Jezersko – Scenic, Tranquil and a True Hiker’s Paradise!

Achingly beautiful and tranquil, Jezersko boasts a wide range of challenging hiking trails as well as easier walks, scattered farms and homesteads, picture-perfect scenery, and no traffic jams. tourist traps or crowds. Add into the mix friendly locals, traditional food and more, and Jezersko is the place to be!

Jezersko really is a hiker’s paradise and a haven of peace for those looking for a total escape from the day-to-day, whether you visit for an active break or just for some much-needed rest and relaxation.

The village lies at an altitude of 906 metres above sea-level at the foot of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and the Karavanke range and is Slovenia’s first, and indeed only, true mountaineering village. It is one of the villages included in the Bergsteiger Dorfer Association of Mountain Villages, which is no mean feat when you consider that all the other villages are in well-known mountainous areas, such as Bavaria and Tyrol.

The Jezersko Mountain Trail is ideal for those seeking some challenging hikes. You can walk the entire trail, staying at mountain huts along the way, or choose sections for shorter hut-to-hut routes or just pick and choose day hikes – the choice is yours!

For my recent hike I decided to choose a circular route (yes, you know me and my penchant for circular hikes!) which first leads to the Ceška koča mountain hut (1,543m), then onward to the Kranjska koča na Ledinah hut (1,700m).

The trail, or rather many trails, begin at the car park at the end of the Ravenska kočna valley, where there are information boards about the valley and the various trails and attractions.

There are a choice of trails that lead up to the Ceska koca hut, including a via ferata trail for those looking for extra adventure. I chose the trail that leads off to the right of the car park, first for around 5 minutes on the flat before leading up steeply through the forest to the Stularjeva planina mountain pasture.

Thereafter the trail continues up to the hut, with a few hurdles to encounter en-route, though nothing technically difficult. In total it takes cca. 1.5 hours.

In addition to its fantastic location, what makes the Češka koca mountain hut unique is that it was built in 1900 by the Prague-based Czech branch of the Slovene Mountaineering Association, after which the hut was named. It has been renovated many times over the years but has retained its original appearance.

You are spoilt for choice with onward routes from the hut. Many of Jezersko’s mighty mountains such as Grintovec, Skuta and Kočna can be reached in 3-4 hours, or you can continue, as I did, towards the Kranjska koča na Ledinah hut, from where there are also numerous onward hikes.

There is a choice of 2 routes between the two huts, however, at the time of writing (July 2019) the ‘skozi Žrelo‘ trail, which is considered ‘very demanding’, is closed – not that I had intended to take it anyway! The alternative route first descends to join the ‘Slovenska pot‘ (The Slovene Trail). In places the path is narrow and there is a steep drop, but there is iron railing and foot rungs in the most exposed places.

After descending for cca.15 mins, the trail joins the ‘Slovenska pot’ and begins to ascend steeply. There is one section – quite a long one – where there are iron rails and rungs and therefore extreme caution is required, but, credit where its due, the trail is well maintained and secure.

Unlike the Ceška koca hut, it can’t be said that the Kranjska koča hut is anything to look at, and in fact due to its position its almost impossible to get a good photo of it as one can’t get far enough from the hut to capture it. It is, however, a good base for onward hikes and/or for having a breather before returning to the valley.

Almost all the onward trails from the Kranjska koča na Ledinah hut, such as those to Koroška Rinka and Kranjska Rinka are marked as ‘very demanding’ (zelo zahtevni poti), so are only suitable for those with significant mountaineering experience and proper equipment.

Not being one for such adventurous challenges, I descended back to the valley on the much easier Lovska pot (Hunters’ Trail), which makes for a perfect circular half-day hike. The path leads directly back down to the car park in around 1.5 hours.

There are also numerous easier hikes and other attractions and activities in the Jezersko area, so there’s something for everyone – more about which in another blog post soon! In the meantime, a great way to find out more about the village and immerse yourself in its local culture is to attend a performance of ‘The Stories of Jezersko‘ (Jezerske štorije), which takes place on Fridays during July and August at Jenk’s Barracks (Jenkova kasarna).

