The perfect cone shape and the high rise above the flat Reykjanes peninsula makes Keilir very distinct and easy to recognize. It is known to be the most popular mountain on the peninsula, although not the highest. Keilir is located in lava terrain, but a good trail will take you to the top without too much inconvenience. This is a walk that most people can do. The walk to the base of the mountains takes about 45 minutes.
You will find Iceland maps on the web-sites listed below.
I am trying to obtain rough maps for use on this web page, but the sources I have checked so far demand annual royalty.
Keilir (379m) has a primary factor of 209m towards the higher Fagradalsfjall. You do not cross the 160m contours on the high route, and the saddle height is interpolated to 170m.
My third day on Iceland. Esja and Skardsheidi had already been visited. Today, I needed a less time-consuming project near Reykjavik as I was to pick up my friend Bjørn at Keflavik airport later in the day. I was recommended to visit Keilir, and decided to go there. It was conveniently located along the road to the airport. The rest of the spare time could be used for sightseeing.
After 23,8Km from the Kringlamyrabraut/Miklabraut intersection in Reykjavik, I turned right when I saw the sign "Keilir". I crossed below the highway on a highly suspect piece of road. There was obviously roadwork going on, and I expected the end result to be better. I then continued 8,5Km on gravel road until I reached the Keilir trailhead. There were no further signs, and I turned right in the few junctions I came upon. A fallen information board indicated that I was at the trailhead.
Keilir seemed far away, and the lava bed seemed impossible to cross without a significant amount of grief. But I quickly noticed an unmarked trail that headed in the right direction. The trail across the lava was very hard to spot from the trailhead, but once on it, it was easy to follow. It was a gorgeous and warm day. I had left the trailhead 08:30AM and reached the base of the mountain 09:00AM. As I wouldn't be picking up Bjørn until (much) later in the day, I realized I was going to finish off way to early.
09:30AM, I was on the summit. The haze and the morning sun didn't make for good pictures or a good view. I had hoped for some good views towards Esja, but I could barely spot the highway. The trail from the trailhead was indeed very visible from the summit. Not something I would have guessed while following it. I signed the trail register and headed back down. I was back at the trailhead 10:25AM and wondered if I should hike Trölladyngja. The hike to the base of the mountain seemed just as long as to Keilir. I could drive further, but the road quality was worse from here. The rental company had given me a car with really worn-down tires, and if a flat tire could be avoided, that would be preferable. I decided to get back on the highway and explore the area around Keflavik instead.
Sightseeing on the Reykjanes peninsula
I drove to Njardvik and followed highway 425 to the southwest tip of the peninsula. I noticed a peculiar piece of rock in the distant and turned onto a gravel road that would lead me to Reykjanesviti. Very noteworthy, the last kilometer, seagulls dominated the road. They would only take off at the very last moment, and by the looks of it, some too late. The seagulls seemed very young, and I wondered if this was the place their parents put them so they could learn to fly. The non-stop tourist traffic was surely an inspiration to learn how to use the wings.
I learned that the lighthouse at Reykjanesviti was the first lighthouse on the Iceland coast, opened Dec 1st 1878. My attention was attracked to a very cool bird mountain out in the sea. This was a coast line of my preference. Wild and rough.
I moved on, and drove to Grindavik for a quick lunch. Along the road, I could see the "Warning - birds in the road" sign. Going faster than 5Km/h would be a messy affair. I followed highway 43 back to the Keflavik-Reykjavik highway, passing Blue Lagoon. I had already visited this place during our transit from Greenland back in June. I still had plenty of time before Bjørn would arrive, and drove to Gardsskagi on the northwest tip of the peninsula.
At Gardsskagi, I parked the car and headed towards yet another lighthouse. I saw people on top and figured I should walk up for some pictures. After many steps, I reached the top just as the visitors were closing the hatch. They started instructing me in the closing procedure of the hatch. After listening carefully, I then realized that I would also have to lock down the lighthouse and return the keys to a nearby museum. "Heck", I said to myself. "I'm a mountain man, not a lighthouse attendant". I let them continue with the closing procedures and headed back down. After a quick stop at the harbor in Sandgerd, I drove to the town of Keflavik to upload a few six-packs. A gesture, I knew that Bjørn would appreciate.
On Iceland, you can't buy beer (with alcohol) in regular food stores. You have to find a "Vinbud" store. I asked a young man in Keflavik where the Vinbud store was, and he told me to look for the "high building". This was clearly the joke of the day, and after bothering a few more of the Keflavik citiziens, I found the store. With the car headlights now pointing somewhat higher, I was on my way to the airport to pick up my friend.
Bjørn arrived on time, and we drove back to Reykjavik and our hotel Ørkin. I had chosen this hotel because this is the place we stayed during our transit from Greenland in June. On top of it all, we had the same room as back then. This room was a two-floor concept, and Bjørn got the top floor all for himself. And when I presented my findings from the Vinbud store in Keflavik, he was all settled in. The holiday had begun.
Next stop: Hvannadalshnukur.
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Sightseeing on the Reykjanes peninsula
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