Kirkjufellsfoss

Grundarfjordur / Snaefellsnes, West Region (Vesturland), Iceland

About Kirkjufellsfoss


Hiking Distance: almost roadside
Suggested Time:

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

Waterfall Latitude: 64.92635
Waterfall Longitude: -23.31185

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Kirkjufellsfoss (“Church Mountain Falls”) was a short but very well-situated waterfall near the distinctive Kirkjufell mountain on the north side of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Similar to the neighboring Grundarfoss, we were presented with a dilemma on whether to stay for a while or to keep going during our first visit in June 2007.

Kirkjufellsfoss_sunset_005_iPhone_08172021 - The famous view of Kirkjufellsfoss and Mt Kirkjufell as seen at sunset
The famous view of Kirkjufellsfoss and Mt Kirkjufell as seen at sunset

By the way, we also happened to be rushing to catch a ferry in Stykkishólmur to the Westfjords, which further added a bit of haste to that first visit.

So we briefly paused for a roadside look at Kirkjufellsfoss, but unbeknownst to us, we missed out on a view of this waterfall together with Mt Kirkjufell.

That view would ultimately became one of the iconic photo spots in the years since that first trip as it became viral through shows or movies, social media, and even ESPN’s Sportcenter of all places!

And thus, we had to come back 14 years later to finally experience Kirkjufellsfoss in the manner that everyone else had been compelled to do it.

Kirkjufellsfoss_002_06232007 - Contextual roadside view of Kirkjufellsfoss as seen in June 2007
Contextual roadside view of Kirkjufellsfoss as seen in June 2007

Anyways, this experience taught me yet another example of how haste makes waste, especially when on travel.

It was a huge lesson for us in slowing things down and letting emergent discoveries result in spontaneous moments as opposed to reducing a trip (especially a place like Iceland) into a mechanical checking-off-the-box exercise.

The Iconic Shot of Kirkjufellsfoss

Back in June 2007 when we were first here, I didn’t recall there being an obvious place to park and pursue the iconic shot of Kirkjufellsfoss, but when we came back in August 2021, you couldn’t miss it!

Basically, there was a signposted turnoff to a fairly spacious car park (see directions below) with plenty of room for self-drivers and tour buses.

Kirkjufellsfoss_005_08172021 - Looking back at the Kirkjufellsfoss car park, which was definitely more developed in August 2021 than it was in June 2007 when we were first here
Looking back at the Kirkjufellsfoss car park, which was definitely more developed in August 2021 than it was in June 2007 when we were first here

This car park was apparently on private property so the locals owning and maintaining this land have asked for payment though I’m not sure if the government was on board with this.

Then, we merely walked for about 250m to a bridge over the Kirkjufellsá, where I noticed a partial view of another waterfall upstream as well as the main waterfall just downstream of the bridge.

On either side of the bridge was a developed trail allowing us to experience the falls from both sides of the stream though the vast majority of the traffic crossed the bridge for that iconic shot across Kirkjufellsfoss towards Mt Kirkjufell.

There were actually two possibilities of taking that iconic shot across the waterfall since the falls had two tiers over its modest 16m height.

Kirkjufellsfoss_087_08172021 - Looking across the lower drop of Kirkjufellsfoss towards Mt Kirkjufell as seen in August 2021. We really had to be patient with the weather because the clouds stubbornly clung to the peak of the mountain
Looking across the lower drop of Kirkjufellsfoss towards Mt Kirkjufell as seen in August 2021. We really had to be patient with the weather because the clouds stubbornly clung to the peak of the mountain

Most of the ads I’ve seen along with Instagram (or other social media platform) copy-cats took the iconic shot across the upper drop of Kirkjufellsfoss.

However, it’s also possible to get a similar shot across the lower drop.

It appeared that rope barricades had been set up to try to stop erosion by the small dropoffs besides the falls given how many people try to reproduce the iconic shot.

That said, it didn’t seem to stop the dozens or so of people trying to get their shots anyways.

Kirkjufellsfoss_134_08172021 - Looking across the upper drop of Kirkjufellsfoss from the less popular side showing the bridge and the context of the busier side of the trail
Looking across the upper drop of Kirkjufellsfoss from the less popular side showing the bridge and the context of the busier side of the trail

Anyways, with this waterfall, we could spend as little time as we wanted or as much time as we wanted.

This was especially the case around sunrise or sunset when the desire is strong for the neighboring clouds to add color to the scenery, or if we’re trying to wait out stubborn clouds clinging to Mt Kirkjufell.

As if that wasn’t enough, we also got a view back towards Grundarfjörður as well as exploring the trail on the other side of the stream; both of which conspired to keep us here longer than one would expect for such an easy-to-visit roadside waterfall.

Authorities

Kirkjufellsfoss 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.

