Laugavegurinn - Iceland’s most popular hiking route
You must hike the Laugavegur hiking route between Landmannalaugar, Þórsmörk and Skógar one day. This 3-5 day hike goes through the most amazing landscape on earth. In a couple of hours hike you will hike along steaming volcanic ridges, spring through lush green moss, listen to boiling mud pots, cross ice cold glacial rivers, warm your feet in steaming geothermal rivers and see glaciers up close and personal.
The route starts in Landmannalaugar, Iceland’s most popular tourist destination up in the mountains (popular means there might be a few other people). To warm up for the hike you can take a bath in the geothermal river just outside the cabin and campsite. From there you hike into the Laugahraun lavafield from the year 1477 and along these still warm ridges on the picture up to Hrafntinnusker.
In Hrafntinnusker (E. Flintstone Reef) you will find a cabin, campsite and tiny glacier. The little glacier is very interesting to see as it is on top of a geothermal area and the ice is sculpted by hot steam. This area is the highest point on the route and you can expect snow anytime of the year.
The hike from Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn (E. Swan Lake) is my favorite part of the journey. It is mostly downhill but goes up and down minor colorful hills and wanders in between lava fields and hot springs. The view when you descend the final slope down to the cabin and campsite by the Álftavatn lake is one of the best in Iceland.
From Álftavatn you will have a short hike over to Hvanngil where you can spend the night or continue on to Emstrur. On the way to Emstrur you will cross the immense Mælifellssandur sands. This is the only dry part of the journey so make sure you have some water with you. In Emstrur you can try to camp on the tiny patches of grass available or sleep in the hut.
The final stretch from Emstrur to Þórsmörk is an amazing journey. You will soon leave the dry sands above Emstrur and walk along the mighty Markarfljót (E. Dark River). Passing glaciers, crossing hanging bridges and wading glacial rivers you will arrive in the lush forest around Þórsmörk. Chill out in the pools in Húsadalur or sunbathe in the shelter of the forest for a change.
Þórsmörk has links to civilization and you can hop on to a bus that takes you down to Highway 1 or to Reykjavík. But if you are really enjoying the hiking you can continue on over Fimmvörðuháls (E. Five Cairn Col) towards Skógar (E. Forest). This high mountain pass between the Mýrdalsjökull (E. Marsh Valley Glacier) and Eyjafjallajökull (E. Island Mountain Glacier) glaciers is particularly interesting now after the eruption on Fimmvörðuháls and up in Eyjafjallajökull in 2010. A new mountain was created directly on top of the hiking trail and you can see where the trodden path goes under the lava. This means you will need to walk across the brand new lava. The surface is just barely cold enough to walk across and you will see glowing red rocks inside cracks below your feet. If you’ve brought a pack of hot dogs with you can roast them in these cracks. At the end of this unique hike you will descend down to Skógar right next to the iconic Skógafoss waterfall.
Good luck and stay safe!