Featured Inspiration Trail Profile Travel

The Laugavegur Trail: 36 Miles Across Southern Iceland

Laugavegur Trail image courtesy of Rebecca MacKay

The Laugavegur Path is a 36-mile path stretching throughout southern Iceland, that includes a terrain variety just like the PCT: desert, glaciers, mountains, and forests. Think about you someway mixed Mordor and the Shire, and that psychological picture will come near approximating the great thing about the moss-covered volcanic peaks this distant path traverses. The path may be achieved in as brief as two days, or so long as six relying on how far you need to go in a day and the way most of the aspect trails you need to discover. Moreover, the Southern Terminus is related to a further 14-mile Fimmvörðuháls Path which takes you up a mountain cross between the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers, then down previous lovely waterfalls to the seaside city of Skógar on Route 1 (AKA the Ring Street).

Laugavegur Path Fast Information 

Laugavegur Trail image courtesy of Rebecca MacKay

It seems to be like we’re sitting in entrance of an enormous postcard. It truly appears much more unimaginable in individual. (Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull glaciers seen within the background). Picture courtesy of Rebecca MacKay.

Size | 36mi (54 km) plus an non-compulsory addition of 14.3mi (23 km)
Elevation | Max: 3835ft (1168 m) Min: 656ft (200 m)
Location | Southern Iceland
Path Sort | Level-to-point
Terrain  |  Average, a couple of minor mountain climbs and descents, however largely flat.
Navigation/Map | Nicely-marked and straightforward to comply with (map obtainable at path terminuses)
Allow Required | None

Getting There

The open season for the amenities (and subsequently the path) are decided by the Icelandic Street Authority, depending on street circumstances and snow ranges. Usually, the huts can be open between June 25th and September 17th. The trailheads are very distant, so you’ll both have to take a bus or drive to the trailhead. You will get busses to Landmannalaugar, Þórsmörk, and Skógar although Reykjavik Excursions or Iceland By Bus. It is very important word that a number of the busses run on decreased schedules (or by no means) after August 31st. In case you are driving to Þórsmörk, you will have to cross a number of rivers together with the notorious Krossá.

When leaving Þórsmörk on the bus, we got here throughout a Fiat that somebody had determined might cross a river a number of ft deep which had, unsurprisingly, gotten caught in the midst of the river. We towed it out utilizing our bus. Solely strong Four×Four automobiles ought to try this drive.

Course

Most individuals hike the path southbound, principally for this view:

We simply sat right here and checked out it for some time. It seems to be so surreal. Photograph courtesy of Rebecca MacKay.

Clearly, you possibly can see the view by wanting backwards when going NOBO, however this manner you look down into the valley as you progress. The different purpose most individuals go SOBO is as a result of the elevation is barely simpler in that path. Þórsmörk or Skógar are good locations to finish the path due to their facilities, however Landmannalaugar has the one scorching springs on path, so an argument could possibly be made for ending there. 

Why Hike This Path?

Hot springs on the Laugavegur Trail

Photograph courtesy of Rebecca MacKay.

Mountaineering this path is like stepping by means of a portal to a fantasy world. You’ll traverse large lava flows with steam vents spurting out from each area of interest. Obsidian shards litter the bottom, and the volcanic rock has hardened into virtually Physician Seuss-esque blobs and piles. After crossing a black sand desert, you’ll crest an increase and see the remainder of the path laid out earlier than you. The mountains look surreal, a vibrant inexperienced from the moss that covers the volcanic rock. 

The Laugavegur Path is a brief hike, however you’ll be able to add day hikes to flesh it out into an extended journey exploring the distant southern inside of Iceland. Iceland isn’t an affordable place to trip, however tenting in its lovely backcountry is an effective method to economize whereas experiencing an entirely totally different terrain than close to house. It’s completely breathtaking.

Local weather and Climate

The terrain of the path isn’t overly troublesome; a lot of the path is nicely graded, however there are a couple of brief scrambles the place you must head immediately up a steep slope. Climbing in Iceland tends to be restricted by the season, which means that you shouldn’t intend to traverse the Laugavegur Path outdoors of the June 25th and September 17th window with out critical expertise in winter mountaineering and enough preparation/gear. Even inside the season, you possibly can anticipate to see quite a lot of climate. I hiked it August 23-26 and skilled rain, hail, fog, and winds in extra of 56 miles per hour. If the climate is just too critical, just like the aforementioned wind, the path will probably be closed.

Gear

Laugavegur Trail image courtesy of Rebecca MacKay

My legs have been chilly. Photograph courtesy of Rebecca MacKay.

The key to gear for the Laugavegur Path is layers. You possibly can expertise quite a lot of climate over a really brief time period. Rain gear is 100% important. Right here is my gear record from my late-August hike. General, I used to be proud of that gear, but when I did it once more I might undoubtedly convey pants. I didn’t carry pants and was chilly some days, particularly when it rained. For those who convey extra baggage in your trip however don’t need to convey it on path, it may be left in baggage lockers in Reykjavik.

Tenting

Laugavegur Trail Landmannalaugar campsite

Photograph courtesy of Rebecca MacKay.

The Iceland Journey Affiliation (Ferðafélag Íslands) runs huts alongside the path (between 75-90 USD/individual), and the distances between huts ranges between 2.5-9 miles (Four-15 km). Tenting on path is just not allowed, however hikers are welcome to camp on the huts. All the huts supply potable water, bogs, cooking amenities, picnic tables, tenting amenities (roughly 18USD/individual) and a warden’s workplace the place you will get info. Ebook your huts nicely prematurely – I booked 6 months forward and needed to change my journey dates as a result of some nights have been already booked up. All the huts apart from Hraftinnusker additionally supply showers (roughly Four.57USD for five minutes). Professional tip: double up together with your associate (or a very good good friend) for longer and less expensive showers. 

