Walking Hiking trails in the National Park in North Iceland Hiking trails

A Map of the Trails, Walking Hiking trails in the National Park in North Iceland
Hiking trails in the National Park in North Iceland on the Diamond Circle
The only way to fully experience the Northern part of the National Park,  is by foot and the park is an ideal hiking area. There are marked trails alongside the edge of the canyon from Asbyrgi up to the waterfall Selfoss. Many hikers venture even further, ending at lake Myvatn. Below is a short description of the main marked hiking trails within the park:

Asbyrgi  (Map no A-1)

There are several easy and interesting routes in the bottom of Asbyrgi starting at the car park. Visitors can get a free booklet containing a description of these routes from the park rangers.

Ashofdi circuit   (Map no A-5)

This route can begin either at the shop, at the entrance to Asbyrgi or at the main campsite. The whole circuit is 11 km and takes about 3 hours. The path takes you first to Tofugja "The Fox Fissure" and up onto the edge of the cliffs surrounding Asbyrgi. There is a fixed rope to help you at this point. From there the trail heads east to the Jokulsargljufur canyon and around the wooded mull Ashofdi, from where there is a spectacular view. Further east is a series of small gorges and ponds and to the west lies the small lake Astjorn. A children's summer camp has been operated here since 1946. If you start the hike at the shop the circuit is 6 km long and only takes 1-2 hours. First you walk alongside Astjorn and then follow the trail around the mull.

Eyjan "The Island" in Asbyrgi (Map no A-2)
The trail upon Eyjan or the “Island” in Asbyrgi starts at the campsite and heads south. The view over Asbyrgi and the sands to the north from the top is superb. The hike to the end of Eyjan and back is 5 km and takes 1-2 hours.

Asbyrgi – the rim of Asbyrgi - Klappir - Jokulsa River – Asbyrgi  (Map no A-8)
You can start this walk either at the campsite in Asbyrgi or the shop. It is easier, however, to get to the rim of the gorge by starting from the shop as you avoid the rope-climb up Tofugja "The Fox Fissure". The trail takes you along the eastern rim of Asbyrgi as far south as Klappir where the water has carved some amazing shapes into the rock. The view over Asbyrgi is simply breathtaking. From Klappir you head east over the moor to Jokulsa and then along the canyon, passing Gilsbakki and As until you return to the starting point. This route is 12 km long and takes 3-4 hours.

Hljodaklettar ( "The Sound Cliffs" or "The Cliffs of Sounds" or "Echoing Rocks") circuit (Map no V-3)
Hljodaklettar (Echo rocks) are the remains of ancient volcanoes which have been heavily eroded by the Jokulsa, leaving only the volcanic plugs behind. The trail starts at the car park at Hljodaklettar and it takes about 1 hour to walk the 2.4 km. Visitors can get a free booklet containing a description of this trail from the park rangers.

Hljodaklettar – Raudholar "Reddish hills" (Map no V-4)
The trail starts at the car park at Hljodaklettar and it takes about 2 hours to walk the 5 km. The first part of the route follows the main path, but by the cave Kirkjan (the Church) the trail branches from the main path and rises along a gentle wooded slope leading to Raudholar. During this fascinating walk you can experience a great variety of geological phenomena and the views to the canyon in the north and Hljodaklettar in the south are exceptional.

Karl og Kerling (Map no V-5)
Karl and Kerling  are two rock pillars, believed to be a pair of petrified trolls, standing on a gravel bank by the river. It is a 30-40 minute stroll back and forth to them from the Hljodaklettar car park.

Eyjan in Vesturdalur (Map no V-1)
From the campsite in Vesturdalur a short trail leads around the northernmost point of Eyjan, the “Island”, in Vesturdalur. Along the way you pass moss covered rocks and small pools. This easy walk is ideal for an evening stroll.

Vesturdalur - Svinadalur - Kallbjorg - Karl and Kerling – Vesturdalur (Map no V-6)
This route is 7 km long and takes 2-3 hours. It begins at the campsite in Vesturdalur and follows the Vesturdalsa river south as far as Einbui, a monolith at the head of the valley. On the way you pass sedge-fringed ponds and there are numerous fascinating patterns in the rocks. After passing by Einbui you ascend the southernmost part of Eyjan (The Island) in Vesturdalur and continue to the site of the Svinadalur farm. From here the route continues east to Kallbjorg cliffs by Jokulsa river. In the last century there was a pulley over the river which was used to transport essentials from one side to the other. Leaving Kallbjorg the path heads north past the cavern Lambahellir ( The Lamb Cave ) and the two rock trolls Karl and Kerling. On the opposite bank is the cavern Trollahellir ( The Trolls (Giants) Cave ), the largest cave in the canyon. The path ends at the Hljodaklettar car park, from where it is a short stroll to the campsite.

Holmatungur circuit - Katlar (Map no H-1)
This 3.5 km circuit around Holmatungur begins at the car park. The route takes you north alongside the river Holma, with its countless islets and angelica lined banks, all the way to the Holmarfossar cascades. The return route heads south alongside the Jokulsa to the confluence of the river Melbugsa. This river falls off a ledge, forming the waterfall Urridafoss, before meeting Jokulsa river. To get here you have to take a short (0.5 km) diversion to look at Katlar, where the Jokulsa channel narrows severely. The trail ends at the car park. This walk, including the loop to Katlar, takes 1-2 hours. A short distance from the car park is Mt. Ytra – Thorunnarfjall, with a scenic view over Holmatungur and Forvod.

Hafragil lowland (Hafragilsundirlendi) (Map no D-3)
The area in and surrounding Hafragil contains the most difficult hiking trails in the National Park and caution should be exercised. You approach this area from the south via Sanddalur where there is a fixed rope to help you down a rocky section. Next you have to descend a steep and rocky slope and then the walk continues past the majestic waterfall Hafragilsfoss and through a rocky landslide along a small cove under a vertical rock face. The route back up takes you into the Hafragil gorge, following sheep tracks up the slope out of it. Visitors hiking between Dettifoss and Holmatungur can bypass this area by following the western edge of Hafragil instead. The circuit to the Hafragil lowland starts at the car park by the turnoff to Hafragilsfoss. It is 6 km long and takes about 3 hours.

Dettifoss – Selfoss (Map no D-2)
Dettifoss is an approximately 15 minutes walk from the car park. From Dettifoss there is a marked trail to Selfoss and from there back to the car park. The circuit to Dettifoss and Selfoss is about 2.5 km and takes 1 hour.

Asbyrgi – Dettifoss (Map no L-1, L-2 and L-3)
The walk from Asbyrgi to Dettifoss takes about two days, with an overnight stop at the campsite in Vesturdalur. There are two routes from Asbyrgi to Vesturdalur. The first follows the edge of the Asbyrgi gorge, via Klappir and Kviar, a total of 12 km. The other route follows the Jokulsa river and is 13.6 km. From Vesturdalur it is a further 8 km to Holmatungur and another 10 km to Dettifoss (11.5 km avoiding the area below Hafragil). With the exception of Tofugja and Hafragil the route is generally easy. North of Holmatungur you have to wade the spring fed Stalla river. It is shallow and cold but an invigorating experience and makes the trip even more memorable

Diamond circle,scenic round trip,Dettifoss,Myvatn,Husavik, North Iceland