Glymur

Hvalfjordur, West Region (Vesturland) / Capital Region (Höfuðborgarsvæði), Iceland

About Glymur


Hiking Distance: 5km round trip; some scrambling
Suggested Time: 4 hours

Date first visited: 2007-06-21
Date last visited: 2007-06-21

Waterfall Latitude: 64.39083
Waterfall Longitude: -21.25209

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Glymur (sounds like “glimmer”; my Icelandic dictionary says it means “clash or ringing”) was once said to be the tallest waterfall in Iceland at 196m.

I had read that it was once a very popular attraction as the Ring Road used to go around Hvalfjörður (the Whale Fjord; I think is pronounced “KHVAHL-feeur-thur”) where this waterfall can be found.

Glymur_104_06212007 - Glymur
Glymur

Then, the toll tunnel that went under the fjord bypassed the old route and became the new route for the Ring Road.

As a result, we ended up with a bit of an adventure as well as a quieter (albeit rugged) experience given the lighter use.

Another cool thing about this hike to Glymur was that we got to see a natural arch as a bonus!

The hike also featured views back towards the Whale Fjord showcasing the rugged landscape that would come to typify the Iceland landscape that we’d encounter for the rest of our trip.

Glymur_147_06212007 - Passing through a double arch on the hike to Glymur. This arch was quite an unexpected surprise as it added to the hit list of reasons to enjoy this hike
Passing through a double arch on the hike to Glymur. This arch was quite an unexpected surprise as it added to the hit list of reasons to enjoy this hike

Regarding Glymur’s changed status as Iceland’s tallest, we have witnessed new glacier-melt waterfalls in Norway as a result of Global Warming.

Consequently, this may have been an example of what happened with the revealing of a new and taller waterfall in Iceland.

Moreover, the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010 may have further receded the ice to finally allow it to be noticed and surveyed.

However, details on the other waterfall called Morsarfoss (Morsárfoss) were sketchy as its accessibility was said to be difficult.

Kjenndalsbreen_154_07192019 - With Global Warming and the consequent rapid melting of mountain glaciers, new waterfalls are emerging. Shown here is the rapidly receding Kjennsdal Glacier in Norway which is likely how Morsárfoss came to be
With Global Warming and the consequent rapid melting of mountain glaciers, new waterfalls are emerging. Shown here is the rapidly receding Kjennsdal Glacier in Norway which is likely how Morsárfoss came to be

In any case, Glymur was said to be the tallest when we visited it in June 2007, and as you can see from this page, we have lots to say about it.

The Hike to Glymur

The way we wound up experiencing Glymur was an out-and-back hike that followed a steep trail on the east side of its river to satisfying views before turning back.

We ended up logging about 5km of hiking while it took us about four hours to complete the excursion.

There may have been other ways to experience this hiking trail as we had noticed a handful of other hikers on the opposite side of the river.

Glymur_133_06212007 - Context of Julie negotiating one of the sketchier parts of the Glymur hike
Context of Julie negotiating one of the sketchier parts of the Glymur hike

It may have led up to the top of the waterfall though we can’t really say more about what the rest of this trail is like until we actually do it.

Nevertheless, this route is definitely something I’m keen on doing next time.

In any case, our hike included some time spent losing the trail at the start.

It also included some additional time spent scrambling to seek out better views of Glymur.

Glymur_064_06212007 - Context of the rugged landscape surrounding the Glymur trail
Context of the rugged landscape surrounding the Glymur trail

We definitely tested our fear of heights and butterflies in our stomachs as each viewpoint of Glymur involved getting close to the sheer dropoffs of the gorge cliffs.

We were careful not to get too close to the edge since we couldn’t be sure of the stability of the ground we were on.

Indeed, this was a hike with a fair bit of fitness and good judgement is needed to fully enjoy it.

Moreover, I’d definitely recommend a good pair of hiking boots to better handle some of the trail’s sketchier spots.

Glymur Trail Description – from the trailhead to a junction

Glymur_013_06212007 - Looking back towards Hvalfjörður (the Whale Fjord) fronted by a large field of wildflowers on the trail to Glymur
Looking back towards Hvalfjörður (the Whale Fjord) fronted by a large field of wildflowers on the trail to Glymur

From the trailhead (see directions below), we followed what appeared to be a fairly obvious dirt trail.

It was leading us away from the Hvalfjord and then past a field of blooming purple flowers.

Somewhere along the way, we apparently took a false trail because it took us a little while to figure out where the correct trail continued.

