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Complete Guide to Hiking Kerlingarfjöll

Discover the best hiking trails, weather conditions, and more

|December 29, 2023
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Ready to make your mark on the Icelandic Highlands? Hike your way up the rust-colored Kerlingarfjöll mountains, a paradise for adventurers.


In the heart of Iceland’s Highlands lies the stunning mountain range of Kerlingarfjöll. With rivers curving around rusty snow-capped mountains, Kerlingarfjöll makes for an unforgettable sight. Whether you’re a photographer, a mild adventurer, or the ultimate hiker, Kerlingarfjöll will give you the experience of a lifetime. Get ready to embrace the rocky terrain of the Icelandic Highlands!

In this blog, we have covered everything from weather conditions to navigation to give you the ultimate Kerlingarfjöll hiking guide.

How to get to Kerlingarfjöll

Kerlingarfjöll’s location in the Icelandic Highlands can only be accessed via the F-Roads. These rough trails weave through the remote parts of the country and are suitable only for 4x4 vehicles. The gravel tracks close down from late September to early October, so you’ll need to add Kerlingarfjöll to your Iceland summer itinerary.

Driving on mountain roads can be challenging, but don’t let that put you off. The F35 (the Kjölur Route) and the F347 are perfect for self-drives, making Kerlingarfjöll easily accessible. If going alone, make sure you rent a 4x4, as two-wheel-drive rental cars are not allowed due to the extreme weather conditions. 

To get to Kerlingarfjöll, you can take either of the following routes:

  • From Blönduós - The Blönduós route is mostly gravel with some occasional large boulders. You don’t have to be a highly experienced driver to venture on this road. Any size of 4x4 will do. It will take you about two hours and 45 minutes to drive there one way. You can even soak in the Hveravellir hot spring on the way back.

  • From Gullfoss - The journey from Gullfoss to Kerlingarfjöll may be short, but it won’t necessarily be smooth. Depending upon your driving skills, it can take you anywhere between two to three hours to get there. Nevertheless, it will be a bumpy ride. If you’re unsure about where to go, it’s safer to drive in from the north.
Rusty mountains of Kerlingarfjöll partially covered in snow.

Rusty mountains of Kerlingarfjöll

Kerlingarfjöll Travel Tips

When venturing into Kerlingarfjöll in the remote Icelandic Highlands, you will find these travel tips handy.

  • The mountain range is called Kerlingarfjöll, and the geothermal area is called Hveradalir.
  • To reach Hveradalir, you can either hike for 90 minutes from Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort or self-drive a 4x4 on a dirt track.
  • Always fill your gas tank before you enter the Highlands. The gas pump at Kerlingarfjöll isn’t always in service.
  • Public buses on the 610 and 610a routes do stop here, but you would need to spend the night and take another bus back in the morning.
  • Hiking trails at Kerlingarfjöll are muddy and can also be snow-covered, hiking boots are highly recommended.
  • Kerlingarfjöll is highly sensitive to foot traffic. To make sure you don’t damage the delicate landscape, always stay on marked trails.
A river curving around the Kerlingarfjöll mountain range in Iceland.

A river curving around the Kerlingarfjöll mountain range

Kerlingarfjöll Hiking Trails

More than 20 hikes crisscross the mountains of Kerlingarfjöll. You can pack a nice lunch and go for a short day hike to get a feel for the landscape, or you can do a 3-day tour of the whole region.

These are some of the best hiking trails in Kerlingarfjöll.

1. Shortcut to Hveradalir

To get to the geothermal area of Hveradalir, you can drive to the Keis parking area, which is less than two miles from the Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort. You can then walk down a short slope to the river and the hot springs. The area may not be wide, but it is so scenic that you will want to take your time exploring.

2. Kerlingarfjöll Hot Spring

About a mile away from the Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort lies a hot spring. There is a straightforward and easy-to-follow trail along the river. Whether you’re tired after a day’s adventure or simply want to relax more on your vacation, the Kerlingarfjöll hot spring is a perfect pool to soak in.

3. Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort to Hveradalir

The hiking trail from Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort to Hveradalir begins at Ásgarður. Start by heading south and go up along a ridge towards the west of the river. You will find a red sign showing the way. Wooden poles mark the trail, but they become scarce as you go further. Unless snow has fallen recently, a well-trodden path should be obvious.

The hike itself will take you about two hours and 30 minutes. The geothermal area has several paths crisscrossing into the hills. So, you will want to explore Hveradalir for at least an hour or two.

4. Snaekollur Summit

Standing nearly 1,524 m (5,000 ft) tall, Snaekollur is the highest peak in the Kerlingarfjöll mountain range. From the Keis parking lot, the hike comes to a total of 6.92 km (4.3 mi). But it is a steep one and could involve treading over glacial ice. The summit is often covered in snow, so summer is the best time for this particular hiking trail.

5. Austurfjoll Peaks

If you would like to extend your Snaekollur hike, you can embrace a challenging hike across the highest peaks in the range. The Austurfjoll hike will take you around five to six hours and offers fantastic views of the surrounding glacial region.

6. Hringbrautin Circuit

For hikes extending beyond a day, the Hringbrautin Circuit is ideal. Stretching almost 30 miles across the Kerlingarfjöll mountain range, this hike will take you about three days to complete. Secure your accommodation in advance.

Where to Stay at Kerlingarfjöll

You have a few accommodation options to consider for your Kerlingarfjöll hike. Your choice will depend on the direction you are coming from and the hiking trails you are interested in. 

  • Staying at Kerlingarfjöll itself is a good option as it gives you a better chance of exploring the region fully. The Mountain Resort here has hot showers, a small shop, a restaurant, and also a campground.
  • If you are driving in from the north, the small town of Blönduós is a good option. It is remote enough to make you feel like you’re off the beaten track. But there are also modern amenities so you don’t miss out on anything.
  • If you are coming from the south, you should seek accommodation in Gullfoss.

Weather in Kerlingarfjöll

The weather in the Icelandic Highlands is highly temperamental. You should pack warm clothes and be prepared for a change of weather at any moment. It is also important to have a map, especially if you run into poor weather. Rain and snow are likely, so wearing waterproof jackets and hiking boots is recommended.

Snow-capped summits of Kerlingarfjöll, Iceland.

Kerlingarfjöll is a stunning mountain range in the Highlands of Iceland. With scenic paths crisscrossing the summits, there are trails for hikers of every level. In this blog, we have covered the best routes, accessibility, travel tips, weather conditions, and accommodation to provide you with the ultimate Kerlingarfjöll hiking guide.

If the country’s capital is part of your Iceland itinerary, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a Kerlingarfjöll hike starting from Reykjavík itself. You can even extend your Golden Circle tour with a Kerlingarfjöll hike. Lace up your hiking boots and get ready to explore these stunning rugged mountains.

 

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