Julie Iceland 6 Comments

Mt. Blahnúkúr and Mt. Brennisteinsalda are two very popular hikes to do in Landmannalaugar, Iceland. If you can’t decide between the two, it’s possible to do both, combining the hikes into one big loop.

If you are looking for an epic experience in Landmannalaugar, it’s hard to beat this hike. You will walk through lava fields, past steaming fumaroles, up and down zig-zagging trails, and you will summit two mountains. The Blahnúkúr Brennisteinsalda loop is one of our favorite hikes in Iceland.

Facts About this Hike

Distance: 9.7 km (6 miles)
Total Ascent: 610 meters (2000 feet)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length of Time: 4 to 6 hours
When to Go: Mid-June through mid-September. This is when the trails and the roads to Landmannalaugar are free of snow.

On this hike, you will first summit Mt. Blahnúkúr and then Mt. Brennisteinsalda. By doing it this way, you get the toughest climb over with first. It is possible to do this in the opposite direction, but the biggest climb of the day will come near the end of the hike.

Mt. Blahnúkúr is also called the Blue Peak. It’s blueish-gray color gives it a much different appearance than the yellow, orange, and brown mountains of Landmannalaugar. The trail to the summit of Blahnúkúr features multiple sections of steep climbs and switchbacks. It is a tough climb and it earns the distinction as the most challenging hike in Landmannalaugar, but the views along the way are incredible.

Mt. Brennisteinsalda is also called the Sulphur Wave. This colorful mountain also features a steep climb, although it is not as challenging as Mt. Blahnúkúr. From the summit, you have great views of the Laugahraun lava field and trekkers on the Laugavegur Trail.

Getting to the Trailhead

From the campground, walk along the riverbed in the direction of the Blahnúkúr (if you are not sure where to go, ask at the Information Desk). It is a flat, 0.8 km (0.5 mile) walk from the campground to the trailhead. At the base of the mountain, there is a sign marking the trailhead.

Hiking to Blahnukur

Hiking from the campground to Mt. Blahnúkúr. You will cross a bridge over a small river before arriving at the trailhead.

Hiking Up Blahnúkúr

From the trailhead, it’s a steady uphill climb. At times, the trail will be steep, with switchbacks and short, steep ascents.

Along the way, there are many places to stop to take a break and to take photos. In fact, we hardly had time to get out of breath, simply because we stopped so frequently to take photos. This is one hike where you probably won’t mind the climb, simply because the views just keep getting better and better.

The View over Landmannalaugar

View over Landmannalaugar.

 

On the Hiking Trail

Mt Brennisteinsalda

Mt. Brennisteinsalda is the colorful mountain off in the distance.

 Blahnukur Hike

Hike Mt Blahnukur

Landmannalaugar View

Blahnukur Trail

Hike Landmannalaugar

Looking back at the hiking trail.

 

Hike Blahnukur

Another view of the hiking trail.

The Summit of Blahnúkúr

From the summit, enjoy the panoramic views over the rhyolite mountains of Landmannalaugar. 

Blahnúkúr Brennisteinsalda Loop Hike

Tim Rivenbark

Hiking Down Blahnúkúr

From the peak of Mt. Blahnúkúr, the trail heads to the east and eventually drops down to a riverbed. From the peak to the riverbed, it is an easy, downhill hike.

On the Blahnukur Trail

On the way down you will come to a fork in the trail. If you take the trail to the right, it will be a very steep descent back down to the canyon. The trail to the left is the longer way to go, but it is much less steep, so it’s a lot easier on the knees. We chose the trail to the left.

Below is the view of Blahnúkúr from Brennisteinsalda. The white line is the longer, easier hiking route that we took. The red line is the more direct but very steep hike down the mountain.

Blahnukur Trail Route

Here is the view along the trail.

Hiking in Iceland

Best Landmannalaugar Hike

To Brennisteinsalda

Hiking down Blahnúkúr, with Mt. Brennisteinsalda in the distance.

The last section of the trail, just before reaching the riverbed, is very short and steep. We walked down this without any problems, but the trail at this section is slippery. Good hiking shoes are a must and hiking poles will help, and we did see a few people slip and fall.

Descent

Hiking Up Brennisteinsalda

Once you make it down to the riverbed, turn right to head back in the direction of the campground. You will cross the small river (look for a bridge of stepping stones to help you cross the river) and then follow the yellow trail markers into the lava field.

Through the Riverbed

Yellow Trail Laugahraun

Laugahraun Trail

Follow the yellow trail until you get to this sign. Turn left to hike the Laugavegur Trail towards Hrafntinnsuker.

