East of Reykjavik on the southwest coast of Iceland, the Laugavegur Route is a popular multi-day bikepacking mountain bike route. Honored as an IMBA epic trail, this 52 mile north-south route has 7,500 feet of climbing and 9,300 feet of descent while passing through the highlands of Iceland. This challenging route offers volcanic terrain, steam vents, mud pots, hot springs, glaciers, frigid river crossings, and plenty of hike-a-bike sections. While there are numerous self-service huts along the way, an experienced guide is definitely recommended since the route is not entirely well-marked and the weather can change rapidly.
The best time of year to ride the Laugavegur Route are the summer months July and August. Even though the average daily temperatures range from 45F-70F, you will still need to be prepared for snow in July and August.
The Laugavegur Route is best ridden by starting in the north at Landmannalaugar Hut and riding south to Skogafoss. There is regularly scheduled bus service from Austurleid-Kynnisferdir to Landmannalaugar Hut. The multi-day Laugavegur mountain bike route is typically ridden in three to five full days. There are many guided trips following the five day itinerary, but most unguided groups try to do the three day trip. The following summarizes the three day option.
DAY 1 - Landmannalaugar Hut To Lake Alftavatn: From the northern trailhead off F224, the first day of riding follows some excellent singletrack past steam vents and over scenic passes. A good place for lunch is the Hrafntinnusker Hut. After lunch, the route rolls through barren landscape with occasional mud pots. The day ends with a descent from Jokultungur Pass down to the Lake Alftavatn Hut.
DAY 2 - Lake Alftavatn To Porsmork: Starting from the Lake Alftavatn Hut, climb up and over the ridge and down into the Hvanngil valley past the Hvanngil Hut. There will be plenty of water crossings on this days route. After rolling along the valley floor and a short ascent, you will pass the Emstrur Hut. After lunch, there are vistas of scenic valleys and descents into beautiful gorges. After crossing the Pronga River, there is a forested route before arriving at the Thorsmork Hut.
DAY 3 - Porsmork To Skogafoss: This truly epic section of the Laugavegur Route starts at the Thorsmork Hut. It begins with a stout ascent into a huge glacial river valley. There is a doubletrack that leads all the way up to the glacier. There is a dense canyon leading to the starting point for crossing the glacier. After the glacier, there is twelve mile rolling descent that combines doubletrack and singletrack, with the final miles along the Skoga River canyon passing Skogafoss waterfall. The day ends at the southern trailhead near the coast on Highway 1.
The huts along the Laugavegur Route are operated by the Icelandic Touring Association. The huts are mainly unstaffed, and you must bring your own food and sleeping bag for the dormitory room. Some of the huts do have a warden that maintains the facility. All of the huts must be reserved in advance by credit card from the Icelandic Touring Association.
To reach the mountain biking on Iceland by air, use the Keflavik International Airport (KEF) on the southwest side of Iceland.