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Laugavegur Trail

Difficulty:

Moderate

Distances:

54 km

Estimated time:

4 days

Elevation:

500m

The Laugavegur Trail

One of the world's most beautiful treks as described by National Geographic.

The multi-day trek stretching between Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk, is a renowned hiking trail in Iceland. It has gained recognition as one of the most exquisite trails worldwide, earning a spot on National Geographic's list of stunning hiking routes. What makes this trail exceptional is the incredible diversity of landscapes it traverses. Along the way, hikers will encounter vibrant and colorful rhyolite mountains, dark obsidian lava, bubbling hot springs, crystal-clear lakes reflecting their surroundings, black sandy deserts, and finally, a lush forested area.

We recommend, in addition to savoring the hiking experience itself, we highly recommend that hikers take the opportunity to spend some time in Þórsmörk, at the end of the trail. Þórsmörk is a true paradise for hikers, offering a multitude of beautiful trails, both long and short. 

The view from Valahnúkur, Þórsmörk


Due to the popularity of this hike, it operates as a one-way route from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk, following the traditional direction. Many trekkers also choose to conclude their journey by embarking on a remarkable hike over the majestic Fimmvörðuháls, leading them to Skógar.

Stórihver

Huts and Campsites

The Laugavegur Trail offers a fantastic hut system that spans its entire length, providing comfortable accommodations for hikers. Campers have the option to pitch their tents outside the huts, while those seeking warmth and a cozy bed can sleep indoors. Due to high demand, please book shelters well in advance.

The Laugavegur trail features a total of six cabins and camping areas, all managed by Ferðafélag Íslands. For more information please refer to FI fi@fi.is or their website fi.is where you will find detailed descriptions of each hut as well.

Name of Huts: Landmannalaugar, Hrafntinnusker, Álftavatn, Hvanngil, Emstrur, Þórsmörk/Langidalur.

It is important to note that setting up tents outside designated areas within the Nature Reserve is strictly prohibited. Fortunately, all the huts along the trail provide designated camping grounds for hikers to utilize.

All huts have toilets, running water, and showers available for a fee (except Hrafntinnusker). It is strictly prohibited to leave garbage, including toilet paper and leftover food, in the natural surroundings. Please bring your garbage with you and dispose of it properly in designated bins. Remember that in Hrafntinnusker, Emstrur, and Baldvinsskáli, you must carry your trash to the next hut as no garbage can be left behind.

The Laugavegur trail is challenging, located in the remote Icelandic highlands with unpredictable weather. Prepare with sturdy gear, including hiking boots and waterproof clothing. Carry your own food as hot meals are not available in the huts. The water from rivers and streams is usually safe to drink. Gather information and plan ahead for a safe hike.

None of the huts along the trail have electricity, which means there are no charging facilities for electronic devices. Ensure you have an ample power supply with you.

Description of classic Laugavegur Hiking Trail

Day 1: Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker
Distance: 12 km

Estimated Time: 4-5 hours

Ascent: 470m

Although this is the shortest section in terms of distance, it can be physically demanding due to the significant elevation gain of around 500m and being the first day of the hike. The weather in this area is known to be unpredictable, and snow may be present, further adding to the difficulty. The trail begins by traversing the Laugahraun lava field, crossing it before descending and then ascending again towards the plateau just below Brennisteinsalda. Take a moment to appreciate the breathtaking views, diverse flora, and mountains of vibrant colors.

Continuing on, the trail leads further uphill to the plateau, where small ravines carve into the landscape as rivers shape the soft mountains. While it is a continuous ascent from this point, the incline is not extremely steep.

The next destination is Stórihver, a picturesque spot abundant with vegetation and a bubbling geyser. It's approximately an hour's walk from here to the Höskuldsskáli hut at Hrafntinnusker. This part of the trail often has snow cover and carries a higher risk of fog. It is crucial to exercise caution and follow the trail markers.

Landmannalaugar

Stórihver

Hrafntinnusker Hut and Campsite

Hrafntinnusker Hut

Day 2. Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn

Distance: 12 km

Estimated Time: 4-5 hours

Descent: 490m

From Hrafntinnusker, the trail meanders along the slopes of Reykjafjöll, an area characterized by a mostly flat valley floor. However, caution must be exercised when crossing a few ravines that often hold snow. Continuing westward, the path ascends towards the spine, nestled between Kaldaklofsfjöll and Jökulgil.

In favorable weather conditions, it is highly recommended to undertake an additional hike to Háskerðingur, the highest peak in the region standing at 1281m. This rewarding trek takes approximately 1-1.5 hours, but be mindful of potential crevasses near the summit. During the summer months, the peak is typically snow-free.

