The Ljubelj pass is the oldest road pass in Europe. Prior to the building of the Ljubelj tunnel, the steep pass, which reaches 1,369 metres above sea-level, was the main transport route from Slovenia to Klagenfurt in Austria. Since the building of the Karavanke tunnel in 1991, however, the Ljubelj tunnel is far less frequented, while today Ljubelj and Zelenica are favourite year-round destinations for hikers, skiers and the odd hardcore cyclist here and there!
I’ve already written about winter sports on the Ljubelj Pass and Zelenica, so this time you can read and see the ‘green’ version which, depending on whether or not you are a lover of the ‘white stuff’, is equally if not more beautiful!
After several failed attempts to get together for one reason or another, my friend Sabina and I met in Tržič (I, by bike, her by car) then drove to the parking area in front of the Ljubelj tunnel. Note: parking is now payable, we didn’t realise and nearly missed the sign, fortunately, just before you set off, there is a reminder saying Placaj parkirnino in privarčuj (Pay the parking fee and save yourself a fine) for those like us!
Having paid, we set off…
…up the ski piste.
As is to be expected of a ski piste, it’s a fairly steep incline, but the magnificent surroundings means its easy (or easier!) to forget about the effort.
You soon spot the (now defunct) Vrtaška koča mountain hut, which you pass, as well as some friendly four-legged friends!
You can’t possibly get lost and eventually find yourself at the top of the ski piste and at the Planinski dom na Zelenici mountain hut.
From the hut we could already see our first target for the day, a small peak known locally, for obvious reasons, as Triangel, otherwise called Vrh Ljubeljščiče, at an altitude of 1,704m.
Unlike the other paths on Zelenica, the one up to Triangel isn’t marked, but its easy to follow and you can be standing atop the peak in around 15-20 minutes.
If you want a short hike, you can call it a day and from the peak make your way back to the hut and return the same way or, like us, choose to continue your hike to one of the other surrounding peaks, such as Vrtača, Begunščica or, in our case, Srednji vrh.
The path is well marked with the usual red and white trail markers. It initially leads along a magnificent scenic trail with wild flowers and butterflies galore, then across scree towards Vrtača, where it splits; the upper trail leads towards the peak of Vrtača, while the lower ones is marked towards Stol, which we took.
After a while you come to an intersection of trails, where again you can choose your onward direction.
We turned left at the above sign and went downhill for a few minutes to reach the Šija saddle, where you are again greeted with an array of signs.
From the saddle it’s just a short 20 minute climb up to the top of Srednji vrh. From the top, on a clear day, you can see Lake Bled and across the Radovljica Plains towards the Julian Alps. We, however, didn’t have such luck; when we started out it was a perfect cloudless day but it soon clouded over and the wind got up, hence the views are just ‘great’ instead of ‘stunning’!
After returning to the saddle, we made the short walk down to the Koča pri Izviru Završnice mountain hut, where, again, there you are confronted with numerous choices.
To return to Zelenica, first follow the sign (below) to the Planinski dom na Zelenici mountain hut and ‘Izvir’ (Source of the Završnica stream).
From there its just a short cca. 15 minute walk back to the mountain hut, where you can enjoy some well-earned sustenance (yes, I ‘borrowed’ Sabina’s food for the photo, us coeliacs are used to having our own Scooby snacks with us, just in case!) before heading back down the ski slope and completing a wonderful, almost circular, and highly recommended (by me!) hike.
While in the area you can also visit the Mauthausen concentration camp for some quiet contemplation. You can read more in a previous blog here.
So, that rounds up another lovely day spent in the Tržič area, which should most certainly be on your list of places to visit whilst in Slovenia.
© Adele in Slovenia