We tried several excursions in Iceland that didn’t quite work out: a hike we couldn’t get across a river for, puffin watching that was obscured by fog, wind, and rain, another hike that was only accessible by a road that turned from paved, to gravel, to rutted gravel, to grass, to grass and mud, to rutted grass and mud on a steep grade in the middle of nowhere. We decided to back out of before we got stuck on a mountainside in Iceland with nobody around for miles.
After that last attempt, the one where we almost got our rental Suburu stuck in mud high up on a mountainside, we decided to take a safe, well-travelled, known hiking trail at Skógafoss, one of the nearby waterfalls we hadn’t been to yet.
The hike starts with a tremendous staircase next to the first fall of the trail, Skógafoss. The metal stairway climbs a vertical height of about 200 feet in a little more than 500 steps. At the top is a grated platform with nothing but air beneath your feet and a view of the fall from above. I battled vertigo to take a look and watch birds fly below us.
Most visitors climb to the top to see Skógafoss from above, then turn around and go back down, but there’s also a trail – Skógá trail or Waterfall Way — that follows the river for 15 miles, between volcanos, to the river’s glacial origin. Along the trail are so many waterfalls I lost count. We saw six or seven dramatic ones, plus some smaller ones, and we only hiked two miles of the trail. I’ve seen estimates that there are more than 20 falls along the entire path.
We had a cloudy day after a rain, so the grasses and mosses were bright green, almost neon at times, especially against the grey sky.
Every step along this trail was breathtaking. The trail is well marked and is obviously well trafficked, but it was not crowded; we often had periods where we were the only people in sight, and we sat and watched the waterfalls in solitude. It was kind of overwhelming how wondrous it was.