Ancient Kjolur Trail – Iceland - Atlas Obscura

Ancient Kjolur Trail

Outlaws, hot springs, and tragedy have all left their mark on this ancient road in the Icelandic highlands. 


Located on a desert plateau in the highlands of Iceland, the Ancient Kjolur Trail is a long winding road that leads travelers across a historic glacial shortcut written about in the Sagas, used by famous sheep thieves, and forgotten for a century after claiming the lives of some trekkers. 

Since before the time of the Vikings, the Kjolur Trail, which runs from North to South between two mountainous glaciers has been a popular way to travel across the barren highland deserts of Iceland. Early reports from the time of the Sagas tell of small armies that would use the road to hurry to and fro from conflict to conflict. However, it was during the 18th century when the road began to gain true notoriety. It is rumored that during this period the famous Icelandic outlaw Fjalla-Eyvindur and his wife took up residence along a portion of the road that is now known as the “Valley of Thieves.” In addition to its connection to those criminals, there is also a tale of two travelers who were guiding their flock of 100 sheep along the road and got caught in a snowstorm. Both the shepherds and their flock perished along the way which also created a site known as “Bone Hill.” After this era, the road fell off the map so to speak for almost 100 years before being rediscovered in the 19th century and has since been a popular road for hikers and other visitors.   

The geography of the area is also of note for the fields of hot springs and geothermal pools that occur along the way. There are also a number of huts and rock formations that can be visited while traveling on the road. So whether trekkers are looking to walk in the footsteps of history or just to find some nice photo opportunities, the Ancient Kjolur Trail has hundreds of years of answers.

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