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.
A glimpse of WWI on a stunning traverse from Bohinj to the Soča
On stunningly beautiful trails above Bohinj, where wild flowers grow in abundance and marmots peek from behind large rocks peppered on Alpine meadows, one may be also taken back to the bloody years of WWI. Numerous deteriorating buildings of the war, remains of walls, an old border line with bunkers, and bombs are dotted all along the rugged mountainous stretch between Bohinj and the Soča Valley.
There we were, on a warm and bright day in late September, wearing our hiking clothes and a backpack with the basics for two days in the mountains, starting out our three-day adventure in the Julian Alps. In the first two days we would hike over 24 kilometers and make 2,050 meters of ascent to reach Mt. Krn, 2,244 m, then descend 1,253 meters down to the Soča Valley and spend the third day hiking and relaxing along the Soča River before driving back to Bled, where we had met earlier that day.
Climbing Triglav in the summer on the favored route
I’ve made it no secret that the Julian Alps are one of my favorite corners of Slovenia. Remote and rugged mountainous landscapes full of pinnacles, huge rocks scattered along open trails, vertical walls and dense forests. I love them. That’s why I was thrilled beyond words to return there in September after a busy summer only to experience the most unforgettable adventures. The three-day traverse from Bohinj to the Soča Valley was simply gorgeous, but the two Triglav climbs definitely packed more adrenaline. Exciting times!
Hiking to the dreamy Kriški Podi in the heart of the Triglav National Park
Approximately a half-an-hour drive from Bled, in the very heart of the Triglav National Park, which is at its 838 square kilometers the largest protected area in Slovenia, a plethora of dreamy hiking trails connect valleys with the rugged mountainous world. One of them is a picturesque trail from the Vrata Valley to a high-Alpine plateau set underneath prominent 2.5K peaks. Named after the 2,410-m-tall mountain Križ, the Kriški Podi plateau is home to countless marmots, chamois and Alpine ibexes. Yet that’s not all. The fairytale hike lets you soak up breathtaking views of the highest mountain of Slovenia, Mt. Triglav, and its 3-km wide and 1-km tall Triglav North Face. With sheer rock walls towering all around you and the land so bountiful with wild animals, it feels like being in the middle of remote and dangerous mountains, while in reality it’s the very opposite. The steel cable secures only a couple of more exposed sections on the otherwise technically easy trail, and is as such appropriate for anyone normally fit and with a hearty sense of adventure.
The most scenic tour to Triglav
It’s been 124 years since Jakob Aljaž, a great patriot and a priest, paid one Austro-Hungarian gulden for the top of Slovenia’s highest mountain. The amount of money one could have bought 50 eggs or 10 liters of milk for. His idea was to oppose the prevalent Germanization of the Slovenian people and the mountains in the Austro-Hungarian Empire back then.
Once the top of Slovenia was again Slovenian, he had a 2×1.25 m symbolic tower erected at the top of Triglav on 7 August 1895. In the following years he also mined an almost impassable 30-cm ridge between the peaks of Triglav and Mali Triglav into the nicely wide ridge we know today; besides, he also built the mountain hut Kredarica at 2,515 m and the Aljaž Hut in the Vrata Valley below Triglav. His far-reaching idea was to stimulate more Slovenians to visit the mountains, conquer the very top of Slovenia – the symbol of the Slovenian nation, make new legendary routes, and thus make the mountains Slovenian again.
Our favoured one-day round tour to the Triglav Lakes
I’ve already written about what an amazing country this is, but despite all of its unique qualities, hands down my favorite part of Slovenia is the spectacular mountainous area of the Triglav National Park, the largest protected area in Slovenia covering 838 square kilometers, which encompasses Mt. Triglav and most of the 400 2K+ peaks found in the country. To be honest, the setting with pristine lakes, small streams and towering mountains couldn’t be more beautiful, inspiring or just plain divine. Why would you not hike there?
Where to hike around the Soča Valley in amazing western Slovenia
Certain places resonate with us, hikers, in many unique and mysterious ways. Whether I can envision myself exploring one mountain top after another or just falling in love with a particular area, often-times I find myself returning to some spots again and again.
The Upper Soča Valley is definitely one of the corners of Slovenia where I have left bits of my heart.
Encircled by high mountains, this picturesque village offers a plethora of hiking trails: Bohinjska Bistrica
Approximately 75 kilometers from Ljubljana, the country’s capital, on the outer edge of the Triglav National Park, the largest protected area in Slovenia covering 838 square kilometers that encompasses Mt. Triglav and most of the 400 2K+ peaks found in the country, there is a sense of contented isolation. It seems that wherever you turn there are dusty trails that wind through tall forests and eventually end up in the surrounding snow-capped peaks. Bohinjska Bistrica, a settlement of less than 1,800 people, lies cradled among 2,000-meter high towering mountains, making it a perfect holiday destination for everyone in love with hiking; mountaineers, families and complete beginners included.
Waterfalls around Kranjska Gora
Hurtling over cliffs, narrow gorges, and mysterious mists lingering in the thick tall forest now dressed in spectacular autumn hues, the waterfalls around Kranjska Gora tend to be most spectacular particularly during the rainy months in the fall. The most fascinating falls in the area, the Peričnik Fall and Martuljek Falls, make a perfect daily trip either in moody weather or sunshine.
For more hiking ideas around Kranjska Gora, you are welcome to read Colors of the fall around Kranjska Gora: Trupejevo Poldne and Sleme
Climbing 2 K+ mountains in the Julian Alps after the first snowfall
With the early snowfall coloring the peaks of our highest mountains white, my thoughts go back to a special two-day climb in late August to three beautiful mountains in the Julian Alps I was honored to climb with my Dutch-Austrian friend Georg. Originally, we had been planning to climb Triglav over its 1-km high vertical North Face taking the Prag Route on the first day and explore the Triglav Lakes Valley on the second day, but as fate would have it, Slovenia experienced a sudden extreme drop in temperature just a few days before our trip and the mountains above 1,800 m dressed in an unexpected 30-cm snow cover. That called for a quick last-minute change of plan, and instead of climbing the Triglav North Face, we rather opted for the southern slopes of the spectacular mountains on the opposite side of Vrata Valley, also home to the beautiful Alpine ibex.