Hafnarfjall: Fun climb at the highway

Hafnarfjall: Fun climb at the highway

Photos by
Ragnar Sigurðsson

Elevation: 844m
Ascent time:. 2.5-3 hrs
Length: 6-7km
Map: 26
Elevation difference: 800m

The mountain

A cluster of peaks rises to over 800 metres west of the Skarðsheiði massif and close to the town of Borgarnes (www.borgarbyggd.is). Iceland’s Ring Road skirts the peaks’ base. These are Hafnarfjall (höfn: “harbour”; fjall: “mountain”), the ruins of a large central volcano (some four to six million years old), including the obscure remains of a caldera and a small intrusion of pure gabbro rarely seen in Iceland. It is customary to climb to the low peak facing the sea, or to summit at the highest peak (Gildalshnúkur, the second to the east), by hiking along the ridge above Route 1 (a path is found most of the way). This route is described here. A more demanding route is a three-peak-circle, starting with a climb of the northernmost peak (the summit to the left when facing the mountain at the starting point in the bowl-shaped valley among the peaks). The tour requires safe route-finding in scree and along cliff ledges, as well as finding a narrow cleft leading through the cliffs of the first peak.

Route character

A great hike close to the capital area with fine views.

Route description

Before the Borgarfjörður bridge and the town of Borgarnes, look for a gravel road to Háumelar. The route starts at a small river that flows from the huge cirque in Hafnarfjall. Follow the right-hand river bank into the cirque until you reach a tiny concrete dam. Right of the dam, the trail to the top is a quick find. Climb the long ridge, safely and steadily (be aware of long drops on the side above the highway). The small peak at the end of the ridge is sometimes coined as “the end” of the hike, but you can head for the next and much steeper summit, still more or less on a trail. No hands-on climbing, though. From up there, you may look far and wide over land and sea (bring a handy map along so you know what you’re looking at).

Difficulty rating: 4
Overall rating: 7