Arriving near Lake Myvatn in northern Iceland, you really can't miss the Hverfjall volcano in the distance.
You can't deny the crater is impressive. It's big, first of all, but there is also the jet black of its flanks, which contrasts sharply with the lush vegetation around the large lake.
The Myvatn region is full of fascinating and beautiful points of interest, and Hverfjall is at the top of the list.
It is particularly famous for being, along with Vindbelgjarfjall, one of the two viewpoints with the best views of the Myvatn region. If you can of course ascend to the summit on foot...it just takes a little effort!
Hverfjall, literally “hot spring mountain”, is part of the Krafla volcanic system which stretches over 90 kilometers. Presumably, Hverfjall could have originated from a volcanic eruption dating back around 2500 years ago. It is therefore relatively young on a geological scale.
Nevertheless, it's impressive: the cone is 200 meters deep and 250 meters tall with a diameter of 1200 meters at the summit. The diameter at the base is much larger, about 2 kilometers.
The crater is absolutely magnificent and is renowned for being one of the best-preserved in the world. It consists entirely of black ash, and this creates a great effect with the greenery around Myvatn in summer or the white snow in winter.
At the foot of Hverfjall you'll find a car park and restrooms, and from there just put on your hiking boots and strike out to climb the crater for a breathtaking view of the Myvatn region.
Although there's only 250 meters of altitude difference, the ascent, down a small ash path, is short but quite steep. Count 20 minutes to reach the summit and take in the incredible panorama commanding the lava flows of Krafla, Lake Myvatn, Dimmuborgir and Vindbelgjarfjall...
From this vantage point there is also a beautiful view of the crater interior, and visitors often decide to hike down into the bowl as there are paths to descend on some sides. Touchingly, you'll see inscriptions made with stones found inside Hverfjall (pictured) leaving messages on the blackboard of the ash field.
From the summit it's actually pretty much impossible to frame the entire crater in a photo as it is too large, so you likely won't have enough perspective unless you have a camera with a very wide angle.
Once at the top, you can walk the loop around the crater in about 1 hour to discover it from all angles. Be careful however as strong wind sweep across the rim, so you may have to fight with the wind. Altogether, you're looking at 4.5 kilometers to complete the climb and tour of the crater rim.
There is a lovely hiking trail from Grjótagjá to Hverfjall before continuing with the ascent to the crater described above. The walking time between Grjótagjá and Hverfjall is about 45 minutes to complete the 2.6 kilometers (one way).
Similarly, this alternative hiking trail leaves from Dimmuborgir. The expected walking time is about 3H30 to complete the approximately 10 kilometers that allow you to reach Hverfjall, go around the crater and return to Dimmuborgir.
Photo Credit: 279photo @AdobeStock
The site is located on the eastern part of Lake Myvatn. Access to Hverfjall is simple and can be done with any type of vehicle.
To reach the car park, take the 848 around Lake Myvatn and turn at the Hverfjall sign, which will appear between Dimmuborgir and Grjótagjá. Since the crater can be seen from so far away, it seems impossible you'll get lost on the way there.
The site is accessible all year round. In summer, tourists flock to the place, so we recommend to go there early in the morning or at the end of the afternoon.
For many, Hverfjall has even more charm in winter, with the snow partially covering the beautiful black ash of Hverfjall. In winter, the car park is regularly moved a few hundred meters away where the terrain is not as affected, so this involves a longer walk to reach the foot of Hverfjall.
Also, in winter, with snow, climbing the flanks of the crater can be a bit of a challenge without adequate equipment such as batons and crampons.