by Tina Kovačiček
Finally, it’s springtime and for many Croatians that means spending a lot of time in nature.
Thankfully Croatia has beautiful nature sites with diverse sceneries. One of the most popular ones are the mountain areas where people often spend their weekends. Even if you are not much of a hiker these hiker trails are good and easy enough to try. Sometimes it might be tricky for the ones who are a bit afraid of the heights but the beauty is in breaking your personal boundaries, right?
Here are some great hiking trails in Croatia.
Seven Waterfalls trail, Istria
Water has always been an attractive nature part, so it is no surprise that every visitor will be mesmerized by the Istrian river Mirna and its numerous waterfalls. The roundabout that begins and ends in Buzet (near Istrian water supply) leads from Selca to Glistonia through Kuhari and Kotli, and is just ideal for beginners as well as those more active hikers who want to see the most beautiful part of this area. “Seven Waterfall Trails” will show you the mystical beauty of Istria in all seasons: in the summer; greenery and rich vegetation take breath away, in the fall; rain fills the river creating waterfalls that break over the huge rocks, in winter when the fallen droplets of water create unusual visions or the spring when first rays of the sun are inviting everyone to go outside, plants and animals.
The trail is 13.5 km long and its tour is 5 hours long. It begins beneath Buzet, on the bridge of Mirna near an Istrian watercourse. Some of its parts pass through the playful riverbed of Draga river and the Mirna river, where water forms little lakes, rapids and waterfalls.
But one of the most beautiful ornaments of the Mirna is so-called basins (kotli), unusual recesses in the form of small pools carved by the water in the ridge of the river.
Trails are much diverse and while walking you will pass by seven waterfalls, climb the highest point of 281m and finish where you started. With a tour of these natural phenomena, do not forget the interesting fact that along the trail there is an old Napoleon bridge from built at the beginning of the 19th century. Named, the Sv. Josef or what is still called the French Bridge was built for short Napoleon rule in central Istria.
Little Prince’s trail, South Velebit
The Little Prince’s trail is a famous hiking trail called even the Lesson of the Little Prince. It is located in the south part of Velebit, near the Crnopac mountain shelter (Tatek’s hut). It goes through the Velebit Nature Park and leads on top of Bili Kuk (1171 m.n.v.). The trail abounds in a miraculous visit to valuable stone formations; Dvori, Konoba, Niska vrata, Dvorska vrata, Zdenkova jama, Šušnjevac, Slipi klanac, Tisni klanac, Podkuk, Krivi klanac, Tonkina vrata, Stankina vrata, Kičma (secured by cable) and the last and most beautiful Nebeska vrata.
This educational trail is amongst the most demanding climbing hiking trails in comparison with other routes in Croatia although it has a diameter of only 600 m and it takes no more than 3-4 hours to tour.
The track has built-in ladders, wings, tens of meters of cables, and staircases and footpaths on a 30-meter-long section. So, although the path is full of ups and downs, and steep moments, you will be safe. And when you reach all the peeks on your way, you will be glad you did it.
Tulove grede, South Velebit
Tulove grede is a group of tall rocks of unusual shapes that emerge from karst on southern Velebit. They are located right next to Obrovac-Sveti Rok and are easily accessible. The road is macadamia but of very good quality, so it is easy to go with ordinary personal vehicles. Just by the road, while driving from Obrovac to the beginning of the trail, there is the beautiful church of St. Francis, built in the 19th century by the Austrian emperor Franjo I. in a memorial to the newly constructed road that merged north and south of Croatia.
Many memorials to the defendants along the road remind us of the war events and the great strategic importance of Velebit in the Homeland War. The climb to Tulove grede begins with a large stone burobran which protects the road from the impact of the Velebit’s bura. When climbing, one should be very careful because there are still parts that are not completely cleared from the mine. It is advisable for everyone to keep only crowded and marked paths.
The hiking trail is well-marked and well-groomed, which means it is often used. Gradually climbs on the grassy part and scattered rocks, to the left of the base of Tula. Below the trail steeply rises up to the entrance to the rocks, and comes on the slope and two smaller plows surrounded by triangles of tall rocky and smooth rocks.
From this passage (where you will see preserved remains of bunkers from the Homeland War) grassy meadows are beautifully and seen from beneath.
This first part of the trail is not difficult, but easy and unpretentious. The second part of the track that leads from the cross to the top of the Tulove grede is more demanding and requires hiking experience and a few climbing skills. On the road to the top for an easier traverse of the track, a cable is laid, and the track is traversed through narrow slopes where the backpack cannot pass.
This part of the climb should be avoided for rainy weather, resulting in wet and slippery rocks. But the top view is phenomenal! You can see Novigrad and Karinsko more, Maslenica Bridge, a multitude of Adriatic islands and a particularly beautiful view of one of the most beautiful peaks of Velebit, the Holy Mountain.
Vagan’s Peak, South Velebit
The Vagan’s peak of 1,757 m is the highest point of Velebit. It is located in the south-eastern part of the mountain and belongs to the summit of South Velebit, near the peaks Badanj (1,638 m), Malovan (1,709 m) and Sveto brdo (1,752 m). The top of the peak looks like a plateau covered with grass but the view towards Lika is amazing while the view towards the sea is somewhat weaker because of the plateau on the sea side of Velebit.
It takes around 20 minutes of easy hiking to reach the littoral edge of the peak, and this walk is worth taking for the view down the vertical rocks into the area of Velika Paklenica.
You can reach the Vagan’s peak from the seaside through Velika Rujna and from the Paklenica canyon. From the landside by the ridge of Velebit (northwest), Visocica or from the side of Medak.
The top is marked with a bunch of rocks, and on a larger inscription with the name and altitude of the top. If you decide to be a summiter in Croatia, you can even spend two days in the mountains since there is a couple of hiking homes and shelters on the way to the top where you can spend a night.
(Photos: Tina Kovačiček)