Hike to Nauthúsagil and Nauthúsafoss, Iceland

The Hike to Nauthúsagil and Nauthúsafoss is a short hike that’s a bit of an adventure. Nauthúsagil is a narrow gorge, and it’s possible to hike it upstream to a couple of beautiful hidden waterfalls. There’s a feeling of discovery and magic when hiking upstream to the two beautiful waterfalls. It’s one of those locations with a bit of a “fantasy” or Game of Thrones” touch.

If you are driving along the Ring Road and plan to stop by Seljalandsfoss, I’d highly recommend you take the short detour to the Nauthúsagil trailhead. The drive to the trailhead is less than 10 minutes, and the roundtrip hike will take less than half an hour. You definitely will not regret the stop!

Also, while the hike is easy, carefulness is required due to slippery rocks and a short section where you’d need to pull yourself up with the aid of a fixed chain. Sadly, I’ve seen people doing this hike in mocassins, but I highly recommend hiking shoes or boots with a good grip here.

Hike to Nauthúsagil and Nauthúsafoss in a hidden narrow gorge with a waterfall

Hiking upstream in the Canyon.

Table of Contents

Overview of the Hike to Nauthúsagil and Nauthúsafoss

Max Altitude  148 m
Distance  1,62  KM
Elevation gain  ↑ 60 m  / ↓ 60 m
Hike time  20 / 40 Mins
Hike Difficulty  Easy, but carefulness is required due to slippery rocks and creeks crossings.

How to get to Nauthúsagil and Nauthúsafoss

  • Driving Directions: From Seljalandsfoss, keep driving on road 249 north until the road turns to gravel. Keep following the road until you see a wide parking area on your right. The Nauthúsagil parking is here.
  • Parking: free ample parking available at the trailhead.

If you are looking for car rental options, I can definitely recommend Blue Car Rental for cars and CampEasy for Camper Vans.

Tip: if you can, visit early or late in the day. There can be quite some people here during the day, and you may need to queue to climb to the last bit.

The Nauthúsagil and Nauthúsafoss hiking trail

You will see a trail leading into a gorge from the parking area. Keep following it until you reach the small creek. Here you have two options. Either cross the creek and hike up around the stream to descend into the gorge later or follow the creek upstream. I usually follow the creek upstream.

Hike to Nauthúsagil and Nauthúsafoss, trailehad in a green field

The path at the beginning of the hike

Creek in iceland with a board to cross it

Turn here to go around the first part of the creek.

Creek in a gorge in Iceland

…or continue upstream into the gorge.

Borad crossking a creek in iceland on the Hike to Nauthúsagil and Nauthúsafoss

A very unstable and rotten boardwalk. You can cut this out by taking the detour around the Canyon.

Once into the Canyon, your main goal apart from the waterfalls will be to stay dry. You’d need to jump around on rocks not to get your feet wet unless you have waterproof boots. In that case, you will likely be able to plough through the creek like a boss :).

You will first reach a small waterfall. Here you will have to cross the creek to the left. You will find a chain to hang on to and climb above the first Waterfall. This is the most challenging part, mainly because the rocks are very wet, and you’d need to balance yourself on a narrow ledge. The Waterfall is probably a little less than two meters (or three feet) tall, so it is bigger than it looks in photos.

Once you are above the first Waterfall, it is just a short walk to Nauthúsafoss. Depending on the water levels, it may be possible to get into the last bit next to the Waterfall. It wasn’t the two times I was there, though.

Waterfall in Nauthusagil a narrow gorge in Iceland

To the left, the chain you’d have to hang on to move further and climb up above the Waterfall.

Photos and Photography tips for Nauthúsagil and Nauthúsafoss

This is a very photogenic location but somewhat hard to photograph. The first Waterfall, compositionally, requires a wide angle but makes the Waterfall really small. You’d have to play around with millimetric compositions to find one that works. What you can do will also depend on water levels. The first Waterfall will also require either blending multiple exposures or an HRD. There’s just too much contrast in the scene, even when cloudy.

Store your gear in your backpack when climbing to the second Waterfall, as the rocks are very slippery, and the risk of getting wet is real. The second Waterfall, Nauthúsafoss, is somewhat easier to photograph; depending on the camera, one exposure may be enough.

Bring a tripod and some filters, i.e. a polarizer. Regardless, this is a fun location to shoot at, especially if you, like me, love shooting waterfalls..which you most likely do if you landed here :)

Nauthusagil, a small creek in a narrow gorge in Iceland

The small creek in the gorge.

Flowing water in the Nauthusagil gorge in Iceland.

View from above the first step of the Waterfall.

Waterfall in a Gorge in celand in Nauthusagil.

Another composition from the first step of the Waterfall.

Nauthúsafoss a waterfall in a hidden gorge on the Nauthúsagil trail

Nauthúsafoss, the last beautiful Waterfall at the end of the gorge.

Map of the Nauthúsagil Hike

Here is the map of the hike. This does not require a GPS track, but if you want to, you can download the GPS file directly from the Komoot activity below:

Where to Stay

There are several accommodations and a campsite around Seljalandsfoss. I have just one recommendation here. If looking for accommodations in the area, Booking.com may suggest locations in Thórsmörk, like the Volcano huts. If you see that nearby recommendation, don’t go there. There’s a very deep and dangerous river to cross, the Krossa River, that is only possible with either a SuperJeep or one of the Highland buses.

Otherwise, this is a stop that can be easily integrated into any Rind road itinerary before hopping on to the next stop.

Additional Resources

Car or Camper Van Rentals

I can definitely recommend two companies here:

  • Cars: Blue Car Rental, which is the largest Car rental company in Iceland, and for good reasons. Free Cancellation, Unlimited mileage, 24-hour break assistance, SCDW, CDW, TP, and GP insurance are included in the price. Blue Car Rental is also located within walking distance of the Keflavik Airport, so you can be on your way to explore Iceland right away. I’ve always been happy with my rentals there, which is why I’m happy to recommend their services here on my blog.
  • Camper Vans: CampEasy. With CampEasy, you can rent 2WD or 4×4 campers alike. With a raised Chassis, larger tires, and extra insurance with reduced liability for river crossing, their 4X4 campers are the best choice for your trip into the Highlands. Their Website also provides extensive information about roads you can take and instructions on river crossings. Perfect choice for a hiking holiday in the highlands!

These are my two favorite companies in each respective rental area, which I why I am happy to recommend both here. If you also like this blog, booking through them is a great way to support it. I’ll get a small commission fee at no additional cost, so you can essentially support the running costs of this blog for free too.