Grundarfoss

Grundarfjordur / Snaefellsnes, West Region (Vesturland), Iceland

About Grundarfoss


Hiking Distance: roadside; or about 3.2km round-trip to base
Suggested Time: about 60-75 minutes to base

Date first visited: 2007-06-24
Date last visited: 2021-08-17

Waterfall Latitude: 64.90945
Waterfall Longitude: -23.22002

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Grundarfoss was an impressive 70m plunging waterfall near the town of Grundarfjörður, which was easily seen right from the Road 54 along the northern coast of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Given its conspicuous location, it was tempting to dismiss it as a roadside waterfall, perhaps only pausing for a photo from a distance, and then move on, which we wound up doing our first time here in June 2007.

Grundarfoss_003_06242007 - Grundarfoss
Grundarfoss

Granted, we were trying to catch a scheduled ferry (bound for the Westfjords) in Stykkishólmur on that trip so time was short.

Indeed, it was one of those waterfalls that seemed to compel us to want to stop and spend more time for it even though we may be trying to go somewhere else when we didn’t budget time for such a stop.

Such was the dilemma that we had asked ourselves when presented with that very situation, and it was one of the reasons why I’ve learned that slow travel would allow us time to let things happen rather than chasing a bucket list of sights.

So when we came back in August 2021, we decided that we should at least do the hike to get closer to Grundarfoss for a more intimate perspective.

Grundarfjordur_001_06242007 - This was Grundarfjörður and Kirkjufell looking a bit different from those iconic shots of this same mountain backing Kirkjufellsfoss
This was Grundarfjörður and Kirkjufell looking a bit different from those iconic shots of this same mountain backing Kirkjufellsfoss

And in doing that, we were richly rewarded with a closeup view of the falls as it was flanked by basalt columns with birds swooping in and out of hidden alcoves.

At the same time, we also got distant views towards a neighboring waterfall called Kvernárfoss as well as views towards the famous mountain Kirkjufell (provided it wasn’t shrouded in clouds).

According to my Icelandic dictionary, the word grund meant “field” or “plain”, and it reminds me of the English word “ground”.

So I suppose the name Grundarfoss meant “Field Falls”, which was kind of fitting since we had to cross a large green pasture (which cows grazed upon) to get close to it.

Experiencing Grundarfoss

Grundarfoss_005_08172021 - Context of Grundarfoss as seen from the trailhead parking and boundary gate as seen during a rainy day on our August 2021 visit
Context of Grundarfoss as seen from the trailhead parking and boundary gate as seen during a rainy day on our August 2021 visit

From the car park near the Road 54 (see directions below), we proceeded through a gate and immediately walked a straight trail alongside a property boundary fence.

Throughout the first 600m stretch of the hike, it seemed like the falls kept beckoning us to come closer so it was easy to pause frequently for photos along the way.

Then, the trail veered to the left as more protective fencing and a locked gate had us go around some kind of infrastructure that seemed to exploit or utilize the Grundará Stream.

At this point, the views of Grundarfoss were more angled and partially obstructed since the detour made us go further to the east towards the stream itself.

Grundarfoss_038_08172021 - That couple ahead of us got to a point where they had to cross the Grundará Stream in order to get closer to Grundarfoss
That couple ahead of us got to a point where they had to cross the Grundará Stream in order to get closer to Grundarfoss

So after another 500m of this extension of the hike to avoid trespassing, we found ourselves hiking along the stream before the trail reached a point where we had to cross it.

It seemed like the property boundary necessitated this stream crossing, which directed us further away from the more direct and pleasing views of the falls, and I even noticed one person fly a drone instead of crossing the stream.

Indeed, while the stream could be crossed without getting wet, I found that the water was high enough and the rocks were slippery enough that I wished I had brought my trekking poles for balance.

Once beyond the crossing, the trail then went the final 500m as the path steeply climbed closer to the waterfall’s spray zone at the foot of the basalt cliffs that gave Grundarfoss its plunging characteristic.

Grundarfoss_103_08172021 - Distant view of Kvernárfoss as we were returning from the Grundarfoss hike just as the rain was picking up again on our August 2021 visit
Distant view of Kvernárfoss as we were returning from the Grundarfoss hike just as the rain was picking up again on our August 2021 visit

On the way back to the trailhead, I couldn’t help but notice other trails that kept to the right of the stream, which I suspect were worn use-trails caused by people looking for an easier way to get back across the Grundará without getting wet.

Overall, we spent a little over an hour to do this hike, but we at least got to enjoy the views towards Mt Kirkjufell as well as the Kvernárfoss in the next drainage to the west.

