Close your eyes and listen for a moment. Did you hear loud voices from the road outside? Or a faint rumble of a home appliance? In an ever-louder noisy world of the valley one needs a sporadic retreat to the silent world of amazingly wild and incredibly remote mountains. To lie down in an empty Alpine meadow, bask in the warmth, and daydream to the light symphony of birdsong and distant whistles of a chamois guarding its territory. There is no need for silence but only to become in sync with nature, whose vague silhouette we can barely still recognize in the cities.
Whether you live in Slovenia or are planning just a short visit, here is a list of the best twelve beginner-to-advanced hikes and climbs I’ve done this summer. Maybe you’ll find an intriguing idea for a bad-ass family outdoor adventure or maybe you’ll head for a romantic getaway high up in the mountains. Either way, while you’re huffing and puffing your way to the top, stop for a bit to reflect and appreciate how divinely different the Alpine world actually is. Serene and tranquil.
This grassy peak lies lonely underneath towering limestone massifs of the Mojstrovka Mountain Group, giving an impression of being the last comfortable resort in the otherwise tough Alpine world. Indeed, it truly is. Dotted with an array of wild flowers and nettles in the summer, the peak is buzzing with bees and butterflies, and once you’ve settled among them, you can enjoy an idyllic picnic with stunning views.
The easiest way to reach Slemenova Špica is from the Vršič Pass, from where you can make a nice round tour to the top. If there’s at least a thread of adventure in you, dare I suggest you hike up the trail underneath the walls of the Mojstrovka Group and down the classic trail to the right (but first do check the snow conditions on the trail below the Mojstrovka Group).
It’s not only family friendly with its own private little playground, cows and horses, but the hike is also short and sweet, the food excellent, while also, nestled among high peaks, the place is simply spectacular. While you can easily hike further on to the Šija Plateau, Mt. Kofce, Mt. Veliki Vrh, or another peak along the Košuta massif, we were pretty satisfied at Kofce, eating excellent štruklji, a traditional local pastry filled with cottage cheese. The hut at Kofce is actually famous for štruklji of various flavors that will hit the spot even with the most spoilt taste guys; dark chocolate with raspberries, or pistacchio, raspberry and white chocolate.
One of the Triglav National Park classics, and to be completely honest, with a reason; it is easy enough that even kids can do the basic route, while also comfortable with multiple huts on the way offering meals and accommodation.
Due to its striking beauty, hiking the valley of seven lakes will make a strong impression regardless of the season. In June, some of the lakes are still partly covered in ice and the water level is usually at its highest due to the melting snow. While July and August are usually the busiest months, they’re also the greenest and lush with wild flowers. With September the mists and fog occasionally veil the still lush vegetation, autumnal October brings golden larches, and by November / December the valley already resembles one out of a winter fairytale and continues to do so until May (but also requires experience and proper winter gear!).
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. 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), which justifies the name when the water level is high and thus the lakes connect. The third Triglav lake at 1,930 m is called the Big Lake (Slo. Veliko jezero), the biggest of the seven lakes with 300 m in length, 120 m in width and 15 m in depth. Another two hours in the direction of Triglav brings you to the last four lakes with the Podstenje Lake (Slo. Jezero v Podstenju) at the elevation of 1,993 m being the highest one.
There are many routes to the Triglav Lakes which can be combined with staying in different huts, however, the selected route should reflect the fitness level of the hikers, the forecasted weather and the current snow conditions.
Debela Peč – Mrežce ridge hike
For those staying close to the Bled or Bohinj area, hiking in the gorgeous mountains above the forested Alpine plateau Pokljuka is probably the most alluring option. A 30-minute drive from Bled (or Bohinj) takes you deep into the fir forests of Pokljuka and after you park in Medvedova konta, you only have thirty minutes to reach the Bled Hut (Blejska koča) From the hut, you can do a gorgeous round tour to Debela Peč, a 2,014-m peak on the far right, and then follow the somewhat more demanding ridge to the left over Brda, 2,009 m, Lipanski Vrh, 1,975 m, and finally to Mrežce, 1,965 m. You could also continue further on to Debeli Vrh, 1,959 m, and then return back down through a beautiful larch forest, which is actually what we offer in one of our tours above Pokljuka.
