Those who love the mountains and highlands have for the fourth year running voted for the Top Hiking Trail. The organisers declared the winner of the selection, which takes place as part of the Let’s Clean Up Our Mountains campaign and under the aegis of the Alpine Association of Slovenia, during a conference on safe mountain hiking with children. Winning the title of Top Hiking Trail 2021 means that funds for restoration this year will go to one of the most demanding trails in the Grintavec mountain group, which leads to Koroška Rinka from the Kranjska koča mountain hut on Ledine. Hikers will once again be able to set out on this trail, which has been closed since 2018, when its restoration is complete, which should be at the end of this summer.
The title of Top Hiking Trail 2021 was taken by one of the most magnificent, but also most challenging, trails in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps: the trail from Kranjska koča hut on Ledine to Koroška Rinka, which is under the care of the Kranj Alpine Association. Second and third places this year were taken by the Jubilee Hiking Trail that runs Vršič—Zadnje Plate—Prisojnik through Zadnje Okno and the trail that runs Pekel–Rjavina–Dom Valentina Staniča (hut)–trail across Rž—Kredarica.
Visitors should wait until the restoration is complete to walk the Top Hiking Trail
This year’s recipient of the title and the funds for restoration – the trail from Kranjska koča mountain hut on Ledine to Koroška Rinka – offers not just outstanding views of the Rinke peaks, but also a thrilling traverse of exposed slopes and clambering over vertical rock faces. Since this very demanding hiking trail is in need of restoration not just of the trail markers but also the protection equipment, this year’s winner has actually been closed ever since 2018. This means that well-prepared hikers will need to wait for the restoration work to be completed before setting out on the Top Hiking Trail 2021.
“We need to restore the entire length of the trail, which begins at Kranjska koča on Ledine (1,700 m) and ends at the summit of Koroška Rinka (2,433 m). A full quarter of this 2.2 kilometre route is very demanding. The trail is also an integral part of the Slovenian Alpine Trail, which traverses all the Slovenian mountains. During the restoration, trail markers will be replaced, and new protection equipment will be installed, including both steel cables and pitons. We anticipate that the trail could be completely restored in August, and we will probably need two weekends to carry out the restoration,” said Miha Marenče of the Kranj Alpine Association.
Fourth season for selection of the Top Hiking Trail
The selection of the Top Hiking Trail, which is organised each year by Zavarovalnica Triglav as part of the campaign Let’s Clean Up Our Mountains in cooperation with the Alpine Association of Slovenia, is intended to highlight the work of trail marking crews, who voluntarily maintain around 10,000 km of mountain trails in Slovenia. “The work of the trail markers is a vital contribution to making mountain hiking accessible as a form of recreation for all those who love nature. The Top Hiking Trail campaign therefore serves as a tribute to their sacrifice and hard work. Through the funds we allocate each year for the restoration of one trail, we are contributing to hiking being safe for all generations that enjoy the mountains. We enthusiastically await the restoration of the trail, and until then we invite those who love the mountains to try out one of the less challenging winners of previous Top Hiking Trail selections,” said Ana Cergolj Kebler, head of the Let’s Clean Up Our Mountains campaign at Zavarovalnica Triglav.
Among the winners of the Top Hiking Trail from previous years, mountain hikers can find both easily accessible as well as exceptionally demanding Alpine routes:
- the circular trail in the heart of the Julian Alps that starts on the Blato mountain pasture and passes through the Pri Jezeru and Dedno Polje mountain pastures, Vrata (below Zelnarica), Prehodavci, Dvojno Jezero Lake, Štapce, Ovčarija and Pri Jezeru mountain pasture again, before ending back on Blato mountain pasture, which was declared the Top Hiking Trail in 2018. Some sections of the trail, for which hikers on average need over 11 hours to complete, are simple, while others are very demanding.
- The Rečica Circular Hiking Trail, which won the title of Top Hiking Trail 2019 and runs past 10 peaks around the Rečica Valley.
- the very demanding Bamberg Mountain Trail to Mt Triglav from Luknja via Plemenice, which was given the title last year and which well-prepared and very experienced hikers can visit safely only after the snow has melted from the mountain peaks.
Declaration part of the conference on safe mountain hiking
The results of voting for the Top Hiking Trail 2021 were announced by the organisers of the Let’s Clean Up Our Mountains campaign as part of the conference entitled Adventures and Misadventures of Hiking with Children. At the conference, personal highlights from touring Alpine and mountain trails with children were shared by the hiking enthusiasts and parents Betka Šuhel Mikolič, the initiator of the From Sunrise to Sunrise campaign, and Uroš Kuzman, stand-up comic and mathematician. Their experiences were accompanied with expert advice on safe mountain hiking with children from Gregor Hvalc, MD, aviator paramedic at the Mountain Rescue Association of Slovenia.
As the experienced rescuer and doctor explained, the causes of most rescue operations for families with children are associated with exhaustion and minor injuries. Often families also need to be helped when they stray from the path. “In order to avoid difficulties and accidents on the trail, parents should pick out a trail that will be appropriate to the physical fitness of the youngest member of the family. Before setting out on a trip they should check the weather forecast and equip themselves appropriately. They need to know where they are going, how they will get there and how they will get back. They need to start out on the trail early enough. Arriving at the destination is just half the hike. They still face the hike down, which is the harder part of the trip, since they are more tired then and their concentration is worse. Statistically the highest number of accidents occur during the descent later in the day,” said Gregor Hvalc, MD, adding a word of advice about what action to take if in spite of appropriate preparation an accident does occur: “In such cases the parents must stay clear-headed, see to the safety of everyone in their party and seek appropriate help. This could come from passers-by, more experienced hikers or from members of the Mountain Rescue, who can help by providing relevant advice for safely continuing or can come to their aid.”
Further advice for safe hiking in the hills can be found in a clip of the conference Adventures and Misadventures of Hiking with Children: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-PPREXAfow.