Trollafoss

Mossfell, Capital Region (Höfuðborgarsvæði), Iceland

About Trollafoss


Hiking Distance: 3.6km round trip (to top down view); 4.2km round trip to bottom
Suggested Time: about 2 hours

Date first visited: 2007-06-21
Date last visited: 2021-08-19

Waterfall Latitude: 64.21027
Waterfall Longitude: -21.53618

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Trollafoss (Tröllafoss or Troellafoss; I think is pronounced “TRUHT-luh-foss”) was kind of a locals waterfall as it seemed to only be visited mostly by domestic visitors.

Perhaps the reason for its lack of notoriety outside of Iceland is that there wasn’t any tell-tale signage pointing towards it on the Golden Circle route even though it was close to the Thingvallavegur Road (one of the roads on the route).

Trollafoss_003_06212007 - Trollafoss (or more accurately Tröllafoss or Troellafoss) meaning Troll Falls
Trollafoss (or more accurately Tröllafoss or Troellafoss) meaning Troll Falls

Even once on the unpaved roads leading closer to the waterfall, I found it wasn’t trivial to figure out how to even experience this falls, especially for a first-timer.

In fact, it took me three tries before finally experiencing Tröllafoss properly, which I’ll share in this write-up.

As you can see in the photo immediately above, I only managed to get partial top down views of the falls on my first visit back in 2007 as I couldn’t figure out how to safely get in front of it.

However, that changed when my Mom and I returned 14 years later, but even on that trip, we had to endure one unsuccessful attempt before finally finding success.

Figuring Out Where To Start Hiking To Tröllafoss

Trollafoss_008_08192021 - Close-up look at the rough road as we opted to walk down from the upper trailhead towards the lower trailhead
Close-up look at the rough road as we opted to walk down from the upper trailhead towards the lower trailhead

Because of the relative lack of signage pointing the way to the Tröllafoss Waterfall, I found it confusing to figure out where to even start the hike.

Heck, we even made an unsuccessful attempt to reach Trollafoss from the Hrafnholar Farm as we had incorrectly thought there was a way to reach the bottom of the falls that way.

To make a long story short, it turns out that there were two possible trailheads on the same unpaved road to start from (see directions below).

There was an upper trailhead on a small clearing at the top of a hill that vehicles with neither high clearance nor 4wd could park at.

Trollafoss_043_08052021 - Looking towards the context of the lower trailhead for Trollafoss, where there was one car parked there
Looking towards the context of the lower trailhead for Trollafoss, where there was one car parked there

Then, there was a lower trailhead at the bottom of the same hill near a small lake or pond after 700m on a muddy, steep, rocky, and rutted tractor road.

Even with high clearance and 4wd, I preferred to stop at the upper trailhead and hike the extra 1.4km round trip because of the risk of a flat tire or getting stuck in the mud given the steep slope, especially when it threatens to rain.

That said, I did manage to drive to the lower trailhead on my first two visits (as I wasn’t even aware of the upper trailhead at the time) so it’s not totally out of the question.

There’s just a risk versus reward consideration to make as there always is on any hike or excursion in general.

Following Leirvogsá to Tröllafoss

Trollafoss_046_08192021 - Mom continuing along the 4wd path as we went searching for the proper way to experience Tröllafoss
Mom continuing along the 4wd path as we went searching for the proper way to experience Tröllafoss

From the lower trailhead, we then pretty much followed the continuation of the 4wd road.

There were a handful of unsigned spur trails leading closer to the rim of the gorge carved out by the Leirvogsá River.

One such spur trail (roughly 100m from the lower trailhead) skirted the canyon another 300m further to a sign that said “Ketilshylur”, which overlooked an old dam or fish ladder by a cascade.

Nevertheless, all of these spur trails were just use-trails along the rim of the canyon that pretty much offered more varied scenery as opposed to the less interesting scenery along the 4wd road.

Trollafoss_030_08192021 - Looking down at the Ketilshylur at the bottom of this steep canyon next to what appeared to be an old fish ladder and a cascade as seen from a cliffside spur on the way to the elusive Tröllafoss
Looking down at the Ketilshylur at the bottom of this steep canyon next to what appeared to be an old fish ladder and a cascade as seen from a cliffside spur on the way to the elusive Tröllafoss

That said, the 4wd road ultimately led about 1.1km to a precarious lookout peering down across the top of Tröllafoss.

