About Bruarfoss (Bruararfoss)
Bruarfoss (Brúarfoss or Brúarárfoss; meaning “bridge falls”) was one of the more unique waterfalls that we encountered in Iceland, and thus it attracted quite a following especially on Instagram.
A distinguishing feature of this modest 3-5m waterfall that it was much wider than it was tall while featuring numerous segments and ripples caused by the dark underlying lava that contrasted the white and blue of the Brúará River.
However, right in the middle of this waterfall was a long yet narrow rift or fold where the waterfall seemingly fell onto itself towards the center.
Because we missed it on our first visit to Iceland in 2007 and then had to wait 14 years to finally get our chance to experience this place, it really felt like we were a bit late to the party, so to speak.
Yet in that period of time, with the waterfall’s growing popularity, the authorities closed the nearest approach to the falls due to trespassing on private lands as well as associated increased littering and erosion from off-trail scrambling.
It’s kind of a familiar story we’ve seen especially at home in the States when people show up with little to no disregard for the consequences of their actions.
Perhaps that is why the only legal way to reach Brúarfoss is through a longer 7km round trip hike.
At least the nice thing about earning our visit to Bruarfoss is that we not only got to be more intimate with the environment here, but we also witnessed two other waterfalls along the way.
As much as it would have been nice to see the waterfall’s powder blue waters under sunlight, even the gloomy overcast skies that we experienced didn’t suppress the color of the Brúará River.
Anyways, we wound up covering this 7km hike in a span of nearly 4 hours, but it was mostly flat with quite a bit of muddiness, which you’ll see in the trail description below.
Brúarfoss Trail Description – Open Spaces and Muddy Trails
The falls was named the “Bridge Falls” because of a natural bridge that once stood over the narrowest part of the waterfall.
However, it was said to have been destroyed in 1602 by someone from the Skálholt church at a time when famine raised fears that peasants would cross that bridge to compete for the bounty owned by the church.
Perhaps fittingly, the hike to Brúarfoss started next to the Road 37 by a bridge over the Brúará River.
After passing by a stile (or the adjacent cattle guard), we then walked a fairly wide open and featureless 1.2km stretch between agricultural fields.
Then, the trail traversed a side stream, where it then went through a very muddy 800m stretch flanked by tall growth.
It was here that we definitely appreciated wearing legitimate hiking boots though we saw other visitors ruining sneakers that probably had no business being on a trail like this.
Brúarfoss Trail Description – Hlauptungufoss and Miðfoss
Once we got through the muddy area, we then found ourselves back by the rush of the Brúará over the first of the three waterfalls of the hike – Hlauptungufoss.
This particular 5-10m waterfall occurred where the river narrowed into a tight chute amidst some slippery yet sharp lava rocks.
Already at this waterfall, we could see the color from the glacial river appear within the waterfall itself, which was quite reminiscent of the Salto Grande in Patagonian Chile.
Continuing beyond Hlauptungufoss, the trail then skirted the east side of the Brúará where after 500m we arrived at the Miðfoss.
Unlike Hlauptungufoss, which was a singular chute waterfall, Miðfoss was really a series of segmented rapids and small cascades.
Brúarfoss Trail Description – The Final Stretch
Further upstream of Miðfoss, the trail continued along a calmer part of the river while a few forks in the trail eventually converged a short distance further (so it didn’t matter which fork you chose to continue the hike).
After a little over 500m from the uppermost of the Miðfoss Waterfalls, the trail then ascended a hill in the vicinity of some Summer homes.
At the top of this hill, we then crossed a bridge over a stream yielding a side cascade with an alternate trail.
Had we taken this alternate trail, which was more overgrown, instead of the uphill climb we just did, we could have hiked alongside that side cascade.
Unfortunately, during our August 2021 visit, we still saw evidence of inconsiderate visitors leaving soiled toilet paper by the trail (perhaps justifying the closure of the shorter trail from the Summer homes nearby).
Anyways, the final 300m stretch beyond the bridge over the side cascade eventually led us to the final bridge over the Brúará River, which also happened to be right in front of the Brúarfoss Waterfall.
Even during our morning visit, it was pretty busy on the bridge though I was well aware that it could be even more crowded here given how many people we’d eventually see heading to the falls when we were heading back to the trailhead.
In any case, after having our fill of the falls, we just came back the way we came as this was a pretty straightforward hike.
Bruarfoss resides in the Southern Region of Iceland near Reykjavik, Iceland. It is administered by the municipality of Bláskógabyggð. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting their website.
Since Bruarfoss (or more accurately Brúarfoss) can be crammed into a busy Golden Circle Day Tour, we’ll just focus on the driving directions from Reykjavík.
First, we’d drive east on the Route 49 for about 7km as we kept left to stay on the Ring Road (Route 1).
After passing through several roundabouts, the Route 1 will eventually junction with the Route 36 on the right (about 15km from downtown Reykjavík).
We’d then follow Route 36 (Þingvallavegur) east for 45km before leaving the 36 to continue straight on the Route 365 (Gjábakkavegur) towards Geysir and Gullfoss.
After over 14km on the Route 365, we then continued straight onto the Laugarvatnsvegur (Route 37) east for another 14km to the Brúarfoss car park on the left just after the bridge over the Brúará.
Overall, this 91km drive would require about 75 minutes give or take.
It’s worth noting that this trailhead is 15km west of Geysir, 25km west of Gullfoss, 42km east of the Öxarárfoss car park in Þingvellir National Park, and 49km (over 30 minutes drive) north of Selfoss.
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