Top 10 Treks of Europe / Top 10 Epic Treks of the World

Slovenian Mountain Trail

Forrest Mallard

Country: Slovenia
Start: Maribor
End: Ankaran
Distance: 499 km
Time: 5 weeks
Terrain: Forest Trails and Mountain Ridges

Slovenia Tourism

EUROPE’S 1st LONG-DISTANCE TRAIL

The Slovenian Mountain Trail is a stunning, long-distance trail that winds across the mountains of Slovenia, a fabulous and relatively undiscovered country. The trail passes through this country’s best scenery, including the outstanding Julian Alps.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know to walk one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world. Includes budgets, inside tips, trail stages, and complete list of trail resources.


Slovenian Mountain Trail
FAST FACTS

OpenedAugust 1, 1953
Check Points80
Mountain Huts55
Peaks21
Museums3
Natural/Cultural Heritage Sites5
Trail Length617.4 km
Total Climb37.3 km
Time to WalkApprox 37 Days

Klemen Triler set the current record in 2012 of 8 days, 14 hours and 45 minutes.

If you walk moderately without breaks, they say you can make it in 28 days. According to the latest reliable information, only seven people have managed to run the trail in less than 14 days.

Doing this trail in less than 35 days would be a shame, as you would be rushing through one of the most beautiful trails in the world, and would not be taking the time to appreciate it.


Slovenian Mountain Trail
DIFFICULTY

Word of advice: Train on the stair-climber before you start this journey.

If you are looking to get a leg workout on this hike, you definitely will. On the very first day, from Maribor (279m) to Mariborska koča (Maribor Lodge 1068m) and then finally to Ruška koča (1246m), when you factor in all of the hills in between, you will have climbed about 2km.


Slovenian Mountain Trail INTRODUCTION

Since 1953, the Slovenian Mountain Trail (Slovenska Planinske Poti) has linked Slovenia’s vertiginous ranges: Pohorje, Julian Alps, Kamnik-Savinja Alps, and Karavanke, including Triglav—the country’s highest peak at 9,396 feet. Beginning in the alpine town of Maribor, the long-distance trail traces mountain ridges, peaks, and valleys, leading hikers through the Pannonian plains, across plateaus and hills, and eventually through rolling Mediterranean vineyards before ending in the coastal village of Ankaran. More than 50 huts and nearly 80 checkpoints line the well-maintained trail, not to mention two museums.

The Beauty of Slovenia

One of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world is not as popular as it should be.

A walk along the Slovenian Mountain Trail is an excellent opportunity to experience the beauty of the Slovenian landscape, to discover cultural sites, flora and fauna, hear the diverse dialects of the local residents and admire the architecture of the rustic mountain villages. You will be accompanied by the murmur of waterfalls, streams and rivers, and you can climb the highest peaks and fill your heart and soul as the sun sets behind the mountains.

There are more than 6,000 miles (9,656 km) of trails weaving their way through Slovenia, and of those, more than 80 percent are mountain trails. The E7, which runs from the Black Sea to the Atlantic, enters Slovenia in the region of Primorska and runs through the south of the country before exiting into Croatia. The E6 runs from the Adriatic to the Baltic seas, enters Slovenian territory at Koroska in the northwest, and runs south to Notranjska. Slovenia can be proud of its mountain trails, and not only its segments of Europe’s long-distance footpaths, either. Long before there was an E6 or an EZ or any other Es for that matter, there was the Slovenian Mountain Trail, Europe’s very first long distance trail.

Hikers can begin or end the Slovenian Mountain Trail in Maribor, Debeli rtič or anywhere else. The trail has no restrictions in terms of time and is marked by means of the Knafelc blazes (white dot with a red circle around it and an Arabic number 1.

Meeting the Locals

Slovenians are avid hikers, but they are mostly DAY-hikers.
By your second and third day into the Slovenian Mountain Trail, when you tell people at the mountain huts that you began your walk in Maribor, everyone will talk about you like you are some kind of superhero.

