Gate to hell – Stórurð hike

Storurd hike

To set foot in a place like Stórurð, one could do almost everything. Perhaps even sell one’s soul to the devil. This hike takes you to an unearthly land. Imagine a kind of landscape like from a wonderful dream, the one which you would never want to wake up from. Miracles and magic all around you. So it’s a perfect sunny day with a light blue sky and idyllic, fluffy clouds. All around you amazing infinite space, majestic mountains, hills which take fantastic forms and romantic meadows with thousands of pure-white flowers. It all looks so serene, but after a while, you start to have a strange feeling. A kind of anxiety, as if something was lurking.

Storurd hike

The anxiety doesn’t want to go away. The sun disappears, the sky hides under a very dark coat and crazy, a strong wind starts to blow. The stroll leads through a mountain path, which starts to narrow dangerously. Suddenly a strange shape appears. It’s a mountain, but a huge mountain and a very unusual one; it’s really dramatic, rugged and craggy, formed in a shape of a gate. From now on, the view of this mountain will never leave you. This view fills your soul with fear and serves goose bumps to your body. Not much is needed to change this amazing dream into a nightmare. There is something odd about this place. It seems that some weird energy took over all the nearest surroundings. That something evil must hide in this tranquil spot.

Storurd hike

Did you know that Iceland was a huge inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkien? When he was inventing the land of Mordor he had in his mind images of the Icelandic landscape. If he went for a hike to Stórurð, he certainly would be enchanted. Stórurð is definitely a hidden gem in the east of Iceland. It’s one of its biggest and most magical attractions and… it’s neglected by most tourists. It’s a real treat for everyone who loves hiking and jaw-dropping mountain scenery.

Storurd hike

It all starts really idyllic, but the next stage of the route encompasses the fulminant view of the already mentioned devilish mountains. Mystery smoulders in the crisp mountain air and the premonitions turn out to be more than reliable. These ominous peaks, which resemble a gate, for centuries were regarded by the Icelanders as a gateway to hell. Yup, these who got bored with a noble lifestyle and went on a path of wickedness, could become the devil’s servant sooner than after death. It was as simple as that – you had to get to Stórurð, climb to the entrance of hell and say loudly the special wish. Devilish route was naturally one way and it was wide open all year round.

Storurd hike

Travellers who don’t have the intention to sell their soul to the devil can go farther and enjoy a fairy-tale aura of the area. At the end of the route, you will have a pleasure to admire gigantic blocks of rocks formed in various shapes. The area looks just as if trolls were playing the French game of boules. Between the rocks, you can see simply amazingly charming little ponds. What’s more, these ponds have wonderfully intense sapphire colour, which seems to be quite unrealistic. In this environment, undoubtedly magical things may happen. Every hiker with respectable and less virtuous plans will be delighted!

Storurd hike

Practical info:

  • Distance – 14 km. There are 6 trails which lead to Stórurð; we describe only the one which we chose.

  • Time – 5-6 hours. If you add breaks and an obligatory longer stop near the ponds, the trip can easily take a whole day. We had dreamt about spending a night at Stórurð, so we actually spent two days doing this hike.

  • Best time to go – The recommended hiking season starts from July and lasts until October. Before that time, there could be much a lot of snow on the way. We visited Stórurð in the beginning of September on a beautiful, sunny and windless day (at least in the beginning of our hike). Believe it or not, but there are such days in Iceland.

  • Start – Our variant begins on the mountain pass near a pond called Vatnsskarð a dozen or so kilometers before Borgarfjorður (road 94). It’s the quickest way to get to Stórurð and also has little climbing involved. It’s not that we don’t like to climb, none of these things! We love it, but this day we were in the mood for a not too demanding trail, especially that we had all necessary camping equipment with us.

  • Finish – A few kilometres to the west from the starting point, on road no. 94.

  • Trail description – The entire trail is marked with wooden poles. It starts with a relatively steep but short ascent on Geldingafjall (634 m), which offers absolutely stunning views. When you reach this mountain, there are very few ascends afterwards. You wander in a truly idyllic setting, full of charming ponds and meadows covered with cotton grass. Then you pass from the left side the peak called Sulur (768 m) and from there on you can see the gates of hell. In the end, there is a rather steep descent, a stream crossing, and here it is – the magical Stórurð. In order to return, we chose a long, gently descending route, which runs to the west from the trail which we took to come to Stórurð. Hitchhiking, in this case, gives wonderful freedom because you can choose a different route to go back. Most of you will probably come to the starting point by car. Then it’s better to take the same trail to go back to your car.

  • Difficulty – Relatively easy hike. Steep climb only at the beginning. There are no technical difficulties on the trail, but it’s not boring, not at all! Even if you like more demanding challenges in the mountains, you will be delighted here. Despite that we have on our account much more difficult multi-day trekking in the Caucasus, Swedish Lapland, Norway, in the mountains of Romania, Turkey and a few more places, in our opinion this hike is simply outstanding. You can trust us!

  • Wild camping – Stórurð is a great place for wild camping. A perfectly flat glade, a stream, enormous boulders which can easily protect your tent from strong wind. And such a terrific view, which definitely no hotel will ensure you. Simply jaw-dropping! Just remember one thing, do not leave any trace of your presence here. There would be nothing worse than this beautiful meadow dotted with… toilet paper.

  • Map – We recommend to purchase a good map, for example Atlaskort 30 (Seyðisfjörður, 1:100 000) published by Mál og menning. A series of these topographic maps covers the whole country. These maps have never failed us.

Storurd

Iceland map Storurd

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