Hiking to the 2023 Fagradalsfjall Volcano Eruption, Litli-Hrútur
Yet another eruption; the Fagradalsfjall Volcano is erupting again in 2023 for the third year in a row – this also means more hiking on the way, since the new location is even farther than the two previous eruptions.
Archive image of the 2022 eruption.
If you could not make it to the previous two eruptions in the Reykjanes peninsula, this is maybe another chance to see an erupting volcano.
After the first 24 hours after the start of the eruption, the site was opened to the public; there is an official path to a new viewpoint, Path E (Meradalaleið, initially called Path D) to Hraunselsvatnsfell, which is a small mountain overlooking the site of the eruption.
Many also hike Path A, but as we’ll see later, you cannot see the eruption from there without entering the hazard zone, which is technically prohibited.
Drone Shot of the 2023 Litli-Hrútur Eruption
Keep in mind however that while the trail is now open, it could be closed with little to no notice if the conditions require it. For instance, it was closed again after a couple of days, only to reopen on Monday the 17th of August.
Also, from July 22nd, the trails will be open only until 6 pm, this usually means you can get in until 6 pm, but you may be asked to leave the area. It happened to me as I was asked to leave at 8 pm.
The site usually reopens at 9 am the following day and a police car will be guarding the entrance of the parking lots during closures.
Update: please note the eruption has ended. While there no longer are restrictions on the opening hours, the hazard zone is still in place.
Safety measures for the 2023 Fagradalsfjall eruption
If you are going to the eruption, safety comes first. Yes, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but it still is a natural disaster. Take great care out there. Hiking to the 2023 Fagradalsfjall Volcano Eruption is no walk in the park.
I saw quite a few people fall and get injured at both the 2021 and 2022 eruptions. The terrain there can be difficult, and do not enter the danger zone (you will see signs from the police).
Also, there are a few potentially hazardous things to be aware of:
- Toxic gasses, which can accumulate in lower areas, especially in low winds
- New fissures potentially opening
- The possibility of rockfalls due to the recent, strong earthquakes.
- Cool, hardened lava may suddenly break and release fast-flowing lava.
Smoke from Wildfires and Gases in the Hazard zone of the Eruption. The Mountain is Keilir.
Be sure to check the gas dispersion forecast. It goes without saying, hopefully, do not walk on fresh lava!
Also, since the eruption is in its very early stages, new fissures may open up, potentially trapping people in between. So although the eruption site is now open, it does not mean it is entirely safe to be there. So watch out and stay Safe.
Lastly, just use common sense and you will have a blast!
Path E and A: Hiking Trail and Map to the 2023 Fagradalsfjall Volcano Eruption by Litli-Hrútur
This time the eruption happened by Litli-Hrútur, a 312m high hill north of the previous eruption in Meradalir.
As mentioned above, an official path has now been opened, Path E leading to a viewpoint above the eruption, Hraunselsvatnsfell. The closest Parking is P2, and this is the only official and safest trail to view the eruption.
There are no trails to the new eruption from either the original Path A or Path B. You may have seen people standing on Litli-Hrútur on the webcam, but that is actually in the middle of the Hazard zone and not actually allowed to get there. Respect that, please :)
Back to the trail; Before setting out, remember this is a very long hike. At almost 18km for the roundtrip, it will take experienced hikers 5/6 hours to complete. Although the trail is mostly flat the ground is not the easiest to walk on. Lots of rocks, sandy and slippery terrain.
Make sure you can safely complete the hike before heading out. You should probably plan to stay out 6/7 hours in most cases.
Hikers checking the map of the eruption site
Litli-Hrútur: Path E Hike from Parking P2 to Hraunselsvatnsfell
The official option from P2 partly follows a dirt track that was used by the local authorities and SAR teams to get to the previous eruption site. Parking costs 1000 ISK per car. You can pay with the Parka App.
Here’s the full map to the Trail E viewpoint from P2. This is from my hike. It took me almost 5 hours but I did the hike at a rather sustained pace and only spent a little time there due to the smoke and gasses.
Feel free to download the GPX file from the activity below. Here you can also see where each photo was taken. Please note that some are drone shots.
The trail is a little longer than the previous one at almost 18km roundtrip. It is entirely flat, but you have the option to get to a small hill overlooking the eruption and the lava field. I also recorded a video of the hike, here it is if you prefer to see that
The viewpoint of the Litli-Hrútur eruption.
The trail then leaves the dirt road to go through a burn lava field and this is not the easiest going.
Trail E is marked with blue trail marks.
The Eruption Volcano from Trail E.
You will then reach a point marked by the No entry-hazard zone signs. the trail ends there, with a view of the current active vent of the eruption.
View of the erupting Volcano from the Trail E endpoint. 200mm shot.
Again, before setting out check the latest news and trail conditions on the Visit Reykjanes Website. and on safetravel.is. The trail may be closed or be changed with little to no notice and always follow ICE-SAR recommendations.
