Svodufoss

Rif / Hellissandur / Snaefellsnes, West Region (Vesturland), Iceland

About Svodufoss


Hiking Distance: roadside (distant view); or about 1.6km round-trip to top
Suggested Time: about 45 minutes

Date first visited: 2007-06-23
Date last visited: 2021-08-17

Waterfall Latitude: 64.89546
Waterfall Longitude: -23.81138

Waterfaller Newsletter

Get over the hump of the mid-week blues! Subscribe and get exclusive curated content delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.

Svodufoss (or more accurately Svöðufoss; pronounced “SVUEW-thuh-foss”) was an interesting block-shaped waterfall with basalt columns that has the potential to be seen with the famed Snæfellsjökull (“SNAYE-fells-yuek-ul”) Glacier.

This waterfall was on the Hólmskelsá Stream (according to my LMI map) so I’ve also seen this waterfall called by Hólmskelsárfoss.

Svodufoss_004_06232007 - Svöðufoss (also called Hólmskelsárfoss) backed by the Snæfellsjökull Glacier
Svöðufoss (also called Hólmskelsárfoss) backed by the Snæfellsjökull Glacier

That said, according to my Gaia map, its stream was also called Laxá suggesting that maybe salmon might find their way up to this waterfall barrier.

In the adjacent drainage to the east was a second waterfall called Kerlingarfoss (“KEHRT-ling-ur-foss”), which was on the Fosslækur Stream.

That waterfall was significantly thinner than Svöðufoss, which might explain why it was easily overlooked.

I wondered if its name might carry a diminutive connotation since my Icelandic dictionary suggested that kerling meant an old woman or a hag (so does that imply the larger Svöðufoss was the karl or old man?).

Svodufoss_006_06232007 - The thinner Kerlingarfoss was in the adjacent drainage on the Fosslækur Stream to the east of Svöðufoss
The thinner Kerlingarfoss was in the adjacent drainage on the Fosslækur Stream to the east of Svöðufoss

Anyways, as for seeing Svöðufoss together with a glacier, that was precisely my experience when I first saw them on a beautiful day in June 2007.

However, the glacier was concealed by clouds when I came back in August 2021, which goes to show you how the fickle Icelandic weather can have an effect on the overall experience (as it can for any excursion throughout the country).

It’s also worth mentioning that the Snæfellsjökull Glacier was the place where the main characters in Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth” made their entrance into the earth’s depths.

Improvements Made to the Svöðufoss Trail

On our first visit back in June 2007, Svöðufoss was more of an obscure attraction though I did notice an easy-to-miss roadside sign for it near Rif.

Svodufoss_012_08172021 - Context of the new viewpoint for Svöðufoss, where the new infrastructure enhanced this waterfall's accessibility as well as its popularity since our first visit in 2007
Context of the new viewpoint for Svöðufoss, where the new infrastructure enhanced this waterfall’s accessibility as well as its popularity since our first visit in 2007

In fact, if it wasn’t for that sign, I could have easily dismissed it as another roadside waterfall to pause for before moving on.

Nevertheless, when we followed the fairly bumpy rural roads to attempt to get closer, we had trouble trying to figure out how to get that better experience from up close without trespassing.

As a result, we only managed distant views where the Snæfellsjökull Glacier dwarfed the 10m tall waterfall.

When we came back 14 years later, we noticed that there was a more obvious trailhead and well-developed trail leading to a viewpoint.

Svodufoss_003_08172021 - When we saw the new trailhead for Svöðufoss on our August 2021 visit, we knew that the authorities here were serious about enhancing the waterfall's status as a legitimate tourist attraction on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
When we saw the new trailhead for Svöðufoss on our August 2021 visit, we knew that the authorities here were serious about enhancing the waterfall’s status as a legitimate tourist attraction on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

I suspect that these improvements made a big difference in dramatically increasing this waterfall’s popularity.

Svöðufoss Trail Description

The first 250m of the trail told us straight away that the local authorities intended for Svöðufoss to be a legitimate tourist attraction on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Indeed, they added lawn grass and put on top of it the non-slip grid, which was clearly intended for tours, especially if they involve more elderly passengers.

This newly-developed path led up to the viewpoint where a pair of long rest benches each backed by a wall (likely made from local rocks) faced the waterfall.

