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Fimmvörðuháls Trail

Difficulty:

Challenging

Distances:

24 km

Estimated time:

11 hours

Elevation:

1000m


Fimmvörðuháls, "The Five Cairn Ridge" Trail

The Fimmvörðuháls trail stretches between the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers, connecting Skógar to Þórsmörk. This trail is renowned for its popularity and stunning landscapes but can also be treacherous due to unpredictable weather changes. Hikers should be prepared for drastic variations in weather conditions, especially at higher elevations. It is advisable to carry extra warm clothing in your backpack.

Trail Markings and Equipment:

Most of the trail is marked with stakes, except for the snowy areas at the top where the path may be less clear. It is essential to have a good map, compass, and GPS device when hiking the Fimmvörðuháls trail. Additionally, hikers should bring sturdy hiking gear, proper hiking boots (not sneakers), and wind and waterproof clothing.

Please note that there is limited access to water along the trail from Skógá to Þórsmörk. It is recommended to fill your water bottles at the bridge over the river Skógá, as there may be no water until reaching Þórsmörk.


Huts on the Trail

Baldvinsskáli, owned by Ferðafélag Íslands, is located at the top of the main trail and provides sleeping bag accommodation for 20 people. Fimmvörðuskáli, owned by the Útivist touring club, is situated northwest of the main route.

Baldvinsskáli

Fimmvörðuskáli


Direction

While most hikers choose to walk from Skógar to Þórsmörk, it is also possible to go in the opposite direction. The experience can vary depending on the chosen direction. Generally, the Skógar-to-Þórsmörk route is considered easier due to a gradual ascent and breathtaking views of waterfalls along the river Skógá. On the other hand, starting in Þórsmörk allows for a faster ascent along the river Skógá, preferred by mountain runners. (An option is to combine Laugavegur Trail with Fimmvörðuháls and finish in Skógar).

The hike begins by ascending the stairs on the left side of the Skógafoss waterfall. Along the way, you'll encounter spectacular waterfalls and cross a bridge over the river Skógá. From there, hikers can choose to follow the gravel road to Baldvinsskáli hut or take a staked trail west of the road to reach Fimmvörðuskáli.

Baldvinsskáli offers an outhouse/privy and facilities for eating provisions but has no running water. The trail beyond Baldvinsskáli is mostly covered with snow but marked with stakes. After approximately three kilometers, you'll reach the lava field Goðahraun formed during the volcanic eruption in spring 2010. Along the way, there is a memorial cairn commemorating those who lost their lives in 1970 due to exposure.

Further ahead, you'll encounter Brattafönn hill, typically clear of snow in summer, but caution is advised due to slippery conditions. Crossing Heljarkambur, a ridge connecting Fimmvörðuháls and Morinsheiði, is facilitated by a support chain. 

Morinsheiði is a flat area. From the eastern edge of Morinsheiði, you can admire the glacier Mýrdalsjökull with the majestic Katla volcano on top. The northern part of Morinsheiði, called Heiðarhorn, also offers beautiful scenery. 




When descending from Morinsheiði, hikers have at least two options. One option is to go down the ravine Hvannárgil, but this route is recommended only for experienced hikers in good physical condition. Another option is to take the route via the peak of Útigönguhöfði mountain.

However, the traditional trail continues straight ahead with clear markings and stakes. Soon after, you will reach Kattarhryggir. The path has been improved for safety, but it's still important to exercise caution. Towards the end of the trail, there are steep sections where safety lines have been fastened to the cliffs.

Once you descend from these sections, you will reach Strákagil, a picturesque area adorned with trees and flowers. Continuing further, you'll arrive at Goðaland, where the Touring Club Útivist operates a hut. If you wish to reach the hut in Langidalur, owned by Ferðafélag Íslands, you will need to walk an additional two kilometers and cross a hiking bridge over the river Krossá.

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