Location: Eastern Region
Height: 575ft / 175m
Hidden away in the Eastern Region of Iceland is Strútsfoss. Deserving more popularity than it gets, Strútsfoss is Iceland’s third tallest waterfall. Strútsfoss is formed as the Strútsá river falls into the Strútsgil gorge below.
When translated to English, Strútsfoss means “Ostrich Waterfall.” The word “Struts” can be used to imply “stretching to the fullest height” or “stiff and straight.” One can easily assume Strútsfoss received its name due to its tall, straight drops, and the Strútsgil gorge also shares the steep and straight characteristics in its cliffsides.
In our post “15 Tallest Waterfalls in Iceland“, we have ranked Strútsfoss as Iceland’s third tallest waterfall standing at 575ft (175m). Most online resources list Strútsfoss as 393ft (120m). This information mimics the height measurements on the trailhead’s information board leading to the fall. However, the topographical map of the National Icelandic Land Survey suggests Strútsfoss be 575ft and the gorge upwards of 650ft. Regardless of its actual measurements, Strútsfoss still has an impressive height.
Strútsfoss is probably most famous for its distinct, colorful layers on the cliffsides beside the fall. These layers are gray basalt and red or yellow sediment, and Hengifoss, a more popular Icelandic waterfall, shares these features. Other unnamed waterfalls created by the Innri-Þverá river, the falls in the Strútsgil gorge, help reveal these layers.
Little to no history or folklore can be found online directly tied to Strútsfoss. However, some of its waters originate from Lagarfljót lake, the home of an ancient serpentine monster named Lagarfljotsormur.
Strútsfoss is also located near Iceland’s youngest settlement, Egilsstaðir, founded in 1947. Egilsstaðir, while small, is the central hub for travelers wanting to explore the Eastern Region (Austurland), including Strútsfoss.
It is also worthy to note that Strútsfoss is listed in the national Nature Conservation Register.
Length: 4.6 mi
Elevation gain: 813 ft
Route Type: Out & back
The hike to Strútsfoss does take around an hour to reach the waterfall. However, the directions to the trailhead make the trip difficult. The trail begins at Sturluflöt, Suðurdalur’s uppermost farm. There is a parking lot at the trailhead, and see directions in the section below.
The trail’s difficulty is relatively easy and flat, minus a steep climb at the trail’s end. Hikers also need to be prepared for wet and muddy conditions. The trail also only allows you to view the waterfall from a distance, and a closer look is not recommended due to hazardous conditions.
The hike first begins on the east of Kelduá River at the farm. After around 0.3 mi, the trail will veer to the left into the Villingadalur Valley. Here the trail begins to follow the east side of the Fellsá River. There are a few cascades to admire near the fork of the Kelduá River to admire before continuing along the Fellsá River. Eventually, the trail will lead you into the Strútsgil Gorge, where you can finally begin to see Strútsfoss. At this point, the trail starts to get steeper as it takes you in for a closer view. The trail does end where your point of view at the Strútsfoss is rather far. Some hikers are disappointed at this distance, but the hike along the river and rolling hills of the valley are well worth it.
Viewable from Road?: No
Nearest town: Egilsstaðir
Distance from Reykjavík: 395 mi (635 km)
In the most northern area of the Eastern Region, you can find the town Egilsstaðir. This town is where your trip to Strútsfoss begins. Many tourists do not travel this far east due to the time it takes to get there. By car, the quickest way is a nearly 8-hour drive along the northern half of the Ring Road, Route 1. While many are excited about a road trip, there is good news for the others as a regional flight there only takes an hour. To access the trailhead will require transportation and an additional hour or more in time. Egilsstaðir does have car rental options, Hertz, Avis, and Bílaleiga Akureyrar.
After reaching Egilsstaðir by either the air or the road, you will need to begin your drive down route 931 from Egilsstaðir toward Hallormsstadur. This route will keep you on the south side of the lake until you reach Route 933 (Fljótsdalsvegur). From here, continue onto Route 933 until you turn left onto Route 935. This road will take you to the Sturluflöt farm, where the unpaved parking lot is for the trail.
As of December 2021, Google Maps doesn’t help get you to Strútsfoss. However, the waterfall is marked on their map.