Svodufoss_023_08172021 - Mom going across the Fosslækur Stream as we made our way closer to Svöðufoss beyond the official viewpoint
Mom going across the Fosslækur Stream as we made our way closer to Svöðufoss beyond the official viewpoint

I suspect that this viewing area allowed for the less ambitious visitors to enjoy the falls before heading back.

However beyond the viewpoint, a less-developed but well-worn use-trail veered to the left as it continued to make its way closer to Svöðufoss.

The mostly flat trail made a fairly easy crossing of the Fosslækur Stream (downstream of Kerlingarfoss) at about 200m beyond the official viewpoint.

Then, the trail followed along the east bank of the larger Hólmskelsá Stream towards the Svöðufoss itself making one more minor stream crossing before the trail started rising after another 250m beyond the Fosslækur crossing.

Svodufoss_043_08172021 - Looking across the main drop of Svöðufoss where its basalt layer was clearly evident
Looking across the main drop of Svöðufoss where its basalt layer was clearly evident

At this point, there were scattered use-trails to try to get a closer or more frontal look at Svöðufoss though they looked very eroded and sketchy, and we didn’t try to take on more of that risk considering the reward.

So we kept going up the canyon rim for the remaining 50m or so to the brink of the falls, where the basalt layer was more easily seen though we had to be real careful about not getting too close to the cliff edge.

This was our turnaround point, and after going back the way we came, my GPS logs suggested that we had walked a total of about 1.6km, and it only took us on the order of 45 minutes.

Authorities

Svodufoss resides in the West Region near Ólafsvík, 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.

Svodufoss_006_08172021 - Looking towards Svöðufoss from the start of the new trail during our August 2021 visit
Svodufoss_083_08172021 - Kerlingarfoss was visible from the new car park for Svöðufoss during our August 2021 visit
Svodufoss_007_08172021 - Mom on the well-developed footpath leading towards the viewpoint for Svöðufoss during our August 2021 visit
Svodufoss_009_08172021 - The further along the trail to Svöðufoss we went, the less of Kerlingarfoss we were able to see
Svodufoss_010_08172021 - Continuing to get distant but frontal views of Svöðufoss though the low clouds during our August 2021 visit ensured that we wouldn't be able to see the Snæfellsjökull Glacier behind it
Svodufoss_014_08172021 - This was the view across the Hólmskelsá Stream as we looked towards Svöðufoss from its official viewpoint during our August 2021 visit
Svodufoss_019_08172021 - Looking back at the pair of long rock-walled rest benches at the new official lookout for Svöðufoss during our August 2021 visit
Svodufoss_020_08172021 - Another look towards Svöðufoss as we continued hiking beyond its official lookout during our August 2021 visit
Svodufoss_025_08172021 - Mom following the Hólmskelsá Stream after making the crossing of the Fosslækur Stream
Svodufoss_027_08172021 - Looking down across a smaller stream that was easy to cross on the way to Svöðufoss
Svodufoss_029_08172021 - Looking in the distance at a neighboring farm from the Svöðufoss Trail
Svodufoss_032_08172021 - Looking back downstream along the Hólmskelsá as we were climbing towards the top of Svöðufoss during our August 2021 visit
Svodufoss_034_08172021 - This was the view along a use-trail that approached the base of the main drop of Svöðufoss, but we weren't comfortable with the amount of erosion on this path so we opted not to do it
Svodufoss_044_08172021 - Looking across Svöðufoss and its backing basalt columns during our August 2021 visit
Svodufoss_053_08172021 - A closer examination of the pronounced basalt columns holding up Svöðufoss, which once again demonstrated how this was a common feature throughout Iceland's mix of lava and ice
Svodufoss_054_08172021 - We noticed these wild berries growing on the plateau near the brink of Svöðufoss during our August 2021 visit
Svodufoss_068_08172021 - Looking across the brink of Svöðufoss from further along the headwall of its cliff during our August 2021 visit
Svodufoss_073_08172021 - Mom starting to head back down after having had her fill of Svöðufoss during our August 2021 visit
Svodufoss_078_08172021 - Mom making use of the rest benches at the official viewpoint for Svöðufoss while making our way back to the car park during our August 2021 visit
Svodufoss_081_08172021 - Making it back to the trailhead parking lot for Svöðufoss to end our August 2021 visit
Svodufoss_010_06232007 - More distant look at both Svöðufoss and Snæfellsjökull during our first time here in June 2007. This photo and the rest of the photos in this gallery came from that first visit
Svodufoss_005_06232007 - This was the other waterfall (Kerlingarfoss) about 1km east of Svöðufoss called Hólmskelsárfoss.  As you can see, we weren't very successful finding a way to get closer to this waterfall either on our June 2007 visit when this place was way less developed.
Snaefellsnes_036_jx_06232007 - Trying to figure out a way to get closer to Svöðufoss when we encountered these sheep by the unpaved road nearby on our June 2007 visit
Snaefellsnes_037_jx_06232007 - Some sheep wondering what we were doing as we were trying to get closer to Svöðufoss during our June 2007 visit
Snaefellsnes_039_jx_06232007 - Here's a view of just the glacier Snæfellsjökull as seen on a beautiful day during our June 2007 visit
Road_574_001_06232007 - Another distant look at the Snæfellsjökull as we essentially gave up on trying to get close to Svöðufoss during our June 2007 visit