Landmannalaugar (Mile zero)

Elevation | 1804ft (550 m)

Landmannalaugar is situated in a large river valley surrounded by mountains and craggy lava fields. Steaming creeks be a part of collectively to type a big scorching spring, usually filled with hikers. There’s numerous tenting area, and sheep wander freely across the camp. There are huts, maps of the path, and transformed faculty buses that function a small retailer.

Hraftinnusker (Mile 7.46)

Elevation | 3609ft (1100 m)

Not far under the volcanic peaks, Hraftinnusker is nestled in a excessive valley, wanting upon glaciers and steam vents. The tent websites are surrounded by man-made rock partitions which shelter them from the winds whipping by means of the valley. That is probably the most distant cease on the Laugavegur path, so there isn’t a energy within the huts right here and all rubbish have to be carried out. There are a number of minor river crossings on this stretch, although they are often anticipated to be a lot greater in soften season. Watch out on snow bridges throughout glaciers, particularly later within the season. A few of the ones we crossed appeared questionable, so we determined to cross them away from the path.

Laugavegur Trail River Crossing

Photograph courtesy of Rebecca MacKay.

Álftavatn Lake (Mile 14.9)

Elevation | 1804ft (550 m)

Álftavatn huts are situated subsequent to a big lake. The campsites situated proper beside the lake and are very uncovered to excessive winds that are likely to blow by way of. For those who’re going to cough up for a hut on the path, this may be an excellent place to do it. This website has a restaurant which sells costly, however very hearty meals and drinks. They’re diet-conscious there, providing meals with vegan or gluten-free choices. There are additionally some playing cards and board video games there for hikers to make use of. The remainder of the path from right here is comparatively flat.

Hvanngil (Mile 18.zero)

Elevation | 1804ft (550 m)

Hvanngil huts will not be removed from Álftavatn, so they could be a sensible choice if Álftavatn is full. The tenting right here is barely extra sheltered and could also be a sensible choice on a windy day. There are two river crossings between right here and Emstrur. This part could be very flat as you traverse a black sand desert. It is extremely uncovered and might be very windy.

 

Sheep roaming on the Laugavegur trail

There are sheep in all places on path. In all places. They roam free and can sometimes BAAAAHH loudly outdoors your tent early within the morning. Photograph courtesy of Rebecca MacKay.

Emstrur/Botnar (Mile 24.2)

Elevation | 1526ft (465 m)

You don’t see Emstrur till you’re virtually there, as it’s hidden on the base of a hill crested on the best way in. Look out for the cell satellite tv for pc on prime of the hill for an concept of if you end up shut. Emstrur has a coated kitchen tent for hikers to make use of and is situated on the base.

Quickly after Emstrur, you cross a bridge throughout a deep river canyon and from there the path follows that river all the best way to Þórsmörk. Not lengthy earlier than Þórsmörk is the one main river crossing on this path. There are a number of protected fords at which to cross, however make sure you take the time to pick a very good crossing website.

Þórsmörk (mile 33.6)

Elevation | 656ft (200 m)

Þórsmörk lodging are hidden in a wooded valley, making this probably the most sheltered tenting on path. There are three totally different places within the Þórsmörk Nature Reserve the place you’ll be able to keep, so you might have to hike a further mile or two to get to camp. There’s a signal at a path juncture that branches out to the three places.

Þórsmörk Huts and the access road of the Laugavegur Trail

Þórsmörk Huts and the entry street to the trailhead. Photograph courtesy of Rebecca MacKay.

  1. Volcano Huts, situated within the Húsadalur Valley, supply a number of forms of lodging together with small cottages, dormitories, glamping, and campgrounds. The tenting right here is barely costlier (~23.60 USD), however consists of limitless scorching showers. They’ve a sauna, a swimming pond, a restaurant with all-you-can-eat buffets and free WiFi, hiker packing containers, and a room the place hikers can hang around and cost their units. In contrast to the remainder of the huts on path, Volcano Huts are open year-round.
  2. Langidalur hosts the identical huts at the remainder of the path (run by Ferðafélag Íslands). It has a primary retailer.
  3. Basar has huts and a retailer. The trailhead to Skógar (Fimmvörðuháls Path) begins right here.

Skógar by way of Fimmvörðuháls Path (Mile +14.three)

Max Elevation |  3839ft (1170 m)

There’s a hut run by Ferðafélag Íslands partway via the path referred to as Baldvinsskáli. It has restricted amenities, and gives no operating water. As you descend into Skógar, you’ll want to take a look at the gorgeous Skógafoss waterfall.

Water/Resupply

Laugavegur Trail image courtesy of Rebecca MacKay

Photograph courtesy of Rebecca MacKay.

There are various streams alongside path and water faucets at each hut. All the water on path is glacier fed and supposedly protected to drink, so I didn’t deliver a filter on this journey, nevertheless it’s usually a good suggestion to filter all water within the backcountry. This path is brief, however bus corporations will ship resupply packages to Þórsmörk for a charge. You may as well purchase some dehydrated meals and tenting gasoline on the wardens’ huts.

Closing Ideas

The Laugavegur path is an unimaginable expertise for these trying to be blown away by lovely and weird terrain. When you keep in huts the complete approach, you’ll be able to virtually slackpack the path because you gained’t want shelter or cooking gear. It’s a nice selection for anybody on the lookout for a brief hike in Iceland, both as a part of the Ring Street tour or as part of a shorter journey.

Notice: Costs in USD are approximate and can rely upon trade price.

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