Jokuldalur has become infamous after the discovery of Studlagil. But visiting the area you can explore and discover more hidden gems. There are several more hiking trails worth checking out. And following road 923 further south you get access to the Icelandic highlands via road F910 and drive to e.g. the Askja caldera or the dam from where the Jokulsa river origins. There are also several highland farms which can be visited in the summer.
We like to recommend check following hiking trails:
Eiríksstaðahneflar (N65°08.617-W15°28.195) // 5-6 hrs.
Eiríksstaðahneflar is one of the 30 Pearls of Austurlands region and refers to some of the most stunning hikes of the area.
On this hike you will get two for one as actually the mountains are two. This hike starts from the river Þverá south of Eiríksstaðir farm. The first mountain is Fremri Hnefill (947 m) and there you will find the cylinder with the visitors’ log and stamp. From there one can cross over to the top of Ytri Hnefill (922m) and down to Eiríksstaðir farm. It is also nice to walk over to the ruins of the farm Hneflasel which was abandoned in 1875 and between the two mountains on the way back.
Hnjúksvatn (N65°14.333-W15°15.887) // 3 hrs.
Hnjúksvatn is one of the 30 Pearls of Austurlands region and refers to some of the most stunning hikes of the area.
It is a lake on the heath across from Merki farm. The plateau on which the lake is located, is characterized by rounded cliffs and moors. To reach the lake, you should follow a trail along the Hnjúksá river. There you will find a hut, Binnubúð. Near the hut you will find the cylinder with the visitors’ log and stamp. Brynhildur Stefánsdóttir, a midwife from a farm in the area, had it built in 1983 for those who wished to visit and enjoy the highlands. Brynhildur loved the heath and the outdoors. She used to catch in this lake when she was young. She went across the river with a cable car with her nets and then carried the fish home the same way. After she became a midwife, she travelled the heath back and forth to deliver babies, in summer on foot, in winter on skis. Brynhildur passed only a few months after the hut was built so she unfortunately never had the chance to use it herself.
Magnahellir (N64°99.252-W15°71.683) // 0.5 hrs.
Magnahellir is one of the 30 Pearls of Austurlands region and refers to some of the most stunning hikes of the area.
To reach this magnificent canyon, drive north of Kárahnjúkastífla reservoiruntil you come to the crossroads by Laugavellir (fit for 4×4 SUV’s). Drive down to a parking area by Dimmugljúfur canyons.
The impressive canyon stretches about seven to eight kilometers from the northern part of Vatnajökull icecap towards the valley Jökuldalur (Glacier Valley). With its 200 meter high walls and only about hundred to hundred and fifty meters width they seem narrow and intimidating as everything is dark and steep. It is believed that the river Jökulsá á Dal, which was the second most powerful river in Iceland, dug the canyon over millions of years through the palagonite layer and formed the canyon. On the parking, you will find a sign containing information and the trail running through the canyon and to Magnahellir cave, which lies in about 1,5 km. distance. A farmer named Magni from the farm Eiríksstaðir was the first one to keep his sheep there in winter.
Hvannárgil (N65°16.868-W15°47.418) // 4 hrs.
Hvannárgil is one of the 30 Pearls of Austurlands region and refers to some of the most stunning hikes of the area.
This spectacular canyon almost cuts the mountain range of Möðrudalur in two. It is divided into three parts and it takes approx. two hours to walk into the innermost part of it, which is the most magnifent and beautiful part. The hiking trail is circular and leads you through the canyon (N65°17.525 – W15°50.881) starting at the highest creek and through the lower ones on the way back to the starting point. It has beautiful rock formations and in the middle one is a gorge which is absolutely worth the effort. The highest creek is very impressive with a waterfall at its end. The cylinder with the visitors’ log and stamp is at the highest creek.
Grjótgarður at the farm Hjarðarhagi
A walk of about two and a half hours, fairly short but quite steep. Park your cars at the crossroads to Hnefilsdalur. Pass through a marked gate and follow the staked trail up along the river Sauðá up to the edge of the slope to the stone wall or fence. Follow the fence until you’ve reached the cylinder with the visitors’ log and stamp. Keep on towards Teigará to the cairn and then walk back for a bit down a staked horse riding trail through Hestagil creek. The purpose of the stone wall is unknown but thought to have been a fence for farm animals.
Distance and elevation: 7,6 km and 300 m.
GPS Cordinates: (N65°21.391-W15°00.061)
More places and activities in Jökuldalur:
Skessugarður – the Rampart of the Giantess is a natural phenomenon in East-Iceland, which has been called one of the most interesting natural formations in east Iceland . It was formed by an ice-age glacier, Brúarjökull. It is a large arche-shaped moraine and consists of massive boulders (porphyritic basalt) making up a ca 300 meter’s long and ca 7meter’s high natural wall. It lies from west to east. It markes the stagnation level of Brúarjökull at the end of the last glacial period.
After the stagnation of the glacier, a flood followed which washed this area clean of smaller rock leaving behind the big ones which makes this moraine unique as it lacks all smaller, finer sand particles and stones, or the glacial flour.
Skessugarður is located by the lake Grjótgarðsvatn west of Sænautasel turf house on the other side of Mt. Sænautafell. Turn left onto the old ring-road (number 907, a gravel road) after you leave Sænautasel and drive for a couple of km. Then turn left onto a dirt road, which turns into a track until you reach Skessugarður after 2 km.
Salmon fishing – Jökuldalur river system
Iceland is considered to be one of the best locations in the world for river fishing. The rivers are best known for salmon fishing but you need to follow certain regulations while fishing in those river.
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