Distance: 4.5 miles (7.2 km)
Time: 3 hours
Surface: Forest and Grassy Trails
The Biikk Plateau Trail is an easy, three-hour hike through Hungary’s most biodiverse mountain region filled with caves and ravines. Bukk National Park in northeastern Hungary was established in 1976 and protects an area rich in karst formations, including caves, ravines, and numerous “swallow-holes,” depressions in the ground formed when natural processes of erosion remove the bedrock above to create large holes that are often connected to subterranean passages. This is Hungary’s most biodiverse mountain region. The country’s longest (2.5 mile/4 km) and deepest (800 feet/244 m) cave, lstván Lápa, is here along with upward of 800 others, and the park contains an enormous trove of plant and animal life, including several extremely rare species of iris and the globally threatened clouded apollo butterfly, as well as the barometers of any truly unspoiled wilderness: the imperial, the golden, the short-toed, and the lesser spotted eagle.
The Biikk Plateau, which has been inhabited since Paleolithic times, rises 2,625 feet (800 m) to 3,280 feet (1,000 m) above the surrounding plains and offers a range of truly exquisite walks through a protected and largely untrammeled landscape. The felling of trees here has been banned for more than a century, and one of the interesting options is to walk from the village of Szilavásvárad to a forest of giant old-growth trees, the OserdO. To walk through the Oserdö is an experience to remember, giant trees have been left to grow old gracefully and to fall to the forest floor when their time has come, returning nutrients to the soils that encourage saplings to grow up alongside their fallen ancestors. The cycle of nature is plainly revealed here, and it is easy to see as you walk the Biikk Plateau Trail through this pristine wilderness why the Hungarians have named or Oserdö: their haunting, primeval forest.