We noticed Svöðufoss as we drove between Ólafsvík and Hellissandur along the Road 574.

From the Hotel Ólafsvík in the center of Ólafsvík, we drove about 4km west along the Road 574 to a signed turnoff on our left.

Svodufoss_002_08172021 - Context of the new car park at the trailhead for Svöðufoss
Context of the new car park at the trailhead for Svöðufoss

Taking the unpaved road on that signed turnoff, we then followed the somewhat rough gravel road for roughly 1.3km before turning left at the next junction.

Finally, after another 250m or so from the junction, we arrived at the new trailhead parking for Svöðufoss.

Overall, this drive only took us about 5 minutes or so.

I also recalled on our June 2007 visit that there was another signposted turnoff closer to the small town of Rif a little over 6km west of Ólafsvík.

Drive_to_Svodufoss_008_iPhone_08172021 - On the unpaved access road leading up to the car park for Svöðufoss, but as you can see, Kerlingarfoss was also visible in the next drainage over
On the unpaved access road leading up to the car park for Svöðufoss, but as you can see, Kerlingarfoss was also visible in the next drainage over

From there, we then went another 3.2km along the rough unpaved road to the distant lookout we had to settle for.

The rough unpaved road eventually looped back towards road 574 by way of the turnoff described earlier.

For some context, Ólafsvík was 9km (less than 10 minutes drive) east of Hellissandur, 64km (about an hour drive) west of the ferry town of Stykkishólmur, 118km (90 minutes drive) northwest of Borgarnes, and 187km (2.5 hours drive) north of Reykjavik.

Find A Place To Stay



Booking.com

Brief 270-degree sweep from the official lookout for Svodufoss


Slow deliberate sweep from around the bottom of the scramble up to the top of Svodufoss


Back and forth sweep from near the top of Svodufoss while examining the basalt columns more closely


Sweep starting from a profile top down view of Svodufoss and then going further downstream for a slightly more direct look at it

Related Top 10 Lists

No Posts Found

Trip Planning Resources


Nearby Accommodations




Booking.com


Tagged with: rif, hellissandur, olafsvik, snaefellsjokull, snaefellsnes, west region, vesturland, iceland, waterfall, kerlingarfoss, holmskelsarfoss



Visitor Comments:

No users have replied to the content on this page


Share your thoughts about what you've read on this page

You must be logged in to submit content. Refresh this page after you have logged in.

Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Amateur Photographer (Svodufoss) September 17, 2008 10:48 pm by R Bergstad - In 1989 I saw beautiful Svöðufoss waterfall and was amazed. I shot a photo and here it is. ...Read More

Have you been to a waterfall? Submit a write-up/review and share your experiences or impressions

Review A Waterfall

Nearest Waterfalls

The Waterfaller Newsletter

The Waterfaller Newsletter is where we curate the wealth of information on the World of Waterfalls website and deliver it to you in bite-sized chunks in your email inbox. You'll also get exclusive content like...

  • Waterfall Wednesdays
  • Insider Tips
  • User-submitted Waterfall Write-up of the Month
  • and the latest news and updates both within the website as well as around the wonderful world of waterfalls


The Process of How I Earn Income Sharing My Passion Through Lived Experiences

Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

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.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.