Bjarnarfoss

Maelifell / Budir / Snaefellsnes, West Region (Vesturland), Iceland

About Bjarnarfoss


Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

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

Waterfall Latitude: 64.84783
Waterfall Longitude: -23.40307

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Bjarnarfoss (I used to spell it Bjarnafoss) was a tall waterfall tumbling right behind the small farming hamlet of Buðir, opposite the Mælifell Volcano.

I had read there was a legend saying that underneath the waterfall stood the “Lady of the Mountains” (Fjallkonan), who would let the waterfall’s spray drop onto her shoulders.

Bjarnafoss_003_06232007 - Bjarnarfoss
Bjarnarfoss

This act is said to be a symbolic embodiment of the Icelandic people, and it’s possible to make the steep climb up to the base of that main drop to recreate this act.

While this waterfall that was easily seen from the Road 54 could be dismissed as another roadside attraction on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, I think its 80m height and plunging tiers made this one stand out from those others.

Indeed, we did notice upon closer inspection of Bjarnarfoss that there were basalt columns behind the two main sections of the falls.

That was further evidence to us of the interplay of lava and ice, which seemed to be a very common phenomenon throughout our visits to Iceland.

Bjarnafoss_006_08182021 - Context of the new car park and trail leading closer to the Bjarnarfoss Waterfall with the Mælifell Volcano near it
Context of the new car park and trail leading closer to the Bjarnarfoss Waterfall with the Mælifell Volcano near it

If I had to guess, I’d imagine that the lava might have been supplied by the nearby conical peak of the Mælifell volcano (though the entirety of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula has been known to harbor other volcanos that could erupt at any time).

Although it was very tempting to just take a roadside view of Bjarnarfoss, we took some time to drive to a new car park and take a new trail leading us closer on our August 2021 visit.

The infrastrucure was not there on our June 2007 visit so we kind of went closer to the falls by way of a driveway to the local farm nearby to get our views.

Anyways, from the well-established car park (see directions below), we then walked roughly 250m or so on a boardwalk alongside the waterfall’s stream.

Bjarnafoss_046_08182021 - Context of some people hiking closer to the foot of the Bjarnarfoss Waterfall on the new trail with the non-slip grid surface during our August 2021 visit
Context of some people hiking closer to the foot of the Bjarnarfoss Waterfall on the new trail with the non-slip grid surface during our August 2021 visit

We went just far enough to get a clean look at the waterfall without the power lines getting in the way before turning back.

However, we could have gone all the way past the footbridge (after about 500-600m from the trailhead) before making the rather steep climb up to the base of the main two drops of Bjarnarfoss.

Authorities

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

Drive_to_Bjarnafoss_020_iPhone_08182021 - Descending closer to the attractive Bjarnarfoss Waterfall as we were approaching the Road 54 and Road 574 junction
Drive_to_Bjarnafoss_029_iPhone_08182021 - Context of the Bjarnarfoss Waterfall when we had driven the incorrect unpaved road to get to the new car park during our August 2021 visit
Drive_to_Bjarnafoss_032_iPhone_08182021 - Sheep grazing before the Bjarnarfoss Waterfall during our August 2021 visit
Bjarnafoss_002_08182021 - Our first look at the Bjarnarfoss for the first time in 14 years during our August 2021 visit as we were nearing the new car park and trailhead
Bjarnafoss_013_08182021 - On the non-slip grid surface of the new trail leading closer to the Bjarnarfoss Waterfall as seen during our August 2021 visit
Bjarnafoss_018_08182021 - Focused look at the Bjarnarfoss Waterfall dwarfing the footbridge way down below, which gives you an idea of how far up the steep slope you'd have to climb to get up to the base of the falls
Bjarnafoss_022_08182021 - Closer look at the context of the new trail with a spur leading to an opening where we got a look at Bjarnarfoss without getting in the way of people walking up to the footbridge and base of the falls
Bjarnafoss_049_08182021 - Looking towards the neighboring farm before the Bjarnarfoss Waterfall from the new trail
Bjarnafoss_001_06232007 - Context of Bjarnarfoss with the Mælifell Volcano as seen during our first visit in June 2007
Bjarnafoss_002_06232007 - Looking upstream towards the Bjarnarfoss waterfall during our visit in June 2007
Bjarnafoss_008_06232007 - More zoomed in direct look at the Bjarnarfoss waterfall and its cascades further downstream during our June 2007 visit
Bjarnafoss_024_06232007 - Bjarnarfoss with part of Mælifell volcano behind it and some wildflowers blooming in front of it as seen from farm near Buðir during our June 2007 visit
Bjarnafoss_019_06232007 - Closer look at Bjarnarfoss in long exposure as seen in June 2007
Bjarnafoss_025_06232007 - Julie checking out Bjarnarfoss from a farm during our June 2007 visit
Bjarnafoss_003_jx_06232007 - Profile view of Bjarnarfoss and some stringy cascade backed by the Mælifell volcano during our visit in June 2007
Bjarnafoss_005_jx_06232007 - On the day that we had gone all the way around the west end of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in June 2007, we returned to Bjarnarfoss later in the afternoon and this was what we saw


We saw the Bjarnarfoss Waterfall just before the junction of route 54 and 574 (Útnesvegur) on the western end of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula near Arnarstapi.

From Arnarstapi, we would drive roughly 17km east on the Road 574 towards its junction with the Road 54.

Drive_to_Bjarnafoss_015_iPhone_08182021 - While driving from Ólafsvík to Bjarnarfoss, we got some nice views of it while descending the pass towards the southern side of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
While driving from Ólafsvík to Bjarnarfoss, we got some nice views of it while descending the pass towards the southern side of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Then, we’d continue east on the Road 54 for another 400m before turning left onto the the unpaved road Bjarnarfossvegur (there’s a sign here), and finally we’d turn left after another 200m to enter the large car park.

If we were driving from Ólafsvík, then we’d head east on the Road 574 for about 4km before turning right at its junction with Road 54.

Then, we followed the Road 54 for about 14.6km as it traversed a pass before turning left at the signposted turnoff for Bjarnarfoss and followed the remaining 250m to its large car park.

Overall, both of these drives should take roughly 15-20 minutes.

Bjarnafoss_008_08182021 - Looking across the new paved car park before the Bjarnarfoss Waterfall
Looking across the new paved car park before the Bjarnarfoss Waterfall

For geographical context, Ólafsvík was 9km (less than 10 minutes drive) east of Hellissandur, at least 37km (about 30 minutes drive) north of Arnarstapi, 64km (about an hour drive) west of the ferry town of Stykkishólmur, 118km (90 minutes drive) northwest of Borgarnes, and 187km (2.5 hours drive) north of Reykjavik.

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360 degree sweep from some kind of lookout area before the end of the trail providing both a downstream view of the car park as well as the contextual view of the falls and companion


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Tagged with: maelifell, budir, snaefellsness, west region, iceland, waterfall, reykjavik, olafsvik, fjallkonan, farm



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