Mt. Brennisteinsalda, also called the Sulphur Wave, is a rainbow-colored mountain in Landmannalaugar.
This hike combines the best features of Landmannalaugar: lava fields, geothermal features, and panoramic views. You even get to hike a very short portion of the Laugavegur Trail, Iceland’s most famous multi-day trek.
Facts About the Hike
Distance: 6.5 km (4 miles)
Total Ascent: 300 meters (1000 feet)
Length of Time: 2 to 3 hours
When to Go: Mid-June through mid-September. This is when the trails and the roads to Landmannalaugar are free of snow.
Hiking Mt. Brennisteinsalda
Hiking the Brennisteinsalda loop can be confusing. To get to and from the Landmannalaugar campground, you will hike several different trails, combining them into a loop. The trail colors change multiple times on this hike, so you need to pay close attention to the trail markers and the trail signs.
This hike starts and ends at the Landmannalaugar campground.
From the campground, walk south towards Blahnúkúr, the massive, blueish-gray mountain in the photo below.
There will be a sign pointing to the right, labeled Graenagil, the white trail. For approximately 1 km, you will walk through Graenagil canyon. Blahnúkúr will be on your left and the Laugarhaun lava field will be to your right.
Once in the lava field, you will arrive at this sign. Follow the sign to Laugavegur and Hrafntinnusker.
Hiking to the Summit of Mt. Brennisteinsalda
For several hundred meters you will hike through the rough, jagged rocks of the Laugarhaun lava field. This part of the trail is labeled with yellow trail markers.
Once through the lava field, the trail smooths out and starts to climb towards the summit of Brennisteinsalda. Turn left to follow the sign to Hrafntinnsuker on the Laugavegur Trail. You are now on the red trail.
At this point, you will hike past steaming, sulfuric vents and colorful geothermal features. From the top of the climb, you get a great view over the lava field. Also, there is a good chance that you will see backpackers doing the multi-day Laugavegur trek to Thórsmörk.
The view over the Laugarhaun lava field.
Another hefty climb brings you to this trail sign (below). Turn right to continue up Brennisteinsalda. Now you are on a trail labeled with green trail markers.
This final climb is the toughest of the day but it’s worth it. From the top, enjoy the amazing views over Landmannalaugar.
The view of the Laugavegur Trail from Brennisteinsalda and hikers heading to Thórsmörk.
The blueish-gray mountain is Blahnúkúr. You can hike to the peak of Blahnúkúr for more amazing views of Landmannalaugar.
Back to Landmannalaugar
From here, it’s a mostly downhill walk to get back to the campground. Continue to follow the green trail downhill, in the direction of Vondugil. It’s a very pretty walk and now that you are walking downhill, it’s easier to enjoy the views of the multi-colored rhyolite mountains that make this region so unique.
At the bottom of Mt. Brennisteinsalda, turn right and walk through the flat valley towards the lava field. Now you are a trail with white and green trail markers (I wasn’t joking when I said the trail markers change a lot).
Once in the Laugarhraun lava field, the trail markers change one final time to red and white and now you should follow the signs to Landmannalaugar. This part of the trail is easy to walk, since it’s a wide, gravel trail. Most likely you will see a lot of people here, since the hike through Laugarhaun is the most popular hike to do in Landmannalaugar.
The trail to the campground.
Hike Mt. Blahnúkúr
Mt. Blahnúkúr, also called the Blue Peak, is another great hike to do in Landmannalaugar. This is another short, tough hike but the views are a little better from the summit, in my opinion. Learn how to hike Mt. Blahnúkúr in this post. In the next few days, I will be writing about how to combine Blahnúkúr and Brennisteinsalda into one epic hike, so stay tuned!
Summary of the Hiking Trails
- Take the white trail through Graenagil Canyon
- The trail briefly changes to yellow in the lava field before reaching the Laugavegur Trail
- Turn left onto the red trail, the Laugavegur Trail
- Turn right on the green trail to the Brennisteinsalda Summit, towards Vondugil
- Follow the white and green trail through the valley towards Landmannalaugar
- Follow the white and red trail through the Laugahraun lava field to Landmannalaugar
Tips to Have the Best Experience
Wear hiking shoes. This trail is a mix of dirt, gravel and clay and it can be slippery in spots. If you have hiking poles, they can be helpful as well.
It can be cold in Landmannalaugar, even in the summer. Bring several layers and make sure you bring a rain jacket.
Check the weather before you go. This hike is best done on a clear day.
If you have any questions about the hike up Mt. Brennisteinsalda or a visit to Landmannalaugar, let us know in the comment section below.