Before heading to Iceland, i did a lot of research on epic local hiking trails. My travel companions had very limited hiking experience but they were all athletic. I needed a trip that was strenuous but also safe for novice trekkers.
Glymur Falls continuously came up in my research and its location, within 1.5 hours of Reykjavik, made this a perfect day trip from our hostel. The Glymur Falls hike is a 3-4 miles loop. Taking hikers up one side of the falls, crossing over at the top, and bringing them down the opposite side.
The parking area provides ample spaces as well as good signage to direct you towards the trail. After a gentle stroll through the woods and passing inside a small cave, we came to a raging river crossing. The trail has a roughly 50 ft wire stretched from one side of the river to the other. This provides a handhold for hikers while stepping between slightly submerged rocks and a well placed log. There is some chance of getting wet during this crossing but a slow pace should see you to the other side safely.
Following the river crossing — the trail begins to ascend quickly, gaining elevation towards the waterfall that we began to see in the distance. There are several areas where anchored ropes have been installed to assist with steep/rocky uphill climbs and descents.
After continuing upwards we began to see the falls. The view is absolutely stunning as you continue. The trail itself was crowded, but not overly so. We never had problem getting around other hikers or having to stop for large crowds. Most of the other visitors were spread out evenly and moving at a good pace.
There are several flat sections to offer spectacular views. Many of these locations would be good for a lunch break to regain some of the energy used during the climb. In the above picture you can see other hikers farther up the trail in the distance. It seems very far away, but in reality the hike goes very quickly.
The hike will track along the right rocky ridge and you will rarely lose sight of the magnificent waterfall. The valley’s scale is something of an epic experience in real life. It cuts through the stone and is covered with vegetation during summer months. Sea gulls constantly fly within the valley, and there swooping presence serves as a way for the eye to better understand the depth and scale of this place.
Take your time viewing the waterfall as you approach. You will not regret spending an extra few minutes here!
Upon reaching the “peak” you will see a vast field and winding river in front of you. This river eventually caps the stony rocks into the valley and forms Glymur Falls. Looking backwards over the top of the falls; there are some expansive views of the Icelandic countryside.
Now, if you want to complete the loop and trek down the opposite side….you need to cross the river somewhere. I could not see a place to do this without getting a little bit of cold feet (literally). We walked about 500 yards from the cliff edge, stripped off our boots, rolled up our pants, and began inching across. I say inching because the water is FREEZING cold! Also, the rocky bottom does not feel like a foot massage on your exposed feet. The deepest section came up just below our knees and the current is a little deceiving, just be careful here
We met a family on the opposite side who brought flip flops for this purpose. I wish we would’ve been that well prepared 🙂 .
The next stage is an easy, but rocky pathway descending back to the car. The views become a little less dramatic, but I found it to be a very rewarding loop. We were lucky enough to snap a few pictures on the other side and see some close up Icelandic wildlife.
To summarize: This was an AMAZING hike to conquer during our trip to Iceland. It was challenging enough to make it enjoyable; but easy enough that my inexperienced companions did not fall to their deaths. I would highly recommend this as a must do while visiting this fantasy island.