When 19th century Norwegian banker and philanthropist Thomas Heftye called a meeting at his office, the agenda was "the suitability of founding a trekking association," as described by poet and writer Aasmund O. Vinje in 1866 in the Dølen newspaper. Two years thereafter, Den Norske Turistforening (DNT) - the Norwegian Trekking Association - was founded. DNTs mandate was in part to "acquire means to ease and develop outdoor life here in this country". 223 members joined at the founding meeting.
Today, DNT is Norway's largest outdoor life organization, with more than 260,000 members in 57 some local member organisations across the country, from Kristiansand in the south to the North Cape in the north. DNT Oslo og Omegn ("Oslo and surroundings") is the largest member association and is a direct continuation of the original DNT of 1868. In the late 1880s, trekking associations were founded in principal cities including Trondheim, Stavanger, Skien, Kristiansand and Drammen.
DNT aims to promote straightforward, active, versatile and environmentally-friendly outdoor activities and to preserve the outdoors and the cultural landscape.