Fimmvörðuháls Trail – Iceland’s Premier Day Hike

Located between Thórsmörk and the seaside hamlet of Skogar is arguably the finest collection of waterfalls this side of Rivendell. Connecting this wondrous series of cascades is the Fimmvörðuháls, a legendary 25 km (15.5 mi) pathway that also features glaciers, volcanic plateaus, snowy passes, and the youngest mountains on the planet. 

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Yours truly at Skógafoss – the southern terminus of the Fimmvörðuháls Trail.

Distance:  15.5 miles (25 km)

Avg.Time:  8 – 10 hours

Start / Finish:

    • Skógafoss / Thórsmörk
  • It is 3 hours by bus from Reykjavik to
    Skógafoss and 3.5 hrs from the capital to Thórsmörk.

Difficulty:  Moderate

Total Elevation Gain:  1,291 m (4,236 ft)

Season:  June – September

Maps / Info:

  • GPS: See Wikiloc and AllTrails for GPS information and an elevation profile on the Fimmvörðuháls trail.
  • Museum: Before starting your hike, set aside an hour or two to check out the fascinating Skogar Folk Museum.

Skógafoss

The Fimmvörðuháls Trail includes 26 waterfalls in total. On average a little over one per kilometre!

Route / Conditions:

  • An extraordinary hike which starts by the coast climbs steadily past a series of spectacular cascades and eventually tops out at the snow-covered Fimmvorduhalsf pass (1068 m / 3,504 ft).
  • Inclement weather is common. Bring an insulating layer and good wet weather gear. Double-check the forecast before setting out.
  • If conditions turn nasty, you can take shelter in the mountain hut at Fimmvorduhalsf pass, where it is also possible to overnight if space is available (Note: You will need to reserve well in advance).

Fimmvorduhalsf Pass (1068 / 3,504 ft) – highest point on the Fimmvörðuháls Trail.

Sleeping:

Although this walk is often done as a day hike, I would recommend bringing your own shelter and camping close to one of the waterfalls. Alternatively, there are indoor accommodation options in Thorsmork. See booking.com for details.

One of my favourite campsites during my time in Iceland. Fimmvörðuháls Trail / August 2000.

Highlight:

  • Picking a standout highlight on the Fimmvörðuháls Trail is a little like picking the best Beatles song. Nigh on impossible. Yet if you had to pick just one it’s hard to go past the mighty Skogafoss. Plunging some 60 meters over coastal cliffs, Skogafoss regularly produces one of the most memorable double rainbows imaginable. If that’s not enough, according to Viking legend dating back to 900 A.D., there is even a treasure chest of gold buried behind its thunderous curtain of water. Rainbows and pots of god – there has to be a connection, no? Only one way to find out. Don’t forget your rain jacket!

Waterfalls, rainbows, and pots of gold.