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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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