If you like rugged mountains, deep valleys and challenging hiking trails including a via ferrata route? Then the trip from the Vrata Valley to the top of Mount Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia, is a must. But, the route is tough and requires some climbing materials if you want to be able to safely perform it. In this blog, I share my views of the route, what you absolutely must take with you and some tips to help you along the way.
Triglav has a special meaning to Slovenians. Every ‘real’ Slovenian must have been at the top of the highest mountain in the country at least once in his or her life. But that does not mean that the trip to the top is an easy one. Certainly not if you choose the route from the Vrata valley. Therefore, a small warning beforehand: do not try this route if you experience vertigo. Also, if you have a questionable condition, this may not be the best hike to do;)
Always have a plan B
The first time I was at the top of the Triglav, was 3 years ago. I just met Juul and he worked in Slovenia as an outdoor instructor during summer. In addition to rafting trips, kayak tours, and canyoning trips, he also did a multi-day hike with a group to the top of the highest mountain in Slovenia. When I came to visit him, he also wanted to make a variation on that mountain trip with me. I was there for a solid month, but the weather was not always favourable. If you are planning a trip to the top of the Triglav and you have little time, keep in mind that the weather conditions might salt your game. Nothing is as changeable as the weather, and that definitely applies to the weather in the mountains. Having a plan B (and C) is a smart thing to do.
When hiking, we like to see different sceneries. So we look for ways to have the start and end point of our hikes in different places. If you do want to do this hike in a circular route, you could. There’s an option for that at the bottom of this blog. If you’re interested in checking out the other tracks in the Triglav National Park, I’d recommend this book, with all the tracks to the top of Triglav. The route we did earlier this month, starts at the parking lot past the village of Mojstrana and ends in the parking lot past Pokljuka. That looked something like this:
Later in this article, you will find a downloadable GPX file of this route for your GPS.
What do you need to hike mount Triglav?
The hike to the top of the Triglav can be done in one day, but it’s more comfortable to take two days. You will probably spend the night at Triglavski dom na Kredarici. Please note that you’ll have to book your bed in advance if you go during the summer months. In this article, I describe our entire route of three days, including the descent on the other side of the mountain and a second night in the Vodnikov hut. But it is also possible to skip the second night and walk straight to the endpoint. During this hiking trip you’ll need:
- A (small) backpack
- Climbing harness
- Via ferrata set
- Trekking poles
- Food to eat during the hike (make sure it contains some sugar and salt, like nuts, protein or candy bars, dried fruits, bread with Nutella etc.)
- Plenty of water*
- Proper clothing (think layers!)
- Flipflops to wear in the hut (or use the slippers they often have)
- First aid kit
- Compass + map (we use this one from Triglav National Park)
- Cash (you can’t use your card in the cabins)
Do you want to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything when you go hiking? Check out our complete packing list for a multi-day hike. There’re also items on there that you should take with you when you go camping, which you can omit during this trip.
* There’s running water in the cabins at higher altitude (like Triglavski dom na Kredarici and Planika), but the sign says it isn’t drinkable. We have always drunk this water and never gotten sick.
From the Vrata valley to the top of Triglav
The hike starts at the parking lot in the Vrata valley. Drive past the village of Mojstrana and follow a (mostly) unpaved, winding road for about ten kilometers (follow the signs that say Vrata). If you want to park your car there in the summer, you’ll have to pay a small sum. But if you have someone who can drop you off, that’s free. Don’t get into your climbing gear over here just yet. Or the first part of the trip will be even more uncomfortable 😉
Tominšek trail: from a challenging start to awesome views
There are three common ways to the top of mount Triglav from the parking lot. We did the Tominšek track, not the most difficult but also not the easiest way up from the north side of the mountain. The track is often clearly indicated by red/white markings, but you’ll have to pay attention. From the parking lot, you leave in the direction of the hut Aljažev Dom. Walk past the hut until you see a big carabiner (a monument to commemorate all the victims during WWII). Here the trail splits, take the route that branches to the left, crosses the (dried up) river and enters the forest. This part of the route is hard because it goes up quite steep. Because you have just started walking, this part of the tracks feels extra heavy. This section is about 1.5 kilometers and you will climb about 400 to 500 meters in altitude. As soon as you reach the treeline, you will see why this route is popular: you have beautiful views of the green valley where you have just climbed out of.
Impressive walls and the start of the via ferrata
After the steep first part, a slightly flatter part follows where you mainly stare up at the imposing mountain wall while you climb further. It is not a wide mountain path, the path remains narrow. Here and there you might need your hands to get up. The first cable that you encounter is not that exciting that you have to secure yourself to it, but if you want to practice your via ferrata skills, this is a great opportunity. Some time after the stone indicating you’re at 1700 meters, the real work begins. Although the experienced mountaineers may not find it necessary to secure themselves, it is wise to do so. You sometimes stand on a narrow ledge with nothing but rocks beneath you and, hundreds of meters below, the valley…
About halfway through the via ferrata you enter a section called Devils Ravine. There is almost no sun here, and snow can often be found till late in July. And you will have to cross that snow to continue your way to the top. So make sure you have at least some trekking poles with you. And if you go early in the season, also take an ice ax. We have marked this point for you in the GPS route. After Devils Ravine there are a few more narrow passages where you are quite exposed. At about 2100 meters altitude you can let your via ferrata set rest for a bit. There’s a short hike over a scree with loose stones before the glacier begins. Time to bring out your poles, especially when there is snow.
