The third highest waterfall in Iceland at 120 meters (394 feet), Hengifoss waterfall is located at Hengifossá in Fljótsdalshreppur, north of Vatnajökull. It is a powerful waterfall that makes quite a lot of noise as the huge volumes of water plummet down into the brown and red colored canyon below. This hue is caused by the basaltic strata in the surrounding area where there are layers of red clay streaked amongst the basaltic layers.
Hengifoss, which means “Hanging Falls,” is one of the most popular hiking spots in East Iceland. Indeed, to get to the waterfall, it is necessary to walk the pathway that leads from the car park up the hill towards it, which can take anything from 40 minutes to an hour. The path is quite steep in parts, but the route levels out as it gets closer to the waterfall. The uphill trek is an interesting one, and walkers will encounter another smaller waterfall about mid-way along the route. This waterfall is made interesting by the vertical basalt columns that surround it. Hengifoss sits high on top of a cliff overlooking lake Lagarfljót and a forest called Hallormsstaðarskógur, all of which provides a very picturesque view. It is worth noting that there are several places worth visiting in this area. For example, Lagarfljót is the largest lake in Iceland and there are lots of options for short hikes in Hallormsstaðarskógur forest, which is a particular treat since forests are extremely rare in Iceland.
As well as the superb scenery, the area around Hengifoss is steeped in history and superstition. It is said that one of the first Viking settlers in the area - Thrasi Thorolfsson – buried a chest full of gold in a cave behind Litlanesfoss waterfall. And legend has it that a giant snake lives in Lagarfljót lake – with a large reward offered to anyone who captures it.