Frequently asked questions about hiking the Fimmvörðuháls trail (Five Cairn trail) in the highland of Iceland.
The 25-kilometer (15.5 miles) long Fimmvörðuháls Trail is Iceland’s second most popular hike.
Things to know for Fimmvörðuháls Pass in the highland of Iceland.
Here are frequently asked questions about hiking the Fimmvörðuháls trail (Five Cairn trail).
Can I do the hike, if I am not an experienced hiker?
Yes, it is possible, especially if you are planning to do it in two days. However, it is not recommended for people, who are afraid of heights or for those who have problems with their knees. This tour is demanding and some effort and certain endurance is required. Good health and some hiking experience is required.
How long will it take to hike the Fimmvörðuháls trail?
Depending on which path you choose. The length of the trek is between 23 and 28 kms, and the elevation is about 1000 meters. It takes between 8 and 14 hours to complete it. The trail can also be completed in two days.
How to get to Fimmvörðuháls?
There are scheduled bus tour going from Reykjavik to Skógafoss waterfall. From Reykjavik, it’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Skógafoss from where the hike can begin.
You can visit Fimmvörðuháls on a different tours; a day hike, a 2 day hike, or as an addition to the Laugavegur trail.
Where is Fimmvörðuháls located?
GPS Location: N 63°36.622 - W 19°26.477
Fimmvörðuháls is a high mountain pass and defined as the area between the mountain glaciers, Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull on South Iceland.
Where should I start?
Most hikers walk from Skógar to Þórsmörk but of course you can start in Þórmörk and walk to Skógar. Your experience will be a bit different starting from Skógar as all the waterfalls in the river are in front of you all the way. Generally, the way from Skógar is said to be easier, because the ascent is more gradual.
Where to overnight near Fimmvörðuáls?
There are plenty of options around Fimmvörðuháls and camping grounds as well. We recommend Skógar HI Hostel.
Is there any possibility to refill my water bottle?
Yes, if you start the hike at Skógafoss, you can refill the bottle after the first 8 km, at the footbridge over Skógá river. Be aware of that's the only place to get water before Þórsmörk.
Can I get food on the way or should I carry my own?
There is a possibility to buy food at the Fimmvörðuháls hut. They have instant noodles and dried trekking food, but it is highly recommended to take some snacks and energy bars with you. Make sure you take water bottle with you.
Any recommendations for Þórsmörk?
There are several one day hikes in the area, it has a reason why it is called the pearl of the highlands. You can stay in your tent or in huts, at 4 different campsites. If you feel ready for a bigger adventure, you can also hike the famous Laugavegurinn to Landmannalaugar.
When to go?
The best time for hiking in Iceland is from July to mid-September as the weather is warmer and most likely there are no snow on the trails. But the weather is a critical factor and it is important to check the weather beforehand and make sure you have the best equipment and clothes for the hike. The temperatures in the highlands are always colder than by the coast. You should be prepared for low temperature and it can go down to 5°C (40°F).
Is it possible to do the Fimmvörðuháls hike in wintertime?
The main season for hiking Fimmvörðuháls is from early June to mid-September. Make sure that your clothing and equipment is adequate for any circumstances. Hiking spikes or crampons are a must in wintertime. Off-season there may be winter conditions on the trail, at which time it is only for experienced hikers and it can be impassable in wintertime. The daylight lasts only 3-6 hours. Check the weather forecast and let somebody know where you are going. Register your travel plan before you leave.
Are there huts on the Fimmvörðuháls trail?
There are 2 huts on the route. Baldvinsskáli is at the highest top of the trail and it has sleeping bag accommodation for 20 persons. It is owned by the Iceland Touring Association (FÍ). The other hut Fimmvörðuskáli sits north-west of the main route and is owned by the Útivist touring club.
The Fimmvörðuháls hike is not easy so an adequate fitness level is required. No matter how experienced you are, it is still possible to lose the trail. It is necessary to research the weather and the trail conditions. Having a GPS application on your phone is always come in handy.
What is the best way to hike responsibly?
Stick to the designated pathways. Hiking trails are designed to offer the path of least resistance and the best route to showcase the diversity of landscapes and views. For the preservation of moss and other plants, please do not wild camp. The principles of Leave No Trace should be respected and the aim is to minimize the effect of humans on hiking trails and the natural surroundings. Please don’t litter. If you see some trash left on the trail, it would be nice to pick that up too.
What to wear? How is the weather?
Keep in mind, that the weather is changing quickly at that altitude. Just because you start the hike on a sunny day, you can’t be sure you will finish it without a shower on the way. Best to bring layers that you can take on and take off depending on the weather Take rainproof and warm clothes, gloves, cap, sunglasses and sunscreen.
Are there bathrooms and showers at the huts/campsites?
There are bathroom facilities by the huts and campsites.
What to bring: Equipment and gear
It can be tricky to pack for a hike like this. Even if your day starts sunny the weather can change rapidly and it can start to rain and the wind can be stronger.
- Hiking boots - good sturdy boots with sufficient ankle support, robust sole and waterproof.
- Thermal underwear (long sleeve top and bottom) made of wool or synthetics (not cotton).
- Wool or fleece thermal mid layer.
- Hiking pants (we don't recommend cottons as they take long to dry if wet).
- Hiking socks made of wool or synthetic (at least 2-3 pairs).
- Waterproof and breathable both pants and jacket.
- Gloves and mittens - wool or synthetic (waterproof over gloves/mitts recommended).
- Warm hat
- Day backpack about 25-40 L.
- Sleeping bag and travel pillow.
- Tooth brush and personal toiletries.
- 1-2 L Water bottle.
- Hiking poles.
- Pen knife.
- Camera, batteries & memory card.
- Headlamp for trips in late season (after August 10th).
- Power bank / portable charging device.
Eszter Mátyás, a student from Romania, did the Fimmvörðuháls hike from Skógar to Þórsmörk in a day. Care to read her story?