge and interest in sharing this with us. Thanks!
After the tower we hit the path again, running all the way back to the car, meeting the first other hikers almost all the way back at the car.