20 Hiking trails in the Highlands! Kerlingarfjöll

The series of volcanic mountains known as the Kerlingarfjöll get their name after a rock which is said to be a troll woman who turned to stone when exposed to daylight.

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Kerlingarfjöll, located in the highlands of Iceland between the glaciers Langjokull and Hofsjökull, is accessible from the road F35, also known as Kjölur. The size of the Kerlingarfjöll area is about 100 km2 with mountains that range between 1,100 and 1,500 meters high. The mountains rise above many calderas, which were once active between 70,000 and 300,000 years ago.

This mass of mountains are rich in contrasts, blending picturesque valleys, glaciers, and geothermal activity together and then meeting around the top of Loðmundur the highest peak, west of Snækollur and Fannborg in the mid-east of Iceland. The Kerlingarfjöll are known for their many hiking opportunities, including those leading to the hot springs of Hveradalir Valley, located in the heart of the massif. For centuries, while Kjölur was the connection between the north and south of the Iceland, the Kerlingarfjöll were rarely explored. Today, any vehicle can go there (when the road opens in the summer season), and when there you will find a visitors centre and a working telephone network.

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The tourist centre of Kerlingarfjöll offers many accommodation possibilities to stay in the area, be it camping, dormitories with sleeping bags, a private room with bathroom or cottages for a family or group. There is also a restaurant on site, and a small grocery store to stock up on food for your journey. However, if you are planning several days of hiking, make sure you bring enough supplies. There are about twenty Kerlingarfjöll hiking trails, from one kilometer long up to fifty, and only eight of them marked. You can buy detailed maps in Icelandic bookstores, or on site. The most popular hike is probably the climb to the summit of Snækollur (which is moderately easy); it takes around two hours to reach the top.

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If your budget is limited, we suggest you bring your sleeping bag, and under all circumstances, bring your swimsuit! Diving into a hot spring in the middle of nowhere is one of the greatest pleasures in Iceland, even though you’ll probably share that experience with other travelers - the price of Iceland’s fame.

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20 Hiking trails in the Highlands! Kerlingarfjöll