I remember it like it was yesterday. We talked with friends about jumping for a weekend on one of our peaks. Considering that the weather forecast in the Gorenjska region was bad, and Notranjska and Primorska were sunny, we decided to go to Snežnik. However, the question arose, how to get to Snežnik?
The vast majority of ascents to this beautiful mountain are made from the once-popular ski resort of Sviščaki and much less from other starting points. The ascent with the starting point under Gašper’s hill is especially interesting and beautiful to me. We can also ascend Snežnik from Leskova dolina, Sežanje and Mašun, which is also the longest of all ascents.
Where is Snežnik
Before we really start talking about Snežnik, it may be good to say where this Primorski “Triglav” is located (in older literature it is possible to find mentions that Snežnik is the Primorski brother of our highest peak). Snežnik is a wide karst plateau, which is mostly between 800 and 1400 meters above sea level. The Snežnik plateau with its hinterland is the largest continuous forest in Slovenia. Due to its vastness and diversity, the terrain is difficult to cross. There are many valleys and hills. The plateau is located between the Loška Valley, Pivka, Ilirska Bistrica, and in the south and southeast, it borders Croatia.
Since 2017, the area of the snow forest – Ždrolce is under the protection of UNESCO. Ždrolce is an area of ancient beech forest, which due to its specific characteristics, proximity to the sea, and the height of Snežnik forms the upper forest border. Due to the relentless weather conditions, beeches are small and quite different from what we know in the lower areas, where the conditions are more favorable for growth.
Paths to Snežnik
|Starting point||Hike time||Height difference||Recommended footwear|
|Sviščaki (45.5742, 14.401)||2 h||600 m||sports hiking|
|Leskova dolina (45.6224, 14.4611)||3 h 20 min||1050 m||sports hiking|
|Sežanje (45.5702, 14.4542)||1 h 40 min||525 m||sports hiking|
|Mašun (45.62826, 14.36613)||4 h||840 m||sports hiking|
You can start conquering Snežnik at least 4 different points. The most frequent starting points are, as already mentioned Sviščaki, the second starting point is Mašun (the longest route), Leskova dolina and Sežanje. Other starting points are only abbreviated versions of the mentioned starting points. All the trails are mostly well marked, but in some places, it is still necessary to use some camping skills to find a continuation of the trail.
Due to the structure of the soil, limestone predominates, the surface is Karst. There are many larger and smaller Karst phenomena. If you pay a little more attention, you can see quite a few impressive abysses along the paths with short bends. One of them is practically at the very top of Snežnik. There are also many surface phenomena such as grooves, cracks, and scabbards. The deepest abyss around here is more than 500 meters deep.
Due to the karst surface, despite the fact that the area is very rich in precipitation, there is not single surface water in the area of the Snežnik plateau. All water comes to the surface much lower. This lets us know that the underground part of the plateau is very varied and extensive.
The most beautiful path to Snežnik
|Gašperjev hrib – Snežnik||Basic information|
|Hight of Snežnik||1796 m|
|Height of starting point||1381 m|
|Altitude difference along the way||450 m|
|Hike time||1 h 30 min|
|Difficulty of hiking||easy|
|Starting point||Gašperjev hrib (45.5907, 14.4697)|
|Recommended equipment||sports hiking footwear and hiking poles|
|Suitable for a dog||yes|
Of all the paths that lead to this, for this part of Slovenia, the mighty mountain is the most beautiful and also interesting path from Gašperjev hrib (Gašper’s hill) (45.5907, 14.4697). This is an abbreviated version of the route that leads from Leskova dolina. The path from Leskova dolina is beautiful, but a good part of the path needs to be made along a forest road. But I don’t really like that. Therefore, I prefer the path where the forest road ends and the forest paths and trails continue.
The path from Gašperjev hrib is very well marked and well-trodden. It starts along a wide but relatively steep and rocky path, after a few 100 meters the path is slightly flattened and there are not so many stones on the path. The path leads us through a varied, mostly beech forest, full of ups and downs, but we are more or less climbing all the time.
We soon reach a small pass, where we can admire the view of the peaks of Snežnik for the first time. Here the path descends for a few meters and leads us along the overgrown ridge (the right side is quite steep, in some places even steep) to the first beautiful meadow clearing. This is one of the few places where you can listen to the silence. In the winter, here you hear that you hear nothing. A bit of a joke, but really stop at this clearing, or stop at the next one and calm your breath and listen. If you are lucky and the day is not windy, you will hear complete silence!
After the clearing, you will descend for a few 10 meters, and then you will cross the forest again and ascend. After about 15 minutes of ascent, we will find ourselves again, not even more beautiful grassy clearings. Here the view towards Snežnik is incredibly beautiful. In the summer months, you will admire the small beeches that form the forest border and the top, which is overgrown with dwarf pine. Snežnik cannot be seen from this clearing, as the top in front of him covers him. However, if you “attack” Snežnik from here in winter, the view towards the top will be almost fabulous. Similar to the peaks of the Alps, dwarf pine is not visible in winter as it is covered in snow. Even low pine trees are well covered with snow during good winters. During winter ascents, I recommend that you also bring crampons, gaiters, ice axes, and other winter equipment.
After descending the meadow of the second clearing, we will again set off for a short time into the steeply ascending forest. After about 100 meters of ascent, the beech trees will slowly retreat to the pine forest. Here we will have views of the vast Snežnik forests, and a little higher we will see Kvarner and the nearby islands in the distance. When we cross the peak, we will also see the top of Snežnik, and we will also have a view of the Slovenian coast. A beautiful path surrounded by pine trees can be quite hot and relentless in the summer heat. So I advise you to avoid it in the hottest part of the day.
On a windy day, the wind will usually blow, on the saddle below Snežnik, where the route from Sežanje (45.5702, 14.4542) also joins us, very strongly. You have about 15 minutes of steeper ascent to the top of Snežnik. Soon after the saddle, the dwarf pine will also move away and the last part will be surrounded only by rocks and some small grass. Towards the top, just take your time and take a breath, while turning towards Kvarner and admiring the incredibly beautiful scenery that only Snežnik can conjure up for us. From the top, where there is also a lookout plate, on which we have marked what we see in the distance. Considering that the top of Snežnik is much higher than all the peaks in the area, the view is truly amazing.
From the top, you can see all the main peaks of the Slovenian Alps. Both the Julian and Kamnik-Savinja Alps, as well as the Karavanke, are in the palm of our hands. Loška walley lies under our feet, little more left we can see Cerknica field, and the Ljubljana basin a little further… if we turn our heads a little more to the left, we will be able to admire Nanos and Golake, Vremščica and Slavnik are not very far. On the other hand, we can admire the Croatian peaks, Učka, and the mountain district. In good weather, it should be seen all the way to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As I described above, the Snežnik plateau is a high karst plateau, which mostly climbs somewhere between 800 and 1400 meters above sea level. Two peaks, Veliki and Mali Snežnik, “protrude” high from this average. The first is 1796 meters high and the second is 102 meters lower.
With this height, Snežnik is the highest peak in Slovenia outside the Alpine world (Julian Alps, Karavanke, and Kamnik Alps).
Snežnik is a striking mountain, which in good weather can be a very easy walk. However, if we are less lucky with the weather, Snežnik can be a real hell. Especially in winter, temperatures can be deep below freezing, the winds that can blow here are relentless and can easily exceed speeds of over 100 kilometers per hour. If we add the fog that likes to stay on top, this is an environment that most do not want to experience.
An even smaller warning, take yourself to Snežnik in good weather and it will remain you in an unforgettable memory. Enjoy and go Nature!