A great hike to Bæjarstaðarskógur valley
Iceland is full of surprises. You are walking along a great stretch of sand, minding your own business in the arms of a glacier. Only three colors to take in, white, gray and black when suddenly you are faced with lush green mixed with a myriad of colors. In the middle of the 10 km long Morsárdalur, you have come upon Bæjarstaðarskógur, a small forest of willows and birches close to a sublime geothermal pool.
Bæjarstaðarskógur is a small forest at the edge of a glacier
This 22-hectare forest is the most robust birch forest in Iceland, its birches reaching 12 meters high. They are also the island's straightest birches and the most precious. Bæjarstaðaskógur also has rowans and the most beautiful display of Icelandic wildflowers. Even the Icelanders wonder how a forest came to be in the remote and isolated area; The only means to get there is by foot – and it will take you approximately three hours from the Visitor's Centre in Skaftafell.
An old farm, an oasis in a landscape of change
The forest's name suggests there used to be a farmstead here during the Middle Ages. Indeed, its ruins were quite visible until the 18th century. Bæjarstaðaskógur is a beautiful oasis in the vast spread of sand. The hike from the Visitor's Centre is relatively easy and pleasant. You have a stunning view of Morsárdalur the whole time - and might even want to venture further than the forest.