Stol – Belščica ridge
Whoever ever visited Bled, has been awestruck by the bold outline of the long mass of grass and rocks, usually hiding its highest peaks in a swirl of clouds. The Karavanke mountain range stretches 120 km west-east and offers anything from easy family hikes to very technical climbs along the way with the boldest and highest in the area, Mt. Stol. Towering over the picturesque Alpine town, I’ve climbed it many times to admire the vast views from the top back to Lake Bled, of the Julian Alps, Austria and the seemingly endless Karavanke ridge. Not once has it disappointed; in perfect sunshine with the top dotted with grazing sheep, deep snow, or complete fog.
How can you make a great hike even greater? After you conquer Mt. Stol, 2,236 m, you follow the ridge to the west, hike along cozy grassy meadows, peek across to Austria on three easily accessible peaks (Potoški Stol, Vajnež, Mali Vrh), and then round back down passing grazing horses near the Belščica Bivouac.
For those looking for a fairly challenging adventure on the sunny side of the Karavanke Alps, this moderately hard and long hike is a great option. If it kicks off with an excellent cardio workout through the forest (read: pretty unforgivingly steep!), it then winds across open meadows with views of the Julian Alps and passes steep slopes and even a few secured climbing bits. It’s truly not that hard, but anyone nervous with exposure may find a few parts unnerving as one slip could lead to a bad fall. Practically the whole trail other than the initial forest part is open to views of Slovenian green valleys and craggy mountains, while it also glimpses over to Austria’s lakes and rivers snaking along the long valley, which slowly delves into a sea of rolling hills and finally high peaks in the distance. The comfortably spacious and scenic top is perfect to lay out a picnic and enjoy the great outdoors at 2,143 m.
It almost feels like a pilgrimage, knowing you are walking the same trails as many people before you, where in the late 18th century the nation got the idea to climb Mt. Triglav, the highest of Slovenia, for the first time. After many failed attempts, four locals from the Bohinj area finally reached the top in 1778, 8 years before Mont Blanc, 22 years before Grossglockner and 87 years before Matterhorn were conquered. Triglav remained the symbol of national pride, the mountain whose top the Slovenians had to buy back from the Germans in order to erect the 2 x 1.5 m symbolic tower on 7 August 1895 – the milestone that encouraged even more Slovenians to climb the mountains, conquer the top of Slovenia, and set new legendary routes. In this spirit, mountain huts were built to facilitate easier logistics for the climbers, while the almost impassable 30-cm narrow ridge between Mali Triglav and the top was mined and thus made wider.
Having climbed Triglav many times and on different routes too, one thing is for sure; it’s always a pleasure to walk to the Aljaž Tower, see the country from its top, and share the hut with many like minded people.
You might also be interested in reading:
– Climbing Triglav with Kids: possible or better to skip it?
– The most scenic tour to Triglav
– Climbing Triglav in the summer on the favored route
– Make Triglav a winter climb
– Up to Triglav its North Face and down to the Krma Valley
– Triglav: finally getting it right
– Climbing Triglav in spring can be tricky
– Climbing Triglav: the third try
If you’re near Logarska dolina (Eng. Logar Valley) and looking for hiking ideas in the area, Mt. Raduha, 2,062 m, should definitely be on your list! My favorite route? It starts from the Bukovnik farmstead and is regarded as a climbing route, yet the trail is so much more than that. You’ll pass open meadows with a backdrop of mountains in the distance, and a hut serving typical mountain food and offering also accommodation (open for weekends from May – October). You’ll ascend up the exposed north wall with a relatively short but throughout secured via ferrata bit, enjoy the vast green top, and then climb back down on an easier route across Durce. Perfect for a half-day adventure even for the via ferrata beginners!
