Cerknica lake – one of the biggest intermittent lakes in Europe

We probably all know our largest lake, or. better said, we’ve probably all heard of it. How many of you (us) have really been on the lake Cerknica, hiking on it, or. walk along with it, looking at the esophagus, enjoy nature, probably the greatest diversity of bird species in all of Europe…? There are more than 130 caves, effluent caves, gullies and springs on and along the lake, all of which we have in front of our noses… Lake Cerknica is an exceptional excursion point with many footpaths.

In 2021, beautiful infrastructure was built and arranged on Lake Cerknica, footpaths along the lake were excellently marked, lookout points, observatories were arranged, paths were equipped with very rich descriptions of plant and animal species, and the history of life with the lake. Along the lake you can also see the museum of Cerknica Lake, and take a walk to Veliki Javornik, Slivnica, not far away is also Rakov škocjan, Snežnik Castle and many caves…

By the way, if you want to enrich the trip with other sights nearby in addition to the walking trails and sights of Lake Cerknica described below, I recommend you to read blogs about the trip to Bloke and Loka Valley. about Rakov škocjan, an Italian bunker from the time of the Rapallo border and ascents to Slivnica and Snežnik

A beautiful shot of Lake Cerknica, work of  Jože Pristavec

About Lake Cerknica

Lake Cerknica is one of the largest intermittent lakes in Europe. It is also by far the largest Slovenian lake and is almost 8 times larger in surface than the largest permanent lake in Slovenia – Bohinj. It is only when you stand on Lake Cerknica that you see this greatness, which is not and does not seem to be the end of the plain, especially if you need to cross it. ?

Water Cerkniško polje usually floods in spring and autumn, when the amount of precipitation is high. The lake is filled because the inflow of water is greater than it can drain through the drains in the soil into the mysterious underground of the karst soil. The water hinterland of Lake Cerknica is quite large, practically the entire Bloke plateau, and the eastern part of the Snežnik hills, Javorniki, Loška dolina, and Slivnica. With heavy rain, the water needs about 3 days to fill about 20 square kilometers of Cerknica plains, and the whole field, 26 square kilometers, is filled only with really large amounts of precipitation.

All the water from the lake flows solely into abysses, gullies and estuaries, in different parts of the lake. Part of the water flows towards the valley of Rakov škocjan and continues towards Planinsko polje and then, as the Ljubljanica flows into the plain at Vrhnika. Part of the water is directed directly towards the slopes of the Ljubljana Marshes and flows into the plain in the form of various streams that flow into the Ljubljanica in the marshes.

Sinkers, gullies, and estaveles need about 3-4 weeks to remove most of the water from the field in dry weather, which then remains only in the riverbeds and some parts of the lake, where the water is more or less constant. The lake is mostly deep up to about 10 meters.


Footpaths on Lake Cerknica

There are many different paths along Lake Cerknica, the longest ones are more than 20 kilometers long. In this blog, we will take a walk along more interesting hiking trails, which are also a bit shorter and there is always “happening” along the way, which makes animating the youngest much easier than on boring long hikes.

However, it must be said that the paths at high water levels of the lake can be flooded and therefore impassable.

The path of springs

  • Trail length: 4 km
  • Walking time: 1 hour
  • Starting point: Gorenje jezero (45,728, 14.4)

The path of the springs is located in the extreme south of the Cerknica field, below the hills that descend a little higher towards the Loka valley. The starting point of the trail is between the villages of Gorenje jezero and Laze pri G. jezeru, near the bridge over Jezerščica, where they set up an observatory and signs that educate us about the circle we are taking.

Most of the route runs along a beautiful forest path, past many springs, which are otherwise empty in the summer drought, but in spring and autumn, the trail is even more lively. At each spring on the circular route, there is a wooden pillar with the name of the spring and a short description of attractions in connection with this part of the lake. Among other things, they caught the largest pike, measuring more than 110 centimeters, in this part. The board also teaches us that such large fish cannot be found in the lake today, and in the days of Vlavasor, pike are said to reach 130 centimeters. Interesting.


Drvošec trail

  • Length of the route: 3.7 km, with a return of about 7 km
  • Walking time: 3 hours and 30 minutes
  • Starting point: Dolenje jezero (45,773, 14,357)

The Drvošec hiking trail has its starting point in the parking lot in Dolenji jezero, near the Rešeto gullets. Most of the trail runs along walking paths, which are hidden under the treetops, so the trail is also suitable for warmer or. hot summer days.

The entire trail is 4 kilometers long, but you have to add a walk back, which is about 7 kilometers. The path takes us from the gullets to the forest paths, where we can turn towards the Skadulca cave, which is an estate, that is, water can vomit from it, but it can also swallow water.

However, if we continue to the left, we have the opportunity to observe the Cerknica field from two observatories, where, you will be able to read many interesting things on the info board. At the end of the lookout points, we will find a beautiful lookout tower about 10 meters high, where we will also be able to observe life on the vast meadows of the Cerknica plain.

We walk past a clearing where most of the time a sinkhole filled with water, in which the navel lives, is a highly endangered amphibian. The trail ends not far from the village of Otok, from where you can return to the starting points, or continue to the trail at the springs.


Path around the lake

  • Trail length: 10 km
  • Walking time: approx. 2 hours and 30 minutes
  • Starting point: Dolenje jezero (45,773, 14,357)

The route around the lake can also be started at the same starting point as the route described above. A short part of the route also overlaps, but soon the path that leads us around the lake turns north and takes us along the slopes of the lake towards Dolenja vas, where its route turns and heads again towards the starting point.

The path takes us past the ruins of the Karlovica castle, where there is also the entrance to the cave of Velika Karlovica. Along the way, we have a few more viewing platforms, which are, as in the trails described above, equipped with very rich and varied descriptions of natural and cultural heritage in the area.


What else to see by Lake Cerknica

Lake Cerknica Museum

The Cerknica Lake Museum is not far from the main starting point for most activities on and along the lake. The museum is privately owned, the Kebe family has been managing it since 1994. In the museum you can see various demonstrations of the operation of the lake, as well as models, they also show how to make a trunk…

You can read more about the museum and the museum collection on their website.

House handed over

The House of Traditions is a very special house in which they take care of the transfer of knowledge of intangible cultural heritage. They pass on to younger generations the knowledge of making deblak, the knowledge of blacksmithing, the cultivation and use of flax, and the production of essential oil from white fir.

The House of Traditions has open hours usually every Saturday between 10 am and 12pm. Read more about the house of tradition on their website.


Lake Cerknica is really something special. And not only on a Slovenian scale but also on a European and even global scale. It would be a shame not to get to know such a pearl better, given that we have it practically in front of our noses. I am about 20 kilometers away from the lake, but I only recently started to get to know it in more detail. Autumn is also great for getting to know Cerknica and its surroundings, and you can also see many things in winter.

I wish you a great walk and enjoy the beautiful nature! Let’s go to nature!

Leave a Reply