Risnjak National Park
Primorsko Goranska, Croatia
Start: Risnjak National Park Entrance, Bijela Vodica
End: Risnjak National Park Entrance, Bijela Vodica
Surface: Grass and Forest Trails
Located in the mountainous “great green heart of Croatia,” Risnjak National Park is part of a lovely crescent-shaped range of mountains that begins to the north of Croatia in Slovenia and arcs its way south in a mesmerizing mix of limestone-riddled valleys and forests full of bare, rocky peaks and hidden dells. The area has been a magnet for scientists and botanists since the early 1800s because of its exceptional diversity of flora and fauna, and in 1949, botanist Ivo Horvat suggested the area be set aside as a national park. A small section was protected in 1956, and this was later enlarged and the park established in 1997. It is small, just 24.5 square miles (63.5 sq km), but it is nevertheless a key area of conservancy, a meeting point for coastal and continental vegetation zones and an overlapping region between the Dinaric and Alpine zones.
The park is characterized by kart features, such as dry meadows, underground streams, and deep caves. The Risnjak and Snjeznik massifs connecting the Alps and Dinaric mountains are an important biological corridor for plants and animals, including wolves and lynx, and its seldom-seen brown bears.
Naturally, there are numerous trails, but it would be negligent to single out any one trail and divert attention from the rest. Everywhere you walk, there is a trail, whether you’re walking on a carpet of narrow-leaf bluegrass, carnation grass, or evergreen sedge, whether on the junegrass around dwarf pines or through meadows of tall oat grass. This was a palette of green, long before anyone thought to put down a trail.