While the temptation was great to try to find a way down on my first visit back in June 2007, I didn’t have enough presence of mind to look for safer access further downstream.

When I came back in August 2021, Mom and I found use-trails that curled around the outcrop we were on and descended a steep path towards Kerfoss, which was nothing more than a couple of cascades on the Leirvogsá.

Further upstream from Kerfoss, we skirted along the river’s banks before ultimately reaching the bottom of Tröllafoss and its lower tier.

Trollafoss_092_08192021 - Finally reaching the bottom of Tröllafoss and its lower cascade
Finally reaching the bottom of Tröllafoss and its lower cascade

From down here, we managed to carefully scramble onto the top of the shelf holding up the lower cascade before Tröllafoss, and that was when we noticed a rather deep and scary-looking pothole submerged in water.

With such slippery footing, we made sure not to fall in as we continued scrambling up the shelf and towards the plunge pool fronting the main 20m drop or so.

Overall, according to my GPS logs, it was roughly 3.6km round-trip to the waterfall from the upper trailhead.

But going to the bottom of the falls added another 600m round trip, and that was where we appreciated wearing good hiking boots while bringing our trekking poles.

Trollafoss_113_08192021 - Looking downstream at the context of the deep pothole and the Leirvogsá as seen from the shelf that gave rise to the lower cascade fronting Tröllafoss
Looking downstream at the context of the deep pothole and the Leirvogsá as seen from the shelf that gave rise to the lower cascade fronting Tröllafoss

And starting from the lower trailhead, the overall hike could be as little as 2.2km round trip.

Getting to the Other Side of Tröllafoss

With the Tröllafoss Waterfall and its lower cascade kind of facing away from the side of the river with the trail, I was very tempted to try to find a way to get to the other side for a more contextual view.

Unfortunately, I didn’t figure out a way to get across without wading across the Leirvogsá, which I found to be the most straightforward way to do it.

Even though I had brought my Chacos and carried two trekking poles, I just didn’t feel up to getting there given the risks involved.

Trollafoss_085_08192021 - Looking upstream towards the lower cascade and a partial look at the main drop of Tröllafoss as I looked for a safe way to get across the river for a more frontal look at the waterfall
Looking upstream towards the lower cascade and a partial look at the main drop of Tröllafoss as I looked for a safe way to get across the river for a more frontal look at the waterfall

You see, even though there were submerged bedrocks that I might be able to use to stand on, the current was strong, the bedrock was very slippery, and there were lots of deep sections where I’m pretty much swimming if I missed a step or slipped and fell.

There was also the threat of rain and flash flooding during my visit, which was another reason why I opted to not take the risk.

That said, I also noticed that there were indeed trails on the other side of the canyon (though there was also fencing perhaps to prevent trespassing).

So I’d imagine that it might have been possible to keep scrambling further up along the rim of the canyon from the precarious overlook.

Trollafoss_064_08192021 - Looking downstream at the context of the canyon where it seemed painfully clear that trying to get down to the canyon from the other side of Trollafoss wasn't the right answer
Looking downstream at the context of the canyon where it seemed painfully clear that trying to get down to the canyon from the other side of Trollafoss wasn’t the right answer

Then, at a flatter and less rugged section of the river, perhaps it might have been possible to cross the river and finally backtack downhill to the falls again.

I can’t really speak to doing that since I didn’t do it myself, but from the way the trails were coming into the canyon on the other side, it certainly seemed to suggest that.

Finally, we also made the attempt to start the hike from the other side of the Leirvogsá at Hrafnholar Farm.

However, it eventually turned us around at Ketilshylur where the canyon was too steep to proceed without straight up going into the water or clinging onto cliffs.

Authorities

Trollafoss (Tröllafoss) resides in the Capital Region of Iceland near Reykjavík. It is administered by the municipality of Mosfellsbær. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting their website.

