Brúarfossa cautionary tale

In the south-west part of Iceland, along the Golden Circle, there is a waterfall named Brúarfoss. Its blue waters have long attracted tourists but I think not enough has been said about the poor condition of the hiking path to the viewpoint. My own experience was not particularly pleasant.

The foss had previously been accessible via a short trail over private property, but this shortcut has since been closed. You therefore have to park a significant distance away along the highway and embark upon a hike along the river towards the viewpoint. The hike is about 7km return, which is only moderately long, but the condition of the path and the weather make it much less comfortable than it should be.

Photo of initial path

The path began as a deceptively pleasant, relatively flat gravel path. It was a cool ~10°C with overcast skies.

The first sign of trouble came at the first river crossing. The ground around the river was uneven and muddy and every step resulted in an unpleasant squelch.

The path continued to deteriorate

The condition of the path continued to deteriorate, and turned completely muddy by the 1km mark. The initially-pleasant walk along an average-looking river (by Icelandic standards) had become a muddy gauntlet by this point. At the same time, the darkening clouds were a reminder that there was a distinct possibility I would have to hike the return journey whilst cold, drenched, and facing an even muddier path.

Dead forest

Gradually, the scenery disappeared and was replaced by a forest of leaveless trees. Naturally, the muddy path remained. The uneven and slippery ground had begun to wear on my ankles by this point.

Reunited with the river

Finally, we reunited with the river and sighted slighly blueish water. The path remained both rocky and muddy though. There were several mini-fosses at this point, with slighly blue waters. At this point, the good news was that these underwhelming waterfalls were not the highlight of the hike — this was merely Hlauptungufoss, a warm-up waterfall on the way to Brúarfoss. The bad news was that despite the ordeal so far, 2/3 of the hike lay ahead (not to mention the return journey).

Midfoss

An additional kilometre of rocky, slippery, and uneven terrain later, we were teased with a slightly more impressive foss. This was only Miðfoss — an inaccurately named waterfall which actually marks the 2/3 mark along the hike, although I didn't know that at the time.

Pebble path

Several hundred more metres of terrain liable to cause twisted ankles, beyond muddy footprints of less fortunate hikers who appeared to have slipped, there finally lay a pebble path, and beyond that, the waterfall I had risked mud, rain, twisted ankles, and cold for — Brúarfoss.

Now all that was left was to do it all again in reverse.

The waterfall was undoubtedly a nice one. It was fairly blue, as promised, and the distant mountains offered a nice backdrop. But it was not particularly stunning by Icelandic standards, and it was just a waterfall. Perhaps the hike would have been less difficult had I not done Þingvellir earlier that morning. Still, considering the long and strenous hike and the poor condition of the path, Brúarfoss is unlikely to be worth the trouble.

8 Jun 2022
Not worth it
Worth it
Must do