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Mt. Esja Hike

Region: Reykjavik Area
Coordinates: 64.2451569° N 21.6585778° W
Hiking time: 2-4 hours
Difficulty: moderate
Length: 6-8km. km
Elevation: 6-800m. m
Highest Point: 6-800m. m


Mt Esja is the most prominent mountain within the capital area after the unification of the municipality of Reykjavik and the Kjalarnes County in 1998. Now it certainly has become the city mountain. Its highest point was believed to be Hatindur (909m), but later a higher lying point, 914 m, was proclaimed nearby. The mountain was probably created during the early stages of the ice age, about 2,5 million years ago, and stacked up with alternating strata of basaltic lavas and hyaloclastites, which have been metamorphosed and show a variety of colours.

The different parts of the mountain carry various names, and just east of Mt Esja are a few light coloured, rhyolite peaks called Mts Moskardshnukar. Further east is Mt Skalafell with a relay station for the radio and television broadcasting on top and relatively good skiing slopes.

The easiest routes

The easiest routes up the slopes start at the Forestry Service Centre at Mogilsa and from the farm Esjuberg. In 1873 limestone quarrying was started at Mogisla and the processing took place in Reykjavik. This enterprise was not profitable and was discontinued, but not without another try in 1916-17.

According to historical sources, Orlygur Hrappsson settled the land between Rivers Mogilsa and Osvifursa. Saint Patrick of Ireland appeared to him in a dream and advised him to move with his family to Iceland and settle, where he could see three split mountains from the sea. He missed them and sailed too far north, where he entered a long bay. He named it after the Saint and it still carries his name. On his way south again he found the right area and built his farm and named it Esjuberg. During the Saga Period it was occupied by the most prominent personality of the so-called Kjalnesinga Saga, Bui Andridarson.

Two farms were on the end of the Kolla Bay, Mogilsa and Kollafiord. The former has been one of the main centres of the Icelandic Forestry Service since 1967 and the latter became one of the centres for the national salmon rearing project the same year. Some historians have placed the so-called Kjalarnes Parliament’s meeting place at Leidvollur, just north of the Kolla Bay. It was the predecessor of the common parliament for the whole country, which was established in the Thingvellir Area (The Parliamentary Plains) in 930 after having been moved to Lake Ellidavatn.

Photo Credit:Visit Reykjavík

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