Askja Trail

Trail specs

Distance (mi.) Stages Elevation Gain Best Time Difficulty
60
5
3300

May-Sept

  

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Trail description

This highly recommended trail is best described as a trip through the pure Icelandic wilderness. To get to the starting point of the route you have to rely on an all-terrain vehicle. That probably says enough … The area is only accessible a few months a year in summer. You walk across the most extensive lava field of the country and past ancient volcanoes and their mystical lakes.

Photo by Matthew Eisman

You should not ask me for the exact pronunciation, but the Askja Trail takes you from Herðubreiðarlindir to the Svartárkot farm in five days. And if that is not enough tongue gymnastics for you yet, I am happy to inform you that the official name of the Askja Trail is actually Öskjuvegurinn.

The Askja is an active volcano, located in a remote part of the Vatnajökull National Park. “Askja” means “butter dish” and refers to a complex of several active volcanic ponds. And this fiery beauty is definitely active. By spewing no less than twenty billion cubic meters of lung capacity in the air, the Askja volcano destroyed most of the eastern fjord area of Iceland in 1875. In 1961 she sputtered one last time. But since then she has fallen in a deep sleep.

Photo by Luca Temporelli, edited

The highest mountains around the volcano are about 4,900 feet (1,500 meters) above sea level. The not so impressive elevation profile and the relatively short distance of this hike may suggest that walking the Askja Trail is a breeze. But do not be fooled. Mainly due to the fact that you can only resupply your drinking water in a few places, good preparation of this trip is strictly necessary. Fortunately, you can usually refill your drinking bottle with fresh water at the huts.

A second difficulty lies in the turbulent weather. Iceland is known for the weather to suddenly turn around. A clear blue sky can wrap itself in an impenetrable fog in no time, which will put your orientation skills to the test. Snow storms in the middle of summer are quite common too. Be sure to consider taking a GPS on this trip. Because if such a treacherous storm comes up, you should not be surprised if you can not spot any trail marks anymore.

Foto by Kanbron, edited

The route is well equipped with cabins, where you can spend the night. They vary in size. The smallest cabin has 16 beds, while the largest can accommodate more than 50 people. It is advisable to book a bed in advance. Pitching your tent is possible in Herðubreiðarlindir and at the Dreki hut. At the other cabins you can ask for permission.

More information

Websites:
https://www.ffa.is/en/the-askja-trail

Books and maps:

GPS downloads:
Download HERE

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