The Grænihryggur-Green Ridge Hike goes through some magnificent landscapes and leads to one of the most unique formations in the Lamdnannalaugar area in the central Highlands of Iceland.
Grænihryggur – the green ridge or green backbone viewed from the trail.
Not that there aren’t enough unique formations in Landmannalaugar, but Grænihryggur (or the green ridge, or green backbone) is one of the most striking and recognisable ones. Its intense Emerald green colour, along with its shape, is hard to find in nature. It’s almost like a natural jewel set in the Landmannalaugar mountain range.
This is great hiking. The trail goes through a very pristine and beautiful area, and I would recommend it to expert hikers only. The hike is long and demanding, with a few steep sections and river crossings.
Grænihryggur in the distance (middle of the image), viewed from a section of the trail.
Local Adventure companies and Hiking guides also offer various tours to this location. If you are unfamiliar with the terrain or feel you do not have the necessary experience for this hike, I recommend joining one of those organised hikes.
How to Get to Grænihryggur-Green Ridge & Overview of the Hike
The trail I am describing here is marked by trail posts all the way to Grænihryggur, but the trailhead is not accessible directly from the Landmannalaugar camping ground; it is located along road f208 (GPS coordinate linked below).
There are other ways to get to Grænihryggur from the camping ground, but this hike is the shortest (17km) and the only marked trail.
- How to get to Grænihryggur & Parking: Even though there are a few different ways to get to Grænihryggur, the official and marked trailhead is on road f208, so it can be reached from both f208 north and south. To get there, you will need an f-road-worthy car. The parking area is here: 63.985379, -18.967098. Be aware that if you are coming from the f-208 south, you will need to cross several rivers with the car. No river crossings from the north side instead. If you are looking for car rental options, I can definitely recommend Blue Car Rental for cars and CampEasy for Camper Vans.
- Start of The Hike: the parking area on the side of road f208. You will see a small pullout area on the side of the road. That’s the parking. You will also see a trail post, a no camping and a no drones sign. That’s the trailhead.
- Photography & Scenery value: some of the finest views over the Landmannalaugar and one of its most unique formations.
- Hike Difficulty: Hard, expert hikers only. This hike includes river crossings. There may also be snow patches over rivers to cross. This was the case when I went on this hike in late July. If you prefer a guided tour, there are some available on Viator.
- Tip: Take all the time you need on this hike to soak in the views. This place is as unique as hard to get to—also, wading shoes and trekking poles. Depending on the water levels, you may need both.
The Grænihryggur-Green RidgeTrail
For the first hour or so, the trail will follow the central part of a small canyon where there may be snow patches to cross. These will require carefulness since there’s a river under them in places. On the other hand, the trail in this section is primarily flat or gains elevation very gradually and is never very steep. So this part is relatively easy.
Section of the trail in the first part of the hike.
After a short climb at the end of this section, you will reach the first ridge. You’ll get the first great views over the Landmannalaugar mountains. From that ridge, you’ll have to descend to the riverbed below. I’d recommend trekking poles here, as the ground is steep and soft.
View from the First ridge
Once you get to the riverbed, you will have to negotiate some river crossings. Depending on water levels, you may need to use wading shoes and help yourself with trekking poles. When I did this hike, water levels were relatively low, and I managed to cross the river in its shallowest parts with high-rise waterproof boots.
Once you cross the river, you will have to hike up to the next ridge, following the trail marks. More great views over the surrounding landscape. From there, the trail is primarily flat, except for one minor depression that, once crossed, will lead you to the viewpoint above Grænihryggur.
The last part of the trail
Once there, you can descend to the riverbed and, if possible, cross it to get to Grænihryggur. Here you have reached your destination. Do not step or walk on Grænihryguur itself.
You can also watch a short video of this hike on my YouTube channel or scroll down for more photos:
Photos and Photography Tips for the Grænihryggur-Green Ridge
On the Grænihryggur-Green Ridge Hike, you will find plenty of photo opportunities. In the classic Landmannalaugar style, you will come across various shapes and formations of different colors, mountains, and Canyons. In a way, even though it is the main destination, Grænihryggur is a bit like the icing on the cake of this spectacular hike.
You can bring all the lenses you have; anything from ultra-wide to Tele lenses will find its use here. As usual in Landmannalaugar, I have the most fun shooting tele, which allows the framing of specific details of this surreal and unique landscape. Drones are not allowed here – as you will see from the sign at the start of the trail.
Map of The Grænihryggur-Green Ridge Hike
Here is the map of the hike. You can download the GPX file from the Komoot activity:
Where to Stay
Considering how close the start of the hike is to Landammalaugar, the camping ground there would be the obvious choice. If you are coming from Landmannalaugar and have already spent a night or two there, you can continue to the Hólaskjól highland centre and spend the night there instead. The lodge has a camping ground, a few huts and sleeping bag accommodations.
However, there are several rivers to cross from Landmannalaugar to Hólaskjól. Ensure your AWD/4X4 rental car is allowed there, especially considering the insurance does not cover water damage to the vehicle.
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.