The Valahnúkur hike in Thórsmörk – Iceland
The Valahnúkur hike in Thórsmörk is a short hike with spectacular views over the surrounding glaciers, mountains, valleys and rivers. Here the eyes can roam free through the vast landscape, where the light and the fast-changing weather often offer unique conditions for landscape photography.
If you are visiting Thórsmörk, the Valahnúkur hike should be on your list. Not only is the hike relatively short and easy, but you can also easily combine it on your way to or from other locations.
View from the top, looking southwest.
During my four-day stay in Thórsmörk, I hiked up Valahnúkur on three occasions. Two as individual hikes and one on my way back from a much longer hike.
The first hike was immersed in fog. Not an awesome start to be honest. As soon as I left camp, a thick fog engulfed Valahnúkur. I still hiked up there, hoping for a break in the mist, but I didn’t get lucky. Here’s what it looked like:
Foggy view from the top of Valahnúkur.
The second hike was a bit better but still not what I had hoped for. But hey, at least I had a view!
View from the top
At last, I got a proper light show on the third hike – more on that below in the Photo section.
View from the top, looking southwest.
Bad weather’s not uncommon in this corner of Iceland. So I stayed three nights here to get all the hiking opportunities I could and to make sure I was covered in the event of bad weather.
In the end, three nights felt a bit too much on a two weeks trip. Still, I could get all the hiking I had planned for. So if you are planning on doing multiple hikes, I would recommend two to three days. And don’t forget your waterproof gear ;).
How to get to Valahnúkur and Overview of the Hike
- Getting there: unless you have your own Super Jeep and have experience crossing potentially dangerous rivers, you should take one of the buses or private tours that offer transportation to and from Thórsmörk.
- Start of The Hike: The Volcano huts, but if you stay at the Langidalur, the distance and effort are very similar.
- Photography & Scenery value: Spectacular 360 degrees views
- Difficulty: Easy but steep
- Tip: It’s worth doing the hike early in the morning or late in the evening. This will give you the best lighting condition, and you will likely be able to experience this location in solitude.
The Valahnúkur Trail
||1 / 2 Hrs
This hike starts at the Volcano Huts. Valahnúkur is a small mountain towering behind the campsite. You will see the signposts pointing toward the marked trail.
The first part of the trail is a short section through some bushes. As the vegetation clears, you’ll see the top of Valahnúkur again and the trail that goes to the top on its side.
From there, it’s a short but relatively steep hike to the top.
Photos and Photography Tips for the Valahnúkur hike in Thórsmörk
Here’s the fun part. Bring all the lenses you have. From the top, the views are spectacular. Ultra-wide to tele lenses, all will find a purpose here.
The wider angles work well to capture the overall scene in all directions.
The most fun I’ve had shooting here was with the 70-200 lens. Compositional options are virtually endless. With such wide views from the top of Valahnúkur, compositional possibilities are almost endless, especially if the light changes fast.
If that happens, you’d have a hard time trying to stop shooting. I have spent about 1.30 hours shooting here at the end of a long day hiking. Nature had put up such a light show that I completely lost track of time while taking photos.
This is why this hike is great for photography. On top of being relatively short, it’s easily reachable from the campsites and can be easily integrated into other itineraries. So you could easily pop up there if you see the light turning good.
Rainbow at the entrance of the Stakkholtsgjá canyon
Detail of the landscape, Looking North.
Mount Hattfell, looking north.
Detail of a glacier
Detail of another glacier
Same glacier as above, from another angle
Another detail of the landscape
Rainbow over Thórsmörk
The light illuminating the Krossa river
Additionally, here’s a short video to give you a sense of the scale of the views you have from the top:
Map of the Hike
Here is the map of the hike from the Volcano huts. If you need a GPS track, you can download the .GPX file from the Komoot activity.
However, if you are hiking from the Volcano huts or the Langidalur Camping site, you won’t have problems finding the trail. It’s well-marked and color coded on either side of Valahnúkur.
Where to Stay
If you want to hike Valahnúkur in Thórsmörk, I recommend staying here a couple of nights.
While it’s technically possible to do it as a day trip using the bus services or private tours, I would recommend spending more than one day here to explore other hikes nearby. Hiking in Thórsmörk is time well spent; the scenic views and pristine environment are hard to find elsewhere.
There are three options if you are planning on spending one or more nights here:
- Volcano Huts: there is a hut with a restaurant, Yurts and private rooms for 2-3 persons with shared bathrooms, apart from the camping. Also, there is a small hot pool available for use. And warm showers for guests. Here’s their website.
- Basar: Hut and camping available, plus other amenities that can be checked on their page.
- Langidalur: Hut and camping are available here too. Here’s their page.
If you don’t want to or can’t spend the night here, you should search for the company that allows the most time between to and from trips. I would recommend checking out their schedules here:
Got a question or your own experience to share? Let us know in the comments below!