By Michael Lanza
We follow the trail upward through innumerable, short switchbacks to the summit of a battleship-gray, steep-sided peak called Bláhnúkur in the remote Fjallabak Nature Reserve of Iceland’s Central Highlands, one of the most active geothermal areas on Earth. At the summit, we turn a slow 360, gaping at a mind-boggling, kaleidoscopic landscape painted in more colors than there probably are species of plant life on the volcanic slopes surrounding us. An old, hardened lava flow pours down one mountainside in a jumbled train wreck of razor-sharp black rhyolite. Barren peaks and ridges wearing the white splotches of July snowfields reach to every horizon.
I’ve come with my wife and our college-age son and daughter to spend six days trekking hut to hut on the roughly 54k/33-mile Laugavegur Trail followed immediately by the 25k/15.5-mile Fimmvörðuháls Trail—a trip I’ve wanted to take with my family since I first set foot in this place on another raw, windy, and wet July day 16 years ago.
It has been my considerable good fortune to have hiked many of America’s and the world’s great trails over the past three-plus decades, including the 10 years I spent as Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog.
But very few, if any, compare with the world-famous Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trails—where every day presents fresh, new, jaw-dropping vistas ranging from highlands littered with steaming hot springs and fumaroles to river valleys and small, starkly barren peaks, some of them vividly green despite their lack of vegetation more than calf-high, a high plateau carpeted with snow and black lava rock, and a river with more thunderous waterfalls than I have ever seen in one day on one trail.
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But I will let the photos in this story speak to the scenery on these two trails.
The photo gallery below includes some favorite images from the Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trails. Click on the gallery to open it and use right and left arrow keys to scroll through it.
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Read my blog story about my family’s hut trek on these two trails, “A Family Hikes Iceland’s Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls Trails,” which has dozens of photos and is partially free for anyone to read but requires a paid subscription to read in full. See also my story about my first trip to Iceland, “15 Adventures on Earth That Will Change Your Life,” “My Top 10 Adventure Trips,” “The 10 Best Family Outdoor Adventure Trips,” and all stories about international adventures at The Big Outside.
I’ve helped many readers plan an unforgettable hiking and backpacking adventures. Want my help with yours? See my Custom Trip Planning page to learn more.
6 thoughts on “Trekking Iceland’s Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls Trails—A Photo Gallery”
Would love to learn more about how you planned this trip! I’m interested in hiking the trails this summer!
With a paid subscription to The Big Outside, you can get full access to all of my blog’s stories, including my planning tips and details at the bottom of this story (which are behind a paywall and not visible to non-subscribers). You’ll find many details about planning this hut trek there.
You can also get my e-guide “The Complete Guide to Trekking Iceland’s Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls Trails”,” which provides greater detail about planning this hut trek than this story.
And if you’d like, I offer Custom Trip Planning for this trip and any trip you read about at this blog.
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Michael, did you do this hike guided? If so, which guide? If not, did you use a company to plan this for you? Like Macs Adventure or something like that?
No, I planned the entire hike myself. I will post a story about it this month. I can also provide personalized Custom Trip Planning for it, too, for much less expense than a guide or other service.
As it turns out I’m heading to Iceland tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiring photos (as if I’m not excited enough already)!
Have a great trip, Brett!