The Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon hike is a great low effort, high reward trail in Iceland. With sweeping views of the gorge and a waterfall at the end of the hike, it’s a great place to stop along the Ring Road.
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About the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon Hike
Here’s what you need to know before you hike to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon!
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon Hike Stats
Distance: 2.0 miles round trip (3.22 kilometers)
Elevation Gain: 278 feet (84.73 meters)
Leave No Trace on the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon 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 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 to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon!
- 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. There are several barriers and guard rails on the trail, so don’t cross these.
- Dispose of waste properly – don’t leave trash, or anything else, behind. There are no trash cans, so pack it out!
- Leave what you find – I know it can be tempting to take a cool rock or leaf, 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 – 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 Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon Hike
When you hike to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, here’s what you’ll need to bring!
Iceland is known for being wet, 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 Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon Hike
Driving to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
The first way to get to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is to drive – there aren’t any F-roads, so you can do this in any car. From the Ring Road, you’ll turn onto 206 Holtsvegur (left if you’re going east, right if you’re driving west), and follow it until you get to the parking area at the end!
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon Trailhead Coordinates: 63.7712969, -18.1722901
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon Tours
If you don’t want to drive yourself, you can also take a tour that will take you to the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon trailhead. This tour is a three day minibus tour that takes you to the best spots on Iceland’s Golden Circle, including Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. The tour even includes accommodations and breakfast!
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon Parking
There are actually two parking lots for Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon! The lower parking lot is at the end of 206 Holtsvegur (63.7712969, -18.1722901), and it’s at the beginning of the trail. There’s a bathroom, and the hike starts from here.
I recommend starting from the lower parking lot, because doing the hike is so worth it for views of the canyon! But, you can also park at the upper parking lot (63.7795061, -18.1682682). You will need to turn onto F-206 to get there, and this parking lot is really close to the waterfall, so you’ll just need to take a short walk.
There is no fee to park here, so the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon hike is free!
The Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon Hike
When you’re ready to start hiking, just follow the trail! It’s paved the entire way, and super easy to follow. You’ll go uphill, but the hike isn’t very steep and the views start right away. There are a few trails that branch off the main one and lead to overlooks of the canyon, so definitely check those out!
All along this trail, there are a lot of roped off sections and fences – make sure not to cross these! They’re there for safety, but also for restoration of the grass. The canyon views continue for a while, and after a mile you’ll be at the end of the trail (it technically does continue to the upper parking lot, but there’s nothing to see after the waterfall!).
There’s a metal platform that overlooks Mögárfoss – the waterfall at the end of this trail. Enjoy the view, then turn back when you’re ready!
Where to Stay Near the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
Once you’re done hiking, you’ll need a place to stay – and there are plenty of options close to the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon hike! You can find a campsite nearby, or stay in one of the hotels.
The Hunkibakkar Guesthouse is right on the way to the trailhead, and is a cozy retreat in the countryside. The Klausturhof Guesthouse is right on the Ring Road, and has gorgeous views! If you’re heading west, The Holiday Houses offers some cute cottages to stay in!
For more places to stay near the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon trail, check out this map! Be sure to change the dates to see all the available options.
More Adventures Near the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon Hike
To find more things to do nearby, be sure to check out these Iceland itineraries! I really recommend doing the Múlagljúfur Canyon hike next, and if you’re heading towards Reykjavik, stop at Skógafoss and do the Kvernufoss hike. For more waterfalls to see, make sure to read this guide to the best waterfalls in Iceland!
- Everything You Need to Know About Driving in Iceland
- Guide to Camping in Iceland
- Iceland Road Trip Itineraries
If you’ve hiked this trail 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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