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  • Einar Páll Svavarsson

Kerlingarfjöll mountains for hiking and camping in the Highland

Updated: Dec 21, 2022


Kerlingarfjöll mountains
Kerlingarfjöll mountains

Kerlingarfjöll (the old woman's mountains) is an exciting place to visit in Iceland and a must-visit place if you are planning to travel to and looking for things to do in the Icelandic Highland. The cluster of rugged mountains is placed in the middle of the Highland. Most of the mountains are steep and around 800 to 1500 meters high. Although all the mountains have their individual names, they are usually referred to by their common name, which is rare in the Icelandic landscape, as most mountains have their own identity. This is probably because the mountains were barely visited and feared for centuries, as they were believed to be the hiding place of outlaws. However, from the early 1970s, Kerlingarfjöll became popular as a ski resort during summer. The place also had a skiing school, which discontinued its operation at the end of the previous century due to the retreating of the glaciers. Nevertheless, despite all the glaciers, this is the only go-to place in Iceland for skiing during summer.


Map of Highland in Iceland
Map of Highland in Iceland

A feast for photographers and joy for hikers:

Mountains Kerlingarfjöll seen from Gígjarfoss
Mountains Kerlingarfjöll seen from Gígjarfoss

The mountain cluster Kerlingarfjöll is a paradise for both hikers and photographers. Many convenient and scenic hiking trails lead to it from the camping ground and a small hotel at Ásgarður. A short distance from Ásgarður, there is even a tiny geothermal pool conveniently situated in a small canyon. Most of the mountains are basalt, like in most places in Iceland, but there is also a large area of beautiful rhyolite mountains. One of the most exciting parts is Hveradalir, where colors vary along the track depending on the weather, mostly the sun, to a point where it almost becomes unreal and you slip into a state of hypnosis. Although the altitude of most of the trails is about 1000 meters, there is a surprising amount and variety of vegetation. On most of the tracks, the view is stunning, with two large glaciers and a big part of Kjalvegur road.


How to find and reach Kerlingarfjöll:

Mountains Kerlingarfjöll seen from Gígjarfoss
Mountains Kerlingarfjöll seen from Gígjarfoss

For years, the road to Kerlingarfjöll was a 4X4 trail with two to three rivers to pass. You could only drive there on a modified 4X4 vehicle. However, today, the rivers have bridges, and you can drive to Ásgarður, the camping site, and the service center in a small 4X4 vehicle. The best way to drive to Kerlingarfjöll is to take Road Nr. 35 Kjalvegur road from Gullfoss and drive approximately 55 kilometers to the highland road to Kerlingarfjöll. When you turn to the east on F347, the distance to Kerlingarfjöll is only 10 kilometers. We recommend an overnight stay for at least one night and an early morning hike for a few hours. Here, you must remember that the highland roads are open only from early June until late September. So, the window to enjoy this magnificent landscape is only about three to four months each year.



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