Landmannalaugar Trail Sign

Once you hike up out of the lava field, the trail markers will change to red. At this point, you will hike past steaming, sulfuric vents and colorful geothermal features. From the top of the climb, you have a great view over the lava field.

Laugahraun View

Sulphur Wave

Another hefty climb brings you to this trail sign (below). Turn right to continue up Brennisteinsalda. Now you are on a trail labeled with green trail markers.

Trail Sign

Now, it’s just one more big climb to the peak of Mt. Brennisteinsalda. Here is the view from the summit.

View from Brennisteinsalda

Mt Blahnukur

The view of Blahnúkúr from Brennisteinsalda.

 

Laugavegur Trail

Trekkers on the Laugavegur Trail.

The Hike Back to Landmannalaugar

From here, it’s a mostly downhill walk to get back to the campground. Continue to follow the green trail downhill, in the direction of Vondugil.

Brennisteinsalda Hike

It’s a very pretty walk and now that you are walking downhill, it’s easier to enjoy the views of the multi-colored rhyolite mountains that make this region so unique.

Hike Brennisteinsalda

At the bottom of Mt. Brennisteinsalda, turn right and walk through the flat valley towards the lava field. Now you are a trail with white and green trail markers.

White and Green Trail

Once in the Laugahraun lava field, the trail markers change one final time to red and white and now you should follow the signs to Landmannalaugar. This part of the trail is easy to walk, since it’s a wide, gravel trail. Most likely you will see a lot of people here, since the hike through Laugahraun is the most popular hike to do in Landmannalaugar.

Through Laugahraun

Summary of the Hiking Trails

  • Walk 0.5 miles from the Landmannalaugar campground to the trailhead for Blahnúkúr
  • Hike Mt. Blahnúkúr
  • Once in the riverbed, follow the yellow trail markers into the lava field
  • Turn left onto the red trail, the Laugavegur Trail
  • Turn right on the green trail to the Brennisteinsalda summit, towards Vondugil
  • Follow the white and green trail through the valley towards Landmannalaugar
  • Follow the white and red trail through the Laugahraun lava field to Landmannalaugar

If combining these two hikes into one larger hike sounds like too much to do, you can choose between Blahnúkúr and Brennisteinsalda (or from one of several other day hikes in Landmannalaugar). Read our individual posts about each hike:

How to Hike Mt. Blahnúkúr (the Blue Peak)

Mt. Brennisteinsalda: Hiking the Sulphur Wave

Tips to Have the Best Experience

Wear hiking shoes. This trail is a mix of dirt, gravel and clay and it can be slippery in spots. If you have hiking poles, they can be helpful as well.

It can be cold in Landmannalaugar, even in the summer. Bring several layers and make sure you bring a rain jacket.

Check the weather before you go. This hike is best done on a clear day.

Articles about Landmannalaugar


If you have any questions about hiking Blahnukur and Brennisteinsalda as a loop, comment below.

More Information for Your Trip to Iceland:

Read all of our articles about Iceland in our Iceland Destination Guide.

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Best Landmannalaugar Hike Iceland Guide

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Comments 6

  1. Many thanks for the great idea to combine both hikes and the very detailed itinery description which made it really easy for us to find our way. It helped us have an unique experience in Landmannalaugar!

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      Author
  2. Wow! Just wow! We just got back from doing this hike and it’s indeed an epic experience! As a Dutch guy the most altitude difference I get is walking up the stairs so my legs were killing me uphill on Mt. Blahnukur. But it was so worth it! When you’re on top of that mountain.. Again, just wow! Your description of the route and photos can’t be any more clear. It helped us a lot. The steep descent (the fork) from Mt. Blahnukur was now closed (at least today). Good shoes are indeed a must. It was cold and wet today and some descents were really slippery but we made it without sliding downhill. Again thanks for your great write-up of the hike! Cheers, Peter

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      Author

      Hello Peter. Thanks for writing in to us! I’m so glad we could help you out. 😊 Have a great time in Iceland! Cheers, Julie

  3. I really congratulate you for your travels and for your site. I never happened to find so much detailed information. I am planning my trip to Iceland and would like to go hiking in the Landmannalugar. I am fascinated by the loop of Mt. Blahnúkúr and Mt. Brennisteinsalda. Do you have a gpx or kml track? Thank you so much for your help!

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      Author

      Hello Daniele. Thank you so much for you kind words. I currently do not have a GPX or KML track. Hopefully the photos and trail description is clear enough to help you do this hike. Cheers, Julie

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