The Múlagljúfur Canyon a hike you don’t want to miss

Seriously, the Múlagljúfur Canyon is a hike you don’t want to miss. It is still a very pristine location, and it’s still untouched by mass tourism as no infrastructure has been built around it. You may expect to see trolls or elves popping out from behind a rock in a fairy-tale-like location like this one.

Múlagljúfur canyon hike view of the canyon from the main viewpoint - a hike you don't want to miss

Múlagljúfur canyon hike view of the canyon from the main viewpoint

Still, the Múlagljúfur Canyon has enjoyed growing popularity in recent years, and it can now get crowded up there in the middle of the day.

This does not take anything away from the beauty of this location. Whenever I hike there, I like to sit and soak in the views once I’m done with my photos. The magic of the place is still all there.

If you visit, be sure to leave no traces, or do now walk off the already visible paths on the moss. The place itself will inspire some reverence. Moreover, you will feel like entering one of Nature’s temples. Such is its beauty.

Also: don’t limit yourself to the classic viewpoint. You can hike up closer to Mulafoss, and the views are stunning all the way up there. If you decide to hike all the way to the top of the canyon, you will be rewarded with some really fantastic views. You wouldn’t want to miss views like these, would you?

Hangandifoss waterfall in the Múlagljúfur

The Hangandifoss Waterfall

View from the top of the Múlagljúfur Canyon

View from the top of the Múlagljúfur Canyon

In this post, I will describe both hikes; the shorter and the longer one. You’ll find the map of each one at the bottom of this post.

How to get to Múlagljúfur, Parking and Tips

  • How to get to Múlagljúfur and parking: The parking area can be accessed directly from the Ring Road. You will have to take a gravel road on your left (from the south) or on your right (from the north). No signs point to the canyon, so it can be easy to miss. Here are the coordinates of the gravel road: 63.988824, -16.395735. This usually is doable with any car.
  • Start of the Hike: The hike starts directly from the parking area. You will see a trail heading up the hill, which you can follow up to the canyon.
  • Photography & Scenery value: This place feels like straight out of a fantasy book or movie; compositions work well from many different vantage points over the canyon. Shooting the two waterfalls (Hangandifoss, the closer one, and Mulafoss, in the background) separately produces excellent results.
  • Hike Difficulty: easy to medium, depending on where you decide to end the Hike
  • Tip: This location does not work well in harsh sunlight for photography. Depending on the sun’s direction, the waterfall or part of the canyon may be in very dark shadow areas. Nonetheless, this is an amazing location to visit at any time of the day.

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

Overview of the Múlagljúfur Canyon Trail

As mentioned earlier, I will present two different versions of this hike.

  • The first one, shorter, will stop at the classic viewpoint I am sure you are familiar with.
  • The second, longer, will stop at the top of the Canyon, closer to the Mulafoss Waterfall.
The Mulafoss Waterfall at the end of the Múlagljúfur Canyon

The Mulafoss Waterfall at the end of the Múlagljúfur Canyon

Shorter Múlagljúfur Canyon hike

Distance Elevation gain Hike Time
3.86 Km. 180m 1.30 / 2.30 Hrs.

The canyon isn’t visible until you reach the vantage point on the ridge, but you can easily guess where it is by looking at the terrain.

From the Parking area, you can start heading uphill toward the only visible trail. Keep following that trail. It will, however, fork in several different ones. You can follow any of them unless you see stones blocking the path. That means the trail is closed.

After a bit, you will start to see some old trail posts. Follow them as that’s the “real” marked path.

Then, you will first reach the top of a small hill to descend into a gorge where you will have to cross a creek. depending on water levels, you should be able to jump from rock to rock without getting wet. Carefulness is required if there is frost, snow or ice.

After crossing the creek, you will need to ascend again on the next hill. You can follow the trail from here, and you will reach the top of the cliff, where the view will finally open up on the magical Canyon below.

The Múlagljúfur Canyon a hike you don't want to miss

Múlagljúfur canyon hike view of the canyon from the main viewpoint

Longer Múlagljúfur Canyon hike

Please note this distance includes the first part of the hike too:

Distance Elevation Gain Hike time (roundtrip)
5.77 KM. 410m 2.15/2.30 Hrs.

From the ridge, you will see a path leading further up the mountain. Keep following it. As you go past Hangandifoss, you will first reach a fantastic viewpoint over that waterfall. This is one that deserves a stop. The views over Hangandifoss really put this waterfall in the spotlight.

