Bulgaria is one of the top three countries in Europe when it comes to forest biodiversity. Part of its forests are included in national parks and natural reserves, while others remain wild and almost inaccessible. If you want to discover some of the Bulgarian forests on your own, here’s a list of 10 self-guided forest trails for every level!
Erma River Gorge
This beautiful gorge will take you across Erma River via wooden bridges and large rocks until you reach a 360-degree panoramic view. You’ll need a car to get to Tran, a small town in Bulgaria. Once there, follow the brown road signs to the gorge. There are a few bistros near the start of the trail and one after you pass the tunnel, about 30 minutes in.
Level: This is an easy hike if you cross the river and head to the restaurant; It is a medium trip if you continue up to the panorama point (roughly 1.5 hours).
What to bring: Comfortable shoes (sandals are not recommended) and water.
Marina Reka Forest Trail
Marina Reka is a forested area in Strandzha National Park that was specially created to expose travellers to the flora and fauna of the mountain. The forest trail starts at a wooden road sign 7.5 miles (12 km) from the Black Sea coastal town of Tsarevo. Park your car by the road and walk the 1-mile (1.5-km) dirt road through the forest, and enjoy getting to know more about the unique species around you.
What to bring: Water.
The Canyon of Waterfalls
This is one of the greenest and most peaceful forest routes in Bulgaria, with more than 60 minor and major waterfalls along the way. First, you have to get to the city of Smolyan in the Rhodope Mountains and pass through it to exit in the direction of the village of Mugla. Less than 1.5 miles (2 km) later you’ll see a big wooden road sign where you should turn right. When the road ends, put your comfortable shoes on and go explore the waterfalls. The route is well marked and you can’t get lost!
What to bring: A packed lunch and water. Comfortable shoes are essential because the area around the waterfalls is wet and slippery.
Smolyan Fortress Forest Walk
This light and easy forest walk is less than a mile long and takes you to the ruins of a medieval fortress. Its start is by the road from Pamporovo Ski Resort to Smolyan town in the Rhodopes Mountain – stop when you see a monastery arch and a bistro. From here you can take two routes: one is the Smolyan Fortress walk, the other is the Nevyastata Forest Walk (see below). The fortress itself offers nice views to the mountain ridges.
What to bring: Water.
Only a one hour drive from Sofia, you’ll find yourself in a world of wooden bridges, greenish-turquoise river water and rocky landscape. Geopark Iskar-Panega will take you to the deep blue Glava Panega spring through rugged karst terrain. There are summerhouses along the way where you can stop to enjoy lunch, or to simply restore your breath and enjoy the scenery. The route starts at a wooden sign right before the entrance of Lukovit town. Park your car and follow the arrows!
What to bring: Sunscreen, food and water.
Nevyastata Forest Walk
If you made it to the Smolyan Fortress forest walk, you have reached the starting point between Pamporovo and Smolyan. Now follow the signs to Nevyastata! Along this trail you’ll reach panoramic cliffs, a via ferrata (a climbing route), and a zip line. Nevyastata means “The Bride” and refers to the legend of a young woman who was being forced to marry a man against her will, so she jumped off the cliffs. The easy forest route ends at the cliffs with an incredible 360 degree view.
What to bring: Water.
Unknown to even Bulgarians as of a few years ago, the Krushuna Waterfalls are one of the favorite weekend getaways of many people today. The forest walk is very short, but it is worth the small detour. The end of the trail is complimented by the view of the Krushuna Waterfalls and the small pools of crystal turquoise water they form. You can get there by taking a car to Krushuna village and then following the signs to the waterfalls. It gets overcrowded on weekends so you might want to try a weekday instead!
What to bring: Water.
Beli Iskar Eco Trail
This ecotrail is situated at the entrance of Rila National Park and in some parts looks more like a picnic area than an activity requiring hiking. The marked route takes you through wooden bridges from one bank of the Beli Iskar river to the other. The total distance is 4.3 miles (7 km) and the starting point is on the main road after you pass through Beli Iskar village, 1 mile (1.5 km) on the way to Rila National Park.
What to bring: Food for a picnic.
Kom Peak is a legendary spot on the ridge of Stara Planina (Balkan Mountain range) as it is the official starting point of an approximately 20-day hike, which leads along the mountain ridge to its end at the Black Sea coast – Cape Emine. If you don’t want to strive for such a feat, keep it simple and climb the peak by itself. You’ll have to get to Berkovitsa by car and, once there, follow the road signs to the peak. After you’ve parked your car in front of Kom Chalet, continue on foot through the forest following the red trail markers. The hike to the top (6614 feet/2016 m) takes approximately 2 hours, part of which is spent on the ridge.
What to bring: Water and sunscreen.
Malyovitsa Chalet and Malyovitsa peak
Malyovitsa is a 8953 feet /2729 m high peak in Rila Mountain, which has a special place in the hearts of all Bulgarian hikers and climbers, as it was among the first places where mountaineering was practiced. The easiest way to get there is by car to Govedartsi village and then follow the only road that leads out of the village. You will reach the Central Mountain School where your hike will start. Follow the blue markers only.
Level: You can climb the peak (medium to difficult level, roughly two hours long) or just hike to Malyovitsa Chalet (easy level, one hour).
What to bring: Water and food.
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