Hvítserkur, or the Troll of the Northwest is a basalt rock stack 15 m high located on the shores of the Vatnsnes peninsula in North Iceland. And, if you look at it, it is not very difficult to see why this beautiful rock formation earned the status of Troll.
Hvítserkur, or the Troll of the Northwest
As with several rock formations around Iceland, according to the local folklore, Hvítserkur is a petrified two, caught in place by the first light of the morning.
In reality, Hvítserkur is what remains of an eroded Volcanic dyke – an underground intrusion of magma in between layers of cracked ground. Either way, the origin of this beautiful rock is equally fascinating.
On top of that, this location also offers a beach where you can walk and, if you’re lucky spot seals – for which it is a known location.
Also, did you know? The base of the sea troll was reinforced with concrete to keep it safe from erosion and prevent collapse.
Overview of the Hvítserkur Hike & Map
While this is a rather short hike, you can make it as long as you want by either walking along the beach or in the area around the viewing platform.
I did it as a short loop hike to try both trails that lead down to the beach, but you can take either one of those, considering the one by the platform is quite steep and may not be suitable for all.
Here is also the map of this short hike:
How to get to Hvítserkur, Troll of the Northwest, and Parking
While Hvítserkur is not directly accessible from Road 1, the detour is short enough to make it worth it. It’d almost all on a gravel road, but it is suitable for any 2WD cars as well. Beware of potholes though.
If you are looking for car rental options, I can recommend Blue Car Rental for cars (5% discount through The Photo Hikes) and CampEasy for Camper Vans.
- Driving Directions: 25km drive on a gravel road on Vatnsnesvegur. just keep following the road until you see the road sign pointing to Hvitserkur on your right.
- Parking: free, relatively wide parking, easily accessible from Vatnsnesvegur
- Public Transport: no public transportation options to this relatively remote location.
The Hvítserkur Troll of the Northwest Trail
There are a couple of trails you can take to get down to the seashore. As you leave the parking area you will first have to walk on a flat, easy gravel path that will lead you to a wooden viewing platform, which is the main Hvítserkur observation point.
The start of the gravel path that leads to the viewing platform.
The Observation point. You can see the top of Hvitserkur in the background.
The Hvitserkur beach and the warning sign – the path by the platform m is steep and can be slippery.
The trail down to the beach while short, is steep and has a lot of small lose rocks
From there you can walk down the steep and slippery trail to the beach. If you are a hiker used to steep trails this short trail won’t be a problem. If you are not used to that kind of terrain, you would need to backtrack to the parking area and take the easier, less steep trail down to the beach from there. You can see both in the map of my hike linked above.
Lastly, If you want to visit at low tide to get closer to the rock, you may want to check the tide charts first. Hvítserkur is 50 meters offshore, so you can get close to it at high tide.
The Hike Photos and Photography tips
In terms of photography, there is plenty in the area. I am not referring just to the rock itself, but also to the surroundings.
First of all, there are several compositional choices from either the viewing platform or its surroundings or down at the beach. Personally, this is a location that inspires me with some type of minimal, long-exposure, cold-tones photography.
Hvítserkur, 35mm, 92 seconds exposure taken with a 10 stops ND filter.
Also, I’d recommend looking for the small “iron-red” creek behind the platform as it offers a good alternative frame and composition.
14mm exposure taken with a .9 stops filter.
Down at the beach compositions may be limited by the tide, less at high tide, and more choice at low tide. Still, a high tide will be better for long exposure, and a low tide is better for catching some reflections or different foregrounds.
14mm, 13 seconds exposure taken with a 6 stops ND filter.
24mm, 13 seconds exposure taken with a 6 stops ND filter.
Lastly, bring a telephoto if you can. Zooming in on some of the details of the Skagi peninsula across the fjords can reveal beautiful, hidden landscapes. That will also be helpful if you are planning to do some wildlife or take photos of seals in the area (which I was unlucky enough to never spot on three different occasions).
200mm photo of the Skagi Peninsula across the fjord
Where to stay
While there isn’t much around here there are a couple of guesthouses you can stay at. The Ósar Hostel is the closest one. The Hotel Hvitserkur, on the way to this location is also a great option (it’s where stated on one occasion).
I find this a great location as the first or last stop of the day. I have visited three times and it was either at sunset or sunrise. It makes sense to be here early or late to avoid the crowds and catch their best morning or late afternoon light. Or enjoy the quiet and silence this location can offer.