Hornindalsvatnet, Norway

Lake Locations:

Norway -

Also known as:  Hornindalsvatn, Hornindalsvatn Lake

Considered the deepest lake in Europe, Norway’s Hornindalsvatn Lake is perfectly placed to host a western Norway holiday. Surrounded by mountains, glaciers and fjords, Hornindalsvatn Lake, like the steep fjords that slice through the Norwegian coastline, was scoured out by ice during the last ice age. Officially, Hornindalsvatn Lake is 1,686 feet deep at its deepest point, but that fact is in some dispute: the national telephone company laying underwater optical cable across the lake a few years ago insists they located an area that was 2,008 feet deep. Either way, the bottom of the huge lake is at least 1500 feet below sea level!

Even at 12,800 acres, the long narrow lake would hardly seem impressive in this area known for massive deep fjords. Only the deposits left from the original glacial dam have prevented Hornindalsvatnet, as it is known locally, from becoming a saltwater extension of the Nordfjord to the west. Instead, Hornindalsvatnet contains an estimated 9,809,630 acre-feet of pure, fresh, cold water gained mostly from snowmelt; glacier run-off streams do not drain to the lake directly, keeping the water exceptionally clean and clear. Add the fact that the lake lies along one of the best-known scenic tourist highways between Nordfjord and Stryn to the east, and it’s easy to see why Hornindalsvatn Lake is a favorite holiday destination for visitors to western Norway’s fjord country. The highway along the south shore is well-supplied with hotels and small caravan camps where area visitors can use the beautiful lake views as a backdrop for exploring all the area has to offer.

As the mountains rise directly from the waters in many areas, there are few towns directly along the shoreline. The City of Grodas on the eastern end of the lake offers most of the vacation lodgings and tourism attractions. Although there is a family-friendly swimming beach near Grodas, and several swim areas provided by hotels and campgrounds, the lake is not famous for swimming or watersports. There is no public marina, but several locations rent rowboats and canoes, and Grodas has a public pier. Ferry service runs regularly between Grodas and road-less communities on the north shore. Groups of five people or more can arrange lake cruises on scenic Hornindalsvatn Lake, and the largest local hotel provides facilities for water skiing.

Fishing is popular on the lake, with trout, char and eel most commonly caught. As with most extremely deep lakes in Norway, the lake actually holds few species of fish; the rivers and streams are far more productive. The out-flowing Eidselva River going toward Nordfjord is a famous salmon and sea trout fishery. Fly fishing here is notoriously rewarding in the still pools between stretches of rapids. Fishing permits can be obtained at the local hotels and tourist attractions in the area, along with maps showing where fishing is permitted.

Hornindalsvatn Lake is not developed with highly commercial tourist attractions and water activities. Its natural beauty serves as a scenic backdrop for the many hikes, cycling paths and side excursions available in the area. Climbing trails are offered on Mount Hornindalsrokken. The Municipality of Hornindal hosts events such as the world-famous Hornindalsvatn Marathon, held annually in July. The Anders Svor Museum and Art Gallery has about 450 sculptures and guest exhibitions on display. The Hornindal area is well-known for maintaining its folk culture in the form of wood carvers, fiddlers and folk music demonstrations. Riding stables offer horseback riding on the unique breed of horse called the fjord horse, known for their sure-footed gait and compact muscular bodies.

Traces of Viking history and grave goods can be seen in most of the local museums in the area. One remnant of early superstitions remaining from Norway’s early history can be seen in Grodas in the Marriage or Virgin stone, a large stone with a hole carved in the center. Legend states that those to be married must visit the stone, and the prospective bride should crawl though. Legend says that if the bride manages the feat, then she is assured to be a virgin. If she does not, it is assumed she is already pregnant. Alternately, another legend says that dairymaids who had spent the summer in the country at their duties must pass through the hole upon returning in the fall, to assure they had been virtuous. Likely related to the proliferation of standing stones around northwestern Europe and the British Isles, little is actually known of the stone and how it came to be there – but the legend is repeated faithfully, usually with tongue firmly in cheek.

From Hornindalsvatnet, the holiday-maker can easily travel the few miles to the town of Nordfjord, where there are swimming beaches and cruises on the fjord for their amusement. The many arms of deep Nordfjord can often be reached by ferry or excursion boat. The towns in the area contain a collection of historic churches, and in some spots burial mounds of Iron Age rulers can still be seen. The Nordfjord Folkemuseum offers an excellent history of life in Norway in past centuries with preserved houses, everyday utensils and farm and fishing relics. Charter fishing can be arranged on both the fjord and the open sea to the west.

To the southeast of Hornindalsvatn Lake, the Stryn area offers many recreational activities, including hiking, swimming, cycling and Norway’s largest summer ski resort on the slopes of the Jostedalsbreen glacier. The glacier itself, largest on the European mainland, is a national park destination: Jostedal Glacier National Park. Three glacier museums and visitor centers exist in the park, including one at Stryn. Here, visitors can see how the glacier is currently shrinking, exposing the ruins of farmsteads overtaken by the glacier in the 1750s.

There is no shortage of holiday lodgings near Hornindalsvatnet. Vacationers have been coming to this delightful area for many years and will find a variety of holiday houses, guest houses and apartments, cabins, bed-and-breakfasts, farm-stays, cottages and caravan camps along with thoroughly modern hotels.The Municipality of Hornindal welcomes new residents and advertises it has real estate available for building along with existing homes. The entire area is a photographer’s dream and just the holiday adventure for the active couple or family. Come visit Hornindalsvatnet and drink in the crisp air, the clear waters and the friendly and historic culture of Norway’s fjord country. It will guarantee your most memorable vacation ever!

Things to do at Hornindalsvatnet

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • National Park
  • Museum
  • Ruins

Fish species found at Hornindalsvatnet

  • Char
  • Eel
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Hornindalsvatnet Photo Gallery

Hornindalsvatnet Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 12,800 acres

Shoreline Length: 40 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 174 feet

Average Depth: 774 feet

Maximum Depth: 1,686 feet

Water Volume: 9,809,630 acre-feet

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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