Hiking Waterfall Way on the Skógá River in Iceland: Complete Guide

Note to my fellow wanderers: This guide was written from my first-hand experiences. I try my best not to over-glamorize any location I travel to because I want HappyWander’s content to be as authentic as possible. My goal is to provide you real information so that you can have the best possible adventures wandering the world. Enjoy!

Located near the city of Skógar, Waterfall Way (also called Skógafoss Waterfall hike and the Skógá Trail) is one of the most epic hiking trails in all of Iceland. This scenic hiking route takes you on a journey alongside the powerful Skógá River, offering mesmerizing views of 26 cascading waterfalls, lush greenery, and rugged terrain. Whether you’re hiking, exploring, or simply admiring the majestic waterfalls, Waterfall Way promises an unforgettable experience that captures the essence of Iceland’s natural wonders. In this guide, I review everything you need to know about hiking Waterfall Way on the Skógá River.

Overview of Waterfall Way Via Skógá River in Iceland

In this section, I’ll review all the important things you need to know about hiking Waterfall Way on the Skógá River in Iceland.

Hiking Waterfall Way on the Skógá River Map

This is a map (via alltrails.com) of the route I did.

Where to Park

The Waterfall Way hike has some of the best parking I experienced in all of Iceland, and best of all, it’s 100% free. On top of being free, the parking lot is huge and can accommodate tons of cars, and is easily accessible off of Route 1.

Here is the address: Skógafoss, Iceland

Distance Traveled

According to Alltrails.com, the hike from the parking lot to Kæfufoss Waterfall was around 4.4 miles in length. This seemed about right. If you choose to hike and see all 26 waterfalls, you can expect to hike ~10.5 miles.

How Long Does it Take to Hike?

I spent quite a bit of time at Skógafoss waterfall, so this hike ended up taking me around 2.5 hours to complete. I was in a rush to see a bunch of things in the area so I unfortunately did not have the time to hike the entire Waterfall Way trail.

Elevation Change

According to Alltrails.com, I climbed over 1000 feet in elevation. A large chunk of the elevation happens in the beginning of the hike as you ascend an endless amount of stairs.

Hiking Waterfall Way on the Skógá River Elevation Map

Waterfall Way Via Skógá River elevation map (via alltrails.com)

Difficulty

If you exercise regularly this hike is not too difficult. However, don’t underestimate it. Some portions of this trail are big challenges and will test your cardio, especially the massive set of stairs at the start of the hike as you ascend next to the famous Skógafoss waterfall. After these stairs, the remaining hike is relatively easy.

Overall, I’d give this hike a 6.5 / 10 in difficulty.

Permits

There are no permits for this hike.

Cost

There is no cost for this hike, one of the rare free parking lots for hikes in Iceland.

When to Go

I went in May and it was quite lovely, a little on the cold side still. I think this hike would be great anytime in the summer months. In the winter, I’d imagine it would be quite cold and windy climbing those stairs! If it was winter, I’d probably just go see Skógafoss waterfall, as it requires little to no effort to get to and is conveniently located near the parking area.

Recommended Gear

Hiking in Iceland is a pretty wild, so having the right gear is important. One moment it can be sunny and 2 minutes later you might get hit with a massive hail storm. Preparing accordingly will help you maximize your hiking experience. I’ll highlight the gear that I brought in May, as well as additional gear that might benefit you:

  • Layers: Depending on the weather, I’d recommend wearing layers and a light, waterproof jacket. I wore long paints over my shorts, which ended up being perfect for this hike in May. If anything, you can take a layer off if you get too warm, so it’s better to wear layer
  • Waterproof Jacket / Pants: A waterproof outer layer would be a good idea for any hike in Iceland. For this hike, especially as you walk closer to Skógafoss waterfall, prepare to get wet.
  • Hiking backpack with straps: If you don’t have a backpack with straps, I recommend you get one. They aren’t too expensive on Amazon. Your shoulders and back will thank you later. This hike is pretty tough depending on the speed you go up it, which can pay your body a toll without the proper gear.
  • Portable charger: If you take a lot of photos / videos like me, you’ll want to bring a portable charger for your phone. I also use the alltrails.com app to navigate so having enough battery is important.
  • Water bladder: If you want to save on weight and also help your backpack be more balanced than carrying a big bottle of water in your bag, a water bladder is important. I personally use a 3L water bladder and I drank about 40% of it on this hike.
  • Hiking shoes: Hiking shoes that are waterproof will benefit you if you go in on this trail. There are plenty of muddy and wet sections on the hike, so having the right hiking shoes is important.
  • Snacks: Who doesn’t like snacks? While hiking, even on a medium-length hike like this, you burn lots of calories. My personal go-to’s on this hike were: Honey roasted peanuts, gummy bears, protein shakes, and protein bars.
  • Bug spray: I didn’t experience bugs on this hike, so this wasn’t really needed. But it’s always good to prepare just in case.
  • First aid kit: It’s a good idea to bring Band-Aids, a bandage, and some cut cleaning items. I have needed band-aids in the past from slipping on rocks, but I did not on this hike.
  • Sunscreen: You never know with Iceland. Some days it’s very sunny and many other days it’s rainy and cloudy. It would be a good idea to put on some sunscreen before this hike.
  • Flashlight: If you go anytime near sunrise or sunset, I’d recommend having a flashlight. However, in May, it was light 18+ hours in the day so a flashlight was not so needed.

