Falls on Laxá í Kjós, Icleand

Let me first of all say that I’m not sure whether Laxá í Kjós refers to a river or a locale, or possibly both.  If you search for this, it appears to be a very popular river for salmon fishing.  I wasn’t intending to even find this smaller waterfall.  I just happened to stumble upon when avoiding the Hvalfjörður Tunnel.  I was in search of other larger waterfalls including Sjavarfoss and Glymur, which are both further along Road 47.

If you are driving along Road 47, which parallels Hvalfjörður, it is rather difficult to miss this waterfall.  (There may be a larger waterfall upstream.)  Even though there was no official pull-off point, the road wasn’t particularly traveled, and it was very easy to stop along the side of the road.  I didn’t explore much, but took enough time to absorb the beautiful landscape surrounding me.  Even though there are a significant number of more intense waterfalls on the island, this smaller one really allows you to focus on the features surrounding the waterfall and river.

Directions:

  1. From the Ring Road (Road 1) coming from Reykjavík, take a right onto Road 47.  (It might actually be a roundabout at that point.)  Your other option, if you’re not looking for waterfalls,  is to continue along the Ring Road, bypassing Road 47.  Road 47 leads to the two other waterfalls listed above, and you can’t really view them without taking this “detour”.
  2. After a ways, the road will become unpaved (but possible to drive).   Just before Road 47 meets Road 48 (which will be to your right), you will cross over Laxá í Kjós.  It’s not really a bridge you’re crossing in the conventional sense, as the road stays level as it crosses over the river.  It’s pretty impossible to miss the falls unless you’re staring it some other direction.

Accessibility: 10/10
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: not applicable (roadside)

The falls on Laxá í Kjós (June 2012)

Where in the World is Laxá í Kjós?

Glymur, Iceland

Glymur in June 2012

It’s taken me a while to get to writing about the waterfalls I’ve visited in Iceland, considering that I visited this falls, for example, almost two weeks ago.  But I’m finally getting around to it…

I’m starting with Glymur for a number of reasons.  First of all, it is a really impressive waterfall, and at about 640′, it is likely the tallest waterfall in Iceland.  Second, though, is that things seem to have changed very recently, at least in terms of the hike to the falls.  In Iceland, roads that are unpaved can only a short time later be paved, and signs can appear where none were before.

You’ll have to go out of your way to get to Glymur.  The drive around Hvalfjörður (instead of under it) is rather enjoyable, though it wasn’t very warm the day I visited the area.  Once you find the sign indicating the road to the falls, you have a journey down a rather bumpy, unpaved road, but it’s not terribly long, and only about 1 mile of it is very bumpy. (It can be done in a 2-WD car without any problem.)

I arrived at the parking area, and I was the only one there at that point, though it was relatively early.  It was amazingly peaceful, and you’re unlikely to find many other attractions in Iceland with so few people.  Previous guides have indicated that there are no signs indicating the direction to the falls, but that has now changed.  There are at least two signs indicating the correct trail to follow to the falls, and they’re not rinky-dinky little signs.  This helps greatly, and cuts down on the confusion.  If you’re unsure, though, looking for rocks with yellow paint on them. That indicates where the trail is, and further reduces the confusion.

After some ways, you’ll climb down through a cave, which is pretty cool, and not nearly as freaky as it sounds.  You’ll then hike a short distance, and cross the river Botnsá.  There is a log, along with a sturdy metal wire, to help you cross the river.  Again, it’s nowhere near as difficult as it sounds, though you will feel like an acrobat for a bit.

Then you start an upward climb.  How far up you climb depends on what you want to see and how daring you are.  Ropes and/or metal wire is present in many places to assist you along the sometimes slippery slopes.  At some point along the journey, you’ll begin to see the “whole” falls, though even that depends on where you stand.  I’ve seen pictures that people have obtained by hiking/climbing much higher, but this requires a love of heights that I don’t possess.  At least at some point along this upward journey, you can see a “glimmer” of the whole falls, which are really impressive.

There do seem to be paths that lead further up, and I did not explore those.  One of those might lead to better views, but be careful.  There also seems to be a trail that does not require going through the cave or crossing the river, but it is not clearly marked if it exists, and the views are apparently not as good.

Directions:

  1. If you’re headed from Reykjavik, head north on the Ring Road (Route 1).  Just before the Hvalfjörður tunnel, you’ll see a sign indicating Road 47.  Take a right onto Road 47.
  2. Drive along Road 47 for a ways.  Along the road, you’ll pass another waterfall, Sjávarfoss.
  3. After driving about 34 km and crossing a paved bridge, you should almost immediately see a blue sign indicating the road to Glymur.  Turn right.
  4. Drive for about 3 km to the end of the parking area.  It can be a bumpy ride, so drive slowly.
  5. Start the hike to the trail.  Follow the signs and the yellow rocks to guide you.  If you pass through the cave and cross the river, you’ll know you’re headed in the right direction.

Accessibility: 3/10 (moderate/difficult…it’s by no means terrible, but this hike does require some agility)
Height: 640′
Legnth of Hike: 3.1 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Glymur?