Barnafoss

Reykholt / Husafell, West Region (Vesturland), Iceland

About Barnafoss


Hiking Distance: 500m round trip; about 1km total (both falls)
Suggested Time: at least 15 minutes; about 45 minutes total (both falls)

Date first visited: 2007-06-23
Date last visited: 2021-08-18

Waterfall Latitude: 64.70192
Waterfall Longitude: -20.97235

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Barnafoss was really more of a series of rapids on the Hvítá River (not to be confused with the river by the same name causing Gullfoss even though they’re both fed by the Langjökull Glacier).

The river was forced through a narrow rocky chute that apparently once had a large natural bridge spanning across it though we noticed that there still stood a second natural bridge closer to the river.

Barnafoss_019_06232007 - Barnafoss
Barnafoss

The meaning of this waterfall translates into “Children’s waterfall”, but the signs here indicated that there was a saga describing how it got this name.

The Barnafoss Saga

The saga said that there were two children in the Hraunsás household who were supposed to stay home while the parents went to church for Christmas Mass.

When the parents returned from mass, they discovered that the children had disappeared (possibly because the children got bored and decided to go out).

They then followed the children’s tracks to this waterfall at the stone natural bridge where the tracks disappeared.

Barnafoss_004_06232007 - Barnafoss rushing beneath one of the natural bridges spanning an old lava flow
Barnafoss rushing beneath one of the natural bridges spanning an old lava flow

The mother concluded that the children must have fallen into the river and drowned.

Then, the mother had the arch destroyed in order to ensure no one else faces a similar fate.

I’ve seen some accounts say it was by spell or curse, which induced the bridge’s collapse by earthquake.

The Barnafoss Experience

In reality, natural bridges usually collapse over time as these and natural arches in general only last for just a blip on the geologic time scale.

Hraunfossar_111_08182021 - Looking at the lone natural bridge still standing across the turbulent rapids squeezed in by the Hallmundarhraun Lava Field at the Barnafoss Waterfall
Looking at the lone natural bridge still standing across the turbulent rapids squeezed in by the Hallmundarhraun Lava Field at the Barnafoss Waterfall

Moreover, given the powerful erosive forces from the rapidly moving river that undercut whatever was supporting the bridge, that could very well have been the fate of the upper natural arch here.

Anyways, as far as experiencing Barnafoss, it’s really part of the Hraunfossar experience as the part for Barnafoss was just an extension of the trail system here east of the footbridge over the Hvítá River.

When we last came here in August 2021, the entire excursion encompassing both named waterfalls was a short walk of about 1km in total and it only took us about an hour as we really took our time.

However, it seemed like the sanctioned trail and lookouts only went about 60m beyond the trail junction before the footbridge over the Hvítá River.

Hraunfossar_066_08182021 - The Barnafoss experience should be combined with Hraunfossar since they're both part of the same system of trails and lookouts
The Barnafoss experience should be combined with Hraunfossar since they’re both part of the same system of trails and lookouts

I swore that in the past, we had been able to hike a bit further upstream to the point that we could see other springs feeding the turbulent upper reaches of Barnafoss, which you can in the first photo on this page (not the hero image).

I go into more detail about the trail description in the Hraunfossar writeup.

Authorities

Barnafoss resides in the West Region of Iceland near Akranes, Iceland. It is administered by the municipality of Borgarbyggð. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting their website.

Hraunfossar_008_08182021 - Looking downstream along the extent of Hraunfossar from the first lookout closest to the car park less than 500m away from the lookouts for Barnafoss
Hraunfossar_019_08182021 - An excursion to Barnafoss has to be combined with a visit to Hraunfossar, which was unique enough for us to put it on our Top 10 Iceland Waterfalls list at one point
Hraunfossar_071_08182021 - Looking upstream from the footbridge in the direction of Barnafoss and its pair of sanctioned lookouts as seen in August 2021
Hraunfossar_094_08182021 - This was an unusual view of Barnafoss as seen from the other side of the Hvítá River after having crossed the footbridge
Hraunfossar_102_08182021 - Looking upstream again towards Barnafoss with a small cascade feeding the Hvítá further downstream
Hraunfossar_105_08182021 - Checking out the context of the first lookout for Barnafoss as seen from closer to the footbridge
Hraunfossar_106_08182021 - Context of the footbridge and the first lookout for Barnafoss
Hraunfossar_118_08182021 - Looking down at the lone standing natural bridge left across Barnafoss as seen from its second sanctioned lookout
Hraunfossar_121_08182021 - Context of the trail leading directly from the car park to the lookouts for Barnafoss
Barnafoss_002_06232007 - Our first look at Barnafoss.  Is that another natural bridge down there?
Barnafoss_005_06232007 - A more direct look at Barnafoss and what appeared to be a natural bridge
Barnafoss_011_06232007 - A different angled view of Barnafoss so we could clearly see that both sides of the rock were definitely attached to the walls so it was indeed a natural bridge
Barnafoss_014_06232007 - Another more angled look at the natural bridge that we spotted at Barnafoss
Hraunfossar_004_jx_06232007 - Another look at the natural bridge at Barnafoss


Barnafoss is in the same area as Hraunfossar.

So see that page for specific driving directions.

Hraunfossar_005_08182021 - The Barnafoss experience should be combined with Hraunfossar since they're both part of the same system of trails and lookouts including this car park
The Barnafoss experience should be combined with Hraunfossar since they’re both part of the same system of trails and lookouts including this car park

For geographical context, Reykholt was about 35km (about 30 minutes drive) southeast of Bifröst, 41km (over 30 minutes drive) northeast of Borgarnes, 71km (under an hour drive) northeast of Akranes, and 108km (about 90 minutes) north of Reykjavik.

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Long video focusing on seeing Barnafoss and its lone standing natural bridge from a couple of different lookouts


Looking at the turbulent river squeeze between the lava rocks. It looks like there might be a natural bridge down there, too!

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Tagged with: reykholt, husafell, west region, iceland, waterfall, reykjavik, barnafoss, saga, arch, bridge



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