The most heartfelt and genuine meetings are those with the local people in the various regions. Different seasons, weather conditions and our own attitude ensure that we never forget the impressions that the trail makes on us. And that is the reason that so many people return to it time and again, or at least to individual parts which they have come to love in particular.

As stunningly beautiful as Slovenia is, there are not many international tourists outside of the Alps region. Many times on the first half of the Slovenian Mountain Trail, I was told I was the first American they had ever met. At the hostel I was staying at in Maribor, the owner only ever had one other person stay with him that was planning to hike the SMT.


Slovenian Mountain Trail History

Opened in 1953, this popular trail, so beloved of the Slovenian people, was initially meant to be a circular trail that began and ended in the northeast in the medieval town of Maribor on the Drava River. It was then changed to link up the country’s wealth of mountainous hiking trails and now runs for 310 miles (499 km), from Maribor to Ankaran in the country’s deep southwest near the Italian border overlooking the Gulf of Trieste. The trail traverses all of the country’s primary Alpine ranges, including the volcanic Pohorje range, and the limestone-encrusted Julian, Kamnik, and Karawank Alps.

If you hike through, you’ll have ascended an astonishing 28 miles (45 km) on a direct route that includes the summit of Mount Triglav itself, which, at 9,396 feet (2,864 m) is Slovenia’s highest point, as the trail makes its way south over a series of east-west alpine ridges on its final approaches into sunny Ankaran.

There are more than 9,600 km (6,000 miles) of hiking trails weaving through Slovenia, and of those, more than 80 percent are mountain trails. The E7, which runs from the black sea to the Atlantic, enters Slovenia territory at Koroska in the northwest and runs south to Notranjaska.

Slovenia can be proud of its many mountain trails. Long before there was an E6 or an E7, or any of the E’s for that matter, there was the Slovenian Mountain Trail, Europe’s very first long-distance trail.

Permits

You do not need a permit to hike and the trail is stated to be ‘unconditionally open to the public’ and anyone can hike the trails at their own risk.

Best Time To Go

The first time I hiked this route I began in Maribor in late May. The weather was absolutely beautiful. By the time I got to the Triglov National Park (the Alps) it was mid-June and there were still a few trails through the mountains that were closed due to snow.

If you want to plan your trip so that you reach the Alps in late-June, then that will be perfect timing. You will beat the masses that arrive in July, and you will be late enough to miss the snow.

So if you are starting in Maribor, I would say the ideal time to start would be late-May. You will miss the snow on the mountains, and you will never have to fight for a bed in any of the most popular mountain huts.

Trail Markers

Slovenian Mountain Trail TRAIL MARKER: The official trail marker for the SMT is a red dot, surrounded by a white ring, with a small number “1” just below the ring. This is the symbol for ‘Slovenian National Trail #1’ AKA SMT. You will often see the marking without the “1” and that would be a trail that is not necessarily part of the SMT. Then there are other parts of the SMT where they left the “1” off the marking. This isn’t that frustrating to get used to and you’ll get used to it. When in doubt, use your GPS.

As you are walking, you will notice that some parts of Slovenia are extremely well marked, and other parts of Slovenia not so much. Check your GPS regularly to make sure you are heading in the right direction.


Slovenian Mountain Trail
INFORMATION RESOURCES

Alpine Association of Slovenia

ALPINE ASSOCIATION OF SLOVENIA (AAS): en.pzs.si
One of the first things you need to do if you are 100% sure you are going to attempt walking the SMT, is to join the AAS. Membership in this association will allow you to stay at all of the mountain huts along the trail for a reduced price. The 60 Euro cost for membership will be quickly recouped within your first few days.


Maribor Information Kiosk

When you arrive in Maribor, visit the Tourist Kiosk. They probably will not be able to give you directions to the starting point, but they will sell you the Slovenian Mountain Trail Hikers Passport.

