Hiking in Thorsmork: Valahnúkur

Ready for a exciting day in one of South Iceland’s most inspiring areas?  Likely if you’ve done any research on hiking in Iceland, you’ve come across the name Thorsmork.  Within this captivating area there are tons of hikes to choose from.  In fact, some are short, others are long and a few take you a day.  Today we would love to introduce you to the stunning Valahnúkur hike!

Discovering Thorsmork (Þórsmörk)

Thorsmork, also known as Þórsmörk in Icelandic, is a stunning nature preserve located in South Iceland.  Þórsmörk directly translates to Thor’s Forest.

Furthermore, the highland area rests between glaciers names, Eyjafjallajökull, Tindfjallajökull, and Mýrdalsjökull.  Which in turn means you will encounter breathtaking landscapes, deep canyons, lush valleys, jagged mountains, and countless hiking trails (one being today’s hike Valahnúkur too).

Truly a haven for outdoor enthusiasts!  To illustrate, tons of hiking opportunities, camping areas, and experiencing the unique beauty of Iceland’s wilderness first hand.  In summer, this area is prime destination for those looking to immerse themselves in Iceland’s dramatic natural scenery.

How to Get to Þórsmörk

Maybe your next question is how do you find your way to Thorsmork?  Well we are thrilled to educate you today!  First, you’ll need to book a tour with a local guide with a super jeep or have an F-Road vehicle that is on 35” tires (or higher) with a snorkel.  That way, if the rivers are normal (not surging) you’ll have no issues getting across them.

Second, from Route 1, you’ll turn onto Road #249 towards Seljalandsfoss.  Third, you’ll follow the road back into the valley passed Gljufrabui and Nauthúsagil Waterfall.  Fourth, depending on the time of year and weather in Iceland this is where the road becomes deeply rutted and rivers crossings begin.  Take great care before you cross rivers if you have not done before.  Always remember you need to cross downstream. not upstream.  And if in doubt, wait and watch another vehicle cross it first to gauge the depth.

Where is Valahnukur?

Next, as you navigate back into the valley, you’ll pass by the start of the Stakkholtsgjá hike.  You’ll cross the river that goes back into that nook ad continue deeper into the Icelandic Highlands.  Additionally, you’ll have 2 choices on where you begin the Valahnúkur hike.  Firstly, if you continue straight back you’ll find signs pointing you towards the Langidalur camp.  Then you would cross that river and take the trail behind the hut.

Second, the way most people go is to Volcano Huts (also called Husadalur).  Why?  Because you cross one of the most dramatic rivers in Iceland called Krossá.  This is one of the reasons why we suggest you ensure you have a larger more equipped vehicle.  For instance, this river swallows up many cars, trucks, and busses each year.  However, once you’ve made it to Volcano Huts you begin the Valahnúkur hike behind the main restaurant building.

Valahnúkur Hike Guide

Alright, so now you know how to get there and where to begin.  But what about the specifics?  Don’t fret, here they are!

Hiking Specs for Valahnukur

  • Distance: ~1.5 miles round trip.
  • Hike Time: ~1-2.5 hours round trip depending on your pace and how much time you spend stopping along the way.
  • Terrain:  Rocky path, loose rocks, large rocks, dirt/mud, sand, slippery rocks, and wooden steps.
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate!  But if you’re an unsure hiker, it’s best to bring hiking poles.
  • Elevation Gain: ~750 feet
  • Valahnúkur Hike Parking Lot: Google Map (from Volcano Huts) or Google Map (from Langidalur Hut)
  • Best Time to Hike: May – Mid October (depending on river levels)
  • What to Pack: Checkout our IWP Amazon Shop for a guide on what to buy and / or bring!
  • Notes:
    • Between the months of mid November– Late April, the area is open but trail markers will likely be covered in snow making the trail challenging.  It may be best to hire a tour company with an experienced guide to hike it with you.
    • Be very aware as there was sadly a death on the way here in September 2018 when the couple attempted to cross surging rivers on their own vehicle.
    • Please respect the ropes, signs, and LEAVE NO TRACE!

Trekking Directions

Are you ready to rock the Valahnúkur hike?  Let’s do this thing!  Below you’ll find a step by step guide you can follow so you know how to prepare and what to expect…

Best Hikes in South Iceland

Meanwhile, you know that Iceland is known for its spectacular panoramic views, right?  Well if you’re curious to learn more about the best hikes in Iceland, check out our freebie below!

Planning an Iceland Wedding in Thorsmork

Lastly, if you are already imagining yourself getting married in Thorsmork or even braving the Valahnúkur hike in your wedding attire… Let’s chat!  Feel free to contact us for more information!

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