Kristínartindar is an absolutely stunning mountain located in Skaftafell National Park in southern Iceland. With views of Icelands’ largest glacier, waterfalls, steep drop-offs, colorful mountains, glacial runoff and even the ocean, this hike does not disappoint. Views start less than a mile into the hike with the gorgeous Svartfoss waterfall, and continue to become more spectacular as you ascend the mountain.
Height: 1,129 Meters (3,704 feet)
Distance: 18 Kilometers (11.2 Miles)
Elevation Gain: 1,040 meters (3,412 feet)
Duration: 6-9 hours
The hike starts at Skaftafell Visitor Centre where you can start on the Svartifoss trail or any of the other trails heading upwards. The key is to follow the trail signs to Sjonarsker, where there are 360 degree views, and clear trail markers to Kristínartindar. This is about 1.7 km from the visitor center (1 mile).
If you haven’t seen Svartifoss or the other waterfalls, it is highly recommended exploring them on the way back (pictures below).
The trail to the summit can be done in a loop. In most cases, the best route is to go clockwise. The trails are very well marked and traveled upon. They also contain markers telling you distances to key points and summits.
The recommended route is highlighted above. The green route is the suggested upwards route, and you can make a fantastic loop by adding in the yellow on the way down. All trails are very well marked and easy to follow. In good conditions, you can see the trail miles in the distance.
Most of the trail is very easy with gradual elevation gains, smooth ground and good traction. There are a few steep sections leading up to Kristínartindar, but the steepest sections are located just at the base of the main mountain. Here you will find a lot of loose rock that makes hiking more difficult, especially with the very steep ascent to the summit. The last mile is the most difficult, but the views are spectacular. Be very cautious in wet or icy conditions.
Winter or cold weather hiking is beautiful, but on steeper trails like this, it is absolutely essential to have the proper traction. In icy conditions, crampons are a must have.