Frequently cited as one of Europe’s best day hikes, the walk to Stórurð (the Giant Boulders) takes in some of east Iceland’s most dramatic mountain scenery. It takes around two and a half hours each way, crossing the scenic Vatnsskarð Pass to reach Stórurð’s huge namesake boulders, which lay at the foot of a glacier in the Dyrfjöll Mountains. Carried by a landslide at the end of the last Ice Age some 1.6 million years ago, the boulders sit in a vibrant deep-blue glacier lagoon. On this guided hike, you’ll cross grassy meadows, alpine lakes and take in panoramic views of east Iceland’s rugged mountain wilderness.
Meet your guide for the day at the Vatnskarð Service Station on road 94 northwest of Borgarfjörður Eystri. After introductions and a brief description of what the day will entail, set off on the trail.
The initial section of the hike is the steepest, ascending on Geldingafjall Mountain, where you’ll get sweeping views of the rugged mountains of east Iceland. From here the landscape changes, and you’ll make your way along old sheep trails and possibly see wild reindeer grazing in the tranquil valley against a backdrop of green meadows and ponds.
The name Dyrfjöll means Door Mountain and soon the reason behind the name becomes when a large gap between the peaks will come into view — the gap has been regarded as a gate to hell in Icelandic tradition.
Descend a steep path, crossing a gushing stream to reach Stórurð, a remote valley surrounded by jagged peaks and littered with giant boulders. At its heart is a sapphire lake where you can sit, rest and take in the scenery.
The hike is 14 km (8.6 miles) in total and typically takes seven hours to complete, depending on your pace and how many stops you make. This is a moderate-grade hike, with uneven terrain and some uphill sections, particularly at the start of the hike, so a good level of fitness is necessary. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to discuss this with your specialist.
Your daypack should include a packed lunch, snacks and a large bottle of water. Additionally, be sure to wear sturdy walking boots, warm thermal layers and waterproof clothing. Even if the forecast is fine, Icelandic weather is extremely changeable and it’s best to be prepared for all eventualities.
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