Kornsa Waterfalls

Blonduos / Vatnsdalur, Northwest Region (Norðurland vestra), Iceland

About Kornsa Waterfalls


Hiking Distance: about 4km round trip; some scrambling involved
Suggested Time: 2 hours

Date first visited: 2021-08-16
Date last visited: 2021-08-16

Waterfall Latitude: 65.39854
Waterfall Longitude: -20.30507

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The Kornsa Waterfalls (or more accurately, the Kornsá Waterfalls; “KORN-sahw”) were situated in a steep side canyon that joined up with the west side of the Vatnsdalur Valley near the Undirfell Church.

During our visit to this series of waterfalls, I managed to count at least seven distinct waterfalls (some with multiple tiers).

Kornsa_059_08162021 - One of the waterfalls on the Kornsá
One of the waterfalls on the Kornsá

It turned out that the canyon on the Kornsá Stream was another recommendation made to me by the hosts at the Hof í Vatnsdal Guesthouse.

In particular, Jón made the suggestion as another alternative to doing the very involved Skinandi hike in Forsædalur (we had done the hike to Stekkjarfoss and Dalsfoss earlier).

This adventure didn’t seem to have a deterministic end or turnaround point, but in using the contour lines of my Topo Map app, I ultimately turned back after the 6th and 7th waterfalls.

That said, it looked like we could have gone higher up the plateau beyond the Kornsá Farm’s upper boundary fence, which kind of reinforced that notion of this adventure not having a definitive endpoint.

Kornsa_096_08162021 - This was the last of the waterfalls that we saw on the Kornsá Stream at the upper boundary of the farm's property just as the canyon appeared to be flattening out for quite a while. Thus, I thought this made for a good turnaround point of the hike
This was the last of the waterfalls that we saw on the Kornsá Stream at the upper boundary of the farm’s property just as the canyon appeared to be flattening out for quite a while. Thus, I thought this made for a good turnaround point of the hike

According to my GPS logs, we hiked as far as about 2.4km from the start of the hike, but it was all uphill and the trail was ill-defined the higher up we went.

In any case, this locals adventure ended up taking my Mom and I two hours to visit all the waterfalls and come back to the car.

We definitely had to do a little route-finding and figuring things out given that the hike traversed through the property of the Kornsá Farm.

However, such inconveniences ensured that we were pretty much able to enjoy solitude in addition to expansive views across the Vatnsdalur Valley below us.

Our Kornsá Experience

Kornsa_010_08162021 - It took some time before Mom and I finally figured out how we were supposed to get past a fence leading to the trail following the northern side of the Kornsá Stream and Canyon
It took some time before Mom and I finally figured out how we were supposed to get past a fence leading to the trail following the northern side of the Kornsá Stream and Canyon

From a pullout by the Road 722 just north of the bridge over the Kornsá Stream (see directions below), we first had to figure out how to get past a fence blocking our ability to go on the trail behind it.

It turned out that all we needed to do was to lift a rope loop (there was some tension we had to overcome) in order to open the fence enough for us to get through.

Then, to ensure the sheep or other livestock doesn’t escape, we put the loop back on the fence to “close” it.

From there, we followed an obvious trail that skirted alongside the Kornsá Stream for the first 400m before ascending to the next fence where we had to lift another loop with tension on it.

Kornsa_024_08162021 - Context of the first of the Kornsá Waterfalls as we were about to climb onto the canyon's north rim
Context of the first of the Kornsá Waterfalls as we were about to climb onto the canyon’s north rim

Along the way, we spotted the first of the Kornsá Waterfalls, where I noticed a thin trail-of-use leading to its plunge pool that I’d imagine some locals might use as a swimming hole on a hot day.

Beyond the second fence, there was another thin detour to the left alongside the fence leading 100m to a narrow ridge yielding a view of the second of the Kornsá Waterfalls.

About 200m up a noticeable use-trail on a steep hill beyond the second fence, we started to notice a third waterfall deep in the canyon below.

This waterfall was actually a pair of successive drops where the Kornsá twisted in between the drops, and I found it to be the most attractive of the bunch we had seen to this point.

Kornsa_043_08162021 - The Kornsá Canyon adventure climbed so high that we managed to get commanding views across the idyllic Vatnsdalur Valley and the Undirfell Church shown in this photo
The Kornsá Canyon adventure climbed so high that we managed to get commanding views across the idyllic Vatnsdalur Valley and the Undirfell Church shown in this photo

Continuing further up the canyon’s north rim for about 100m, we then started to see the fourth of the Kornsá Waterfalls, which was more of a sloping cascade.

The adventure continued as we would climb up the canyon another 100m before catching a glimpse of a distant waterfall, which I’m calling the fifth waterfall.

