It won’t make much of a sense to elaborate on any hikes here, the entire king wilderness area is a playground. This is the kind of place where you “make” your own hike.
Driving down through the forest roads in the Snæfellsjökull National Park will give you enough opportunities to explore the popularly known hiking trails or view the glacier.
You can always choose to hike down to the glacier.
Picturesque setting – what stands out is the contrast.
Somewhere along the way…
A super fun scramble set in the western peninsula of Iceland, Kirkjufell rises ~1500 ft from sea level and the trail length is probably a mile (~1.6 km). It gets steep past 300 meters into the hike. The view from 1290 ft (above).
You need to traverse three stretches of rocky outcrops with help of ropes fixed into the trail by apparently the locals (Icelandic park rangers?). The first of which is a 10-12 ft vertical climb. Carry gloves for better grip.
Also remember that roughly 30-40 mins into the hike past a couple of scrambles (first of which is a 20+ ft rocky patch of the mountain facing south-east on the trail), the trail splits into two – one going left and the other going right. Take the trail to the left. Else prepare to waste 10 mins like me.
Kirkjufell mountain (above) as seen from the Kirkjufellsfoss (waterfalls). The trail follows a fence at the beginning (details below).
The trail is quite steep and avoid dancing, limping or simply hiking under a hang over. 🙂 The top half of the picture below is heavily skewed, but picture the bottom half as exactly what you would face getting down the mountain.
Took me 55-60 mins to pass the first of the ropes, and roughly 30 mins to run down the mountain. The entire stretch to the top should not take more than 80-90 mins.
People with long legs and a solid heart, this is totally your hike. Always “safety first”!
Reintal is the easiest or at least one of the easiest routes to hike Zugspitze. It starts in Ehrwald by the Ehrwalder Almbahn (rail). You have an option to take the cable car to the first logical unloading point ~4900 ft, or start exactly by the load point which is roughly 200-250 ft lower.
I will conservatively grade the hike “easy” and climbs roughly 2600 ft to the gatterl (picture this as the point where you switchback to the unseen side of the mountain). The trail is paved soil for the most part.
Above is the view from the “gatterl” post which the trail quickly loses roughly 100 ft (you can see this above as a narrow trail towards the left) before gaining another 1200 ft to hike up to the Sonn-Alpin restaurant. The total elevation gain for this stretch (first cable car stop –> Sonn-Alpin) is therefore ~3700 ft.
Sonn-alpin is another stop to get in and out of the cable car. Most people may like to hike up to the Zugspitze summit and take the cable car on their way down. For that you need to hike up from Sonn-alpin to the summit (passing a patch through the glacier) or take the cable car to the summit. You can then take another cable car, the Tiroler Zugspitzebahn all the way down to the parking lot from where you can take the free bus ride back to the Ehrwalder Almbahn stop. Note the last bus leaves at 5pm but you can always request the nearby hotel to call you a taxi. The entire trail length can be estimated at a little under 6 miles (first cable car stop -> Sonn-Alpin). The entire available stretch (Ehrwalder Almbahm –> Zugspitze Summit) is detailed at 14 kms (~9 miles). The stretch to Sonn-Alpin should take not more than 120 mins to climb up. In comparison the way down through the cable car takes only 10. 🙂 All that time you save…
Notable mentions: The trail dips down immediately after gatterl and climbs back all that elevation through a rocky face of the mountain, and after roughly 5-10 mins into the climb you come across the Austria-Germany border crossing on the mountain.
(Above) Somewhere after the border crossing and before the knorrhütte (hut). Excitingly enough we got caught up in an incessant hail and snow blizzard beyond here, which only started as promised rains. I got no pictures past this point as it was extremely windy (at least 90-100 mph and some stronger gusts knocked us down a few times, yes anxiety worthy). We started the hike on a rocky mountain and on a pleasant sunny day with blue skies and one lost “loner” cloud directly above our heads and ended the hike with a blizzard on an overly-cast snowed-in mountain. They even suspended the cable cars for a period of two hours till the winds subsided in the evening and shut down the entire area for tourists and employees, while opening the last run for people to get off the mountain. Before and after below.
This beauty of a hike is nestled within the Zion National Park, Utah, and you would need to catch the green line and get to stop #6 (Grotto) to start at the West Rim Trailhead. Another 2.5 miles from there will take you to the top aka Angel’s Landing, gaining an elevation of roughly 1450 feet. The trail isn’t long and fun past the Scout Lookout at roughly 850 feet. The remainder 600 feet is fun but yet not a scramble.
It should take roughly 60-75 mins to get all the way to the top and nearly 45-60 mins to get back to the Grotto shuttle stop. The only problem preventing you from maintaining a Zion schedule is trail traffic, and cautious hikers slowing down the line along the guard rails.
Close up of the Zion valley above.
Looking back at the exposed ridge from Scout Lookout on the way down. It looks scarier than what it actually is (fish eyes!) but a word of caution – don’t jump too much and stay safe.
Zion, I love. And I don’t say that often…
Skeleton Point Hike starts from the South Kaibab trailhead accessible along the South Rim trail. Alternately you can catch the park shuttle to the trailhead. The trail descends very quickly along a 3 mile stretch to the aforementioned point passing other markers viz Ooh-aah point (don’t think) and Cedar Ridge on the way.
The elevation loss up to Skeleton Point is around 2100 feet and although not steep, I rate it steep enough when in doubt over shoe grip on dry arid soil.
It should take a little over 60 mins to descend and may be 120 mins to gain all that elevation on your way back. Remember to carry plenty of water on the trail as there are no sources of spring water and the canyon can get very dry and hot. It is a lot hotter at Skeleton Point and apparently there is a 7-10 F temperature difference for every 1000 feet you lose in elevation.
The trail continues further from Skeleton point all the way down to the Colorado River (~4200 feet overall loss from trail head). But knock knock, remember the temperature difference and plan to carry water and electrolytes accordingly.
The view from Skeleton Point makes you realize how grand the canyon truly is. Majestic is another word that comes to mind…