Hangandifoss waterfall in the Múlagljúfur canyon

Hangandifoss waterfall in the Múlagljúfur canyon

After this viewpoint, the trail will become slightly steeper, but the hike is relatively short. Be careful here, as it can be very slippery when wet. Personal experience. Yes, I did fall :).

Photographing the Múlagljúfur Canyon a hike you don’t want to miss – shorter hike

The obvious choice from the main viewpoint is the most classical composition, overlooking the Canyon from the ridge, framing the composition with the closest waterfall on the side and the one at the canyon’s centre in the background.

Mulagljufur Hike view of the canyon

Another view of the canyon

You may want to bring a Neutral Density filter to blur the water and a graduated filter to compensate for the sky if the daylight requires it.

Central part of the Múlagljúfur Canyon

Central part of the Múlagljúfur Canyon

From this viewpoint, however, you also get great views of the central part of the Canyon. This can give great depth to an image, adding to the sense of scale and perspective.

Central part of the Múlagljúfur Canyon

Central part of the Múlagljúfur Canyon

This is where photos of the first part of the hike would stop—next, pictures of the next section of the Hike.

Photographing the Múlagljúfur Canyon a hike you don’t want to miss – longer hike

If you keep going all the way to the top of the Canyon, you will be rewarded with the best views of Hangandifoss. This is also a part of the Múlagljúfur Canyon a hike that you don’t want to miss.

I honestly think Hangandifoss alone is an underrated and under-shoot waterfall. Sure, it’s always part of the main composition, but it is also a great attraction as a “stand-alone” waterfall. And a very photogenic one.

Hangandifoss waterfall in the Múlagljúfur

The Hangandifoss Waterfall

Hangandifoss waterfall in the Múlagljúfur canyon

Another view of Hangandifoss.

The Hangandifoss waterfall

View towards the entrance of the canyon.

At the top, the waterfalls are kind of hidden, but nonetheless, the views are amazing.

View from the top of the Múlagljúfur Canyon

View from the top of the Múlagljúfur Canyon

Top of the Múlagljúfur Canyon, view towards the entrance of the Canyon

Top of the Múlagljúfur Canyon, view towards Mulafoss.

Monochrome also suits this location. For example, the last time I was there, I experimented with infrared filters and was pretty pleased with the result. But, again, focusing on each subject worked better than the classic wide landscape approach to the composition for this type of shooting.

Mulagljufur Canyone

View over the Hangandifoss Waterfall

Mulagljufure hike view over the Canyon

The Canyon with the waterfall Mulafoss in the Background. Infrared Shot.

I recommend you experiment with compositions further and different imaging approaches as I believe this location still has much potential, photographically speaking.

Additionally, don’t use a drone here: this area is part of the Vatnajökull National Park, where flying drones is not allowed unless you have obtained special permission. Besides, it is highly stressful for the many birds in the Canyon.

A note on composition

Lastly, I’d like to spend a couple of additional words on why the classic composition works well and why it is such a pleasant sight.

The two waterfalls fall almost precisely in the two vertical thirds of the image. So as the eye enters the picture from the top left, it will hit the waterfall in the background first, and the canyon will naturally lead the eye down to the second waterfall. From there, it will come back to the first waterfall again.

Mulagljufur compositional structure

The natural flow of elements within the image

This makes the image an ensemble of elements that is usually difficult to find in nature. But, compositionally speaking, it’s probably as close to perfect as it gets :)!

Still, there are plenty of other amazingly scenic views this canyon offers.

Video of the Hike

Lastly, here is also a short video of this hike all the way to the top of the Canyon.

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Map of the Hike

Here are the maps of the shorter and longer hikes from the parking area. If you need a GPS track, you can download the .GPX file from the Komoot activity.

Shorter hike

Longer hike

Where to Stay

The closest option is the Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon. There are several other Hotels and accommodations in the Vatnajokull area.

Alternatively, you can also consider the Skaftafell Park camping I stayed there several times, and I can recommend it. Good facilities and there’s a food truck.

Additional Resources

Car or Camper Van Rentals

I can definitely recommend two companies here:

  • Cars: Blue Car Rental, (5% discount booking through The Photo Hikes) which is the largest Car rental company in Iceland, and for good reasons. Free Cancellation, Unlimited mileage, 24-hour breakdown 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.

Do you have a question or your own experience to share? Let us know in the comments below!