Trollafoss_001_08192021 - Just to give you an idea of where the upper trailhead was for Trollafoss, this was a view further to the north towards both the Skeggjastadir Farm and the Hrafnholar Farm further in the distance taken during our August 2021 visit
Trollafoss_002_08192021 - Looking down towards the lower car park for Trollafoss as we started to make the steep descent from the upper car park
Trollafoss_005_08192021 - Even though it doesn't look like it in this shot, here's a look at the rough road leading down from the upper car park to the lower car park for Trollafoss
Trollafoss_005_iPhone_08052021 - Here's another look at the rough road when puddles had formed in the ruts thanks to some heavy rain that came down in the area prior to our arrival
Trollafoss_015_08192021 - Near the lower car park for Trollafoss, there were lots of birds around this pond or small lake
Trollafoss_017_08192021 - Mom approaching the lower car park for Trollafoss
Trollafoss_033_08192021 - Mom on one of the use-trails closer to the canyon after having visited Ketilshylur
Trollafoss_034_08192021 - Looking down into another rugged section of the canyon carved out by the Leirvogsa River
Trollafoss_038_08192021 - Mom continuing to follow some of the use trails closer to the canyon carved out by Leirvogsa
Trollafoss_041_08192021 - Looking into the depths of another steep part of the canyon carved out by the Leirvogsá while taking the more cliffside use-trails on the way to Tröllafoss
Trollafoss_042_08192021 - Taking a closer look at some of the wild berries growing by the Trollafoss Trail
Trollafoss_063_08192021 - This was the precarious top down view from the top of a knob overlooking the profile of the elusive Tröllafoss
Trollafoss_067_08192021 - Mom descending a use-trail that led to a steep gully where it was more reasonable to descend to the base of Trollafoss than from the much steeper and more dangerous way closer to the lookout
Trollafoss_074_08192021 - Mom descending steeply to the banks of the Leirvogsa on the Trollafoss hike
Trollafoss_077_08192021 - Mom pushing ahead towards the cascade and main drop of Trollafoss
Trollafoss_079_08192021 - Looking downstream over Kerfoss during the latter part of the steep descent to the Leirvogsa
Trollafoss_083_08192021 - One of the blue signs near Kerfoss where we pushed forward along the banks of the Leirvogsa and wouldn't be denied the freedom of having this falls to ourselves
Trollafoss_087_08192021 - Mom descending steeply on the Trollafoss hike
Trollafoss_092_08192021 - Angled look towards the main drop of Trollafoss frontd by a wide cascade
Trollafoss_104_08192021 - Frontal look at the main drop of Trollafoss once I got on top of the shelf supporting its lower cascade
Trollafoss_106_08192021 - Looking across the context of the plunge pool fronting Trollafoss
Trollafoss_111_08192021 - Looking down into the deep abyss of a submerged pothole in front of Trollafoss
Trollafoss_122_08192021 - This was a sign near Trollafoss where someone decided to play a joke and color two of the letters dark to make it seem like this was three words instead of one
Trollafoss_124_08192021 - Looking across the profile of Trollafoss
Trollafoss_135_08192021 - Looking across the width of the lower cascade of Trollafoss
Trollafoss_139_08192021 - Mom on her way back up to the main part of the Trollafoss hike after having had our fill of the falls
Trollafoss_150_08192021 - On the return hike back up to the more familiar parts of the trail, we noticed this large band of horseriders that just started to leave when we showed up
Trollafoss_157_08192021 - Context of Mom following the 4wd road back to the upper trailhead while the band of horseriders were now way ahead of us
Trollafoss_163_08192021 - Mom returning to the small lake or pond by the lower car park for Tröllafoss
Trollafoss_172_08192021 - There were a lot of birds around the lake or pond by the lower car park for Tröllafoss but they took off well before we even got close to them
Trollafoss_181_08192021 - Mom climbing back up the final hill to our parked car, where there happened to be one other person up there picking wild berries at the end of our Trollafoss hike
Trollafoss_002_08052021 - Two weeks prior to our successful visit at the end of our Iceland trip in August 2021, we actually made an attempt at reaching Tröllafoss along the north side of the Leirvogsá River
Trollafoss_004_08052021 - Mom going on a trail along the north side of the Leirvogsá from the Hrafnholar Farm
Trollafoss_008_08052021 - Mom following what seemed to be a use-trail along the north side of the Leirvogsá during our attempt at Tröllafoss on the other side of the river
Trollafoss_012_08052021 - That use-trail going along the north side of Leirvogsá River started to become more overgrown and faint the further we went
Trollafoss_013_08052021 - Mom continuing to follow the narrow use-trail along the boundary of the Hrafnholar Farm en route to Tröllafoss
Trollafoss_016_08052021 - Mom still following the trail-of-use along the north of the Leirvogsá River in pursuit of the other side of Tröllafoss
Trollafoss_018_08052021 - Mom negotiating getting through an overgrown part of the trail as we started to doubt whether we made the right decision to pursue Tröllafoss in this manner
Trollafoss_025_08052021 - Context of Mom clinging to the edges of the north side of the Leirvogsá River
Trollafoss_029_08052021 - Looking across a small cascade and some infrastructure that looked like it was unmaintained as the canyon started closing in on our pursuit of Tröllafoss along the north side of the Leirvogsá River
Trollafoss_033_08052021 - Mom on a real sketchy part of the scramble over one of the cascades by Ketilshylur, which ultimately turned us back as our attempt at reaching Tröllafoss along the north side of the Leirvogsá River became a failure
Trollafoss_040_08052021 - Mom heading back after realizing that we dead-ended by this cascade by Ketilshylur in our failed attempt at reaching Tröllafoss along the north side of the Leirvogsá River
Trollafoss_047_08052021 - Heading back across greener pastures as we were approaching the Hrafnholar Farm as we learned that this was not the way to get to the other side of Tröllafoss.  We'd have to wait two more weeks before we would get our shot at redemption
Trollafoss_001_jx_06212007 - Signposts for Tröllafoss and the Leirvogsá River that I noticed on our first visit in 2007.  I knew I wasn't crazy when I thought we were going the right way!
Trollafoss_001_06212007 - We stopped the car by this pole in 2007, which turned out to be about the same spot where the lower trailhead was located 14 years later
Trollafoss_004_06212007 - This scramble may look doable, but there was a sizable dropoff you don't see in this shot taken in 2007