Nice to Have Gear:

Here are a few items that would make your Waterfall Way Via Skógá River hike experience even better:

  • Shoe impact insoles: These can help as you traverse hard rocks along the way.
  • Phone tripod: If you go alone or with a group and want great pictures, a phone tripod is key. I use one on every hike I go on. You may not need to use one very often because there were quite a few people on this trail that you could ask to take a picture for you.

The Play By Play: My Route Hiking Waterfall Way on the Skógá River

So what’s it like hiking Waterfall Way on the Skógá River? Read my hiking guide play by play below:

Parking Lot

One often overlooked factor for hiking is the parking situation. Fortunately, Skógafoss / Waterfall Way has one of the best parking lots at any attraction in Iceland due to its large size, accessibility, and the free price tag. I managed to take a photo as I was climbing the endless stairs to the starting point of the trail:

Waterfall Way in Iceland Parking Lot

Despite arriving at perhaps the busiest time of the day (around 1 PM), there were plenty of spots still available.

Skógafoss Waterfall

What can you say about the Skógafoss waterfall? At 197 feet tall and 82 feet wide, Skógafoss is one of the most iconic waterfalls in the world and arguably Iceland’s most famous. The Skógafoss waterfall is easily accessible from the parking area, requiring only a short walk with no elevation gains to climb. Many other waterfalls require you to view them from a distance, at angles, or from a higher elevation. In contrast, this waterfall allows you to face it head on from the bottom of the falls as you walk towards it.

I’d recommend wearing a waterproof jacket and pants if you plan on getting anywhere near the falls. In the case of the couple featured on the right image, they are wearing full ponchos with hoodies, and are still probably getting soaked. What a beautiful place this is!

Skógafoss Waterfall in Iceland

The Stairs

This guide wouldn’t truly be a guide without showcasing the stairs. If you choose to go beyond Skógafoss waterfall to start on Fimmvorduhals Trailhead, you’ll have to ascend a massive set of stairs to the right of the waterfall. These stairs will test your cardio and give you a nice calf burn as you ascend to the top. The good news is there aren’t many more steep ascents on this hike.

At first, the stairs are pretty spaced apart. As you climb higher, the stairs get steeper and steeper:

Hestavaðsfoss Waterfall

While not nearly as prominent as Skógafoss waterfall, Hestavaðsfoss waterfall is a beautiful 2nd waterfall on the Waterfall Way hike. This two-step waterfall is roughly 30 feet tall total, with the first step being 10 feet and the larger bottom step being 20 feet.

Fosstorfufoss Waterfall

The 3rd waterfall on Waterfall Way Hike is Fosstorfufoss Waterfall. This waterfall is so very uniquely shaped with multiple levels and interesting fall patterns. In many places this would be a destination waterfall, but amazingly it’s just one part of the 26 waterfalls on the Waterfall Way hike.

Steinbogafoss Waterfall

The 4th waterfall on Waterfall Way is Steinbogafoss Waterfall. This waterfall is viewed at a bit of a distance from the trail, but it’s still fairly large at 25 feet tall.

Fremri-Fellsfoss Waterfall

The  5th waterfall you can expect to see on Waterfall Way is Fremri-Fellsfoss waterfall. At 48 feet tall, Fremri-Fellsfoss waterfall is one of the larger waterfalls on Waterfall Way.

Innri-Fellsfoss Waterfall

The 6th waterfall on your hiking journey of Waterfall Way is Innri-Fellsfoss waterfall. At 39 feet tall, Innri-Fellsfoss is yet another beautiful waterfall along the Fimmvorduhals Trailhead. While I didn’t get a separate video capture of Innri-Fellsfoss, you can see it below as the 2nd waterfall in the back:

Rollutorfufoss Waterfall

The 7th waterfall on Waterfall Way is Rollutorfufoss Waterfall. This oddly shaped waterfall is more long than tall, and faces the trail as you pass it by.