Litli-Hrútur: Path A Hike from Parking P1
As mentioned in the introduction, It is technically possible to reach the eruption site via Path A. The VisitReykjanes website also advertises this option, saying Path A can also be hiked to the eruption site. It is more difficult.
With this information, I also hike Path A, assuming that if the local tourist board advertises this path too, I would be able to get to the eruption site without entering the hazard zone. Wrong.
If you hike path A, you will enter the marked hazard zone at the 2022 eruption site, Meradalir. From there, it’s another 2.5 km to get a view of the Volcano.
Entering the hazard zone of the Fagradalsfjall 2023 eruption. no view of the volcano yet.
So the situation is a bit misleading, with the tourist board advertising Path A as a viable option for the eruption site, while you need to enter the Hazard zone to see the volcano. Which, again, is technically closed to all traffic. As you can see the Path is much longer and much more difficult compared to Path E. Please note: I am not recommending entering the Hazard zone, I am just reporting what I observed on the field after having read Path A was an option too.
Fagradalfjall Volcano Tours & Helicopter Tours
If you prefer to get a private guide, join a tour, or even book a flyover by helicopter, there are several activities available to choose from, on either Get Your Guide or Viator.
Given the opportunity, a volcano helicopter flyover would be a dream activity and a great occasion to take some unique photos.
Photos and Photography Tips of the 2023 Fagradalsfjall Volcano Eruption by Litli-Hrútur.
Since it is not possible to get too close to the volcano for obvious reasons, you will definitely need a telephoto lens. My focal range goes up to 200mm, 300mm would probably be ideal.
Drones help though. It is possible to fly drones here but make sure there are no helicopters or small planes around. In any case best to fly as low as possible, to be on the safe side. Most of my drone shots were taken at an altitude of 40 to 80 meters.
The ideal time of the day provided the trail is open, would be between the golden hour to the blue hour. So from one hour before sunset to one hour after. This is when the lava is the most visible and glows best. Unfortunately, this is no longer possible since will be closing at 6 pm. Later in the year perhaps, when the sun sets earlier, if the eruption will still be going on.
Also, there will be plenty of great subjects and scenes to photograph; it is as close to a post-apocalyptic location as it can get!
Drone Shot of the 2023 Litli-Hrútur Eruption
The Active vent with Keilir in the background
View of the erupting Volcano from the Trail E endpoint.
Dust Devil on the lava filed.
Hiker in the hazard zone. Don’t!
The beautiful Mt. Keilir.
Essentials Tips for the Hike to the Eruption by Litli-Hrútur
Last but not least, here are a few, essential additional safety tips:
- Always check whether the hiking trails are open to the public before heading there. Authorities will occasionally close the trails due to bad weather or maintenance/improvements to the existing trails.
- Listen to the local authorities and SAR’s advice. The SAR team has been doing an amazing job at keeping people safe and helping those who needed. Listen to them.
- Check the Gas dispersion forecast and the weather forecast before heading out. Avoid the area if the wind is blowing gases onto the trail or if bad weather is forecasted during the time you plan to visit. The Gas dispersion forecast can be checked here and the weather forecast here.
- Wear proper hiking gear, sturdy boots and use hiking poles. The trail goes over rugged terrain and is steep and slippery in places. Especially if it’s been raining.
- Bring a headlamp, especially if you go there late in the afternoon. Time will fly while watching the eruption and days are getting shorter and shorter. At this latitude, they also get shorter much faster.
- Bring a battery pack for your mobile. You will probably spend 6/7 hours out at the eruption, taking a lot of photos and videos and your battery is probably going to drain quickly. Always make sure to have a charged mobile and battery pack with you.
- Bring layers of warm clothes, gloves, and a beanie. While the fresh lava provides some heat from afar, it is cold, and with the Windchill, it’s even colder.
- Take more than enough water and food with you. You will want to refuel during the hike. Time will fly by watching the eruption.
- Do not walk or try to step on the Lava! This may sound obvious, but it is not, sadly. This also applies to the lava from the 2021 and 2022 Eruptions. the older Laval fields can still release toxic gasses and may collapse.
Lava flowing – the blue hour is the best time of the day to watch it. Archive shot from the 2022 Eruption.
Where to find updated information on the 2023 Fagradalsfjall Eruption
In any case, information on Hiking to the 2023 Fagradalsfjall Volcano Eruption is going to get outdated quickly. Make sure to check the latest updates on the following websites in case you are not familiar with them already:
- Cars: I can recommend Blue Car Rental, which is the largest Car rental company in Iceland, and for good reasons. The price includes Free Cancellation, Unlimited mileage, 24-hour breakdown assistance, SCDW, CDW, TP, and GP insurance, and more. 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. if you book through The Photo Hikes, you also get a 5% discount for all bookings made in July and August 2023!
- Camper Vans: CampEasy. With CampEasy, you can rent 2WD or 4×4 campers alike. If you prefer an off-the-grid vacation, they offer both 2wd and 4×4 campers suitable for most Highland roads.