This work studies costs and benefits of utilizing local-grid refinement (LGR) as implemented in MODFLOW-LGR to simulate groundwater flow in a buried tunnel valley interacting with a regional aquifer. Two alternative LGR methods were used: the shared-node (SN) method and the ghost-node (GN) method. To conserve flows the SN method requires correction of sources and sinks in cells at the refined/coarse-grid interface. We found that the optimal correction method is case dependent and difficult to identify in practice. However, the results showed little difference and suggest that identifying the optimal method was of minor importance in our case. The GN method does not require corrections at the models' interface, and it uses a simpler head interpolation scheme than the SN method. The simpler scheme is faster but less accurate so that more iterations may be necessary. However, the GN method solved our flow problem more efficiently than the SN method. The MODFLOW-LGR results were compared with the results obtained using a globally coarse (GC) grid. The LGR simulations required one to two orders of magnitude longer run times than the GC model. However, the improvements of the numerical resolution around the buried valley substantially increased the accuracy of simulated heads and flows compared with the GC simulation. Accuracy further increased locally around the valley flanks when improving the geological resolution using the refined grid. Finally, comparing MODFLOW-LGR simulation with a globally refined (GR) grid showed that the refinement proportion of the model should not exceed 10% to 15% in order to secure method efficiency.