Fimmvörðuháls Hiking Trail: Overview, Facts and Itineraries
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One of the most famous hiking trails in Iceland, the Fimmvorduhals hike is a legendary trail that passes between two giant glaciers, the Eyjafjallajökull glacier and the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. The Fimmvörðuháls hiking trail takes you through almost every landscape Iceland has to offer in just a single day. From the lush terrain of gushing waterfalls in Iceland to out-of-this-world lava fields and finally, passing between the two famous glaciers. The Fimmvörðuháls hike is a challenging as well as rewarding experience. Whether you’re an avid hiker or you’re looking for a challenge whilst you’re visiting, the Fimmvörðuháls hike would be an ideal choice.
- Seeing as many as 26 waterfalls along the Skoga river in an 8 km stretch at the beginning of the trail, include the famous Skogafoss waterfall.
- Traversing one of the youngest landscapes in the world between the Eyjafjallajökull volcano and the Katla volcano.
- Descend through the Land of the Gods, an amazing and picturesque area in Iceland.
- Even if you do not have a lot of time to spend in Iceland you can still pursue the Fimmvörðuháls trail as a great day hike option.
- The only proper accommodation is the Fimmvörðuháls Mountain Hut, which is basic and without running water. Hey, some might consider this as the ultimate trekking experience in the wilderness!
Fimmvörðuháls Hike Facts
- Trek difficulty:
Challenging. To complete the entire hike in one day is a difficult task, and a high fitness level is required. Two days will smoothen things out and make for an easier, but yet tough trek.
- Trek duration:
In total, the Fimmvörðuháls trail takes 12-14 hours to complete and covers approximately 25km. The trek can be completed in in 1 or 2 days depending on your speed and preference.
- Best season:
The trail is only open during the months of June, July and August. During these months experienced hikers can the hike without a guide. However, we we advise that less experienced hikers bring a professional trekking guide.
The hike is located in southwest Iceland. This is a very popular area for tourists and hence a few of the landmarks on the hiking trail will see other people, e.g. when passing the Skogafoss waterfall. However, as always with Iceland, some areas will be very remote and it’s best to make sure you have adequate provisions and proper hiking gear with you.
- Altitudes and temperatures:
The maximum elevation on the hike is 1068 m. Even though the trail is only passable in the summer months, expect temperatures of around 5 degrees Celsius/ 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
For those wanting to do the two days trek, accommodation will be at the Fimmvörðuháls Mountain Hut, which is located mid-way between Skógar and Thórsmörk. The hut offers a dormitory style accommodation with mattresses on the floor that can accommodate 20 people only. Please make sure that the accommodation has space, before attempting the hike. Alternatively, bring a tent and camp on one of the camping sites.
- Start / end locations:
Skogafoss is the beginning of the trail with Thorsmork Valley being the end. The trek isn’t a circuit but you can do it in both directions, i.e. from Thorsmork to Skogafoss as well.
No permits required.
Fimmvörðuháls Hike - Itinerary
The trail can be completed in one or two days and in either direction, Skogafoss to Thorsmork or vice versa. Some people choose to only hike to a certain point of the trail before turning back and returning to the starting point. Below we show the standard two day itinerary along with a few variations of the itinerary further below.
Day 1: Skógáfoss waterfall - Skógá river - Volcanic fields - Fimmvörðuháls Mountain Hut (approx.14km)
Begin the hike at Skógáfoss waterfall traversing along the Skoga river and its 26 cascading waterfalls. You will then cross from the east bank of the river to the west bank via a bridge before entering a volcanic landscape in stark contrast to the fertile land of the river. With a gentle upward trail you’ll hike up into the moonscape that sits between the Eyjafjallajökull glacier and the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. You will then reach the Fimmvörðuháls Mountain Hut where you can choose to stay for the night. Be warned that there is no water supply in the hut. So please make sure to bring drinking water. Note also that water is available at multiple places along the way, as an example, water in the Skoga river is drinkable.
Day 2: Snowfields - Eyjafjallajökull volcano - Magni and Móði peaks - Krossá river - Thorsmork (approx.11km)
Once you leave the mountain hut, you will walk across snowfields until you reach the glacial pass between Eyjafjallajökull volcano and the Katla volcano. This is the landscape that was directly affected by the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption. You will then scale some of the youngest mountains in the world, the Magni and Modi craters, created by the 2010 eruption. Leaving the volcanic landscape behind, you will begin a short descent through Godaland (Land of the Gods) into the last leg of the Fimmvörðuháls hiking trail. You will cross a vast plateau before reaching the Krossa river, which is the final 4.5km stretch of the trail.
Alternate Hiking Routes and Variations
- Round trip from Skogafoss waterfall: If you’re looking for a scenic route that doesn’t include 12 hours of walking through difficult landscapes, completing a round trip from Skogafoss is a great option. Start at Skogafoss, walk along the river until you cross the bridge and then head back. It’s about 16 km in total.
- Hvannárgil Canyon: If you’re a technical hiker looking for a more thrilling, and incredibly beautiful end to the hike, Hvannargil Canyon is a fantastic variation on the hike. On the descent to Thorsmork, go west and join the Votupollar trail which will take you directly to Thorsmork. This is a difficult trail with steep drops so only advised for experienced hikers, and hikes who’ve brought a professional hiking guide with them.
- Laugavegur Trek: You can even combine the Laugavegur trek with the Fimmvorduhals hike, which will take you approximately 4 days. The starting point is the hot springs of Landmannalaugar with Thorsmork being the ending point. If you are interested in the Laugavegur trek then check out this 8 day trekking experience in Iceland.
How to Get to the Trailhead
Getting to the trailhead of Skogafoss from Reykjavik is fairly simple. A 2.5 hour drive from the capital along the Route 1 south coast road. There will be a clearly marked sign to the Skogafoss camping ground where you can park your car. However, getting back to your car from Thorsmork, the ending point of the trail, may be more difficult. Dedicated bus services are your best option. A bus will take you from Thorsmork to Seljalandsfoss and then another bus will take you from Seljalandsfoss to Skogar. Tickets can be bought beforehand or en route.
What to Bring and Wear
There is nowhere to buy food or water on the route, so you will need to prepare adequate provisions beforehand. That said, bring a water bottle so that you can fill it up along the way. For example, you can fill up your water along the Skoga river. It’s best to wear, or take with you, lots of layers to protect yourself from the upper volcanic region, which is colder and more windy. Hiking boots are essential. If you are staying in the Fimmvörðuháls mountain hut, sleeping bags are required as well.
The Fimmvörðuháls hike is not easy so an adequate fitness level is required. No matter how experienced you are, it is still possible to lose the trail. Having a GPS application on your phone is always come in handy. Alternatively, do bring a guide with you.
The Fimmvörðuháls hiking trail shows you the best Iceland has to offer in just 1-2 days. Perfect for the time-conscious traveller, this hike and trek will help you tick off a bunch of things on your bucket-list: gushing waterfalls, lush river land, barren volcanic terrain and immense glaciers. Please do read our 5 Best Treks and Hikes in Iceland for further hiking and trekking trails in Iceland. If you are in Iceland for a short duration, then do check out the 10 Best Day Hikes in Iceland. If you’re unsure whether trekking and hiking is your thing, check out the top things to do in Iceland.