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).
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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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