After I posted my blog about the Fimmvörðuháls pass quite many have been asking if its possible to hike there during winter. The answer is no so I've been thinking what I could recommend instead for nature and outdoor lovers that really want to do some hiking while here. After a little bit of thinking then Mt. Esja crossed my mind so I'm gonna do a little writing about Esjan.
If you are staying in Reykjavík then Mt. Esja often called Esjan is a great option for hikers. First of all the mountain is a short while from Reykjavík city only 20 km to the North and the access to it is very easy. There is a big parking lot by the mountain roots with big maps of Iceland and information about the area and hiking trails offered. Your hike start from there.
Mt. Esja is 914 m (2.999 ft) and is accessible the whole year (weather permitting of course). There is a very good path all the way up clearly marked. The track is divided into sections marked with signs along the way. Each sign indicates the difficulty of the path ahead with a grade system ranging from 1 boot (easy) to 3 boots (challenging). At sign 3 experienced climbers can choose to climb directly to the top instead of following the path which goes off to the right.
Approximately 200 meters below the top (on station no 5) there is a point marked with a big rock called "Steinn" (the rock). There most inexperienced climbers choose to go down again as the path become increasingly difficult from there with climbing and cliffs. I really don't recommend doing the climbing part during winter time except you are experienced indeed with extra good equipment.
There is a beautiful little river running down the mountain hill making the hike more delightful with relaxing sound of the water. This track is really beautiful and enjoyable and once you are up you have amazing endless view over both the city and its surroundings. Esjan is often used by people exercising for longer more difficult hikes and even by runners.
I really recommend this hike and most likely you will meet people on your way up because this is a really popular route especially during weekends and in summer time. Just remember your sturdy hiking shoes and good outdoor clothing and during winter time it would be wise to put on some crampons as well.
Enjoy your hike !!