Bláhnúkur Hike – Blue Peak at Landmannalaugar
One of my favorite stops on my 14 day Iceland itinerary was at the Bláhnúkur hike at Landmannalaugar. The name translates to “Blue Peak” in English, and you’ll see why! The volcano is made up of blue-green sand, which is actually volcanic ash.
This hike is a steep one, and quite a challenge – but the views are absolutely worth it! It’s important to be prepared for the trail, so this guide will tell you everything you need to know for the Bláhnúkur hike in Iceland – what to bring, what to expect, and more.
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About the Bláhnúkur hike
Here’s what you need to know before you do the Bláhnúkur hike!
Bláhnúkur Hike Stats
Distance: 4.1 mile loop (6.6 km)
Elevation Gain: 1,256 feet (383 m)
Leave No Trace on the Bláhnúkur hike
Anytime you’re outdoors, whether you’re a beginner hiker or an experienced adventurer, it’s essential that you practice Leave No Trace (LNT). LNT is a set of seven principles that help us understand our impact on the outdoors – because while we usually have good intentions, the environment is more fragile than we think, and one snap-second decision can cause damage to the environment that will take the earth years, even decades to repair.
This trail is pretty popular – and while I firmly believe everyone deserves to enjoy these amazing spots, do your part to make sure it stays clean and beautiful! Iceland is a popular tourist destination, so overcrowding really takes a toll on nature, especially when people don’t follow LNT.
Leave No Trace means enjoying the outdoors without disrupting nature, as much as it’s possible to do so. Here are the 7 principles of LNT, and how they apply when you hike the Blue Peak!
- Plan ahead and prepare – read this guide, make sure you know have the right gear, and be prepared for the weather and for the hike!
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces – stay on the trail to avoid trampling grasses and plants! “Social trails” are a big problem in Iceland – when a lot of people take short cuts off the trail, it kills the plant life and creates what looks like a small trail. Do not walk on these! Stick to the main trail to preserve the plants.
- Dispose of waste properly – don’t leave trash, or anything else, behind. Pack it out!
- Leave what you find – I know it can be tempting to take a cool rock, but leave these things where they belong! Animals often use these, and if everyone takes one, the trail won’t be as pretty.
- Minimize campfire impacts – no campfires are allowed on the trail.
- Respect wildlife – never approach wildlife, and never feed the animals! There isn’t much wildlife in Iceland, but there are a lot of sheep along this trail – they’re really cute, but give them plenty of space. Don’t stress them out!
- Be considerate of other visitors – yield to uphill hikers, and be respectful – no speakers or loud music.
What to Bring to the Bláhnúkur hike
When you do the Bláhnúkur hike, here’s what you’ll need to bring!
Iceland is known for being wet, and the hike is pretty steep, so shoes with good traction are a must for this hike!
My favorite hiking boots are my Danner boots – they’re cute, comfortable, and waterproof! I also love hiking in my Luna Barefoot sandals, and I wore them for this hike. I know most people wouldn’t advise sandals in Iceland, but I prefer them! Just be prepared for sudden changes in weather.
Rain boots are another great option for muddy or wet conditions, and are definitely the easiest to clean.
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Iceland is known for being unpredictable, and it’s always best to wear layers when hiking. It’s important to bring rain gear, since there’s a good chance you’ll get caught in a drizzle while you hike.
The Marmot Minimalist Jacket is a great lightweight, waterproof option. For the cold, I love my Columbia puffy jacket – it’s lightweight, but keeps me warm. It’s also water resistant! For added warmth and layering, a Patagonia fleece is always a good addition.
When I’m bringing my camera gear, my favorite backpack is the Alex Strohl Mountain Light. It’s definitely the best camera bag out there for hiking with photo gear. If you don’t need storage for camera stuff, I recommend an Osprey Hikelite. If you aren’t bringing very much and just want a day bag, I love my Topo Designs Y-Pack for carrying everyday essentials!
Especially when you’re hiking or exploring outdoors, it’s important to stay hydrated! Single use water bottles are, of course, terrible for the environment, so avoid that and bring a reusable one!