Eventually, we managed to pick up the correct trail after we had retraced our steps to find the trail markers again (basically yellow dots spray-painted on rocks).

Glymur_017_06212007 - Julie trying to follow yellow-spray-painted dots on rocks to head towards Glymur
Julie trying to follow yellow-spray-painted dots on rocks to head towards Glymur

Then, we made sure to ignore false trails while continuing to follow trail clues like those spray-painted rocks as well as a dilapidated barbed wire fence.

From that point, the trail became a bit more obvious (though we still had to maintain focus as it was easy to go astray).

We eventually got to a point where the trail curved towards a junction roughly a kilometer away from the trailhead.

At this junction, we had a choice of continuing to go straight or taking the path on our right.

Glymur Trail Description – hiking along the south side of the canyon

Glymur_021_06212007 - Julie entering what at first seemed like a cave
Julie entering what at first seemed like a cave

We ultimately chose to take the path on the right, which then led us to what appeared to be a cave.

However, once we descended inside the cave, we saw that there was some brightness on the other end.

That was when we realized that this was really a natural arch. How cool is that?!?!

At the other opening of the “cave,” we saw that there was actually an arch splitting this opening creating a double-arch.

Glymur_141_06212007 - Looking back up at the other opening of the cave-like tunnel, which revealed a double arch.
Looking back up at the other opening of the cave-like tunnel, which revealed a double arch.

The size of this arch would probably rival some of the more modest-sized arches in Arches National Park in Utah.

So this landmark made an already scenic and tranquil hike even more alluring!

The trail then descended immediately from the arch towards the level of the river that was responsible for Glymur.

There was a reinforced log spanning the river with a metal wire to hold onto for balance.

Glymur_030_06212007 - Julie approaching a reinforced log spanning the river while holding on to a metal wire for balance on the Glymur hike
Julie approaching a reinforced log spanning the river while holding on to a metal wire for balance on the Glymur hike

Once we were on the other side of the river, we then went up a steep slope with a lot of loose talus.

The climb was steep enough to require us to use our hands a little bit.

We had to be very careful for a slip and fall here could’ve led to some serious injury.

Once we got over the pretty steep climb, the trail became more straightforward to follow.

Glymur_033_06212007 - Julie using all fours to climb up the steep slope on loose talus on a particularly challenging part of the hike to Glymur
Julie using all fours to climb up the steep slope on loose talus on a particularly challenging part of the hike to Glymur

However, the trail was also narrower (hugging cliffs and dropoffs in some sections) and it was generally uphill for the next kilometer.

Along this stretch, there were some smaller cascades we went around as well as some rockier sections that felt more like scrambles than trail hikes.

In any case, parts of Glymur could be seen in the distance, which further strengthened our resolve to keep going.

Glymur Trail Description – precarious views of the waterfall

Eventually, we started reaching some viewpoints by the cliff’s edge of Glymur.

Glymur_043_06212007 - Julie checking out Glymur from one of the spots right at the edge of a cliff
Julie checking out Glymur from one of the spots right at the edge of a cliff

The first few viewpoints only provided partial views of the well-concealed waterfall accompanied by smaller waterfalls in a different part of the gorge.

As we continued going up the trail, we eventually came upon an even better view of the falls (shown at the top of this page).

From that vantage point, we could better appreciate the rough terrain of the narrow gorge that the waterfall was hidden within.

Meanwhile, we could see birds flying back and forth between cliffs before the falls.

Glymur_080_06212007 - A more direct view of Glymur, but its bottom was starting to become obscured by the steep gorge cliffs
A more direct view of Glymur, but its bottom was starting to become obscured by the steep gorge cliffs

As we went higher up the trail, we’d eventually get to a more direct view of Glymur, but the drawback was that we weren’t able to see its bottom.

We ultimately turned around at this point thinking there might not be anything more to see.

However, in hindsight, we probably should’ve gone all the way to the top of the waterfall just to complete the whole experience on this side of the river.