I’ll describe the directions to reach Trollafoss (Tröllafoss) from the center of Reykjavík since it’s reasonably close to the city.

First, we’d drive east on the Route 49 for about 7km as we kept left to stay on the Ring Road (Route 1).

Trollafoss_001_iPhone_08052021 - This blue sign on the unpaved Hrafnaholavegur was a telltale sign that you're on the right track to the trailhead for Tröllafoss
This blue sign on the unpaved Hrafnaholavegur was a telltale sign that you’re on the right track to the trailhead for Tröllafoss

After passing through several roundabouts, the Route 1 will eventually junction with the Route 36 on the right (about 15km from downtown Reykjavík).

We’d then follow Route 36 (Þingvallavegur) for just under 7km to an easy-to-miss turnoff for Selholt (which I believe is the Hrafnaholavegur according to my Garmin GPS).

You’ll know you’re in the right road if you see a large blue sign with a crude map showing Tröllafoss at the end of a dotted line.

Anyways, after leaving Route 36, we drove north on the unpaved road for 1.4km to an unsigned turnoff on the right.

Trollafoss_183_08192021 - This was the small clearing at the top of a hill that I referred to as the 'upper trailhead' for Tröllafoss
This was the small clearing at the top of a hill that I referred to as the ‘upper trailhead’ for Tröllafoss

This unsigned turnoff is about 300m after a gated fork on the right (which was actually for a private road).

This road was already pretty rough to start off with as it led 200m up to the top of a hill, where there was a clearing with room for a handful of cars.

That clearing is what I’m calling the “upper trailhead” for Tröllafoss.

Of course, the road keeps going for another 700m to the “lower trailhead”, where there’s a blue “P” sign as of our last visit in August 2021.

Trollafoss_006_iPhone_08052021 - This blue P sign was for the lower trailhead for Tröllafoss, but I didn't recall that sign being there back in 2007 when I first came here
This blue P sign was for the lower trailhead for Tröllafoss, but I didn’t recall that sign being there back in 2007 when I first came here

That said, that section of the road was quite steep, rocky, rutted, and can be muddy so it might make more sense to just walk that 700m stretch instead of white-knuckling it in a rental car.

Overall, this drive would take about 30 minutes.

By the way, if you’re coming from the other direction heading west on the Route 36, the turnoff onto Hrafnaholavegur would be on the right about 10km west of the Route 48 / Route 36 junction at Mossfellsheiði.

In case you’re wondering why I singled out the Route 48 as a landmark, that’s because it’s the route to Þórufoss as well as Hvalfjörður.

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Back and forth sweep of mostly the main drop of Trollafoss as seen from above the lower cascade while also revealing a deep pothole


Comprehensive sweep of Trollafoss and the neighboring waterfalls.


Downstream to upstream sweep showing Kerfoss before panning across the lower drop of Trollafoss


Precarious partial top down view of Trollafoss from about our old vantage point from 14 years ago

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Tagged with: trollafoss, laxa, kjos, reykjavik, mossfellsbaer, thingvellir, capital region, iceland, waterfall, hard to find, mossfell, thorufoss



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