And another way to learn more about Jezersko is to taste some of its traditional cuisine. A good place to start is at the beautiful Planšar Lake (Planšarsko jezero), where on Saturdays at 5pm throughout the summer you can attend a demonstration of cooking the local dish ‘masunek’ over an open fire.

While I, in fact no one, can guarantee the weather – a glorious morning was forecast for the day of the hike described above, however, as is evident from the photos, the mountain tops were largely shrouded in cloud for much of the hike – in Jezersko you can, however, be assured of wonderful nature, peace, friendly locals and a break from the hustle of bustle of life. But don’t just take my word for it…!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

 

Jezersko: A wealth of hidden natural beauty

If you like hiking and magnificent Alpine scenery, then Jezersko should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Slovenia. Personally, I think Jezersko is very underrated as little is written about it in the media and it deserves to be more widely known. So, in an attempt to at least partially rectify that, here’s my contribution.

I usually visit Jezersko at least a couple of times per year and particularly like to go on the occasion of the Sheep Ball (Ovcji bal), which is the oldest ethnological event of its kind in Slovenia and this year was held for the 57th time.

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The Plansar Lake (Plansarsko jezero)

Jezersko can be reached either from Kranj towards Preddvor and along the narrow Kokra valley or via Austria and the Seeberg saddle (Jezerski vrh) pass. It is surrounded by the mountains of the Kamnik Savinja Alps. The Jezersko municipality has only 655 inhabitants (data from 2009) spread across an area of 6,881 hectares. There are many remote farmsteads scattered over its two settlements – Spodnje (Lower) and Zgornje (Upper) Jezersko. Zgornje Jezersko is the bigger of the two and has tourist facilities including a hotel, guest houses and tourist farms.

There are numerous natural wonders to see, the most well-known among them is the Planšar Lake (Plansarsko jezero), which is also the venue of the annual Sheep Ball. The Jezersko-Solčava breed of sheep is indigenous and is celebrated in this annual tradition of all things ‘sheep’ – wool, cheese and other dairy products, sheep shearing demonstrations and more.

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The annual Sheep Ball

Of course I couldn’t go all that way without doing some hiking too so my visit began with a 7am start from Radovljica, arriving in Jezersko by 8am, before setting off to hike to the peak of Goli vrh. The path begins at the Davo Karničar Mountain Lodge, which, at the time of my visit was currently not operating.

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The peak of Goli vrh – well worth the hike!

The path is well marked throughout and rises steeply through the forest, crossing the Jenkova planina highland and continuing up through the forest to reach the peak at  1787m from where there are panoramic views so mesmerising, it’s difficult to know where to look at first!

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One of the many ‘wow’ views. This one looking down over the Plansar Lake

Jezersko’s most known resident is Davo Karničar, a local legend, a climber and extreme skier who has skied from the 7 highest summits on all 7 continents and was the first person to ski from the summit of Everest in the year 2000. In fact the whole Karničar family are an integral part of the valley where they have the family farmstead and help run the Česka koča mountain hut, which is located under Mt. Grintovec and is one of Jezersko’s most popular hiking destinations. The hut has a long and interesting history as it is the only one in Slovenia that was actually built, in 1900, by the Czech Branch of the Slovene Mountaineering Association, hence its name.

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The Ceska koca mountain hut under Mt. Grintovec

For those looking for more of a stroll than a hike I most definitely recommend a walk along the Ravenska Kočna Theme Path. The 8km path traverses meadows beside the Jezernica stream then leads slightly up through the forest to the viewpoint ‘Na prodih’ where the views will richly reward your effort.

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The Ravenska Kocna Theme Path

The Jezerska slatina mineral water spring, located near the Ank farmstead, is said to have the highest magnesium content of all mineral waters in Slovenia.

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The Jezerska slatina mineral spring. Bring your water bottle and fill it!

Useful links:

Jezersko Tourist Information Centre – http://www.jezersko.info/en/

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015