On the glacier, you have to pay attention to whether you are on the right track. There are several paths, one of which branches to the left and goes to the Dom Valentina Staniča pod Triglavom hut, keep going straight and follow the signs that say Triglavski dom na Kredarici. In the last section before the hut, you’ll have to do some more climbing to get into the valley where the hut is. Because of its location, you can only see it at the very last moment. But if you do see the hut, you’re almost there!
The mountain hut Triglavski dom na Kredarici with Triglav in the background.
If you still feel fit after that, you can make the climb to the top of the Triglav. But we always choose to treat ourselves to a good nights sleep in Triglavski dom na Kredarici at 2515 meters altitude.
Day 2: the way to the top of Triglav
In the morning you often have the best weather on the mountain. So getting up early is worth it! And besides that, you have to leave your bed in the hut before 7 o’clock, so take the opportunity to go early. The first time I was at the top of the Triglav, we were ready to leave at five o’clock in the morning, but that is not recommended if you do not have an experienced guide with you. It is smarter to leave just after sunrise (if you want, you can admire that sunrise on a mountaintop near the Kredarici hut). The last part of the route to the top is also the most challenging (and the most fun!). The route is clearly marked and there are quite a few sections where you can use your via ferrata set again.
You stand on narrow ridges and look out over abysses that are meters deep. The last part of the route takes you across a narrow ridge where you can secure yourself on the cable, so hopefully, you’ll feel awesome crossing it. You walk over the top of Mali Triglav (2725 meters) and you can already spot your destination in the distance. Although the last climb is quite steep, there’re plenty of steel cables and pins chiselled everywhere in the rocks. Once at the top you can enjoy a beautiful, panoramic view of the entire Triglav National park. That is if the weather is good, of course 🙂
If you have time and the weather is good, enjoy the view from the top before you start the trip down again. The first part of the descent is the same as the last part up. But instead of going left to Triglavski dom na Kredarici, keep right and descend to the Planika hut (you can already see it from the top). In the first part of the descent, you will find the steel cables and pins you came to be so familiar with on your way up. As you approach the hut, the rocky surface changes into snowy glaciers and loose stones. This is a tough descent, so make sure you use your poles if your knees are troubling you. Planika lies at 2401 meters and from there the route to the end is fairly easy. You can store your climbing harness, helmet and via ferrata set, which you will no longer need from here on. You’ll generally not stay overnight in Planika, because it is only a one to two hours hike from the top. But it’s a nice place to take a rest or eat something.
From Planika to Vodnikov dom
From Planika onward, the track is clearly indicated with the familiar, red/white markings and a signpost here and there. The times on these are quite optimistic, so don’t trust them too much ;). As you continue to descent, the area will become greener and greener and you will have wonderful views of the mountains that surround you. The trip from Planika to Vodnikov dom is about three kilometers, but keep in mind that it is a bit more difficult to walk than when you walk that same distance on a paved road. Vodnikov is a great place to sleep. It is a comfortable hut (you can even take a shower!) And you have a beautiful view of the peaks where you’ve walked earlier that day (if you have clear weather, that is ;)).
Day 3: the home stretch
It is possible that you encounter a lot of oncoming traffic on the way down. The route from Planina Konjščica to Planika is a popular track because it is relatively easy. It is called the Triglav highway for a reason. If you are lucky, there aren’t as many people and you can enjoy the varied landscape and even some alpine meadows like the ones in Austria. There are lots of different types of flowers and plants and the area looks way different from the rugged, rocky landscape that you have seen in the past days. First, follow the track towards Rudna Polja before descending towards Planina Konjščica. Walk past the farm, where you can buy real Slovenian cheese before going into the woods for the last bit. At the end of the path is a parking lot where you can be picked up again.
Useful information about the route
GPX-tracks: download the track for your GPS.
Difficulty: The trip to the top of Mount Triglav is classified as T4 on the Swiss hiking scale, which stands for an alpine hike. The via ferrata sections in this hike are medium to hard. The Slovenian classification of the track (zelo zahtevna pot = very hard track), is a little exaggerated 🙂
Total distance: 16.14 kilometers (A to B)
Starting hight: 988 meters
Highest point: 2864 meters (Triglav)
Duration: 2 or 3 days
Huts along the track: Aljažev Dom v Vratih, Triglavski dom na Kredarici, Dom Planika pod Triglavom, Vodnikov dom na Velem polju
Marking: Good (red/white markings, arrows, and a signpost every now and then). With the exception of the last section on the glacier to the Kredarica hut. The route is sometimes difficult to follow, especially if there is still a lot of snow. In that case, use your GPS with the route to the cabin.
Dangers: Falling rocks, so always wear a helmet in the rocky terrain. The weather can change very quickly in this mountain range. Make sure you’re well informed about the weather and find shelter as soon as possible in case of imminent thunderstorms.
If you don’t have the luxury to be dropped and picked up at the start and end of the hike? Then you’ll have to start and end at the same spot. But, you do not want to take the Tominšek trail back down. First of all, it’s less fun to hike the same way back (at least that’s how we feel) and second of all, the oncoming traffic will make it a very hard trip! If you want to end at the parking lot in the Vrata valley, take the Čez Prag track back down.
Any questions about the route to the top of Mount Triglav?
Would you like to learn more about hiking in Slovenia or the Triglav National Park, the different routes to the top of Triglav or do you have a question about this route? Ask them below or send an email to email@example.com.