Trails: Kjalvegur hinn forni

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Hálendið
Kjalvegur the old

Description

The hiking trail in Kjalvegur the old/ancient lies between Hveravellir and Hvítárnes in Kjalvegur. It is the area between the glaciers Langjökull on the west side and Hofsjökull on the east side. There are many possibilities for hikers.

Driving across Kjölur does not give the right impression of the area as it is practically without any vegetation where the main road crosses. Before the time of vehicles/cars, when everybody used horses to get from one point to an another, the main trail/road was further west near the glacier Langjökull, where there is much more vegetation, grass, flowers and even small birches. This area is called Kjalvegur the old/ancient with many nice and beautiful places which is only possible to observe by hiking the trail.

Generally the route is easy to pass. Stakes and cairns mark most of the route making it unlikely get lost on the way. It is a good trail for beginners. There is little or no water to find on the route from Þjófadalir to Þverbrekknamúli, so there it is advisable to carry some water.

Huts on the trail

There are four huts on the way. The northernmost one, in Hveravellir, is an operated centre for tourists where it is possible to get accommodations with made up beds. Hveravellir is a privately owned cabin. The huts after Hveravellir are all owned by Ferðafélag Íslands (Iceland Touring Association, FÍ) and offer only sleeping bag accommodations. The second hut is in Þjófadalir, with room for 11 persons. The third hut is in Þverbrekknamúli with room for 20 persons and the last one is in Hvítárnes which can accommodate 30 persons.

In which direction?

It does not make a difference at all which direction you choose. The altitude is almost the same all the way, no relevant ascent nor descent. Many choose however to start in Hveravellir. Then you walk towards the beautiful gliding glaciers on the northern side of Hrútfell walking from Þjófadalir to Þverbrekknamúli and during the last day, from Þverbrekknamúli to Hvítárnes, you have a view over the glacial lake Hvítárvatn in the south west direction.

Hveravellir-Hvítárnes

Hveravellir-Þjófadalir
12 km. 4-5 hrs.

Before you start the hike in Hveravellir, it is strongly recommended to explore the area because there not many places on earth where you have so many different types of hot springs. Without doubt you should also take a bath in the small pool on the east side of oldest hut. It is extremely relaxing.

From Hveravellir there are two trails to choose from. One lies due south towards the highest point (874 m) of Kjalhraun called Strýtur. It is a beautiful volcano crater. The trail is staked and cairns as mentioned before. From Strýtur the route heads west until you reach a place called Þröskuldur or Threshold, as it is literally a threshold for the valley Þjófadalir. The other trail follows to some extent a track that leads at first southwest to Stélbrattur and then south to Sóleyjardalir and Þröskuldur.

From Þröskuldur there is a nice view over the valley with a small hut in its middle. All the area is very warm and friendly, covered with grass, flowers and heather vegetation. No one should pass up the opportunity to up to highest peak (1075 m) in the area called Rauðkollur. The view from the peak is very nice and oversees the area of Kjölur and to Kerlingarfjöll in the east.

Þjófadalir-Þverbrekknamúli
14 km. 5-6 hrs.

Now the route heads southeast out of the valley Þjófadalir. The lava field Kjalhraun is on the left side and soon you have the river Fúlakvísl on the right hand side. The view of the mountain Hrútfell south of Fúlakvísl is great, the mountain has some gliding glaciers coming from the top called Regnbúðajökull.

Here the river Fúlakvísl runs through a narrow canyon and there is a small foot bridge over the river. From the bridge the trail takes you over the hills Múlar and to the cabin in Þverbrekknamúli. Alternatively, you can hike downstream alongside the river to cross it over another bridge, east of the cabin in Þverbrekknamúli.

Some people choose to stay two nights in Þverbrekknamúli and use the other day to explore the area, especially in Þverbrekkur. It is also worth it to hike up Hrútfell where the view is indescribable. If you give it a try you need to be extra careful because the trail is rather steep.

Þverbrekknamúli-Hvítárnes
15 km. 5-6 hrs.

The trail heads east until you have crossed the bridge over river Fúlakvísl. Then the trail turns southwest, alongside the river, until you come south of Hrefnubúdir. Here we walk mostly through vegetated area and often times on deep trails made by horses. South of Baldheiði, fountains with crystal clear cold water directly from the earth can be found.

Alternatively there is a longer trail that goes in Þverbrekkur and down to Innri-Fróðárdalur valley. Here we see how important water is for the vegetation. Coming down to Fremri-Fróðárdalur valley, you walk through a small mountain pass. It is important to have the river Fróðá on the right side when walking through the pass, which is on the hillside of the mountain Rauðafell.

A unique sight can bee seen in Fremri-Fróðárdalur where clear and clean water comes directly from the cliff. Now there is a short hike to the glacial lake Hvítárvatn. From here to the hut in Hvítárnes it is necessary to ford the river Fúlakvísl multiple times as the river has divided itself into many smaller streams. Furthermore the area is all a virtual marshland and as such it is very difficult to get across dry footed!

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