Kirkjufellsfoss_001_08172021 - Looking across the large car park for Kirkjufellsfoss, which as you can see can accommodate quite a few cars as well as tour buses
Kirkjufellsfoss_007_08172021 - Looking downstream towards the town of Grundarfjörður from the short walk to that iconic view of Kirkjufellsfoss
Kirkjufellsfoss_008_08172021 - Walking towards the bridge over the Kirkjufellsá where most of the people are on the far side of the stream for that iconic view towards Mt Kirkjufell
Kirkjufellsfoss_009_08172021 - Looking upstream from the footbridge towards a partial view of another waterfall on the Kirkjufellsá
Kirkjufellsfoss_029_08172021 - This was my first look across Kirkjufellsfoss towards Mt Kirkjufell, which was actually by the lower drop of the falls. As you can see from this August 2021 visit, we had to contend with clouds obscuring the peak of Mt Kirkjufell
Kirkjufellsfoss_038_08172021 - Looking back up at the context of the walkway alongside the drop of the modestly-sized Kirkjufellsfoss
Kirkjufellsfoss_043_08172021 - Direct long-exposed look at the Kirkjufellsfoss beneath the footbridge
Kirkjufellsfoss_046_08172021 - Looking downstream across Kirkjufellsá towards Mt Kirkjufell as seen from the sanctioned walkway during our August 2021 visit
Kirkjufellsfoss_051_08172021 - Looking across both of the drops of Kirkjufellsfoss in long exposure, which I took advantage of while clouds continued to shroud Mt Kirkjufell during our August 2021 visit
Kirkjufellsfoss_060_08172021 - Looking down at the context over the brink of the lower drop of Kirkjufellsfoss with people standing down by the dead-end at the bottom
Kirkjufellsfoss_061_08172021 - Context of the end of the popular side of the Kirkjufellsfoss Walk with Grundarfjörður in the distance
Kirkjufellsfoss_065_08172021 - Another look across the lower drop of Kirkjufellsfoss with clouds still shrouding the peak of Mt Kirkjufell on our August 2021 visit
Kirkjufellsfoss_093_08172021 - Julie heading up the non-slip grid as she now sought a view across the upper dorp of Kirkjufellsfoss
Kirkjufellsfoss_099_08172021 - Context of the viewing area across the upper drop of Kirkjufellsfoss as seen on our August 2021 visit
Kirkjufellsfoss_110_08172021 - Looking across that iconic view of Kirkjufellsfoss' upper drop fronting Mt Kirkjufell during our August 2021 visit
Kirkjufellsfoss_129_08172021 - Looking downstream from the upper drop of Kirkjufellsfoss towards the meandering flow of Kirkjufellsá as seen in August 2021
Kirkjufellsfoss_138_08172021 - Looking down the non-slip grid while descending the other side of Kirkjufellsá on our August 2021 visit
Kirkjufellsfoss_139_08172021 - Looking down along Kirkjufellsá from the less popular side of Kirkjufellsfoss during our August 2021 visit
Kirkjufellsfoss_142_08172021 - Looking upstream at the entirety of Kirkjufellsfoss and adjacent trail as seen from the other side of Kirkjufellsá
Kirkjufellsfoss_148_08172021 - Looking across the upper drop of Kirkjufellsfoss with a lot of tour bus passengers dressed in a reddist jacket or uniform as seen on our August 2021 visit from the other side of the river
Kirkjufellsfoss_163_08172021 - Later in the evening, we came back to Kirkjufellsfoss and tried to catch the waterfall with some sunset lighting though the clouds remained stubbornly attached to Mt Kirkjufell
Kirkjufellsfoss_164_08172021 - Another look across the upper drop of Kirkjufellsfoss during our August 2021 visit
Kirkjufellsfoss_180_08172021 - Looking down at the context of Mom at the rest bench trying to rest her legs while enjoying the view of Kirkjufellsfoss
Kirkjufellsfoss_223_08172021 - It was getting dark as we were still trying to take in the scenery of this part of the Iceland in 2021
Kirkjufellsfoss_226_08172021 - Returning to the car park for Kirkjufellsfoss as the skies were finally starting to get dark well after 10pm during our August 2021 visit
Kirkjufellsfoss_sunset_009_iPhone_08172021 - Looking across the upper drop for Kirkjufellsfoss with sunlight painting the neighboring clouds a shade of pink
Kirkjufellsfoss_sunset_018_iPhone_08172021 - Looking towards the setting sun from near the car park for Kirkjufellsfoss when we came back in August 2021
Kirkjufellsfoss_sunset_056_iPhone_08172021 - Looking across the upper drop of Kirkjufellsfoss as it was getting quite dark on our August 2021 visit
Kirkjufellsfoss_012_06232007 - On our first visit, we were oblivous to the fact that we could have seen Mt Kirkjufell together with Kirkjufellsfoss. So we wound up with this roadside view of just Mt Kirkjufell on our June 2007 pass-by
Kirkjufellsfoss_016_06232007 - Roadside view of Kirkjufellsfoss as seen in June 2007. Note the sheep grazing behind the bridge, which wouldn't be possible these days as there was a lot more fencing area this area as of August 2021 than there was back then
Kirkjufellsfoss_003_06232007 - Another look at the reflections at Kirkjufellsfoss from the Road 54 as seen in June 2007
Grundarfjordur_001_06242007 - A different look at Kirkjufell from the nearby town of Grundarfjörður in June 2007


Kirkjufellsfoss is situated right off the Road 54 quite close to the town of Grundarfjörður.

From the N1 station by the Vinbuðin in the center of town, we just drove on the Road 54 west for about 2.5km where the car park is on the left side of the road.

Kirkjufellsfoss_002_08172021 - The spacious car park at Kirkjufellsfoss was actually a private lot where the owners have asked for payment for the area's maintenance
The spacious car park at Kirkjufellsfoss was actually a private lot where the owners have asked for payment for the area’s maintenance

When we first came here in June 2007, there were a handful of roadside pullouts where we were able to at least look at the falls from a distance and in context.

However, these days, the car park was paved and quite big, but apparently it’s on private property so the owners ask for payment for their trouble.

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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Video showing a hidden upper waterfall upstream from the bridge before walking to the first of the signature views of Kirkjufellsfoss


Video starting from the bottom of the trail and working my way up both of the signature views of Kirkjufellsfoss


Brief sweep from the bottom of the other side of the trail below Kirkjufellsfoss

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



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