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Even after repeated trips to Slovenia, there was one side to the country that I’d never properly experienced. Slovenia is known for several things, but its nature and mountains are definitely chief among them. The closest I had got to Slovenia’s mountains was Lake Bled, so the next time I visited I knew I wanted to do something active up in the mountains in Slovenia. Hiking Jezersko with Mateja Travel turned out to be the perfect way to spend a day in the mountains.
Sitting right up against Slovenia’s northern border, the forested Jezersko Valley is nestled within the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. While I was familiar with the mountains out near Triglav National Park, I hadn’t heard much before about this area. That’s why I’m so grateful that a day in Jezersko was part of my 8-day tour with Mateja Travel through Slovenia’s stunning outdoors. Not only was our hike there the perfect length and difficulty for a day hike, but I got to have my first tourist farm experience in the region. Safe to say, I couldn’t recommend a Jezersko hiking trip any more highly.
Visiting Jezersko Valley
Before rushing off onto the trails, you’ll want to work out where to stay when hiking the Jezersko Valley. Even though Slovenia isn’t a huge country, you’ll have a better time if you choose to stay somewhere close. After all, who wants to have to drive back to Ljubljana after a days hiking? For places close to Jezersko, you could stay up at one of the mountain huts like Ceska Koca shown below. A far more comfortable option though is the wonderful Šenkova Domačija Tourist Farm.
I had the pleasure of staying at the Šenkova Domačija tourist farm after my days hike and boy did my body need it. Located just a short drive down the valley near the Austrian border, this farm couldn’t be more convenient for hikers. This family-run farm is setup inside a huge homestead that incredibly dates from 1517! However there’s also the small and thoroughly cosy apartment house next door, not to mention a huge campground for tents and caravans.
As nice as the rooms are, the atmosphere here definitely deserves a mention. Step outside and you’ll find ducks and chickens meandering about, with fields of cows not far off. Sitting down at the outdoor tables of the restaurant there you’re treated to a stunning view up the valley to each of the mountain peaks. And then there’s the food, delicious traditional Slovenian meals that are completely farm-to-table. Devouring goulash and a cold beer after hiking never felt so good! Simply put, the family and staff at Šenkova Domačija Tourist Farm couldn’t have been more welcoming.
The Mountains of Jezersko
Slovenia is home to three different alpine mountain ranges, with Jezersko Valley found in the western end of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. The valley ends in a bit of a natural amphitheatre, with the peaks of the nearby alps making a sharp and sudden “U” shape. From the valley floor you can see some mountains, like Velika Baba, but many are hidden behind false peaks. The two highest mountains in the range are Grintovec (2558m) and Jezerska Kočna (2540m) but it wasn’t until we’d reached Ceska Koca that I could see just how far it was to them.
For visitors, there’s plenty of things to do in the Jezersko Valley if you like the outdoors. Running all around the valley, there are many trails reaching the different mountain passes and peaks in the area. That being said, there was still an awful lot of snow about here in early June, so hiking to the top would mean having the right gear and serious dedication. Besides hiking, other possible outdoor sports in Jezersko include mountain biking, mountain climbing, travelling along via ferrata and cross country skiing in winter.
The valley is basically a playground for people who like the outdoors, which in Slovenia seems to be most people.
Ceska Koca Lodge in Jezersko
Among the many hikes in the Jezersko Valley, the most popular is the trail up to the Ceska Koca mountain hut. Sitting at an elevation of 1543 metres, this mountain hut is about a third of the way to the summits of Grintovec and Jezerska Kočna. With beds and a restaurant, the mountain hut can be quite busy come summer as it’s ideal for people looking to spend days up in the mountains. Interestingly, this mountain hut was founded in 1900 by Czech hikers as there’s been quite a tradition of Czech tourists coming to Slovenia to hike.
Hiking to Ceska Koca
Hiking up to Ceska Koca, each way should take you between 1 hour 15 min to 1 hour 30 min, depending on your pace and fitness. With Mateja my tour guide and our hiking guide Škof, we set out from the gravel carpark down at the bottom of the valley. At first, the road in front of us was a wide gravel road, the kind often used for logging. Upon reaching a clear turnoff, we deviated off to a small path into the forest.
