Trekking Iceland’s Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls Trails—A Photo Gallery

By Michael Lanza

We followed 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 turned a slow 360, gaping at a mind-boggling, kaleidoscopic landscape painted in more colors than there likely were species of plant life on the volcanic slopes surrounding us. An old, hardened lava flow poured down one mountainside in a jumbled train wreck of razor-sharp black rhyolite. Barren peaks and ridges wearing the white splotches of July snowfields reached to every horizon.

My family spent 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’d wanted to take with my family since I first set foot in that place on another raw, windy, and wet July day 16 years earlier.

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A trekker on the Fimmvorduhals Trail south of Thorsmork, Iceland.
My daughter, Alex, hiking the Fimmvorduhals Trail south of Thorsmork, Iceland. Click photo for my e-guide to the Laugavegur and Fimmvorduhals trails.

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 new and different, jaw-dropping vistas. We walked across highlands littered with steaming hot springs and fumaroles and down river valleys between small, starkly barren peaks, some of them vividly green despite their lack of vegetation more than calf-high. We traversed a high plateau carpeted with snow and nearly barren valleys choked with twisted boulders of black lava rock. We hiked, stunned at every turn, downstream along a river with more thunderous waterfalls than I have ever seen in one day in my life.

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Alftavatn Lake. along the Laugavegur Trail. Iceland.
Alftavatn Lake. along the Laugavegur Trail. Iceland.

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.

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. Scroll past the gallery for links to more stories about international adventures.

My expert e-guide “The Complete Guide to Trekking Iceland’s Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls Trails” will tell you all you need to know to plan this trip yourself.

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See also “9 Great Hikes and Walks Along Iceland’s Ring Road,” 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.

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6 thoughts on “Trekking Iceland’s Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls Trails—A Photo Gallery”

  1. 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?