Beyond the fifth waterfall, we found a more inland tractor trail as the use-trails closer to the cliff seemed to have disappeared or became a moss trample, which was a bit suss.

During this stretch, the canyon seemed to have gone through a flattening out stretch where there didn’t seem to be legitimate waterfalls and the contour lines on my Topo map seemed to have confirmed what I was seeing.

Kornsa_113_08162021 - Direct look at the hidden sixth waterfall, which was certainly one of the taller ones in the series of waterfalls we saw on the Kornsá Stream
Direct look at the hidden sixth waterfall, which was certainly one of the taller ones in the series of waterfalls we saw on the Kornsá Stream

However, at around 500m beyond the fifth waterfall sighting, I noticed a deviation from the tractor trail, where a faint path veered left towards the canyon again.

As I approached the canyon rim, I noticed further upstream was a wide, cascading waterfall in the distance, but the contour lines on my Topo map suggested that there was a larger waterfall further downstream.

Sure enough, after perhaps another 100m of scrambling downstream, I finally witnessed perhaps the last of the big waterfalls on Kornsá, which also fell in two tiers.

Thus, this large waterfall and the cascading one further upstream represented the sixth and seventh waterfalls that I noticed.

Kornsa_149_08162021 - During our adventure in Kornsá, I managed to miss this waterfall, which was supposed to be the second one, so I made sure not to miss out on it on the way back down
During our adventure in Kornsá, I managed to miss this waterfall, which was supposed to be the second one, so I made sure not to miss out on it on the way back down

I had noticed that there was fencing near the brink of the seventh waterfall, which I’d imagine marked the upper boundary of the Kornsá Farm.

Even though the trail kept going beyond the fencing, the contour lines on my GPS topo app suggested that the next significant drop wouldn’t be for quite a while (perhaps another 2.5-3km further).

Given that the terrain really opened up and flattened out after the seventh waterfall, I thought this was a suitable turnaround spot.

Thus, we got to look forward to the all-downhill return hike to regain the car while also getting another look at the waterfalls we had missed on the way up.

Authorities

The Kornsá Waterfalls reside in the Northwest Region near Blönduós, Iceland. It is administered by the municipality of Húnavatnshreppur. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting their website.

Kornsa_005_08162021 - Looking across Vatnsdalur from the Kornsá Farm
Kornsa_001_08162021 - When we started our Kornsá Adventure, this fence immediately made us stop and figure out what to do next
Kornsa_012_08162021 - We eventually figured out that we had to pull up the loop to open the fence, but then we also had to put the loop back over the end of the fence to close it so the Kornsá Farm could keep their sheep or other livestock
Kornsa_015_08162021 - Mom on the trail following the north side of the Kornsá Stream
Kornsa_018_08162021 - It didn't take long before Mom had to start climbing along the north rim of Kornsá
Kornsa_021_08162021 - Looking back at Mom adjust her trekking poles as she climbs up the north rim of Kornsá's Canyon
Kornsa_027_08162021 - Looking against the afternoon light at the first of the Kornsá Waterfalls
Kornsa_036_08162021 - Context of the ridge overlooking the first Kornsá Waterfall
Kornsa_034_08162021 - Another contextual look at that first of the Kornsá Waterfalls
Kornsa_038_08162021 - Mom continuing the steep climb as she approaches the next fence that we had to open and close to get through and further up the canyon on the Kornsá
Kornsa_042_08162021 - Context of Mom way up the hill as we continued climbing along the north rim of the canyon on the Kornsá
Kornsa_049_08162021 - Looking back down towards the Kornsá Farm, which shows you just how far up we had gotten to this point. Note the Undirfell Church towards the topright of this photo
Kornsa_057_08162021 - This was the attractive two-tiered third Kornsá Waterfall
Kornsa_058_08162021 - Another look down towards the Kornsá Farm from where we saw the third waterfall
Kornsa_064_08162021 - Direct look down at the third of the Kornsá Waterfalls, which I found to be the most attractive of the bunch
Kornsa_069_08162021 - Context of the upper part of the third waterfall on the Kornsá with Mom further up the cliffs for a sense of scale
Kornsa_071_08162021 - Looking down across the upper drop of the third waterfall on the Kornsá with the Undirfell Church in the distance
Kornsa_080_08162021 - Looking down across a sliding cascade that I called the fourth of the Kornsá Waterfalls
Kornsa_081_08162021 - Looking upstream along the northern cliffs as we continued to skirt faint trails in pursuit of more waterfalls in the Kornsá
Kornsa_084_08162021 - This distant waterfall was a bit harder to get close to, but I considered it the fifth of the Kornsá Farm
Kornsa_085_08162021 - While hiking along the Kornsá's canyon, we started to notice wild berries though these things were a bit tart
Kornsa_087_08162021 - Looking back down at Mom struggling with the relentless uphill along the north rim of the canyon along the Kornsá Stream
Kornsa_091_08162021 - Another contextual look at Mom still climbing up slowly with the context of Vatnsdalur in the background
Kornsa_095_08162021 - Towards the top of the climb along the north rim of the Kornsá's Canyon, I regained the tractor trail before I started to notice a faint trail deviating to the left
Kornsa_120_08162021 - Starting to see part of the big waterfall near the top of the canyon cut by the Kornsá
Kornsa_104_08162021 - Looking down across the two-tiered drop of the sixth Kornsá Waterfall
Kornsa_117_08162021 - Frontal view of the sixth Kornsá Waterfall
Kornsa_122_08162021 - After having my fill of the Kornsá Waterfalls, I started to follow the faint trails going downhill to head back into Vatnsdalur
Kornsa_126_08162021 - Following Mom back down the tractor trail going back into Vatnsdalur as we were wrapping up our Kornsá experience
Kornsa_128_08162021 - Context of Mom skirting the north rim of Kornsá's Canyon on the way back down to Vatnsdalur
Kornsa_139_08162021 - Mom continuing down the steep 'trail' as we made our way down to the floor of Vatnsdalur
Kornsa_141_08162021 - Looking downstream from the Kornsá Property towards the mouth of Vatnsdalur
Kornsa_145_08162021 - Mom going down towards the fence that we had to reopen and close on the way back down into Vatnsdalur
Kornsa_155_08162021 - Profile look across the first of the Kornsá Waterfalls with a nice clear plunge pool at its base
Kornsa_156_08162021 - Another look down across Vatnsdalur as we were descending towards the ridge fronting the first Kornsá Waterfall
Kornsa_158_08162021 - Finally back at the floor of Vatnsdalur as we're approaching the parked car by the Road 722 at the Kornsá Farm
Kornsa_166_08162021 - Looking back across one of the nicer houses we saw by the Kornsá Farm


