Mt. Brennisteinsalda, also called the Sulphur Wave, is a rainbow-colored mountain in Landmannalaugar.
This hike combines the best features of Landmannalaugar: lava fields, geothermal features, and panoramic views. You even get to hike a very short portion of the Laugavegur Trail, Iceland’s most famous multi-day trek.
Mt. Brennisteinsalda Hiking Stats
Distance: 6.5 km (4 miles) loop
Total Ascent: 300 meters (1000 feet)
Length of Time: 2 to 3 hours
When to Go: Mid-June through mid-September. This is when the trails and the roads to Landmannalaugar are free of snow.
How to Hike Mt. Brennisteinsalda
Step-By-Step Trail Guide
Hiking the Brennisteinsalda loop can be confusing. To get to and from the Landmannalaugar campground, you will hike several different trails, combining them into a loop. The trail colors change multiple times on this hike, so you need to pay close attention to the trail markers and the trail signs.
This hike starts and ends at the Landmannalaugar campground.
From the campground, walk south towards Blahnúkúr, the massive, blueish-gray mountain in the photo below.
There will be a sign pointing to the right, labeled Graenagil, the white trail. For approximately 1 km, you will walk through Graenagil canyon. Blahnúkúr will be on your left and the Laugarhaun lava field will be to your right.
Once in the lava field, you will arrive at this sign. Follow the sign to Laugavegur and Hrafntinnusker.
Hiking to the Summit of Mt. Brennisteinsalda
For several hundred meters you will hike through the rough, jagged rocks of the Laugarhaun lava field. This part of the trail is labeled with yellow trail markers. Note: according to a reader who wrote in in 2022, these markers are now orange.
Once through the lava field, the trail smooths out and starts to climb towards the summit of Brennisteinsalda. Turn left to follow the sign to Hrafntinnsuker on the Laugavegur Trail. You are now on the red trail.
At this point, you will hike past steaming, sulfuric vents and colorful geothermal features. From the top of the climb, you get a great view over the lava field. Also, there is a good chance that you will see backpackers doing the multi-day Laugavegur trek to Thórsmörk.
The view over the Laugarhaun lava field.
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.
This final climb is the toughest of the day but it’s worth it. From the top, enjoy the amazing views over Landmannalaugar.
The view of the Laugavegur Trail from Brennisteinsalda and hikers heading to Thórsmörk.
The blueish-gray mountain is Blahnúkúr. You can hike to the peak of Blahnúkúr for more amazing views of Landmannalaugar.
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. 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.
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 (I wasn’t joking when I said the trail markers change a lot).
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.
The trail to the campground.
Summary of the Hiking Trails
- Take the orange trail through Graenagil Canyon
- Continue throught the lava field before reaching the Laugavegur Trail
- 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
Hike Mt. Blahnúkúr
Mt. Blahnúkúr, also called the Blue Peak, is another great hike to do in Landmannalaugar. This is another short, tough hike but the views are a little better from the summit, in my opinion.
Hike the Blahnúkúr Brennisteinsalda Loop
You can combine Blahnúkúr and Brennisteinsalda into one epic day hike. If you have the time and the energy, this is a great way to spend your time in Landmannalaugar.
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.
Learn how to get to Landmannalaugar, get suggestions on things to do once you are here, and tips to have the best experience in our Guide to Landmannalaugar.
If you have any questions about the hike up Mt. Brennisteinsalda or a visit to Landmannalaugar, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to Iceland
ONE DAY IN LANDMANNALAUGAR: Learn how to plan your visit with our One Day in Landmannalaugar itinerary. On the drive, you can also visit Haifoss and Sigoldugljufur, two beautiful waterfalls.
BEST OF ICELAND: For a list of top experiences in Iceland, don’t miss our Iceland Bucket List. The South Coast of Iceland is jam-packed with wonderful sights to see. You can also photograph waterfalls, explore the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, and take your pick from a long list of hiking trails.
ICELAND ITINERARIES: There are several ways to put together a trip to Iceland. If you have 10 days, here are four different ways to spend your time in Iceland. We also have a detailed 10 day itinerary that includes the highlights of Iceland, perfect if it is your first visit. Or, if you are looking for more adventure, check out our 10 day Iceland Adventure Itinerary.
ICELAND TRAVEL ADVICE: First time in Iceland? Here are essential things to know about Iceland, including driving tips, sample costs, SIM cards, when to visit, and more.
Read all of our articles about Iceland in our Iceland Travel Guide.
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Thank you for the detailed description. This was extremely helpful when we did the hike earlier this week (1st Oct). This article and the other articles, as well, about getting to landmannalaugar and which hikes to choose, immensely helped and motivated to do this. The best resource I found online about the hike and the area. many thanks!
The markers have changed a bit – like there is no white markers at the start anymore- the Graenagil trail is now marked orange from the the camping upto the end of the lava fields (where if you continue with the orange markers – the orange markers take you back to the camping, but if you want to go up the mountain – follow the red / green markers (the left turn) would take you to the top of Brennisteinsalda and then the green markers take you to the top and back through the valley and to the lava field (the other way) and the red / white / orange back to the camping.
Thank you so much for this update!! We did this hike in July 2019. I liked the views more from Blahnukur, since you are a little higher and can see Brennisteinsalda. Cheers, Julie