Iceland // Southwestern Iceland //

Hveragerði hikes

Reykjadalur, the steamy heights above Hveragerði, is covered in trails and hot springs, its hillsides stained by volcanic salts and heathland plants, and, in fine weather, offering inspiring views coastwards – not to mention the bathable warm streams, so take your swimwear. Maps of the area, available at the information centre, have all trails and distances marked; on the ground, many routes are staked out with coloured pegs. As always, carry a compass and come prepared for bad weather.

For an easy four-hour circuit, follow Breiðamörk north out of town for about forty minutes to a bridged stream at the base of the fells, from where a pegged trail heads uphill. Crossing the muddy top, you descend green boggy slopes into Reykjadalur (Steam Valley), named after the hot stream that runs through the middle. You need to wade across this at any convenient point – there’s a shallow ford – and then follow the far bank at the base of the forbidding rubble slopes of Molddalahnúkar, past a number of dangerous, scalding pools belching vapour and sulphur – stay on the path. At the head of the valley, 3km from the bridge, the stream bends west, with Ölkelduhnúkur’s solid platform straight ahead and the main trail following the stream west along Klambragil, another steamy valley. There are a number of shallow, warm places to soak here – just test the water temperature before getting in.

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