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

About Stekkjarfoss

Hiking Distance: 2km round trip
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2007-06-26
Date last visited: 2007-06-26

Waterfall Latitude: 65.29816
Waterfall Longitude: -20.09335

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Stekkjarfoss (I’ve also seen it spelled Stekkarfoss) was one of many waterfalls in Vatnsdalur (“Lake Valley”).

This particular waterfall featured a low river-type waterfall with part of its flow segmented into what appeared to be a fish ladder.

Vatnsdalur_018_06262007 - Stekkjarfoss and fish ladder
Stekkjarfoss and fish ladder

This was the first (and only) waterfall we were able to visit while doing the waterfall hike in Vatnsdalur (though my old research notes indicated these waterfalls were technically in Forsædalur).

The valley was supposed to feature multiple waterfalls starting with this one, but the remaining waterfalls further upstream were called Dalfoss, Skessufoss, Rjukandi, Kerafoss, and finally Skinandi.

Pursuit of the Full Waterfall Experience

It was supposed to be a very long hike, which we devoted an entire day for.

However, upon a prior day late afternoon scouting trip to see what we were in for, we realized that we might have bitten off more than we could chew so-to-speak.

And that’s why this page only featured the first waterfall and excluded the rest (since we didn’t get to see them).

The big issue with this hike was that it turned out to be a bit more rugged than we thought.

Vatnsdalur_019_06262007 - Stekkjarfoss was the only waterfall we managed to spot in Vatnsdalur even though we knew there were more further upstream
Stekkjarfoss was the only waterfall we managed to spot in Vatnsdalur even though we knew there were more further upstream

It didn’t help that there wasn’t a whole lot of literature about this area to begin with so we really didn’t know what to expect other than the hope that this adventure might turn into a real memorable one with a Skinandi sighting.

Experiencing Stekkjarfoss and beyond…

So we started by tentatively leaving the car near (in?) someone’s farm where the road essentially degenerated into grass with a gate blocking further access (see directions below).

Julie and I then walked in the upstream direction on the trail following alongside the river for about 20-30 minutes or so.

That was when we eventually saw the Stekkjarfoss waterfall and fish ladder across the river.

The trail then continued on as the canyon started closing in.

Eventually, we got to a point where the trail disappeared and the canyon closed in to the point that the river’s waters spanned the gorge from wall-to-wall.

Vatnsdalur_025_06262007 - The farther upstream from Stekkjarfoss we went, the harder it became to keep going without going straight into the river
The farther upstream from Stekkjarfoss we went, the harder it became to keep going without going straight into the river

We would find out after the fact that we were supposed to cross the river somewhere, but it wasn’t clear to us where that was supposed to be.

Plus, with the high water from the early Summer snowmelt, it wasn’t likely that we were going to wade in the icy cold water.

Thus, we turned back and had to be content with not seeing the remaining waterfalls in this valley.

A Better Way To Experience Skinandi?

In hindsight (with hindsight always being 20/20), we probably should’ve let the accommodation know that we were interested in doing the hike to Skinandi.

Then, we could’ve paid for an arranged tour with the hosts (possibly on horseback) to get through some of the river crossings and to help reduce the long distance of this hike.

Of course, all this depended on whether such tours were offered.

Otherwise, we probably would have to undertake this kind of hike later in the Summer when the river levels would be lower.

In any case, we hope that by putting this entry here, someone else might have better luck than we did and share his/her experiences.

By the way, Vatnsdalur was known to be the place of the last execution in Iceland.

It was also a picturesque valley that featured rolling hills and green pastures.


Stekkjarfoss resides 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.

Vatnsdalur_011_06262007 - Julie on the track that followed along the river towards the waterfalls
Vatnsdalur_013_06262007 - The trail initially started above the river
Vatnsdalur_014_06262007 - Julie crossing a gate.  This was the main reason why we opted to park where we did
Vatnsdalur_015_06262007 - The sign for Stekkjarfoss
Vatnsdalur_020_06262007 - Stekkjarfoss
Vatnsdalur_021_06262007 - Beyond Stekkjarfoss, we saw this faint grass trail so we continued along it
Vatnsdalur_028_06262007 - Beyond Stekkjarfoss, we somehow lost the trail as we were essentially hiking right along the river at this point
Vatnsdalur_023_06262007 - This was about as far as Julie could go before it was just water in front of us.  As you can see from the steep terrain, it was doubtful that we could continue on land to stay dry
Hvitserkur_001_06262007 - With our inability to visit Skinandi, that freed up a lot of time including a visit to Hvitserkur
Hvitserkur_003_06262007 - Hvitserkur as seen from the lookout point
Hvitserkur_015_06262007 - A little bit of a steep descent to get down to the black sand beach
Hvitserkur_042_06262007 - A closer look at that waterfall by Hvitserkur

Julie and I were able to at least get to this waterfall thanks to some handwritten map drawings and verbal instructions from Jón at the Hof í Vatnsdalur farmstay.

Given that the trailhead wasn’t signposted, we wouldn’t have even gotten to the right place without his help in this regard.

To get to Hof í Vatnsdalur, we had to take the Ring Road to the road 722 on the east side of the river at the mouth of Vatnsdalur (there’s a signpost indicating this valley).

The turnoff from the Ring Road was about 17km south of Blönduós.

Then, we followed the 722 for a little over 15km to the Guesthouse Hof í Vatnsdalur to our right.

Then to get to the trailhead, we continued south on Road 722 for no more than 10km where there was a turnoff about 50m from the second farm.

Then, once we were on the turnoff, we drove on grass towards a dry grassy area with rocks.

Vatnsdalur_012_06262007 - Looking back at our parked rental car at this rather obscure trailhead in Vatnsdalur
Looking back at our parked rental car at this rather obscure trailhead in Vatnsdalur

This was where we stopped because of a gate obstructing further access as well as the belief that we were on a foot trail and not on a road anymore.

It’s worth noting that it only took us around 15 minutes or so of driving between the guesthouse and the “car park.”

As for geographical context, Blönduós was 143km (over 90 minutes drive) along the Ring Road west of Akureyri and 237km (about 3 hours drive) along the Ring Road north of Reykjavík.

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Tagged with: vatnsdalur, blonduos, northwest region, nordurland vestra, iceland, waterfall, skinandi, fish ladder, dalfoss, skessufoss, rjukandi, kerafoss

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