It’s no secret Iceland is a thrilling place for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Some may even dare to say it is also the mecca for adventure. But what does adventure mean to you? Maybe a short or long hike, participating in an extreme sport, or something else that gets you excited. Believe it or not, an abundance of hiking for all ages and skill levels awaits you in Iceland… In fact, are you ready to embark on a stellar hike in South Iceland that will totally inspire you? Come along with us as we share details on the Stakkholtsgjá hike with you!
South Iceland Hiking: Þórsmörk (Thórsmörk)
As you plan your self-drive adventure through South Iceland, you may want to go more offbeat. Especially if you are renting a more adventurous vehicle (like an ISAK Land Rover) and you also have the experience / skill set to drive through rivers. Therefore, you’ll want to find your way into Þórsmörk (Thor’s Valley). Furthermore, you could easily spend a week hiking all around this valley and not get bored. The Stakkholtsgjá hike is one of the countless you can embark on within this valley.
However, before you add this place on your list… It is very important you have a capable 4×4 (on at least 35” tires and ideally with a snorkel) to drive into this area though. Why? There are countless glacier fed river crossings and often the rivers swell. Basically, it is best to take a tour into here, have a local who knows the area with you, or have the right kind of 4×4 if you are experienced crossing raging rivers. For example, there have been tragedies in this area with folks not having the right kind of 4×4 to cross them in or the knowledge. Note: The couple featured in that terrible tragedy were NOT our clients.
Meanwhile, as you look to planning your adventures within Þórsmörk you’ll want to know what are some of the hikes you can embark on within… So here are a few to get you started and your mind reeling!
Hikes in Þórsmörk:
- Stakkholtsgjá Hike (today’s Iceland Wedding Planner monthly hike feature)
- Þórsgata Volcano Trail (13.5 miles)
- Valahnúkur Mountain (1.5 miles)
- Merkurrani Plateau (5.9 miles)
- Þórsmörk Tindfjöll Circle (6 miles)
- Þórsmörk Highlights (Þórsmörk Valley – Slyppugilshryggur Ridge – Slyppugil Canyon – Langidalur Hut – Valahnúkur Mountain – Volcano Huts).
How to Get to Stakkholtsgjá
Ready to find your way to begin the Stakkholtsgjá hike? Firstly, not far from Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, you’ll find the entrance into Þórsmörk (F249). Secondly, as we alluded to above it is vital you go in prepared with knowledge and the right vehicle type to be successful and safe through the river crossings. Thirdly, on your way in, don’t forget to do the short hike through the super narrow canyon named, Nauthúsagil.
Fourthly you’ll drive for about 40 minutes from where the general road 249 transitions to F249 (you’ll see the road go from paved to unpaved). Fifth, you’ll go through many river crossings and it’ll seem like they increase in size the further you go in. Shortly after you cross a rather huge river you’ll see a blue sign that says, Stakkholtsgjá. Also to the right hand side you’ll see a picnic table and that is basically where you need to park.
Before you begin the Stakkholtsgjá hike, you may want to know what it means, right? Directly translated it would be called, “coat hill canyon.” Instantly upon arrival you’ll be overcome with a sense of excitement popping out of your super jeep. Next, make sure you have the right gear for the hike… To illustrate, it would be good to have proper hiking boots, hiking poles if you get unstable easily, water shows or SealSkinz socks (for foot river crossings), and a backpack if you choose to carry water, snacks, etc.
Stakkholtsgjá Hike Information:
- Vehicle Needed: Large SUV (IE, On minimum 35” tires with snorkel) or Super Jeep (typically on 38-46” tires).
- Directions to Parking Lot: Google Map.
- Distance: 1.5 mile Hike.
- Time: 30 minutes (1 way).
- Skill Level: Easy
- Terrain: Flat ground (but no groomed trail), rocky, foot river crossings, and a few narrow paths (which can be muddy).
- Special Note: There are no signs or trail markers here (as of when this post was written) except the sign the blue sign shown below before the next river crossing.
- Leave No Trace Policy: Discover new places responsibly (take your own trash and pick up any you find).
Step by Step Guide to the Stakkholtsgjá Hike
After you park your 4×4 truck and grab what you need it’s time to embark on the Stakkholtsgjá hike! Be aware there are no signs, ropes, barriers, or trail markers at all as of when we wrote this Iceland Wedding Planner blog post. However, it is a pretty darn straight forward trek. For example, you’ll follow the river bed back into the canyon after you pass the picnic table. Towards the right hand side, you’ll see a narrow trail that will look very worn by people / sheep and you can follow that back if you find the river bed rocks to intense of terrain for you. Overall, you can expect to be hiking for about 30 minutes one way depending on your pace.
Stakkholts Canyon Cave
Within the first 10 minutes of the Stakkholtsgjá hike, you’ll come across a small cave (Stakkholtshellir) on the left side of the canyon. In order to explore it, you’ll need to cross the river by foot. Depending on how much rain that had happened recently, you may have a few spots to cross and the depths may vary (ankle to knee high).
Before doing so this may be a good time to change into your water shoes or wellies if you have them if you don’t want to get wet. Otherwise it’s handy to have a change of shoes for after the hike. When you hike up to the cave, you’ll immediately notice the ferns growing throughout the cave, really pretty!
Heading further into the Stakkholtsgjá hike, you’ll continue to follow the river back until you see a cross road canyon emerge (about 20-25ish minutes in). That surprise canyon goes to the right but the waterfall you came for is to the left.
Woohoo!! Only 5 minutes left of hiking… At this point you have to cross a few rivers again by foot before you head back into the slot canyon where the waterfall is.
Certainly you can decide how close you get to the waterfalls at the end. Again, err on the side of caution, as the water levels vary. In fact, I’ve seen it chest high in some spots and the rocks can be very slippery. So be careful as you discover! Enjoy the hike back out too because you’ll experience the canyon from a totally different perspective!
Iceland Wedding in Þórsmörk
What a magical hike to spend your day doing, right? Maybe an Iceland wedding in Þórsmörk would be a badass hiking elopement or adventure wedding for you. Therefore, it is best to hire a local Iceland Wedding Planner to help you gain in advance permission / permit to do so. Lastly, if you dream of a fairytale place like the Stakkholtsgjá hike or something similar our team would love to aid you on your journey. Feel free to contact us to get that amazing journey started!