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 60-80 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.
A soulfully satisfying and equally rewarding hike on the island of Lombok, Indonesia turns easily into a 3 days 2 nights trek, should you opt to hike down to the crater lake and take a dip in the neighboring all natural hot springs. For simplicity, I will go straight to the details.
Day 1: Start hiking from Senaru, ~600 meters (1975 ft) all the way to the camp area at rim, 2599 meters (8527 ft) leading to an elevation gain of around 6550 ft in approximately 7.5 kms (4.6 miles) and 7 hours. The climb is paved soil for the most part and rocky for the last 1500 ft.
Day 2: Hike down from the camp site to the crater lake at 1982 meters (6500 ft) in little over an hour and hike up to Sembalun side camp site at 2615 meters (8580 ft) in 2.5 hours resulting in a cumulative elevation change of 4100 ft. The hike down is rocky and steep as you lose 2027 ft in little over 2 kms (1.2 miles). The climb up on the contrary is steady for the first 2 kms through the savanna but gains elevation quickly for the remaining 1600 ft in a very rocky kilometer or so. This patch of trail is paved with cemented steps leading all the way to the top of the rim on Sembalun side.
Day 3: Climb up from 2615 meters (8580 ft) to 3726 meters (12224 ft) in 2.5+ kms and 3.5 hours. That’s a climb of around 3645 ft through loose ash, gravel, and rocks. Once up to 2900 meters (9515 ft), you get a steady break for half a kilometer before the grade goes steep to 40 degrees on what can basically be compared to hiking on sand. Picture at least 1.5 kilometers on this unstable terrain. Heading back to the camp site may take an hour and add another 4 hours to hike down from camp site to base in Sembalun, 1150 meters (3772 ft).
In short, Total Elevation Gain to the Summit (Up, up & up) – 10195 ft (Senaru)
Total Elevation Change to the Summit (Incl Crater Lake) – 12222 ft (Senaru)
Total Elevation Drop from the Summit – 8452 ft (Sembalun)
Rewards galore when on top… first the daybreak (above), then the sunrise (below).
There is another volcanic crater, although lakeless (not in picture) on the side opposite to the crater lake. Reminds of Gunung Agung.
Kalsudevi aka Kalsubai hike, is an engaging hike packed with a lot of fun, especially if hiking during the Arabian monsoons. The hike starts at the foothills near the village of Bari, Maharashtra at an altitude of 818 meters and climbs to 1646 meters (total elevation gain of around 2700 ft) in 2.8 miles. It will take a regular hiker not more than 180 mins to climb and around half to descend.
The temple of Kalsudevi atop the mountain. The site gets windy around dusk, goes crazy around midnight until the weather settles into a gentle breeze once the sun shines at full throttle.
Through a vendor hut on the summit. You can also see the Bhandardara reservoir in the above picture. When you hike in India, you will be amused how locals create opportunities for business through the trail length. You find huts, stalls of vendors selling food, snacks, beverages and even dinner over weekends. Although I cooked my own, its more fun. Another uniquity is the presence of a light bulb on the summit, although you see signs of electrical piping all along the trail.
The temple silhouette at dusk.
Tent camping around 100 feet below the temple after winds forced me out.
Mt Agung on the island of Bali in Indonesia is one challenging hike with an unrelenting grade at around 35 degrees. The hike starts from the Pan Ubang temple which is part of the wider Besakih compound. Note that the actual Besakih temple is another 100-200 ft below the trail head. There are varying accounts of the elevation gain, but the Pan Ubang base was measured at an altitude of 1142 meters while the summit is popularly measured at 3142 meters, resulting in a total elevation gain of around 6600 ft. The total trail length to the crater can be estimated at around 5 miles. Average time to hike up is around 360-420 mins while average time to hike down is around 240 mins. It took me around 6.5 hrs to climb and around 3.5 to run down the mountain.
The Agung crater is another 0.3 mile from the first summit at a cumulative elevation change (loss/gain) of around 50-60 ft. Don’t make the mistake of turning back after the first summit ascent.
Cloudfall into the crater as can be seen above.
Cloudcap at the crater rim and Mt Rinjani visible at a distance.
Mt Agung from the Pan Ubang compound.
The hike stays my most treacherous hike to date, more so due to the combination of humidity at the base of the mountain (first 120 mins through the humidity of a tropical rainforest are excruciatingly painful), the loose pumice that covers some stretch (possibly fourth) of the trail, no sources of fresh water all along the way, and a steady relentless grade; than the terrain itself. Prepare with enough water, coffee (if hiking through the night) and some salt or electrolytes. After sweating bullets through the first couple of hrs, I was day dreaming fresh fruits with sprinkled salt.
Popularly known locally as “Blue Fire”, Kawa Ijen on the island on Java in Indonesia is an hr drive from Banyuwangi (East Java). The hike is roughly 2 miles in length to the highly acidic lake at the center of the crater. The cumulative elevation change (first gain to the rim ~1300 ft and descent to the lake ~700 ft) is around 2000 ft, varying accounts can be found online.
Average time to the crater lake is around 120 mins at the laziest best and similar on the way back. Longer times are partly due to its popularity and the number of fellow hikers you witness in the dark. This may be the most populated hike I have been on to date. At any time expect around 200-400 people on this short hike flashing torches through the night. And I wonder how?
The blue flame is a very pretty sight. Go figure the how!
The trail of lights on the way back as seen above.
Additional pictures of Mt Raung that is part of the wider volcanic belt.