The sun always shines on Móskarðshnjúkar, or so the saying goes. The mountain is made out of bright yellow rhyolite which, in contrast with the darker objects surrounding it, can’t help but look as though it were always basking in its own private bit of sunlight. This scenic half-day hike near Reykjavík is an instant Icelandic adventure for everyone!
Duration: 4 hours
Group maximum: 15
Age limit: 15 years
- Small Group Experience
- Moskardshnjukar Mountain Hike
- Stunning Rhyolite Peak
- Scenic views over the capital area and Thingvellir
- Pick-up & drop off from Reykjavík
- Guided Hiking Tour
- English Speaking Licensed Adventure Guide
- All Required Safety Equipment
The sun always shines on Móskarðshnjúkar, or so the saying goes. The mountain is made out of bright yellow rhyolite which, in contrast with the darker objects surrounding it, can’t help but look as though it were always basking in its own private bit of sunlight. But it’s simply the rock that glows so brightly, there is no enchantment which causes the sun to always shine on its slopes.
Mountains made of rhyolite, a volcanic rock, are exceptionally colorful and bright. This type of rock is rather rare, especially so near the capital city. The most talked about rhyolite areas in Iceland are located in the deserted interior of the country: Landmannalaugar and Kerlingarfjöll. This makes the existence of Móskarðshnjúkar even more exciting.
When the weather permits, this peak is even visible from Reykjavík itself. In the Esja mountain range, Móskarðshnjúkar is one of the peaks that lies farthest away from the capital city, on the eastern side of the range. Its proximity to the city, a mere 18.6 mi. (30 km), makes Moskardshnjukar a popular destination for those local city dwellers who want to escape for a bit of recreation, hiking, or mountain biking.
Pickup for the tour will be in Reykjavík, at a previously-selected location. The drive to the trailhead will only take about 30 minutes. From there, it will all be on foot, beginning with crossing a bridge over a river. The terrain is not challenging but the trail can be a bit steep. As this hike is more demanding than the more famous Esja trail, it’s also less crowded.
The first part of the trail leads up a hill with sparse moss and lichen. This flora will disappear entirely during the hike to leave nothing but bare rock around us. The trail will get steeper as the hike goes on and as we approach the peak. The second part of the hike will give us a beautiful view of the surrounding area. Even though we will be relatively close to the capital, it will feel as though we have left civilization far behind. Only one or two tiny horse farms are visible down below, everything else is pure Icelandic nature.
Hiking over the sharp rhyolite rocks with all of their beautiful colorings will help you understand exactly why Móskarðshnjúkar always looks so bright from a distance. The view from the top makes the 1.5-2 hours spent hiking more than worth it. The 360-degree panorama is absolutely breathtaking.
The trail to the 2647-foot (807 m) summit goes over 1.8 mi. (3 km) of beautiful scenery and rhyolite rock piles that will make you feel as if you were in the middle of the Highlands. The distinctive peak with its sharp-spined neighbors rising up next to it, the verdant valley lying far down below us, and the shining vision of Reykjavík off in the distance make this hike a memorable addition to any Icelandic trip.
In just a half-day, you can find out where the locals go hiking and have a truly memorable adventure. Join us for this hike to the top of Móskarðshnjúkar. You will not regret it!
- Total Hiking Time: 4 hours
- Trail Length: 1.8 mi (3 km)
- Elevation: 2221 ft. (677 m)
- Summit: 2647 ft. (807 m)
- Difficulty: Moderate