As I drive towards the misty Bohinj Valley, green and lush due to the amounts of rainfall it receives, surrounded by towering mountains, I’m anxious to see how the landscapes have transformed with the change of season. Everything looks brown, red, orange and yellow. Even the road resembles a colorful carpet while a light breeze continues to sweep away the vibrantly colored leaves. But I’m not here for the luring fall colors of the Lake Bohinj. I’m here for the golden larches high above the lake in the otherworldly Triglav National Park.
Golden larches above Pokljuka
Nestled among high mountains, the first impression of this forested Alpine plateau of about 1,200 to 1,500 meters is often theatrical in its perfection: tall spruce forests, mossy ground, a handful of little basic cabins dispersed across well-hidden meadows throughout the plateau, and a sheer variety of routes.
I’ve made it no secret that I simply love going to Mt. Mrežce, a 1,965-meter-tall peak above Pokljuka, to soak in cinematic views of the soaring mountains across the plummeting 1000-meter deep glacial valley Krma. From there, Mt. Triglav, Slovenia’s highest, seems just a stone’s throw away. The place hasn’t been discovered by tourists yet and more often than not only locals wind through these most pristine mountainous areas on weekends. On a warm and sunny October weekday, it’s a fair bet that you will hike in complete solitude.
It was exactly like that on Monday morning when I started my hike. I ascended about 700 m up to the top of Mrežce and right afterwards continued along the ridge to its neighbor Debeli Vrh, enjoying the contrasting tall mountains on one side and forests and valleys on the other. Both landscapes seemed so different from one another, yet so unique in their perfection.
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The tall peaks of the Julian Alps had their classic dance performance in a veil of mist hiding them one minute and showing them the next. Gazing all the way down at the foothills of the mountains towards the valley of Krma, the colors changed from dark red forests to bright green meadows at the bottom. On the opposite side, lush larch forests sparkled golden in the sun while green rolling hills slowly sunk in a sea of fog.
Surreal color contrasts at the Triglav Lakes
Two days after, the trails above Bohinj called again. Seeing photos of the Triglav Lakes a couple of days before, I decided to hike up there too. The scenery seemed beyond real; crystal clear water of the lakes set against golden larch forests and towering mountains.
Arguably the most scenic Alpine valley in Slovenia, the Triglav Lakes Valley extends about eight kilometers from the 1,294 m elevation above the steep wall of Komarča above Lake Bohinj to the 1,933 m elevation not too far from Triglav itself.
Curious to see the lakes? Join us on our next tour to the Triglav Lakes!
Starting from Bohinj, at 1,319 m you first pass the seventh of the lakes, the 150-meter-long, 80-meter-wide and 6-meter-deep Black Lake (Slo. Črno jezero). From there, you ascend up to 1,685 m to see two lakes called the Double Lake (Slo. Dvojno jezero), and from there to the fourth Triglav lake at 1,930 m called the Big Lake (Slo. Veliko jezero or Jezero v Ledvicah), the biggest of the seven lakes. The 300-meter-long, 120-meter-wide and 15-meter-deep Big Lake is also my favorite, and with larches colored golden, my expectations were sky-high.
And that’s exactly the tour I had in mind last week. Going up resembled something between hiking, running and taking photos, so I was up at the Big Lake in as few as 3 hours. The conditions and the surrounding scenery were incredibly beautiful, exactly as I had imagined!
Vogel and Mt. Šija
The good thing about hiking in a ski center in the Triglav National Park is that you can skip the rather monotonous 900 meters of elevation gain through the forest and go directly to the best part of the hike. The downside is that a return cable car ticket is pretty costly (€30 for my daughter and me!). Nevertheless, the landscapes of Vogel make it worth it!
A few days ago, I brought my daughter and Lisa (dogs are allowed to take a cable car ride too!) up to Vogel to hike probably the most iconic peak on the slopes – the 1,880-meter Mt. Šija. Driving up there revealed vibrant colors of the forests above Lake Bohinj, but once at the top the golden larches slowly gave way to shorter bushy vegetation. Therefore, no beautiful fall colors on Vogel!
Nonetheless, the soft afternoon sun, the views of Triglav and other tallest peaks of the Julian Alps from the trail and the even more mind-blowing views from the top make the hike totally worth it. We could have easily walked on and on along the seemingly endless ridge, and we definitely would have because the trails are technically easy and as such appropriate for kids, but we were short of time and had to run back to catch the last cable car at 6 p.m.
All in all, all hikes above Bohinj are simply stunningly beautiful right now. Therefore, a warm suggestion to y’all: go out and explore the trails, the ones suggested here or something completely new, and I promise you’ll find an extraordinary world out there. Do you have your own favorite fall trail? Spill it!
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