Can you imagine exploring an area that was most likely to have been created by an Ice Age landslide? Pretty surreal experience, truly. So where does such a place exist? Find your way to East Iceland and follow this guide to get there! Because hands down one of the most beautiful hikes in Iceland is trekking to Stórurð!
The word Stórurð (Storurd) directly translates from Icelandic to English as “large rubble.” Likewise, as we alluded to above this magical area was crafted by an Ice Age landslide. How freaking cool is that? Nature and the weather in Iceland always creates the most amazing features! The colors and textures are so nuts! To illustrate, the deep turquoise pools surrounded by giant boulders and steep mountains just sets a very otherworldly scene.
Next, so where is this place in Iceland? Once in East Iceland on the way to Borgarfjörður Eystri… And then deep into the Urdardalur Valley, Stórurð is found on the private property farm, Hrafnabjörg. Further, the mountainscape that towers above is named Dyrfjöll which can be extremely mysterious when clouds appear.
Meanwhile, it’s only within the last few years has attention really come on to Stórurð (Storurd). Especially this past year when Covid ravages the world… Locals to Iceland find their way traveling around the country for summer exploration and to this dynamic place!
How to Get to Stórurð
Excited to find your way to this stunning Iceland hidden gem? Our Iceland Wedding Planner team would love to share with you today a step by step guide to hiking to Stórurð (Storurd)… Come along with us and see our personal experience hiking it!
Firstly, you need to find your way to East Iceland. Frankly, it is best to stay several days in or around Egilsstaðir. In fact, you could do this hike one day and then the combo of Vestdalsfossar and Mjóifjörður the second day. Ideally you explore this area between July-August. However, outside of this period you can still hike to it but it is more challenging (IE, needing hiking poles, crampons, hiking GPS, etc) because the trail markers can be buried in snow and ice.
Secondly, from Egilsstaðir you will drive North on Route 94 towards Borgarfjörður Eystri for 1 hour to one of the several parking lots or starting points. Thirdly, it is important to know the weather conditions before you begin, as that could change your starting or ending point. Fourth, choose your route ahead of time and we elaborate on that below…
- Location: East Iceland
- Hiking Time: 2-3 hours (one way)
- Miles to Hike (depends on your route in/out):
- Njarðvík: 2.8 miles (4.5 km) one way
- Vatnsskarð: 4.7 miles (7.5 km) one way
- Vatnsskarðsvegur: 4.4 miles (7.1 km) one way
- Experience Level: Moderate
- Highest Elevation Point: 2,140 feet
- Google Maps: Parking Lot Links
- Terrain: Dirt narrow paths; rocky, muddy, loose gravel, and foot river crossings.
- Trail Markers: Yellow
- GPS Coordinates to Stórurð end point: N65 ° 30 ‘51.937 “W13 ° 59’ 26.295”
- ** Special Note: As of when this post was written, there were no ropes, barriers, or any touristy vibes, just all magic! So let’s keep it that way! Why? This area is FRAGILE please be mindful, respectful by staying on the marked paths and LEAVE NO TRACE behind you! After all, following these rules keeps the landowners happy and the area open for all! **
Choosing Your Stórurð Hiking Route
Oh la la now on to the fun part… Planning your hike to Stórurð (Storurd)! Which way should you go in and out? Ideally, if all the stars align and you have the opportunity to partner up with another couple or group (with a separate car) it’s fun to be able to hike in one way and out another. Why? Keeps the scenery interesting! For instance, then one of you would park one car at the end point and the other car shuttles everyone to the starting point. But if you can’t there is no shame in walking the road in-between or hiking in and out the same way.
Njarðvík: 2.8 miles (4.5 km) one way
Personally, this is in our opinion the most exciting route into Stórurð. For example, going in this route you will witness the majesty of the Mjóidalur Valley straight on the entire time. Honestly, it is one of the most picturesque hikes possible in Iceland. Furthermore, Njarðvík is also the shortest hiking route to Stórurð as an added bonus.