Authorities

Grundarfoss resides in the West Region near Grundarfjörður, 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_Grundarfjordur_005_iPhone_08172021 - We could already see Grundarfoss when we were heading west on the Road 54 towards Grundarfjörður
Grundarfoss_001_08172021 - Looking ahead at the Grundarfoss Waterfall from the car park on our August 2021 visit
Grundarfoss_004_08172021 - Checking out the signed turnoff for Grundarfoss, which made this waterfall even harder to miss
Grundarfoss_007_08172021 - Mom going through a gate to get onto the pretty straight shot trail to get closer to Grundarfoss
Grundarfoss_010_08172021 - Context of Mom walking towards the Grundarfoss Waterfall during our August 2021 visit
Grundarfoss_012_08172021 - Looking back at the car park for the Grundarfoss Waterfall
Grundarfoss_017_08172021 - Looking ahead at the Grundarfoss Waterfall as the trail and boundary fence pretty much paralleled each other
Grundarfoss_019_08172021 - Mom and Tahia approaching some gate and fencing that would ultimately make us detour around them
Grundarfoss_020_08172021 - Looking at the gate with signage telling us that the Grundarfoss Trail going to the left
Grundarfoss_023_08172021 - Mom following the grassy trail towards the Grundará as we had to go a little away from the Grundarfoss Waterfall before getting closer again
Grundarfoss_024_08172021 - Contextual view of Grundarfoss as seen over the fenced off area that made us go around instead of directly to the waterfall on our August 2021 visit
Grundarfoss_027_08172021 - Ultimately that trail detour got us to skirt alongside the west side of the Grundará Stream with Grundarfoss being partially visible
Grundarfoss_039_08172021 - Focused portrait look at Grundarfoss with a couple up ahead hesitating about crossing the Grundará (they opted to use a drone instead) as seen on our August 2021 visit
Grundarfoss_043_08172021 - Another contextual look at the couple hesitating by the creek crossing of the Grundará as they tried to get closer to Grundarfoss during our August 2021 visit
Grundarfoss_049_08172021 - Context of the Grundará Stream with the boundary fencing squeezing the trail even further to eventually forcing us to cross
Grundarfoss_050_08172021 - Looking across the small cascades and rapids that I'd have to rock hop my way across to get to the other side and continue getting closer to the Grundarfoss Waterfall
Grundarfoss_053_08172021 - Looking back at the creek crossing where the rocks were a bit slippery and it made me wish I had brought my trekking poles for that extra stability during our August 2021 visit
Grundarfoss_054_08172021 - Looking ahead at the Grundarfoss Waterfall now that I was on the other side of the stream
Grundarfoss_056_08172021 - Closeup look at what looked like wild huckleberries or blueberries near the Grundarfoss Waterfall Trail
Grundarfoss_059_08172021 - Looking up at the Grundarfoss Waterfall while still hiking along the boundary fencing on our August 2021 visit
Grundarfoss_061_08172021 - Looking back towards the open water off the northern coast of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula as seen from the foot of Grundarfoss
Grundarfoss_069_08172021 - Looking right at the Grundarfoss Waterfall from near its base
Grundarfoss_073_08172021 - Broad look up at Grundarfoss from its base which revealed the basalt cliffs and a handful of alcoves that birds were flying in and out of during our August 2021 visit
Grundarfoss_079_08172021 - Composed look at the Grundarfoss Waterfall and its neighboring alcoves as seen on our August 2021 visit
Grundarfoss_080_08172021 - More angled and profile look at the Grundarfoss Waterfall as I started to head back down on our August 2021 visit
Grundarfoss_083_08172021 - An intermediate cascade fronting the Grundarfoss Waterfall as seen from just downstream from its base
Grundarfoss_084_08172021 - Looking up towards Grundarfoss with more of the cliff context around it on our August 2021 visit
Grundarfoss_087_08172021 - Looking back at the Grundarfoss Waterfall as I was following some use trails in pursuit of an easier spot to cross the Grundará
Grundarfoss_091_08172021 - Looking back at the Grundarfoss Waterfall just as the next round of misty rain started falling on us on our August 2021 visit
Grundarfoss_094_08172021 - Context of Mom heading back around the detour on the way back to the Grundarfoss Track car park just as the weather had deteriorated on our August 2021 visit
Grundarfoss_098_08172021 - Tahia and Mom almost back at the car park for Grundarfoss
Grundarfoss_100_08172021 - Looking towards the town of Grundarfjörður and a cloud-covered Mt Kirkjufell on our return hike to the Grundarfoss trailhead
Grundarfoss_102_08172021 - By the time we got back to the car park, the visibility really declined as the next wave of weather can barreling into the area on our August 2021 visit
Snaefellsnes_057_jx_06242007 - Here's a contextual view of Grundarfoss and the mountains backing it when we first saw it in June 2007
Grundarfoss_002_06242007 - Another look at Grundarfoss dwarfing a pole and some livestock as seen in June 2007
Snaefellsnes_050_jx_06242007 - We saw this small waterfall somewhere near Grundarfjörður as there seemed to be no shortage of waterfalls on this side of Snæfellsnes


It’s pretty hard to miss Grundarfoss when driving the Road 54 along the northern coast of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

That said, I’ll just say that the car park for the Grundarfoss hike was 2km east of the N1 station by the Vinbuðin in the center of Grundarfjörður along the Road 54.

Grundarfoss_003_08172021 - Looking back towards the town of Grundarfjordur from the signed turnoff for the car park of Grundarfoss. This goes to show you how far away the town and the backing Mt Kirkjufell was
Looking back towards the town of Grundarfjordur from the signed turnoff for the car park of Grundarfoss. This goes to show you how far away the town and the backing Mt Kirkjufell was

The car park will be on the right (the inland side of the road).

As for geographical context, Grundarfjörður was about 26km (less than 30 minutes drive) east of Ólafsvík, 39km (30 minutes drive) west of Stykkishólmur, 101km (over an hour drive) northwest of Borgarnes, and 177km (under 2.5 hours drive) northwest of Reykjavik.

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Brief downstream to upstream sweep starting with the stream crossing in the distance before panning back towards a thin companion falls and the main falls


Long video starting with the base of Grundarfoss before sweeping along the cliffs and down along the stream towards Grundarfjordur before panning back to the falls

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Tagged with: snaefellsnes, olafsvik, west region, vesturland, iceland, waterfall, hellissandur, rif, breidarfjordur, atlantic, stykkisholmur, grundarfjordur, kirkjufell



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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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