Authorities

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

Glymur_003_06212007 - The car park and trailhead for the Glymur Waterfall
Glymur_001_06212007 - Looking past a field of purple wildflowers towards a farm near the Glymur Trailhead
Glymur_005_06212007 - Julie on the Glymur Waterfall Trail while we tried to follow the yellow spray-painted dots on the rocks
Glymur_009_06212007 - We noticed this side cascade at the start of the Glymur hike
Glymur_010_06212007 - Julie following what wound up being a false trail near the start of the Glymur Waterfall hike
Glymur_011_06212007 - After backtracking from the false trail that we took, we eventually found this wire fence and yellow painted rock to help us regain the trail. By the way, if you can't see the wire fence, look for the rusted brown line on the lower right side of this photo
Glymur_018_06212007 - After going right at a trail junction, Julie then followed the trail towards what appeared to be a hidden cave (not visible in this photo) on the Glymur hike
Glymur_025_06212007 - Looking back at the lower opening of the double arch after emerging from the 'cave' on the Glymur hike
Glymur_027_06212007 - Looking back up at the context of the double arch that we had just passed through on the Glymur hike as we descended towards the river
Glymur_032_06212007 - Julie crossing the river with the aid of a wire. By the way, if you're real observant, you might notice that this was the spot where Julie lost one of her bottled water on the Glymur hike
Glymur_035_06212007 - Looking back at the river as we were climbing up the steep and challenging part of the Glymur hike
Glymur_036_06212007 - Context of Julie hiking up towards Glymur beyond the steep part of the trail
Glymur_039_06212007 - Looking back at the bottom of the rugged canyon and Hvalfjordur in the distance as we continued to climb up to the Glymur Waterfall
Glymur_040_06212007 - Julie standing on an outcrop before Glymur
Glymur_045_06212007 - Context of Glymur and some other side waterfalls spilling into the steep canyon
Glymur_050_06212007 - Zoomed in (but partial) look at Glymur from the first outcrop
Glymur_057_06212007 - A smaller waterfall we saw as we went closer to the Glymur Waterfall
Glymur_057_06212007 - Looking towards a side waterfall that we ultimately had to cross in order to continue to improve our viewing experience of Glymur during our June 2007 visit
Glymur_116_06212007 - Julie standing before what we thought was one of the better views of Glymur during our June 2007 visit
Glymur_060_06212007 - Looking back towards the Hvalfjordur while continuing to hike up the Glymur Trail
Glymur_061_06212007 - Looking back at the context of Julie continuing the hike to improve the viewing experience of Glymur in June 2007
Glymur_069_06212007 - Closest view of Glymur that we had before we turned back during our June 2007 visit
Glymur_075_06212007 - Another contextual look at Glymur from our turnaround spot as we didn't think the views would get any better during our June 2007 visit
Glymur_078_06212007 - Focused look at as much of the Glymur Waterfall as we could see during our June 2007 visit
Glymur_097_06212007 - Now that we were going downhill from Glymur during our June 2007 hike, we had to be real cognizant of the dropoffs to our right
Glymur_111_06212007 - Last look back at the entire height of the Glymur Waterfall during our June 2007 visit
Glymur_127_06212007 - Julie crossing the stream on her return hike from Glymur in June 2007
Glymur_014_jx_06212007 - Looking upstream at a side waterfall that we had to cross on our way back down from Glymur in June 2007
Glymur_135_06212007 - Julie almost descending to the river and the log-bridge crossing on the return hike from Glymur
Glymur_153_06212007 - Julie passing through a field of wildflowers blooming before Hvalfjörður as we were close to the trailhead to end our Glymur hike in June 2007

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To reach the Glymur Trailhead from Reykjavik, we drove about 9km east to the Ring Road (Route 1).

Then, we went north on it for about 24km to a fork right before the tunnel going beneath the Hvalfjörður.

Glymur_002_jx_06212007 - Sign at the trailhead for the Glymur Waterfall
Sign at the trailhead for the Glymur Waterfall

We turned right (to avoid the tunnel) and went onto Route 47, which continued alongside the fjord for about another 35km.

Just past a bridge at the head of the fjord, there was a signposted turnoff leading 3km further inland to the Glymur car park and trailhead.

This drive took us a little over an hour in each direction.

Closeup look at the upper part of the falls with lots of birds flying around


View of the entire length of Iceland's tallest permanent waterfall

Trip Planning Resources


Nearby Accommodations




Tagged with: hvalfjordur, west region, vesturland, iceland, waterfall, reykjavik, hike, arch, hvalvatn



Visitor Comments:

Glymur December 20, 2008 2:32 am by _Anonymous2 - We visited Glymur last summer, with our two teenage daughters. After a beautiful but challenging hike, we got tired of listening to older daughter's complaining. We saw the falls, but didn't make it to the top of the falls. We're going back this summer, without kids, and WILL make it to the top. Amazing beauty. ...Read More

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