The Strútsfoss Hike, East Iceland

Strutsfoss (Strútsfoss) is a beautiful and hidden waterfall in the east of Iceland that can only be reached on a short hike. it is actually one of the tallest waterfalls in Iceland, actually the third-tallest one, at a total height of 120m split in two steps (20 and 100m).

Strutsfoss viewed from the endpoint of the Hike on a cloudy day

Strutsfoss on a cloudy and foggy day.

This beautiful waterfall is located in Suðurdalur near the Sturluflöt, in the East of Iceland. It is a relatively remote location, and the trailhead is at the bottom of a dead-end road. Still, it is an accessible location, suitable for any 2WD passenger car, so it is a good location for anyone to experience some of the magic Icelandic landscapes far from the crowds.

Strutsfoss is similar to Hengifoss in some aspects, due to the red layers in the cliffs, and it’s actually not too far from it either. So if you are planning a hike to Hengifoss and are into waterfalls, you should add Strútsfoss to your itinerary. It should not be too challenging to combine both hikes in one day.

Strutsfoss waterfall falling in the canyon around it.

The waterfall and both of its steps, the upper (20m) and the lower (100m).

Table of Contents

Overview of the Strútsfoss Hike

The Strútsfoss Hiking trail is an easy one, suitable for all skill levels. No steep, exposed, or difficult passages along the way.

Max Altitude  300 m
Distance  7.53 KM
Elevation gain  270 m ↑ / 270 m ↓
Hike time  01:30 / 02:00  Hours
Hike Difficulty  Easy
Information board about Strutsfoss with photos and a map of the hike

The info point at the trailhead.

How to get to Strútsfoss and Parking

As mentioned in the introduction, this is quite a remote location, despite being easily accessible

  • Driving Directions: as of 2023, you won’t be able to get there using either Google Maps or Apple Maps. You’ll be able to do it the old-fashioned, with either a paper map, asking for directions (if you find anyone in the area), or just following your instinct :)! Ok jokes aside, it’s not that difficult to find, but it will feel as if you’re getting lost. It’s a long detour from the Ring Road. You’d have to take first road 931, same as for Hengifoss, and drive until its end past the bridge until the road turns into toad 935. it’s a dead-end road. I’ve been there twice, and twice I felt like I was on the wrong road. I was not. It takes about 30-40 minutes to drive from Hengifoss to the Strutsfoss trailhead.
  • Parking: there is a relatively small parking area by the trailhead. It can probably fit 7-8 normal cars in total, but I doubt you’ll find it full. Parking is free. It’s here on Google Maps. But again, despite that, you won’t get directions from Google Maps.
  • Public Transport: no public transportation options. Not even paid tours, as far as I am aware.
The very well marked trailhead of strutsfoss on a sunny day

A very well marked trailhead.

The Strútsfoss Trail

The trail is well-marked and easy to follow. The first part is more of an old countryside road, almost all the way to the main lookout above the Canyon Strútsfoss falls into. As you follow the yellow trail marks, you will slowly gain elevation, following the course of the Strútsgil River upstream first.

Part of the trail actually appears to be an old dirt road rather than a hiking trail. Probably used by farmers to access the nearby fields. However, as you hike further into the canyon the trail will become a proper hiking trail.

Icelandic landscape in the east with a trail in the foreground.

First part of the trail; you can see the top of Strutsfoss in the centre to the left.

Soon enough you should start seeing the top of the waterfall and its first step until you reach the main viewpoint, which is the end of this hike. Here you will be able to see this magnificent waterfall in all its glory. The Strutsgil canyon is also really beautiful.

For those who want to leave a mark here, there is a tube with a logbook inside!

Tube with a logbook at the end of the Strutsfoss trail

End of the trail, with the tube containing the logbook

I spent a good two hours at this location just enjoying it taking photos and generally the silence and tranquility this location has to offer, and haven’t seen a single soul each time I’ve visited. Definitely, I’d recommend taking your time to enjoy this location before hitting the road again.

One last note, there appears to be an unmarked trail that circles up above the waterfall and across the Strútsgil river, in a loop that allows you to see both sides of the waterfall. I had the intention to do it the second time I visited this location, but there was such a thick fog that it was pointless to even try. A good excuse to be back another time I guess :)!

View of the waterfall Strutsfoss in Iceland at the end of the hiking trail.

View of Strutsfoos from the main lookout at the end of the trail. Photo taken at 24mm.

The Strútsfoss Hike Photos and Photography Tips

The waterfall and its canyon are impressive and definitely make for stunning landscape photography subjects. Personally, I did not manage to capture any photos that made this waterfall justice. Such is photography, sometimes you never get the shot you want.

Strutsfoss, a waterfall in iceland, in late spring wit still some snow and ice around it

Strutsfoss not catching the morning light :).

However, taking photos of this waterfall from the main lookout does have some limitations. The first one is the perspective and compositional options. These are quite limited because there is only one good lookout, but the waterfall is still very far. This does not allow for much room for compositional variance.

The second one is related to the light at this location. Due to its position, the waterfall gets relatively little light during the day. If you want to catch it in direct sunlight, best to plan it with some tools using SunCalc or Google Earth. Otherwise, it makes a good location for cloudy days, where the contrast won’t be so harsh if the waterfall is in the shadows.

Strutsfoss with snow on a early morning in late spring

Waterfall and canyon in Iceland barely visit ble through the clouds

I’d definitely recommend having a telephoto lens here, up to 200mm; as mentioned the waterfall is quite far. On the wide side of the focal length, 24mm FF equivalent should be more than enough. I’ve only used focal lengths between 24mm and 20omm here. I’ve found the 70-200mm to be the most useful, both to capture the waterfall as well as other features scattered around the valley.

Strutsfoss and the Strutsgil canyon in the cloud and green lush vegetation

Strutsfoss and the Strutsgil canyon

Dark image of a waterfall in the Strutsgil canyon, surrounded by clouds on a foggy day.

A nice little waterfall on the other side of the canyon (200mm)

Waterfall in the fog

Another smaller waterfall on the Strutsgil canyon

Cliffs of the Strutsgil canyon in the fog.

Details of the beautiful cliffs of the Strutsgil canyon

Lastly, It’s not possible to fly drones here. Strútsfoss is within the boundaries of the Vatnajökull National Park, where flying drones is prohibited (unless you have been granted special permission by the Park).

Map of the Strútsfoss Hike

Here is the map of the hike. A GPS isn’t really needed since the trail is well-marked and easy to follow. However, you may find it useful to get to the trailhead.

Where to stay

There isn’t anything in the immediate vicinities of the trailhead. The best options in the area are a few campsites, guesthouses, or Cabins further back in the Hengifoss area. If you are looking for more amenities, then it’s best to stop at Egilsstaðir.

Additional Resources