Everyone has that special corner somewhere that warms their heart whenever they visit it. I found this mountain a couple of years ago and I’ve been coming back ever since. With its striking rocky image standing out starkly above the treeline, the tens of kilometers of hiking trails between the three valleys – Vrata, Trenta and Pišnica, let you explore the Alpine lakes, abundant fauna and flora, and jagged peaks soaring up to 2,601 m (Mt. Razor). Mt. Bovški Gamsovec might be a bit smaller than its imposing neighbor, but, nonetheless, no less intriguing. Even more so. It offers a perfect combination of wilderness, wildlife, a challenge, unparalleled views, while also fairly quick access. From both Vrata and Trenta valleys it is marked five hours one way.
Nevertheless, it should not be underestimated. Without a mountain hut in close proximity, this mountain can be pretty raw and will unexpectedly test your survival skills with a sudden raging thunderstorm over its open slopes. While I’ve experienced a thunderstorm here even on a guided tour and handled the situation completely safely, the most common rookie mistakes noticed among first-timers are not bringing enough food and water, and pursuing the goal regardless of inadequate equipment (read on Blog: Hiking in Slovenia: the gear you will need).
Gradiška Tura via Ferrata
Located in the SW Slovenia, it’s relatively far from Bled, and unless you are randomly passing by, it’s debatable whether or not to tackle it at all. The reason why the locals like it? When the cold sets in in the Alpine regions, your desire to be climbing in the freezing wall plummets overnight. That’s when the warmer regions in the south become more attractive. To enjoy a good climb in the warm sun (when there’s snow in the Alps) and have a delicious pizza afterwards? Sign me up! Seriously, I’ve had one of my best pizzas right in an unknown little pizzeria near the via ferrata!
There are actually two separate via ferratas climbing up to the top of Gradiška Tura, 793 m, but are connected with a short 5-minute hike; the second starts a little below the finish of the first one. After a short hike in the forest you reach the first Furlan Route, which is over an hour-long climb that gradually prepares you for the second one – the tougher Otmar Route. Another hour-long climb immediately challenges you with a tough ascent over a vertical wall, but once across it, you’re in a beautiful adventure in sun-lit steep walls.
Mala and Velika Mojstrovka
The mountain that will conquer your heart before you even conquer its top, Mala Mojstrovka, 2,332 m, offers many routes including a cool medium-difficulty via ferrata, many ravines of various difficulty levels, even Alpine-style climbs, and the classic route which is perfect for beginners in the winter. Due to its easy approach from the Vršič Pass, you reach serious elevations above 2K meters relatively quickly and find yourself at eye level with other notable peaks of the Julian Alps.
To spice up your adventure, you can continue onwards to Velika Mojstrovka, 2,366 m, the highest peak in the Mojstrovka Group. The ascent requires quite a bit of climbing on mostly unsecured rocky terrain but nothing a normally skilled mountaineer couldn’t handle.
Talking about wild and challenging! This mountain might be notorious for serious climbing routes (it even has a 700-m Alpine climbing route!), but also dangerous patches of snow until well into July, gravel on exposed trails, and, above all, mind-blowing views and totally wild nature. It depends on the route you take, but you will likely be the only one at the top and might not meet more than five people on the whole trail.
Velika Baba is a relatively lowly peak whose height of 2,127 m would easily betray its beauty. Beauty in terms of the adventure you’re into. Three friends, all qualified as mountain guides, we tackled the mountain together at the end of June. While most of the trail was straightforward, hard but a good climb, a few spots could have easily been hidden traps if not recognized and discussed upon before entering. A steep scree slope seemed pretty innocent to pass at first glance but a thorough look actually unveiled ice underneath and passing it without an ice axe could have had dire consequences. Similarly, we had to climb in a gap between ice and the wall for twenty meters as that turned out the safest option to proceed. The descent also served with great exposure frosted with gravel and falling rocks which required complete focus on where we were climbing.
Once back down to the safer elevation, we reclined against a rock, basking in the warmth and enjoying one another’s company, and talked about the climb. We were unanimous that we loved the thrill of the climb, the long but pleasurable near-to-vertical section called the Rudi Vertical, and the tricky parts that required some thought. We also appreciated the variety of the landscape for the round trip; the ascent wound up mostly on the rock and the descent under certain elevation also opened meadows and lush forests, ending up at a lake with the backdrop of the craggy mountains. It’s definitely a mountain easily underestimated but if you’ve got the skills, it gives you so much.
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