I’ll begin by describing the driving directions from Blönduós to Kornsá, and then I’ll describe the directions going in the other direction via the Hof í Vatnsdalur farmstay (where we stayed).

From Blönduós, we’d drive south on the Ring Road for about 19km to the west end of the 722 Road on the left (after the bridge over the Vatnsdalsá River).

Kornsa_167_08162021 - Looking south on the unpaved Road 722 towards the pullout at the trailhead for the Kornsá Canyon
Looking south on the unpaved Road 722 towards the pullout at the trailhead for the Kornsá Canyon

Then, we’d drive south on the unpaved Road 722 for nearly 13km to a pullout on the right just before the bridge over the Kornsá Stream.

If we happened to see the turnoff for the Undirfell Church, then we went too far.

Overall, this drive should take about 30 minutes.

Conversely, we could also go clockwise around the 722 Road to reach Kornsá from the south by way of Hof í Vatnsdalur.

Kornsa_003_08162021 - Northbound on the Road 722 approaching the bridge and pullout on the north side of the Kornsá Stream, which was where we started our adventure
Northbound on the Road 722 approaching the bridge and pullout on the north side of the Kornsá Stream, which was where we started our adventure

To do that, we’d go south from Blönduós for about 17km before turning left onto the 722 Road (before the bridge over the Vatnsdalsá).

Then, we’d follow the 722 Road south for 15km towards Hof í Vatnsdalur, and then we’d continue on the Road 722 for a little over 17km as the road curved towards the west side of the valley.

Eventually, we’d reach Kornsá, where we’d park in the pullout to the left just north of the bridge over the Kornsá Stream, which was the next bridge once we got past the Undirfell Church turnoff.

Overall, this drive would take a little over an hour (or about 20 minutes from Hof).

Drive_to_Kornsa_001_iPhone_08162021 - Following the Road 722 along the west side of Vatnsdalur en route to Kornsá
Following the Road 722 along the west side of Vatnsdalur en route to Kornsá

As for geographical context, Hof í Vatnsdal was about 33km (about 30 minutes drive) south of Blönduós, about 177km (over 2 hours drive) west of Akureyri, and 242km (about 3 hours drive) northeast of Reykjavík.

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Downstream to upstream sweep showing the first of the waterfalls on Kornsa


Upstream to downstream sweep showing the bottom two waterfalls on the Kornsa from three different spots


Downstream to upstream sweep ending with a view down at the 3rd waterfall on Kornsa


Downstream to upstream sweep of the largest of the uppermost waterfalls on Kornsa before zooming in on it


Long video showing the last waterfalls that I visited on the Kornsa from a couple of different spots

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Tagged with: kornsa, vatnsdalur, waterfalls, undirfell, northwest, blonduos



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