Skalabrekkufoss Waterfall

The 8th waterfall on Waterfall Way is Skalabrekkufoss. At 141 feet tall, most hikers on Waterfall Way want to make it to at least this waterfall before they turn around. For most other locations in the world, this would certainly be a destination waterfall. But on Waterfall Way, it’s one of many beautiful waterfalls!

Kæfufoss Waterfall

The 9th waterfall (and the last waterfall I visited before turning around) on Waterfall Way is Kæfufoss. I decided I’d stop at this waterfall because 1) I had other places to visit still that day and 2) I was beginning to get waterfall overload (Never thought that was even possible). In North Carolina where I live, Kæfufoss would be a featured waterfall people would drive hours to see, but here on Waterfall Way, it’s one of the smaller ones.

After Hike Dinner

After hiking and adventuring all day in Southern Iceland, I was pretty hungry and in need of some carbs. I was staying in the wonderful city of Vik that night, so I decided to go try Black Crust Pizzeria. I ordered the black crust pizza with Icelandic langoustine, truffle-infused cream cheese, red onions, rucola, and herbs for around 4000 ISK, or $28 dollars. It was pretty awesome, and I destroyed the entire thing.

black crust pizza with Icelandic langoustine in Iceland

If you’re looking for a good spot to eat in Vik, Black Crust Pizzeria fits the bill, and it won’t break the bank.

Black Crust Pizzeria in Vik, Iceland

About My Experience Hiking Waterfall Way Via Skógá River

Overall, hiking Waterfall Way Via Skógá River was an amazing experience. The waterfalls are certainly what this hike is famous for, but there were a few other factors I really enjoyed as well.

In this section, I highlight my favorite parts, as well as a few of my least favorite parts of this hike.

Favorite Parts

Here are a few of my favorite parts of hiking Waterfall Way Via Skógá River in Iceland:

Skógafoss Waterfall

Skógafoss Waterfall is what most people come to this location for. It’s one of the most beautiful, epic waterfalls you’ll ever see. What I love about this waterfall is how you can walk right up to it and face its full power at ground level.

The Vastness on Fimmvorduhals Trailhead

Shortly after you climb up the million stairs and get on Fimmvorduhals Trailhead, you’ll notice the vastness of the space in the highlands. I loved how open it felt up there at the beginning of the trail past the observation decks and stairs. Take a look for yourself:

Other Waterfalls

If you like waterfalls, you won’t be disappointed. In total there are 26 waterfalls on this hike. I hiked until Kæfufoss, so I ended up seeing 9 waterfalls, but if you have more time, continue on the Fimmvorduhals Trailhead while it runs parallel with the Skógá River.

Least Favorite Parts

There weren’t too many parts of this hike I didn’t like. But here is one of my least favorite parts:

Lots of People

I am really nitpicking here, but there were quite a few people at Skógafoss Waterfall and along the Waterfall Way hike. That speaks to the popularity of this hike, and for good reason: It’s stunning.

Overall Score

Seeing Skógafoss Waterfall from Route 1 will get your heart pumping with excitement. Skógafoss Waterfall is one of the most epic waterfalls in Iceland, and perhaps the world. After getting your fix of Skógafoss Waterfall, the hike itself is wonderful. If you hike until the end of fimmvörðuháls trail along the Skóga river, you’ll see a total of 26 waterfalls! If you hike to Kæfufoss waterfall (which is what I did), you’ll see 9 total waterfalls, which is still an amazingly high amount of waterfalls all in one hike. I give this trail a 9.3 / 10.

Final Thoughts on Hiking Waterfall Way Via Skógá River in Iceland

If you are looking for one of the most iconic waterfall hikes in the world, Waterfall Way Via Skógá River fits the bill. While I was blown away by Skógafoss Waterfall, I found myself loving the entire hike after climbing those million stairs! It was just such a great, memorable experience, and I think you’ll love it too.

Happy wandering to you!

Anthony Bart
Author: Anthony Bart

Hello! Welcome to HappyWanders! My name is Anthony, I'm on a mission to live a life full of adventure and to help you to do the same. As an ex-corporate worker and current entrepreneur, I've been working to design a life with more time for adventure and less time for the 9-5 grind. If you're ready for an adventure, you're my type of person!

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