Stekkjarfoss

Vatnsdalur / near Blönduós, Northwest Region, Iceland

Rating: 1     Difficulty: 2
Stekkjarfoss

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Stekkjarfoss (I've also seen it spelled Stekkarfoss) was one of many waterfalls in Vatnsdalur ("Lake Valley"). This particular waterfall featured a low river-type waterfall with part of its flow segmented into what appeared to be a fish ladder. This was the first (and only) waterfall we were able to visit while doing the waterfall hike in Vatnsdalur (though my old research notes indicated these waterfalls were technically in Forsædalur) that was supposed to be for multiple waterfalls starting with this one, Dalfoss, Skessufoss, Rjukandi, Kerafoss, and finally Skinandi.

It was to be a very long hike, which we devoted an entire day for, but upon a prior day late afternoon scouting trip to see what we were in for, we realized that we might have bitten off more than we could chew so-to-speak. And that's why this page only featured the first waterfall and excluded the rest (since we didn't get to see them). The big issue with this hike was that it turned out to be a bit more rugged than we thought. It didn't help that there wasn't a whole lot of literature about this area to begin with so we really didn't know what to expect other than the hope that this adventure might turn into a real memorable one with a Skinandi sighting.

So we started by tentatively leaving the car near (in?) someone's farm where the road essentially degenerated into grass with a gate blocking further access (see directions below). Julie and I then walked in the upstream direction on the trail following alongside the river for about 20-30 minutes or so. That was when we eventually saw this waterfall and fish ladder across the river.

The trail then continued on as the canyon started closing in. Eventually, we got to a point where the trail disappeared and the canyon closed in to the point that the river's waters spanned the gorge from wall-to-wall. We would find out after the fact that we were supposed to cross the river somewhere, but it wasn't clear to us where that was supposed to be. Plus, with the high water from the early Summer snowmelt, it wasn't likely that we were going to wade in the icy cold water. Thus, we turned back and had to be content with not seeing the remaining waterfalls in this valley.

In hindsight (with hindsight always being 20/20), we probably should've let the accommodation know that we were interested in doing the hike to Skinandi. Then, we could've paid for an arranged tour with the hosts (possibly on horseback) to get through some of the river crossings and to help reduce the long distance of this hike. Of course, all this depended on whether such tours were offered. Otherwise, we probably would have to undertake this kind of hike later in the Summer when the river levels would be lower. In any case, we hope that by putting this entry here, someone else might have better luck than we did and share his/her experiences.

By the way, Vatnsdalur was known to be the place of the last execution in Iceland. It was also a picturesque valley that featured rolling hills and green pastures.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Vatnsdalur (where Stekkjarfoss was located as well as where we had spent a night) featured lush green pastures and rolling hillsVatnsdalur (where Stekkjarfoss was located as well as where we had spent a night) featured lush green pastures and rolling hills
Not far from Vatnsdalur, we visited Hvítserkur, which was a pretty cool tidal rock and sea arch.  It was about 18km west of Vatnsdalur to the 716 turnoff on the right, which then joins road 711Not far from Vatnsdalur, we visited Hvítserkur, which was a pretty cool tidal rock and sea arch. It was about 18km west of Vatnsdalur to the 716 turnoff on the right, which then joins road 711
There was a tiny waterfall that spilled onto the black sand beach fronting Hvítserkur (though I don't think that really counts as a waterfall that get its own writeup)There was a tiny waterfall that spilled onto the black sand beach fronting Hvítserkur (though I don't think that really counts as a waterfall that get its own writeup)
On the day after we had stayed in Vatnsdalur, we made a stop at the Glaumbaer turf farms (which followed a visit to the beautiful Ketubjorg Waterfall)On the day after we had stayed in Vatnsdalur, we made a stop at the Glaumbaer turf farms (which followed a visit to the beautiful Ketubjorg Waterfall)
Looking back at our parked rental vehicleLooking back at our parked rental vehicle

Julie on the track that followed along the river towards the waterfallsJulie on the track that followed along the river towards the waterfalls

The trail initially started above the riverThe trail initially started above the river

Julie crossing a gate.  This was the main reason why we opted to park where we didJulie crossing a gate. This was the main reason why we opted to park where we did

The sign for StekkjarfossThe sign for Stekkjarfoss. That was encouraging.

StekkjarfossStekkjarfoss

Beyond Stekkjarfoss, we saw this faint grass trail so we continued along itBeyond the falls, we saw this faint grass trail so we continued along it

Beyond Stekkjarfoss, we somehow lost the trail as we were essentially hiking right along the river at this pointBeyond Stekkjarfoss, we somehow lost the trail as we were essentially hiking right along the river at this point

This was about as far as Julie could go before it was just water in front of us.  As you can see from the steep terrain, it was doubtful that we could continue on land to stay dryThis was about as far as Julie could go before it was just water in front of us. As you can see from the steep terrain, it was doubtful that we could continue on land to stay dry. Perhaps we were supposed to cross the river somewhere before this point?

Context of where Julie stopped and turned aroundContext of where Julie stopped and turned around.

With our inability to visit Skinandi, that freed up a lot of time including a visit to HvitserkurWith our inability to visit Skinandi, that freed up a lot of time including a visit to Hvitserkur

Hvitserkur as seen from the lookout pointHvitserkur as seen from the lookout point

A little bit of a steep descent to get down to the black sand beachA little bit of a steep descent to get down to the black sand beach

A closer look at that waterfall by HvitserkurA closer look at that waterfall by Hvitserkur


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Julie and I were able to at least get to this waterfall thanks to some handwritten map drawings and verbal instructions from Jón at the Hof í Vatnsdalur farmstay. Given that the trailhead wasn't signposted, we wouldn't have even gotten to the right place without his help in this regard.

To get to Hof í Vatnsdalur, we had to take the Ring Road to the road 722 on the east side of the river at the mouth of Vatnsdalur (there's a signpost indicating this valley). The turnoff from the Ring Road was about 17km south of Blönduós. Then, we followed the 722 for a little over 15km to the Guesthouse Hof í Vatnsdalur to our right.

Then to get to the trailhead, we continued south on Road 722 for no more than 10km where there was a turnoff about 50m from the second farm. Then, once we were on the turnoff, we drove on grass towards a dry grassy area with rocks. This was where we stopped because of a gate obstructing further access as well as the belief that we were on a foot trail and not on a road anymore.

It's worth noting that it only took us around 15 minutes or so of driving between the guesthouse and the "car park."

As for geographical context, Blönduós was 143km (over 90 minutes drive) along the Ring Road west of Akureyri and 237km (about 3 hours drive) along the Ring Road north of Reykjavík.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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