Háifoss was once recorded as the tallest waterfall in Iceland, measuring at 396 ft (121 m) in height. Other databases and websites list Háifoss as the 3rd or 5th tallest waterfall in Iceland. This ranking is inaccurate and is only the 9th tallest waterfall, according to more recent surveys. Moving glaciers can reveal new waterfalls, so the records can change over the years, with Morsárfoss being an example of this. While no longer the tallest waterfall in Iceland, it is an impressive waterfall with its sheer drop into a gorge below.
Located in the innermost area of Þjórsárdalur Valley, Haifoss doesn’t attract visitors like the other iconic falls due to the remote location. There is also the potential need for a 4×4 to access it. Finding Háifoss isn’t complicated but does require some effort.
In the valley runs the Fossá river, a tributary of the Þjorsá river, Iceland’s longest river. The Fossá river splits before the plunge into the deep gorge. The split creates two waterfalls, Haifoss, and a second waterfall named Granni, which means “neighbor.” These waterfalls are so close to each other; it is possible to get them in a single photograph.
From Háifoss, you will also be able to see Helka in the distance. This one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes, with the nickname “the Gateway to Hell.” It has erupted over 20 times since the country was settled.
History of Háifoss
Háifoss was not documented until the very early 1900s. It was thought to be the tallest waterfall in Iceland and Europe, and as mentioned before, this is no longer accurate. During this time, Dr. Helgi Pjetursson named Háifoss, which means “high waterfall.” He was the first Icelander to obtain a Ph.D. in geology.
Iceland also has incredible folklore. While the stories don’t mention Háifoss directly, the area within the Þjórsárdalur Valley is rich in legend. Ogres aren’t common in Icelandic folklore, but it was said that an ogress inhabited the area. This ogress lived primarily on trout caught in the river. However, she was hostile and threatened anyone who came too close to her. A group of travelers was camping near the river bank when a young teenage boy threw a rock into the river. The ogress, who was watching, took offense to this and considered it a threat to her property. She waited until it was dark and snuck up behind the boy’s tent. There she grabbed him by his feet and began to drag him out. Luckily, the other campers saved the boy, who managed to grab him and keep him from being dragged away. At this point, the ogress let go as it was no longer worth the risk. The boy was injured and spent a month bedridden until he was healed.
hiking Háifoss Trail
Háifoss Falls hiking trail is an easy hike. The path is a 2.3 mi out and back hike with a 482 ft elevation gain. While the trail isn’t difficult, it is recommended to hike it under pleasant weather conditions. The loose gravel on the hiking path can make it risky in wet or icy weather.
The entrance to the trail-head begins at the end of Route 332. During cold months, this road and others leading to it may not be passable. It is recommended to use a 4×4 to access this route.
Directions to Háifoss
- Háifoss is well marked and easily accessible with Google Maps.
- The drive is around 2 hours from Reykjavík.
- The hiking trail will be at the end of Route 332.