Location: 65.453539, -19.193784
Height: 459-590 ft (140-180 m)
Bólugilfoss is a hidden waterfall in the Northwestern Region of Iceland. The waterfall sits in the Bólugil Canyon and is fed by the Bóluá river. We were unable to confirm the official name of Bólugifoss, but it is also known as Bólugil, Bólufoss, and Bólugilfossar. Google Maps shows the waterfall named simply as Bólugil Waterfall. It should be noted the National Icelandic Land Survey has an atlas that mentions the term “fossar.” Unfortunately, no definitive name was given there.
Interestingly enough, Bólugilfoss could be one of Iceland’s tallest waterfalls, but there is no official record of its height. Reports indicate that the waterfalls collectively are 459-590 ft (140-180 m). Even on the lower end of that range, it would tower over most waterfalls in the country. Reports also indicate Bólugilfoss is comprised of 6-7 falls.
Despite Bólugilfoss obscurity, there is a legend from one of the Icelandic sagas that involve Bólugil Canyon. In the tale, a witch named Bóla was known to be vicious and violent. Other reports have Bóla as an ogress or bondwoman. Bóla lived in a cave in the canyon and would steal from the nearby farmers. However, one day, she met her demise when a shepherd drowned her in a pool in the Bóluá river.
Bóla is not just a character from folklore, but it’s a historic site. Near the Bóluá river is an old farm called Bóla. This farm is long since deserted but was once home to the poet Hjálmar Jónsson, also called Bólu Hjálmar. In 1829 Hjálmar moved to Bóla with his family, who was very poor. They had difficulty meeting their needs, and similar to the tale above, Hjálmar was accused of stealing sheep. He was never found guilty, but he was always in constant dispute with neighbors. Ultimately Hjálmar left Bóla with his family in 1839. After his wife died in 1845, he gave up farming altogether. Today Hjálmar is remembered for his sharp, short, and witty poetry. A memorial is now located here in honor of the poet.
Length: 3.3 mi (5.3 km)
Elevation gain: 1025 ft
Route Type: Loop
Wikiloc has a user-submitted trail map of the hike to see Bólugilfoss and Bólugil canyon. This hike reportedly takes you around both sides of the canyon. The trail is not marked with any signs but is reported to be easy to follow. There is no formal crossing for the Bóluá river, but the user says this is easily doable above Bólugilfoss.
Viewable from Road?: Yes
Nearest Major Town or City: Sauðárkrókur
Distance from Reykjavík: 195 mi (314 km)
As mentioned above, Bólugilfoss is listed as Bólugil Waterfall on Google Maps. Even though this waterfall is located in the remote Northwestern Region, Bólufoss is less than a 4-hour drive from Reykjavík. Bólugilfoss is also accessible right off of the Ring Road, Route 1. There is an area for parking listed as Bolugilfoss Parking on Google Maps, and there is no signage for this parking area or waterfall. The best advice is to park around where the Bóluá river crosses the Ring Road and hike the rest of the way.