On my husband and I’s tenth and final full day in Iceland, the plan was to hike Glymur. I’d done my research beforehand, picking it because it combined two of my favorite things – hiking and waterfalls! It was also so gorgeous in the pictures that I knew I had to see it for myself in person. We debating going that morning, simply because we were exhausted from all our previous days of exploring and knew it was a long trek back home the following day. But I’m so glad we decided to go, as this became one of my favorite and most unforgettable days.
Before I describe the details of the hike, I want to provide you with some directions. Make sure you write down directions before you head out and take your GPS (as I’d recommend whenever you drive in Iceland), as it isn’t well marked. Glymur is located in Hvalfjordur Fjord in West Iceland. We were staying in Reykjavik, and it was a little more than an hour’s drive from the capital. Starting out in Reykjavik, you’ll drive towards Mosfellsbaer and then take Road #1 towards Akranes/Borgarnes. Before you reach the Hvalfjordur underwater tunnel, you’ll want to turn right (not passing through the tunnel) and continue to Road #47. Road #47 is found on the far east side of Hvalfjordur Lake. Here’s the parking lot you’ll find and the spot you’ll start your hike.
The trail is fairly well marked, and a guide isn’t necessary for this hike. However, there are a few spots where you could get turned around if you aren’t careful; so be sure to pay special attention to the markings and your surroundings. I’d also recommend wearing hiking shoes or boots, as there are areas that are quite steep. And as with all hikes, make sure you are well equipped with lots of water and snacks.
You can hike either the north side or the south side. I’d highly recommend hiking up the south side and down the north side. One of the most exiting parts about the hike was that every step took you closer and closer to the majestic waterfall, which you could see for quite some time before you actually arrived. If you’d hike up the north side, your view of the waterfall would be partially blocked. You’ll know you have come to the right place as you’ll come across these fun yellow markers.
Your first part of the hike will be fairly flat, walking across rocks and a paved trail. This is definitely the easy part of your hike, so no worries for you adventurers – it does get much harder!
After approximately 1 kilometer, you will come to your first obstacle – the cave! One of my favorite things about this hike is that there are always added elements of adventure. The cave is fairly large and, as you can see, opens up into the area of your next obstacle – the log. There is only one way across the river, and this is by crossing the river via a log and steel rope. This was one of the most memorable parts of the hike and also one of the scariest.
You’ll be greeted at the log by the loud sounds of the rushing river below. Don’t let this sound intimidate you! The steel rope is quite strong and as long as you are very intentional about your footing (the log is fairly slippery), you’ll find yourself across the log in no time. I was nervous going across; but by the time I got across, I was sad that we weren’t going back the same way so I could experience it twice.
After you cross the river is when the hike becomes quite steep. You’ll head up, up up as you work your way up the rocky hillside. Although it is one of the more challenging parts of the hike, I appreciated the many spots along the ascent where you are greeted with helpful ropes. I recommend dressing in layers, because this is about the part in the hike where you get quite warm.
The great part about hiking somewhere so beautiful is that stopping to catch your breath from time to time is also an ideal opportunity to take pictures. I felt like I was taking a million pictures on this hike, but I’m so glad that I did! Once you go about 2 more kilometers, you’ll find yourself finally with a view of the waterfall. It was also at this point where every ten steps were met with me stopping to take pictures because I’d just decided that “Here is the most beautiful spot on the hike.” After repeating this for nearly 10-15 times, I realized it was one of those times where every spot was picture perfect.
This was one of my favorite spots of the entire hike. Gazing off to the left you could look down to see how far you’d come. You could even see the log. Looking straight ahead you were met with a beautiful landscape view of the entire area, complete with the ocean in the distance. And looking to the right you could see your approach to Glymur.
Once you reach this spot, you can do one of two things – you can choose to continue up to the very top of the waterfall where you’ll cross and head back down the other side or you can go back down the way you came. I’d suggest allowing 3 hours for the entire hike if you plan to head back down and about 5-6 hours (depending on how many pictures you stop to take) if you plan to continue on.
We decided to do the full thing and continued up. Here you’ll encounter even steeper rocky areas and many close to the edge drop off, but just focus on following the path and the stunning view.
When we reached the top we were puzzled as to how people were getting across. I think we were both looking for a nice little bridge. We watched and finally caught a group crossing and realized we had to cross the river close to the drop of the mouth of the waterfall. It would be way too slippery to take your shoes off to cross, so just get ready to have wet feet. It is part of the adventure.
I’d also highly recommend you take time when you reach the top before you cross over to fill up your water bottles with clean, fresh water! I’ve never tasted water as pure as the ice cold, refreshing water we had at the top of this waterfall. An amazing experience!
The descent back down Glymur is much less entertaining, mainly due to the fact you are leaving the waterfall and also because there aren’t any logs to cross or caves to explore. I was also getting more tired by this point. The main things I remember from the descent are the flat, open areas you’ll find to walk down at the beginning and the very steep rocks you’ll encounter going down for the bulk of the hike. I also remember devouring an entire large bag of popcorn as soon as we got back to the car. Never underestimate the calories you burn on a long, strenuous hike.
Glymur is known for being the second tallest waterfall in Iceland, and I’d offer it is one of the most beautiful. From the vastness and breathtaking landscape views near the top from the vivid green mosses growing all around the waterfall, it cannot be beat. Pictures don’t do it justice. I found myself days and months after the hike, taking time to reflect back on how it was one of the most physically challenging and equally rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’d highly recommend taking a day hike to Glymur. It is safe to say you won’t be disappointed.
Please reach out to me if you have any questions or if you want to share your own Glymur hiking experience!
Paths Less Traveled Ranking: 1 footprint
Paths Less Traveled Ranking Explanation: We passed several dozen people while on our day hike. Although there were people around and cars in the parking lot, they were few and far between and in no way detracted from the beauty of the location. More often than not when you looked around, you didn’t see a soul and felt as though you were one with nature.
*In each of my articles I will provide a Paths Less Traveled Ranking. This ranking system is from 1 footprint to 5 footprints with 1 footprint being very remote and off the beaten path and 5 footprints being very populated.