The trails here are well trodden as they frequently see hikers and there are signposts so getting lost should not be a problem. Occasionally we’d encounter messy roots or the odd fallen tree that required patience, but most of the time it was smooth sailing. A few times wet leaves and soft earth caused by the unseasonal weather made for uncertain footing, but with good hiking boots and hiking polls we were fine.
Having only used hiking polls once or twice, the walk up to Ceska Koca was a great opportunity to practice and become comfortable with them. That should say a lot about my level of experience and how easy it was to hike in Jezersko.
The trail eventually leveled out, which meant less time looking at our feet. It was now time to admire the incredible scenery on display to our left. With the forest cleared, you could see right down into the valley as well as over at the imposing peaks of the alpine range. This naturally led to many photo stops by me, so who knows how quickly we could have reached the hut.
Every once in a while we’d continue climbing by going up wooden or rebar steps. There were even some sections that featured cable rails to help you navigate narrower sections. For those worried about heights, the path along here isn’t narrow so these sections never felt precarious or dicey. Hiking guides like Škof put a huge emphasis on safety and not once did I ever feel unsafe hiking to Ceska Koca.
Lunch and Valley Views
Without the shelter of the forest, the sun was really bearing down on us when we reached the Ceska Koca mountain hut. Thank god for sunscreen! We’d seen a handful of people on the trail up, but up at the lodge there were maybe 20 or so hikers having picnics. The proper summer season hadn’t started yet, but clearly many Slovenians weren’t willing to wait.
From the little fence at the hut you’re rewarded with some stunning views right down the valley. You can even see the edge of the Karavanks mountain range from up there. You also finally get to see the actual summits and passes between the highest peaks of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. The views really only get better the high you hike.
It’d be great to one day comeback and make it to the very top one day. For this hike though, I was quite happy to stop at Ceska Koca. Not the least so I could dig into some barley and ham stew and admire the majestic mountain scenery all around.
Completely full after a big lunch, we sat while Mateja and Škof told me about some of the other hikes and activities in the region. Once the food had settled, we wandered for a little down the path towards the Kranjska koča hut. This was just to get more superb views of the Jezersko Valley from a different vantage point.
Content with the magical views, it was time to walk our way back down. Even though it was downhill, the hike back takes roughly the same amount of time. After all, you always want to be careful with your footing on the descent. A short drive later and we were at Šenkova Domačija for some R&R before the next day of the tour.
Other Sights around Jezersko
Besides our hike up to Ceska Koca and my tourist farm stay, we saw a couple other sights in the area. One that I highly recommend is a viewpoint up by the Jezersko border between Slovenia and Austria. From the Slovenian side, park at the small car park just before the border booths. Don’t worry, from there you take the trail up to the left and you won’t be crossing the border. It’s just a gentle 5-10 minute walk to some stunning views of the alpine range like seen above.
A little further from the mountains, but a nice place to stop, is Preddvor. Sitting en-route to Jezersko from Kranj, Preddvor is a little town best known for Črnava Lake. With scenic mountains in the distance and a hotel cafe by the waters edge, it’s a pleasant spot to relax.
Tips for Hiking Jezersko
Being a fairly regular hike, I don’t think there is much special advice you need for hiking Jezersko. As with any hike, you want to plan ahead and make sure you pack everything you’ll need. That means a backpack with water, food, sunscreen etc. While we went up with hiking gear, there were locals just up in regular running shoes.
Personally, I think the hike would be far more comfortable if you’re wearing proper hiking boots and hiking polls are always handy especially going down hill. For food, you’ll want to bring some snacks sure, but I do recommend having lunch up at the Ceska Koca hut. Oh and don’t forget your camera, you’ll want it with you that’s for sure.
Have you ever though about going hiking in Slovenia? Does hiking Jezersko Valley sound like something you’d like to do Please share them in the comments below.
*Disclosure: My hiking tour and stay in Jezersko with Mateja Travel was as a complimentary guest. As always, opinions are completely and genuinely my own. I wouldn’t recommend them otherwise!