As the trail progresses, it alternates between ascending and descending through a few ravines until reaching the edge of Jökultungur. This vantage point offers breathtaking panoramic views of the entire trail and the magnificent Tindfjallajökull, Eyjafjallajökull, and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers.

Take caution during the descent from Jökultungur, as the path becomes steep and rocky. At the base, you will encounter the Grashagakvísl river. In certain cases, a snow bridge facilitates the crossing, while at other times, fording the river on foot is necessary. Rest assured, the water in Grashagakvísl is fresh and suitable for drinking. From here, a straightforward southwest route leads to the Álftavatn lake hut, providing a comfortable resting place.

Álftavatn Lake Campsite

Álftavatn Lake Hut

Day 3. Álftavatn to Emstrur

Distance: 16 km

Estimated Time: 6-7 hours

Descent: 40m

Departing from Álftavatn, the trail heads eastward, crossing over Brattháls and continuing towards Hvanngil. The Bratthálskvísl river does not have a bridge, so it must be crossed on foot, which is generally straightforward. As you ascend the hill above Hvanngil, you'll be greeted by a magnificent view.

Hvanngil offers toilet facilities and some hikers choose to stay there instead of Álftavatn. From Hvanngil, there is a short walk to the Kaldaklofskvísl river, which can be crossed using a footbridge. Just south of this, you'll encounter another river, Bláfjallakvísl, which lacks a bridge. Crossing it is usually manageable, but exercise caution, especially during heavy rain when the river's flow can increase rapidly.

From this point, the trail primarily follows the main road until reaching the Innri Emstruá river, which has a bridge. Occasionally, you may need to tread through some water as there is an overflow that bypasses the bridge. South of the bridge, the trail veers left and heads towards Emstrur. This area is characterized by sparse vegetation, particularly when weather conditions are dry and windy, especially from the north. Keep in mind that sand may drift due to the wind. The trail lies between two mountains known as Útigönguhöfðar, and after approximately an hour, you will reach the Botnar huts in Emstrur. The cabins may not become visible until you are in close proximity to them.

Hvanngil Hut and Campsite

Botnar Hut

Day 4. Emstrur to Þórsmörk

Distance: 15 km

Estimated Time: 6-7 hours

Descent: 300m

Setting off from the Botnar huts in Emstrur, the trail initially heads eastward. Before long, you'll reach the bridge spanning the Syðri-Emstruá river. This river flows through a narrow, deep canyon that extends close to Entujökull. Some individuals with vertigo may find it challenging to reach and cross the bridge.

Continuing from the bridge, the path follows along Langháls and leads to the convergence of the Markarfljót and Syðri-Emstruá rivers. It is recommended to walk to the edge of the gorge where the rivers meet before heading south through Almenningar.

Soon, the trail traverses two small ravines, Slyppugil and Bjórgil. Each ravine features a small creek with drinkable water, providing an excellent spot to rest and have lunch. After ascending from the latter ravine, Bjórgil, the trail progresses towards Fauskatorfur and gradually enters an area with more vegetation known as Úthólmar. The final steep climb on the trail occurs on the hill named Kápa or Coat.

Upon descending from Kápa, hikers must ford the Þröngá river, which is generally not difficult but can have rocky sections. This river serves as the boundary of Þórsmörk, and from there, it is a pleasant woodland hike of just over half an hour through Hamraskógar until you reach the Skagfjörðsskáli cabin in Langidalur, Þórsmörk.


Getting There

During the summer season, reaching Landmannalaugar requires driving a 4x4 jeep along either Fjallabaksleið nyrðri (F208) or Dómadalsleið (F225) roads. Similarly, a 4x4 jeep is necessary to access Þórsmörk via the F249 road. 

The opening of these roads depends on snow conditions and maintenance by the Icelandic Road Authority after winter. Check road.is.

If you choose to combine the Laugavegur trail with the Fimmvörðuháls trail, you will end up in Skógar, which is situated on the Icelandic Ringroad/Highway One. Skógar is accessible year-round for all types of vehicles.

Various bus companies, such as Trex and Kynnisferðir, offer scheduled bus services to Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk during the summer. The buses conveniently stop directly outside the huts and campsites.

These bus companies also provide Hikers' bus passes or passports, which allow for a single transfer from Reykjavík to your chosen starting point (Landmannalaugar, Þórsmörk, or Skógar), and return from the finishing point back to Reykjavík.

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