Vaglaskógur forest

A great place for camping

Vaglaskógur forest is located in Fnjóskadalur, the westernmost valley in Þingeyjarsveit district of Northeast Iceland. The valley is green and fertile with extensive woodlands.

Vaglaskógur forest boasts some of the tallest and most beautiful birch trees in Iceland and is among the most popular forests in Iceland. Every year thousands of guests enjoy a stay in the forest which is ideal for outings. Vaglaskógur has well organized camp sites and recreational areas. Guests come from far and near, and some even camp for the entire summer.

Points of interest

Sevaral marked walking trails provide various options for exercise and sight seeing. Among points of interest is the tree collection above the tree nursery and Arnþórslundur grove. A short walk from the grove are some old ruins with beautifully laid turf walls.

Iceland’s longest spring fed river, Fnjóská runs through the valley alongside Vaglaskógur forest. It is considered among the most beautiful fishing rivers in Iceland. Crossing the river at the northern perimeter of the forest is an old stone arch bridge, built in 1908. It was the first of its kind in Iceland and the longest stone arch bridge in Scandinavia at the time.

Located centrally in the forest is a service and information centre with a small convenience store which is open during summertime. Directly across from it is a bridge crossing the river.

Iceland’s largest continuous forest

Vaglaskógur is one part of the largest continuous forest in Iceland which covers most of the eastern valley side south of Ljósavantsskarð pass. Extending north from it is Hálsskógur forest and to the south are Lundsskógur, Þórðarstaðaskógur and Belgsár- and Bakkaselsskógur forests. The different names are due to the land they belong to, but they are in fact one continuous forest.

Conservation and forestry work

The two northernmost forests, Vaglaskógur and Hálsskógur lie within a forest conservation fence which spans about 690 hectares. Conservation of the forest dates back to 1905 and Vaglar has been the residence of a forestry ranger ever since 1909. No birch forest in Iceland has been the subject of strategic conservation as long as Vaglaskógur and the results of this conservation work is evident as you walk through the forest. The birch trees in Vaglaskógur have a distinctive character. The trunk is notably light in colour and they grow straighter and taller than most other birches in Iceland. The Vaglar birch can reach well over 10 metres and the higest birch presently in the forest is about 14 metres tall.

 Utilization

There is a long history of forest utilization in Vaglaskógur which is not common in Iceland. Charcoal pits found in Vaglaskógur and Hálsskógur, are evidence of charcoal production from birch which was used for smelting iron and a large heap of slag found in Þórðarstaðaskógur suggests extensive iron production.

Today, there is seed production at Vaglar, an experimental tree nursery. Plants and Christmas trees are sold here and there is also some wood processing. The birch is a popular craft material was much used for making kitchen utensils as it does not splinter nor give of flavorur. It also serves well to burn in fireplaces and wood stoves and birch kindling is used for smoking foods.