Let’s talk about Thórsmörk, located in the south of the Icelandic Highlands. The valley of the glaciers, of the wild, the place where our heartbeats can be heard in the silence of the ice in the wintertime, a unique landscape, the valley of Thor, the god of Thunder. A very special place for hiking in any season.
Thórsmörk, an oasis in the Icelandic Highlands
Hiking Trails in Thórsmörk
Thórsmörk is an oasis between the black deserts of the Highlands and the surrounding glaciers. Located between the rivers Krossá, Þröngá and Markarfljót , it is the place where the famous Laugavegur Trail ends and also our Hidden Trails, a brutal hiking trail through the most remote areas of Iceland and the unknown and hidden paths. From here, you can either head back to the South Coast in a 4×4 vehicle, or continue on a 13km hike with a positive elevation gain of 900m to the Fimmvörðuháls pass, between the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers, where we can still step on the tender lava from the 2010 eruption by walking between the Magni and Móði craters. If we decide to do this option, keep in mind that it is a fairly alpine route, with somewhat technical steps and the weather can change very quickly up there, so it is advisable to have mountain experience or ascend with a guide. Once here, we can either return, or spend the night at the Fimmvörðuháls hut (previous reservation) and go down the next morning to Thórsmörk again or to the Skógafoss waterfall on the South Coast.
But also, we can stay in the valley enjoying its brutal environment, dwarf birch and willow forests together with a great variety of flowers, as well as arctic fruits and mosses that serve as nests and food for numerous species of birds that come to this valley every summer to breed their young. At this time of year, it is a paradise where you can rest and go on hiking routes around the huts or the campsites of Langidalur, Húsadalur or Básar.
Valahnúkur Hike from Langidalur or Húsadalur
A short route that takes us to the top of Valahnúkur peak (400m) along 1.5 km, and from where we reach one of the best views of the Valley of Thor. From the Valahnúkur, we can also connect with other trails also simple within the valley with a length between 3km and 8km with gentle slopes. And in the Winter, it is perfect to enjoy a hike with snowshoes, explore secret corners and admire the beautiful and capricious Northern Lights that illuminate the cold winter nights in the valley.
Is the valley easy to reach?
As its name suggests, Thórsmörk is not an easy valley, neither in summer nor in winter. In summer, it is always necessary to go with a 4WD vehicle as you have to wade through several rivers and some of them can be tricky depending on the amount of water they bring. The last river that gives access to Langidalur, the Krossá, is only recommended to be crossed by Super Jeep, so there is no problem, because from last summer they have installed a walking bridge to avoid that those cars, which are not prepared to cross it, can remain in the parking area that has been enabled just to reach the bridge. In case you can’t access with a 4×4 vehicle, you can also take a bus that leaves from Reykjavik’s central bus station, BSI, and goes to Langidalur, Básar and Volcano Huts.
The Valley of Thor in winter, is it possible to go?
If you decide to access in Winter, there is no bus at that time of the year, therefore, it is essential to have a Super Jeep and an experienced local driver guide, since everything is covered with snow and the tracks might be lost. The rivers freeze partly and it is very dangerous to cross without knowing which is the passage, since the car can get stuck in some hole in the ice and need the help of another car to get out. The huts are closed in the winter, so the only accommodation we will find open is Volcano Huts, in the valley of Húsadalur. And of course, if a storm warning is announced at Vedur.is or Safetravel.is it is important to be cautious, make a plan B and wait for another day.