Ring Road Waterfall #2, Iceland

A waterfall along the Ring Road (June 2012)

It’s almost been a year since visiting Iceland, and I miss the scenery.  Sometimes it can be bleak though, especially as you’re driving around the Ring Road (the main road around the island).  There aren’t a whole lot of forests on the island.  But there are a significant number of waterfalls.  There are so many, it becomes easy to ignore some of them.

For example, there are a number of taller waterfalls along the Ring Road.  Some of them are surprisingly beautiful, but there aren’t any designated places to stop.  In some instances, though, I was one of the few people on that stretch of the road, so I essentially just stopped the car in the road. (You can often see the road ahead for a significant distance.)  This waterfall was found along the road between Akureyri and Egilsstaðir, closer to Egilsstaðir.  That is where I noticed most of these “roadside” falls.  There weren’t many of them along the southern portion of the island. (Waterfalls #1 and #3 can be found here.)

Directions:

  1. This waterfall is found along the Ring Road between Akureyri and Egilsstaðir.  If I remember correctly, this waterfall was on the left side of the road as I was headed east.  There were at least two other waterfalls before and after this that were easy to photograph.  There were others I didn’t stop to officially view.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: ~125′ (a guess)
Length of Hike: roadside

Where in the World is Ring Road Waterfall #2?

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Hengifoss, Iceland

A smaller waterfall near Hengifoss

Iceland has some pretty spectacular waterfalls, so it is difficult to choose one or two that really stand out as truly impressive. Hengifoss might just be at the top of the list. At just under 400′ or so, it’s a really impressive waterfall, and there are a number of other beautiful waterfalls downstream (including Litlanesfoss). It’s a truly spectacular view that has to be at the top of your list if you travel around Iceland.

I’ll have to be careful with my choice of words here. I guess the hike to the falls is simple. Once you start along the Hengifoss Track, there’s no real doubt about where to keep walking. The hike is not really easy though. On the way to Hengifoss, you’re almost constantly hiking uphill, and at points you may be right near steep drop-offs. To get close to the main attraction, you will have to traverse a short but slippery slope that is very near the roaring river…and you’re just far enough above the river that it may cause some doubts. It’s definitely possible though, and that’s coming from someone that is rather cautious in these situations. Heading back, you’ve got that same obstacle. After clearing that, it’s all downhill, and you’ll see numerous sheep along the way too.

Once you reach the falls, though, you’ll be rewarded with the amazing Hengifoss! Its height is impressive. Even at a significant distance away, the falls stand out against the landscape. I spent a significant amount of time at the falls, though, taking photographs at every possible angle. The intense red layers sandwiched between the black basalt truly made for some cool shots. While there were some other hikers, Hengifoss was also just isolated enough that I was the only one near the falls, at least for a significant amount of time.

Note: If you wonder about clothing in Iceland, dress in layers. I visited in early June, and the weather was by no means terrible. As I was hiking up the hill toward the falls, though, the wind was intense and chilly. I was glad I had more than one layer on. Near the falls, the temperature actually begins to noticeably increase as you become sheltered by the cliffs around you.

Directions:

  1. I started out at Egilsstaðir. Head south along Ring Road 1 for a few kilometers.
  2. Veer right onto Road 931, and drive for something like 17 km.
  3. At this point, I got slightly confused. You will reach a junction.  Keep going on Road 931 across the bridge spanning the very wide river.
  4. A short distance after crossing the river, veer left onto Road 933. (It gets confusing, as Road 933 is also on the other side of the river, and they are connected, though it’s a rough, rough road.)
  5. Go just a kilometer or so to the parking area for Hengifoss. It’s pretty hard to miss, and will be on your right.
  6. From the parking area, follow the Hengifoss Track.

Accessibility: 4/10
Height: 420′
Length of Hike: 3.1 miles round-trip

Hengifoss in June 2012

Where in the World is Hengifoss?

Hundafoss, Iceland

Hundafoss in June 2012

If you’re looking for waterfalls in Iceland, the Ring Road is the best place to start.  The Ring Road encircles the island, and many waterfalls are located only a short distance from the road.  A significant number of these falls require little effort to visit.

Hundafoss does require a little more effort to visit, but not that much.  It is found in Vatnajökull National Park, which is an expansive national park covering a significant portion of Eastern Iceland. In the southern portion of the park, you will come across Skaftafell, which is right off of the Ring Road. From the visitor’s center at Skaftafell, you can take the right path to Skaftafelljökull, an impressive glacier.  If you take the left path (which is not very obvious), you’ll be heading toward a set of waterfalls.

There are at least three easily visible waterfalls along this trail, though I believe I’ve seen a fourth falls on other sites.  I’m just not sure where exactly it was, and I really didn’t spend any time searching.  The first falls you come across along the trail is Hundafoss.  It’s more impressive than one might imagine.  There is an “official” viewpoint for the falls near the crest, and that view is not particularly impressive.  But if you pay attention as you’re hiking uphill, you’ll suddenly hear water flowing, and if you look to your left, you might notice a rather well-worn detour trail that very quickly leads to a pretty impressive view of the falls.  You do have to duck down under a few trees, but it’s well worth it.  Two other falls are upstream Magnúsarfoss and Svartifoss.

Directions:

  1. The entrance to the park is at Skaftafell, which is found directly off of the ring road.  It is found east of Vík and west of Höfn.  There are scheduled buses that will take you to the park directly from Reykjavík.
  2. If you’re heading east along the Ring Road, the entrance will be found on your left.  Turn into road leading to the visitor’s center.
  3. Head to the visitor’s center, park, and get your bearings for a bit.  To your right is the glacier.  To your left is a path that leads to the set of falls.
  4. Head left on the trail.  Signs will indicate the trail to Svartifoss, which is the most popular of the three falls.
  5. Head uphill for a bit, and you may begin to hear water flowing.  Look for the unofficial trail to your left, and try and find the falls.  (If you head a little further up the trail, and you see the sign indicating Hundafoss near its crest, you can backtrack a short distance to find this other short trail.)

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate, There are some uphill, rocky portions)
Height: 82′
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip (though it’s more to Svartifoss)

Where in the World is Hundafoss?