For hiking, the CamelBak water reservoirs are convenient and easy – they can fit in your hiking backpack for water on the go. Nalgene water bottles are great for day to day, and if you want an insulated water bottle to keep your water cold and refreshing, Hydro Flasks are the best!
How to Get to the Bláhnúkur Hike
The Bláhnúkur hike is located at Landmannalaugar, in Iceland’s highlands. You will definitely need to take some F-roads to get to the trail, and driving is the best way to reach the hike. Getting here can be tricky, so I definitely recommend checking out this guide about how to get to Landmannalaugar for more details!
Once you’re at Landmannalaugar, to get to the trailhead, you’ll walk past all of the buildings and the camping area, and you’ll see where the trails begin.
Hiking Blue Peak – What to Expect on the Bláhnúkur hike
This trail is a loop, so you can take it in either direction! If you go clockwise, the beginning part is very steep – it’s pretty challenging, but I liked getting the hard part out of the way first. Going counterclockwise, you will have a more gradual incline and then descend the steepest section at the end. Up to you!
Since I did the Bláhnúkur hike clockwise, this section will describe the trail that way – but you can do it the other way too :).
First, you’ll cross a small wooden bridge over a little river. Keep right and continue on the trail, and as you get close to the volcano, you’ll see the unique blue-green color! A sign will point you upwards to the Bláhnúkur hike.
You’ll start feeling the burn pretty quickly! This section of the trail is really steep, and you’ll follow the switchbacks all the way up to the peak. The views get better and better the entire way, so don’t forget to look around. To your left you’ll see the mountains, and to your right you’ll see the lava field.
At the peak, there’s a metal pole thing – I’m not sure what exactly it is, but it’ll let you know that you’re at the top! The views from here are just breathtaking, with mountains all around.
When you’re ready to head down, you can go back the way you came if you’re short on time, but I really recommend finishing the loop! Continue down the other side of Blue Peak, and you’ll walk for a while through these gorgeous mountains.
Be careful here, there was one turn off that looked like a trail, and we were about to take it when we realized there was a sign lying on the ground. The sign said that this is not the trail and that it’s dangerous to go that way, so it was a good thing we picked up the sign! This way would’ve been way too steep, so go around.
Eventually, you’ll get down to the bottom of the mountain, and the Bláhnúkur hike continues along the river. You’ll need to cross the river, so keep an eye on your map to make sure you don’t miss it!
Soon you’ll get to the lava fields, where volcanic rock makes a really unique landscape for you to walk through.
Keep going, and keep an eye out for the wooden posts – the trail can be hard to see, so the posts will let you know where to go!
Soon, you’ll end up back at the camping area, and I definitely recommend going for a soak in the hot spring after the long hike!
Where to Stay Near the Bláhnúkur Hike
When you’re done exploring the Bláhnúkur hike, you’ll need a place to stay! There are a few options at Landmannalaugar, and more close by.
Camping near the Bláhnúkur Hike
The first option is camping – there’s a gorgeous camping area at Landmannalaugar, close to the Blue Peak trailhead. You can car camp or bring a tent, and stay close to all of the trailheads and a short walk from the hot springs. Keep in mind that you have to stay in designated campsites!
If you want something a step up from camping, stay in one of the huts! These huts are pretty minimal, so you’ll still need to bring a sleeping bag, but you’ll have a little more shelter.
Hotels Near Landmannalaugar
While there are no hotels in Landmannalaugar, the closest one is the Volcano Huts Þórsmörk, located in the remote Þórsmörk Nature Reserve. To find more accommodations on your route, check out the map below! Make sure to change the dates and zoom out to see all of the options.
More Adventures Near the Bláhnúkur hike
After the Bláhnúkur hike, there are plenty more adventures to have – so be sure to check out these Iceland road trip itineraries for more.
If you’re heading towards Reykjavik, check out the Hrunalaug Hot Springs! And make sure to visit Thingvellir National Park to see the tectonic plates, and scuba dive the Silfra Fissure for extra adventure. If you’re continuing on the Ring Road, take the short hike to Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool!
- Everything You Need to Know About Driving in Iceland
- Guide to Camping in Iceland
- Iceland Road Trip Itineraries
If you’ve been to Landmannalaugar and have any tips, or if you’re planning a trip and have any questions, leave them in a comment below!
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