Hike to Hengifoss & Litlanesfoss in East Iceland

Also known as Hanging Falls, Hengifoss is located next to Lagarfljot Lake and faces the Hallormsstadarskogur forest. This mystic fall is 128 m high and is one of the highest waterfalls in the Nordic country. It is 145 m above the sea level and hiking the waterfall is an uphill climbing for approximately an hour. The Hengifoss track also includes Litlanesfoss, a 45 m tall waterfall. This is a 4.3 km track that is moderately trafficked out. The trail is located near Fljotsdalsherad, Eastern Iceland. It is perfect for hiking and nature trips. The best time to explore the track lies between March and October.

Litlanesfoss basalt column waterfall in East Iceland

What to Expect from the Waterfall Hiking Trail

The Hengifoss hike trail offers a pleasant hiking experience with little benches along the way to rest, have picnics, and enjoy the view. The trail is a steady incline and steep in the early phase, you then cross green fields near the river below. This height allows you to embrace the view of the valley. As the trail continues, the river begins to disappear into a reddish canyon, a color similar to the red strata of the Hengifoss waterfall. This path continues for about 1.2 km and after walking for 20 to 30 minutes you get the view of Litlanesfoss.

Dive Deeper into the Facts about Litlanesfoss

This is a 1.2 km long trail where you walk to the rim of the gorge to get the view of Litlanesfoss. This waterfall is flanked by basalt columns that are similar to Aldeyjarfoss and Svartifoss. These waterfalls cascade into columnar basalt settings. Litlanesfoss is also known as Basalt Column Falls. It is framed by the most beautiful basalt columns, some of which stand straight and some of which are curved, forming a 30 m long flap in the narrow gorge. This is a 2-step waterfall that falls into a small pond. But its scenic beauty is a feast for the eyes.

Hengifoss waterfall in East Iceland

All you should know about Hengifoss

Hengifoss is a unique waterfall and hints at some interesting geological history. This fall has red stripes that were naturally created through a four-step process – deposition of volcanic ash and basaltic lava; the presence of mineral-rich ash on the hardened basalt; the formation of clay compounds from the soil due to damp climate of the Tertiary period; and the flow of lava over the soil, causing it to oxidize and turn red. The waterfall sits atop a cliff that overlooks the head of the lake Lagarfljot. There is a small cave behind the waterfall. In the gorge by Hengifoss, you will see a heap of collapsed sandstone. The trail to the fall is about 2.5 km and requires 2 hours of rigorous hiking that commences from the parking lot. The path has a softer slope. This waterfall is 0.9 km away from Litlanesfoss.

How to Start the Hike

There is a parking lot at the trailhead from where you begin your ascent through a gate and up a wooden staircase. At the top of the staircase, you would get a glimpse of Hengifoss. Continue up the path through the second gate and along Jonsfoss, a minor waterfall on the river.  This path is worn out and has arrows on the wooden posts to guide you to the waterfall.

You will first reach Litlanesfoss which will appear to you with its magnificent vertical basalt columns that stretch over several meters. After taking in the picturesque view of Litlanesfoss follow the gorge upstream to get closer to Hengifoss. Before continuing, look down to the parking area, across the Lagarfljot, one of the main rivers in east Iceland. The upper portion is a lake that is approximately 112 m deep and 90 m below the sea level. An interesting fact about the area is the legend that prevails. The seniors in the region believe that a monster called Lagarfljotsormurinn lives here and would cause bad luck if it is seen. Parts of the track have been widened over time to accommodate traffic and safety.  The path comes to an end upon intersecting the stream where the sandy canyon narrows. The trail is surrounded by fossilized trunks of coniferous trees that are unique to the region. In the path, you will come across notice signs for crossing the stream to go farther into this rocky amphitheater. You can witness a beautiful double rainbow that appears over a pool at the bottom when the sun is bright and to the east. Enjoy the power of the water and carefully tread over the landscape. Return to the trailhead using the same path.

This trail is known for its incredible waterfalls and unique geology. Explore it for the gigantic waterfalls, big vistas, and geological significance. However, be careful about the slippery gravel in the route. You can hike in the region during spring, summer, and fall. The track is moderately congested and has a trailhead elevation of 250 m.

Litlanesfoss basalt column waterfall in East Iceland

How to get there?

From the junction of Highway 1 and Route 92 in the city of Eglisstadir, follow Highway 1 south for next 11 km, then continue straight along the road until you get to Route 931 where the Highway turns to the left. You continue driving along Route 931 for 23 km to a T-junction and take a left turn where the sign points to Snæfells. You can find the parking lot for the hiking trail after driving about half a kilometer further, immediately after the bridge crossing the Hengifossa river. From the parking area, commence your hike from the gated trail up a flight of stairs, steadily climbing them for about 1.3 km to where Litlanesfoss begins to appear.

How to Prepare for the Trip?

When packing for this soulful trip to Iceland, you need to keep certain things in mind. Pack LAYERS of clothes. The weather in the Nordic country is unpredictable. Therefore, extra layers are always necessary.

You can check out our packing list recommendations here. 

Make your trip to the country of waterfalls memorable as you dive into an adrenaline rush inducing activities such as hiking Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss.

Hengifoss waterfall in East Iceland
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