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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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