This unique run is rarely done due to some challenging logistics but it's well worth the effort. The trip begins by driving an F-Road into the Highlands of Iceland towards the Hofsjökull Glacier. Due to the lack of vegetation, the put-in at the F752 Bridge will feel like being on another planet.

Although the mileage is pretty high the river moves pretty fast making it pretty easy to reach the Hilarsdel Mountain Hut in one day. The steepest section of the river is about 6 miles of nearly continuous Class III and IV rapids. Although the difficulty of the rapids is only Class III and IV, the continuous nature and remoteness make this a solid Class IV+ run.

A highlight of the trip is staying at the Hilarsdel Mountain Lodge which requires an advance reservation. It has beds, propane heater, a kitchen, and an outhouse. You'll need sleeping bags, toilet paper, coffee, and your own food.

Trip Highlights

Mile 0: Launch at the F752 Bridge.

Launching at the F752 Road Bridge

Launching at the F752 Road Bridge


Mile 7.5: The river begins to enter a canyon with a noticeable band of red rock on the left side. This is where the continuous section of whitewater begins.

Mile 13.2: A clear tributary stream enters from the right marking the end of the difficult white water section.

Mile 22.6: Stay the night at the Hildarsel Mountain Hut. You'll need to make reservations ahead of time to stay at the hut.

Hildarsel Mountain Hut

Hildarsel Mountain Hut

Mile 30.4: Take-out at the Merkigil Bridge or continue down the East Glacial River.

Written by
Zach Collier