The Fimmvorduhals Trail connects Thorsmork to Skogar while passing through a spectacular landscape featuring canyons, valleys, glaciers, lava fields, cinder cones, snowfields, mossy meadows, and waterfalls. Difficulties encountered on the hike include arranging for trailhead transportation (because this is a one-way hike), being prepared for severe weather conditions (including heavy rain, intense cold, strong winds, white-out fog, and sudden blizzards even in the summer), and making reservations if you wish to sleep in the huts. A topographical map of the hiking route (split into two parts) from our GPS tracker can be found by clicking on the buttons above. GPS coordinates are not provided because this is a well-established trail that is widely known and used.
We carried out our hike of the Fimmvorduhals Trail as a 2-day extension of the Laugavegur Trail (which we had backpacked during the 3 previous days). So this report is a continuation of our report on the Laugavegur Trail. While being an extension of the Laugavegur Trail, the Fimmvorduhals Trail contains completely different scenery for the most part and stands on its own as a great trail. More details of the amazing scenery will be shared in the two sections below and also within the full set of photographs linked to at the bottom. According to my GPS tracker, the route from Thorsmork to Skogar is about 15.5 miles long with an elevation gain of about 2,800 feet if starting at Thorsmork. If you are doing this hike, please be fully prepared for very cold and wet weather in white-out fog conditions, because extreme weather shifts and sudden blizzards can happen without notice, even in the middle of summer. Several hikers have lost their lives along this route and that should alert everyone to the need to put safety first.
Section 1: Thorsmork (Langidalur) to Fimmvorduhals (Baldvinsskali) (7.6 miles). If you read our report on the Laugavegur Trail, you know that we left off at Langidalur camp in Thorsmork. After enjoying a meal and some rest, we walked down to the Krossa River and took in the sunset in Thorsmork Valley. After this, we had to figure out how to cross the Krossa River to the other side. There are numerous forks to this wide glacial river and we could see two large footbridges over the largest forks out in the middle. After heading to the east for about 1/10 of a mile, we saw markers that helped us enter the river drainage and cross some smaller forks without getting wet. We crossed both large footbridges and were almost to the other side when we reached a medium-sized fork which could not be crossed. Thus, we removed our shoes and did our final river crossing of the trip. We then proceeded east about 1/2 of a mile until we reached Basar camp. The reason we decided to sleep overnight at Basar instead of the more beautiful Langidalur was so we would have a shorter hike the next day and not have to start off our day by doing the river crossing. It turned out to be a good decision. The next morning, we headed off on the Fimmvorduhals Trail by first walking through the forest and then beginning to climb along the northern ridge above Strakagil Canyon. The views of Thorsmork valley begin to increase dramatically while hiking along Kattarhryggur (or Cat's Spine) Ridge, which includes crossing a section known as the "knife-edge". There are views of several glaciers, canyon depths, natural rock arches, and eroding hillsides visible along the way. After a while, the trail begins a very steep climb up the slopes of Heidarhorn to the edge of Morinsheidi. Morinsheidi is a flat plateau which really stands out as a distinct natural feature when viewed from above. We took our time to fully explore this plateau, and found some amazing views just by wandering around. Near the southern edge of the plateau, new lava flows from the 2010 eruption are visible by looking over into an area of waterfalls to the southeast. Next, we had to carefully cross the Heljarkambur (or Hell's Ridge) crossing, which connects the plateau to the steeper slopes leading uphill to Fimmvorduhals pass. There are a couple of roped sections to provide assistance where needed. Upon climbing up the steep hill known as Brattafonn, we reached a spot where the trail leveled out. After circling around a bit, the trail led us to a magnificent viewpoint of Magni and Modi. Magni and Modi are the two new cinder cones (or craters) which formed during the eruption at Fimmvorduhals which took place from March 20 to April 13, 2010. When the eruption concluded, Magni was 269 feet high and Modi was 154 feet high. These two cinder cones are quite beautiful (and were the highlight of the day for me), with Magni containing a reddish top and Modi having a wide variety of colorful lava formations on its slopes. All around, we could see lava fields rising up out of the snowpack. As always, we took our time to fully explore this area and hiked to the summit of Modi first, and then Magni second. It was nice to have the two cinder cones to ourselves for the most part. While we were on the summit of Magni, a thick blanket of fog moved in and we descended into near white-out conditions. We spent the next 1 1/2 hours making our way through the thick fog from marker to marker while walking across snowfields. It was definitely an eerie experience, especially when we lost the route in the fog at one point. We tried to take a right-hand turn which leads to the Fimmvorduskali hut (the first of the two huts near the route high point). However, we got turned back by a massive snow bridge which we would have had to cross. The snow bridge looked like it was ready to collapse. Instead, we ended up backtracking and taking the the left-hand turn at the junction. This route led us across a small glacier and down to the second hut known as Baldvinsskali. Having just hiked through rain, snow, fog, and cold conditions, along with being lost for about 1/2 an hour, we were ready to take a break and warm up inside the hut.
Section 2: Fimmvorduhals (Baldvinsskali) to Skogar (7.9 miles). After visiting with fellow hikers and having a warm meal, we decided to continue our hike. Conditions outside were miserable and we couldn't see any reason to stay overnight at the hut. Thus, we followed the 4WD road downhill which leads down from the hut toward the Skoga River. About four hours after we had started our break at the hut, we arrived at the footbridge which crosses the Skoga River. As we were about to cross it, we noticed a slight problem. The entire right-side handrail had collapsed and fallen off the bridge. So in order to get across the river, it was necessary to cross this unsafe bridge. A fall from the bridge would likely lead to getting swept over a waterfall not far downstream. We made our way carefully across and were glad when it was over. Near here, we set up our tents for the night, glad to be out of the thick fog. We also looked on as some rescue teams headed up the mountain on 4WD vehicles in order to carry out a search-and-rescue for two missing hikers. The next morning, we woke up and began following the Skoga River downstream. This proved to be an absolutely spectacular day of hiking. The trail passes by around 26 major waterfalls during a section known as Waterfall Way. The waterfalls have great variety in height, width, and setting. And we had extra time on the trail to enjoy and photograph most of the waterfalls, since we had hiked a longer distance on the previous day. We passed by many Icelandic sheep and began seeing more hikers as we got closer to the end of the trail. The trail progressed through mossy meadows, rolling hills, and areas of deep gorges. The final waterfall is Skogafoss, one of the most famous in Iceland at around 200 feet in height. Several hundred steps lead from the rim of the waterfall down to the base. It was a thrilling moment to reach the base of Skogafoss and successfully complete our route. After enjoying a warm meal at a nearby restaurant, we caught an evening bus back to Reykjavik. We had backpacked 49.1 total miles from Landmannalaugar to Skogar over the course of 5 days. Click here to watch a 5 minute video that Josh made of our backpacking trip. Our hike took place from August 1-3, 2017.
Many more photographs taken during our visit are available for viewing for this destination. To see all of them, choose one of the two options presented below. The two options are Slideshow viewing and Trip Report viewing. The Slideshow option allows for viewing larger images with an autoplay option and a full screen option (available on most browsers). This option works very well for large computer screens and tablets. The Trip Report option allows for viewing smaller pictures in a standard scroll-down format and enlarging of any panoramic photos taken during our visit. Click on the option of your choice to view all of our photos from this destination. The Slideshow format opens in a new browser window and the Trip Report format uses the same browser window for viewing.
TRIP REPORT FORMAT