Fimmvörðuháls Hiking Trail
The Fimmvörðuháls hiking trail (24 - 30 km) between Skógar and Þórsmörk is one of the most traversed trails in Iceland and offers a challenging trek in versatile terrain, with beautiful views over the South Coast of Iceland and the Þórsmörk Nature Reserve. The trail leads you over the Fimmvörðuháls pass, between the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull ice caps, then down the other side to Þórsmörk and traverses the new lava fields from the 2010 eruption at Eyjafjallajökull.
Most hikers finish the trail in one leg, in eight to ten hours, while others spread the trip over two days, overnighting at one of the two mountain huts along the trail. The huts are small and booking well ahead of time is recommended. The trail is usually passable from around mid-June to September. Traversing the Fimmvörðuhás pass outside summer season is not recommended unless with a guide and proper equipment. The trail leads from 50 m up and over 1.000 m above sea level. The terrain and geographic location of the area make good conditions for severe weather on the mountain and hikers should be prepared for sudden weather changes with possibility of rain, snow and high winds at any time of the year. This trail is truly worth doing but can prove challenging for any hiker so take precautions and follow instructions from the mountain huts in the area.
When walking South to North, from Skógar to Þórsmörk, you start by taking the staircase up along the Skógarfoss Waterfall, then follow the river up the heath along a dirt road or path. The hills are laid with thick patches of moss with green and orange colors lining the riverbank along a long row of beautiful waterfalls. After about 8km along the trail you cross a bridge where the landscape changes and you leave most of the vegetation behind for a dark, rocky plain flanked by the smooth contours of Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. It’s another hour from here, following marker poles across gravel and snowfields, to the un-serviced A-frame Baldursskali Hut. This hut is a good place to stop and have lunch but if you need a bed, then you shuld keep going for another forty minutes to the Fimmvörðuskáli Hut located slightly west off the main trail. Booking well ahead of time for this hut is advised.
At the Fimmvörðuhálsskáli Hut, you’re halfway along and crossing Fimmvörðuháls pass at 1.043 m. The pass lies flat in between the two glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. At this altitude you will have to traverse fields of snow, which can be difficult to navigate in whiteout conditions. From there you will reach the new lava fields created in 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption. From this area you should have a good view over Þórsmörk below, the Mýrdalsjökull’s outlet glaciers in the East and over to the Laugavegur trail in the North. The terrain around the top of the pass is snow-covered well into the summer. Heljarkambur ridge lies benteet the pass and forms a narrow, 50m traverse with a vertical rock-face rising on one side and a steep snowfield dropping 75m on the other side. From there you reach the flat, snowy or muddy gravel plateau of Morinsheiði. Cross the plateau and make a your descent to Þórsmörk along the Kattarhyggir ridge (“Cat’s Spine” ridge). Once you are down to the bottom of the valley of Þórmörk and Goðaland you are only a short ay from the Básar hut. To get to the Volcano Huts from here, you cross the Krossá river on a pair of portable bridges adjacent to the Básar Hut. From there you follow the river bed to the Langidalur hut and from there you take the trail through the Húsadalur valley over to the Volcano Huts. The trek between the Básar Huts and the Volcano Huts is 6 km and should take around 1.5 hours.