Hike Stakkholts Canyon (Stakkholtsgja)

Rate this Adventure Stakkholtsgja

A magical Icelandic canyon, including an option for a side journey to see a concealed slot canyon waterfall!

Starting at the trailhead, it is a leisurely hike into and through Stakkholts Canyon (in Icelandic, Stakkholtsgja). There are some defined paths along the way, but the path can vary from year to year and ultimately you will make your own way up the canyon, with relatively easy crossings of the river by foot (no bridges). Especially if visiting in mid-to-late summer, there will likely be stepping stone paths established for you across the river.

Enjoy your surroundings and consider a side journey or two up some of the side canyons that are tributaries to Stakkholtsgja. When you get to the end of the primary stretch of the canyon just before it hooks a sharp right, if you look to your left you will notice a pronounced slot canyon. Cross the river and carefully hike in to this side slot canyon; you will find an enchanting waterfall within! The rocks within this slot canyon can be very slippery, from the creek itself as well as the spray of the waterfall. For reference, when you get to the view as pictured in the cover photo of this adventure post, you should turn left and cross the river to discover the waterfall and side slot canyon.

BEWARE: To get to the trailhead will require going on a commercial tour, bus, or having a sizeable 4x4 vehicle of your own; there are many river and creek crossings along the dirt road to get to this trailhead, which is in the Thorsmork area. Reference the photo of the warning sign in the photos included with this adventure post. When we went in on our 4x4, the first river crossing we came across had a tow truck and crane sitting there waiting to help the first victim of the day (it wasn't us!). It is not cheap to use a tow service if you are foolish about river crossings! If you do decide to go on your own through all the river crossings, keep in mind a few things that are NOT noted on the warning signs along the road:

  • When the locals maintain the road each year, they will typically dig out the point of the creek/river the deepest at the point where the dirt road intersects it. In other words, don't continue straight along the path that the road would take you - typically, you should look up stream just a bit and cross in an area that isn't a deep calming pool! ;-)
  • You should use common sense and observe others before crossing yourself, but generally speaking: A) calm looking water is deeper than fast moving water (over rocks). B) The wider portions of the creek/river are going to be shallower than the narrow portions of the creek/river. C) Try to cross the river at a slight angle so you take advantage of the direction of flow of the water (and aren't fighting the flow of water as you cross).
  • Don't be stupid! :) If you have never driven off-road before and have never forded a river in a 4x4, don't make Iceland your first experience! If you do, you will likely be adding "Tow Service" to your list of unanticipated expenses and possibly paying for the full replacement of your rental vehicle (even the most inclusive of car rental insurance policies do not include flooded engine coverage). There are plenty of commercial tour operators in the area that can take you in to Thorsmork!

Pack List

  • Four Wheel Drive Vehicle / Tour Service
  • Camera
  • Dress in layers
  • Be prepared for rain!
  • Water shoes (and neoprene booties!) if you want to walk through the water rather than trying to cross via stepping stones
Show More
RT Distance 1.2 Miles
Elevation Gain 40 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
River
Scenic
Waterfall

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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