Although be aware at times this route can be more challenging with river crossings, elevation, and terrain type (very muddy / swampy). We would only suggest going this route between mid July to August. Also know, outside of this time frame, make sure you bring crampons, hiking poles, and a hiking GPS because snow and ice create even more challenges in the last stretch and decline down to Stórurð. << Note: This is our featured way hiking in. >>
Vatnsskarð: 4.7 miles (7.5 km) one way
Heading to Stórurð from the parking lot at Vatnsskarð will begin and end with steep slopes and gorgeous views over the surrounding inlets. But if a extremely windy day, you may not want to take this peaked route. However, if hiking this route outside of mid-July to August you need to be prepared for the steep slopes by having proper hiking boots, crampons, hiking poles, and hiking GPS.
Vatnsskarðsvegur: 4.4 miles (7.1 km) one way
This route is the easiest if you are not an experienced hiker. To illustrate, it is pretty flat with only tiny inclines. You will hike alongside of Rjupnafell and not have any steep elevation to conquer. And just a small waterfall / river crossing here and there. But know if there is a lot of rain the week of your hike, the valley retains water and is swampy. So if the weather changes or your legs are burning from either of the two routes that you took in, it is a good idea to take this less stressful way out. << Note: This is our featured as our route out because of a weather change. >>
Step by Step Guide for Trekking to Stórurð
Woohoo! Time to experience Stórurð (Storurd) from our eyes step by step… First, our Iceland Wedding Planner team hiked to it during the first weekend of September. Second, we hiked in the Njarðvík Route (2.8 miles) in and hiked out the Vatnsskarðsvegur Route (4.4 miles). Third, we hiked the road in-between back to our truck (which added an additional hour).
Step 1 (Njarðvík to Stórurð):
Going the Njarðvík hiking route to Stórurð there is not a large formal parking lot. On that same note, you’ll find several signs showing where you begin along with a map. You’ll follow the small yellow markers back into the valley overlooking gorgeous mountains. We began our hike at 8:30am.
Step 2: River Crossings and Waterfalls
Within minutes of hiking you’ll come across your first river crossing on your way to Stórurð. Know, there are countless (I lost count after 25). Nothing of concern and most times you just skip over them by walking on rocks. But having good waterproof hiking boots are ideal. The path can be super muddy, but stay on it to make sure you protect the landscape.
Step 3: Elevation Increases and Weather Changes
About 1.5 hours into the hike to Stórurð the elevation increases consistently and we transition into the snow line. Therefore at times, seeing the trail markers were difficult or impossible. However, we came prepared with a hiking GPS that led the way no matter how deep the snow.
Step 4: Overlooking Stórurð
After hiking in snow for 30 minutes, Stórurð reveals herself to us, woot woot! All three of us just stand there in awe for a few minutes marveling in how tiny it looks from our mountaintop 360 degree view. But hiking down was a bit steep and challenging in parts with the snow turning to ice mostly. Hence the need for crampons even in the first week of September! Snow comes early and stays late back there.
Step 5: Hiking the Inner Loop at Stórurð
Upon arriving to Stórurð, you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store! There is a main map you can check out once down from the mountain to see if you want to hike the inner loop or just go right to the blue water boulder spots. We hiked clockwise from the left side and it took us about 1 hour with a 15 minute lunch stop. If you do the full circle hike, make sure you take a minute and sign the guestbook! Special Note: Please be mindful of your things here, especially if you picnic. Take all of your trash with you and leave absolutely no trace.
Hiking out of Stórurð via Vatnsskarðsvegur Route:
Taking a different route out allowed us to see the valley entirely which was fun. But basically it was uneventful. For example, outside a handful of waterfalls it was pretty flat, long, and kind of boring in our personal opinion. Especially since we had such an exciting route hiking into Stórurð! Also, the route we took hiking in we didn’t run into other people. However, hiking out this way, we ran into 2-4 folks.
Although it was a safer route out because the weather on top of the mountain had changed making it too dangerous for us to hike the icy mountain back up safely. Lastly, we ended the hike around 2:30-3pm, but because we had parked at the start of the other route, we had about another hour hike or so on the road.
Stórurð Weddings + Elopements
Likely, if you’re a couple who loves the idea of planning a bad ass hiking elopement, this magical place speaks to you. Having a Stórurð elopement or wedding, is possible year round but in the majority of the months it will require an experienced guide and / or a helicopter. As it is only safe to hike on your own in the summer months of July and August because of snow levels, buried trail markers, etc.
Furthermore, before you get your heart totally set on this Iceland elopement location it’s also important to remember it is on private property, so it will require in advance permission. Either way if this fabulous location has inspired you to elope in Iceland, we would love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us for more information on getting your journey started!