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Iceland Mag


Travellers taking a shortcut leave a trail of destruction in the slopes of volcanic crater

By Staff

  • The trail Without a marked walking path the slopes of the crater would be criss-crossed by paths like this one. These paths take decades to fade. Óskar Þór Halldórsson

The slopes of Hverfjall crater near Mývatn lake in North Iceland have been badly marred by a group of unidentified hikers. Rather than take the marked hiking trail the people decided to plow ahead, creating their own trail in the crater's loose tephra, leaving at least two deep hiking trails in its slopes. The two trails are easily visible from afar.

Unfortunately this is not the first, nor the second time Hverfjall is vandalized by visitors. 

Read more: Foreign travellers fined for destructuve off-road driving in the slopes of crater: Photos

Hverfjall destruction

The path can be seen from afar The path leaves an ugly mark on Hverfjall Photo/Óskar Þór Halldórsson

Monday visitors left trail of destruction
Hverfjall is a protected site, and any hiking outside of marked trails is strictly forbidden. A marked trail leads from a parking lot and information point at the north-western edge of the crater. Repairing the damage left by the hikers requires dozens of man-hours as the trail has to be raked over by hand. A local tour-guide Óskar Þór Halldórsson took photos of the damage, which he shared on Facebook. Óskar said the damage had probably been done on Monday morning.  

Hverfjall destruction

The path It takes decades for a path like this to fade and the crater to reclaim it's natural look. Photo/Óskar Þór Halldórsson

The people who left the trail of destruction apparently parked their cars before coming to the parking site. From there they seem to have taken the shortest route to the top of the crater. Arna Hjörleifsdóttir, a park ranger at Mývatn lake told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV that all too many travellers seem incapable of thinking before acting. "People just don't look around. These people stopped at a place where there are no signs or markings pointing them to the hiking trails, and then they just charge ahead, and then more follow."

She told RÚV that more and better signs are being added to try and limit these kinds of incidents. "We are trying to respond, by putting up more signposts and better fences."

Cause is ignorance, rather than malice 

Arna stressed that in most cases the people who are guilty of destructive behavior like this are simply ignorant of the rules and the consequences of walking off the designated path.

We at Iceland Magazine would like to remind everyone to stay on designated walking paths: NEVER walk outside designated walking paths at geothermal sites or at other popular destinations. Icelandic vegetation is extremely fragile, and the geological formations at geothermal sites are gone forever once they have been damaged. Remember, you should leave nature in the same state you found it! 

Hverfjall destruction

Hverfjall destruction A second path left by the same group as they descended from the top. Photo/Óskar Þór Halldórsson


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