Iceland, the land of contrasts, offers an unparalleled experience of nature in its raw, untamed form. In the heart of this terrain lies the paradise for adventurers—Kerlingarfjöll. With the mystical allure of the Kerlingarfjöll Mountains and the mesmerizing Hveradalir geothermal area, this remote location is a must-visit in Iceland. It promises unexplored terrain and breathtaking views.
A venture into Kerlingarfjöll unfolds surreal landscapes articulated by nature's palette. Imagine geothermal areas cradling hot springs, contrasted with snow-laden peaks and distant glaciers. Picture the lush valleys against the multicolored hues of rhyolite mountains—a canvas that leaves travelers and nature enthusiasts spellbound with a tapestry of unmatched natural beauty.
Arguably one of the best hiking locales in Iceland, Kerlingarfjöll offers a spectrum of treks to fit every skill level. An extensive network of well-charted trails guides both novice and experienced hikers, leading them to the heart of this extreme paradise. Indulge in a peaceful journey or brave a challenging climb; the choice is vast and satisfying.
Novice hikers can venture onto the Ásgarðsfjall and Skeljafell trails, exploring the relatively gentle landscapes of Kerlingarfjöll. These trails are well-suited for beginners, making them an excellent choice for families or anyone looking for a shorter or more laid-back experience. As you hike these paths, you will be awarded with amazing views of nature's beauty, creating unforgettable memories.
For the moderately adventurous, the hike covering Snækollur, Fannborg, Hverahnjúkur and Snót is an invigorating expedition. This trail elevates the hiking experience, weaving through changing landscapes and offering a higher level of physical challenge. Determined hikers can take in Hverahnjúkur’s panoramic vistas and Snót’s sublime beauty as rewards for their tenacity.
The siren call to seasoned hikers, however, comes from the Snaekollur trail, a demanding trek to Kerlingarfjöll’s highest peak. This journey requires diligence but rewards triumphant climbers with an epic, unobstructed panorama from the summit—a vision that will become an everlasting memory. Similarly, the Mænir and Kerlingarskyggnir and Skuggafoss and Jökulkrókur offer ardent adventure-seekers challenges wrapped in bewitching backdrops that transform from geothermal to glacial.
Kerlingarfjöll trekking is also suited to thrillseekers aiming for multi-day hikes. You can explore scenic trails such as Hringbrautin ('The Circle') or take on challenging routes like Ögmundur, Höttur, and Rödull. There are conveniently located huts and rest areas that provide shelter along the way.
The crown jewel of the Kerlingarfjöll hiking trails is undoubtedly the Hveradalir hike. It goes through a beautiful hot spring valley with amazing geothermal sights in a magical setting. In the summer, it's just 5 km by car from Kerlingarfjöll to Hveradalir. Though you can hike, it's better to save your energy for the main Hveradalir hike. There's a parking lot at the beginning of the trail.
Tour operators specializing in highland adventures offer a wide array of guided hikes covering the same trails as the unguided hikes. With names like Holy Grail Quest, Crevasse Field Trip, The Trail Less Traveled, Family Adventure, Loðmundur Mountain Mission, and Mountain of the Gods, these voyages are designed for all skill levels, unlocking the door to a world of adrenalizing exploration. Likewise, the seasoned guides enliven the journey, sharing captivating stories about Kerlingarfjöll’s history, geology, and mythology.
Transport and Access
The best time for hiking in Kerlingarfjöll is from June to September, but the highland charm is distinct throughout the year. Despite popular belief, hiking trails are not entirely off-limits during the winter season. Even then, they can still be explored by adventurous souls who take extra safety precautions and make the necessary preparations. While the snowy scenery adds charm, it also presents challenges. Layered clothing, rugged boots, nutritious snacks, and proper gear—including a charged mobile phone—are essential for ensuring that hikers can safely enjoy their winter adventure regardless of the weather.
Owing to its remote highland location, getting to Kerlingarfjöll does require some planning, as it involves traversing F-roads, which are unpaved and often challenging to navigate. A robust, fully insured vehicle is mandatory during summer, while winter demands more specialized transport. Our travel partner, Amazing Tours, provides reliable transfers to and from the highlands, offering professionally driven super jeep journeys that transform the winter trip into its own heart-pounding adventure.
Wilderness Preservation and Safety
In 2020, Kerlingarfjöll was designated a Protected Nature Reserve by Umhverfistofnun—the Environmental Agency of Iceland. This classification aims to preserve and honor the geological, geographical, and geothermal sanctity of Kerlingarfjöll. We believe in respecting, appreciating, and understanding the natural world, and we encourage our guests to do the same.
While Kerlingarfjöll promises visual and adventurous delights, safety is crucial. Always inform someone of your trail plan, carry a charged mobile phone, download area maps for offline use, and a GPS device can be handy, too. Safety measures are never excessive when exploring the unpredictable elements of nature.
In terms of accommodation, Kerlingarfjöll is home to Highland Base. Located in the Ásgarður Valley, the destination is a remote hospitality outpost encompassing private lodges, a hotel, a hostel, huts, a riverside campground, a restaurant serving bistro comfort food, and geothermal baths. This oasis of warmth and nourishment is a welcoming staging ground for highland adventures, including hikes of all distances and difficulties.
The Highlands Await
Conclusively, Kerlingarfjöll presents an irresistible slice of Iceland, offering both tranquil encounters and daring adventures. Whether you're a novice hiker in search of a leisurely day trek, or a seasoned adventurer plotting a more rigorous expedition, the beautiful wilderness of Iceland promises to etch lasting memories into your journey. The Kerlingarfjöll mountains eagerly await your footprints.