TOURIST KIOSK MARIBOR
Phone: +386 2 2346611
E-mail: tic@maribor.si
GPS: 46.560203, 15.650586
Slovenian Mountain Trail Passport Book

Slovenian Mountain Trail PASSPORT BOOK: Visit the tourist information kiosk in Maribor to buy your SMT passport book. You will need to stamp each of the boxes in the book along the way to get your certificate when you finish the trail.

The cost for this book was 3 Euro when I did the trail in 2016 with one Euro going towards a foundation to keep up the hiking trails.


Slovenian Mountain Trail Guidebooks

There is an astonishing lack of information regarding the Slovenian Mountain Trail online and in print. You would think that such a beautiful trail, a trail that consistently comes up in “Top 10” lists for most epic and beautiful trails in Europe, would have an enormous amount of reference information available. At the very best, you get a short descriptive paragraph on the Slovenian tourist website.

I searched every bookstore in Maribor for a Slovenian Mountain Trail guidebook and only found one book in one store, and it was in Slovenian. (I bought it anyways.)

You can easily do the entire Slovenian Mountain Trail with just the information here on this page. If you want a guidebook though, best thing to do is buy it before you go.


EQUIPMENT NEEDED

Hiking Boots

Make sure you have boots with a high neck for as much ankle support as you can get. Several of the trails will be extremely rocky and it could be very easy to twist your foot without the support.

Backpack

Pack as little as possible! Seriously. You will be crossing three sets of Alps and the foothills of the Alps aren’t too easy either. Most Slovenians you see hiking carry just a daypack on their backs and will look at you crazy if you are carrying a full backpack. Not only will a lighter pack make your daily walk easier, but there are some points in the trail where having a full, heavy backpack could limit your dexterity when negotiating around rocks on cliffs.

Climbing Equipment

None needed. There are iron spikes preset in the rocks and steel cables to hold onto when negotiating some tough parts of the trail. If you would like a harness to clip on to the safety wires on your final climb to the top of Triglav, these can be rented inexpensively at the mountain huts just before you start your climb.

Stretchy Hiking Shorts

There are some parts of the trail that get quite vertical. If your shorts do not have good stretch, you will have a hard time raising your legs high enough to walk up the sides of some mountains.

GPS

There are many GPS trekking apps listed on my Resource Page, but there is one app I keep returning to again and again.

MAPS.ME — This is a GPS app that is absolutely free. While you have a wi-fi connection, you will download any maps you need, for free. For the Slovenian Mountain Trail, you will need to download Slovenia East and Slovenia West. Once these maps are downloaded, you can turn off your wi-fi, and put your phone into airplane mode (to save your battery), and your GPS will still show you your current location on your map even when you are offline.

Before you even begin walking the Slovenian Mountain Trail, open the MAPS.ME app and put pins in at each of the checkpoint locations. Once you have done this, the app will show you the walking routes to your next destination, just in case you get lost. Your first priority should always be to follow the trail markers. If MAPS.ME is telling you there is a shortcut, don’t do it. Usually the shortcuts are much more difficult than the official SMT trail. If you are lost though or if you want to check the distance or how long it will be to your next checkpoint, this app will help you countless times.

High-Capacity Phone Charger

Never let your phone go dead!

Remember, that if you are using your phone all day long, checking your route, you should also bring a battery recharger to make sure you don’t run out of power before you reach your destination.


SECTIONS & SEGMENTS

This list will include 80 segments as well as the altitude and geo-coordinates of each place to help people through the Slovenian Mountain Trail. This doesn’t exist online, you must get this information from your Trail Passport Book.

NOTE: If one checkpoint number has more than one option (i.e. 07A and 07B) you only need to visit ONE of those locations to get the stamp in your Slovenian Mountain Trail hiker’s passport book.

Section One – Trailhead and North-Eastern Slovenia

01Spondee Radvanje279m46.53321, 15.62848
02Mariborska koča1068m46.50146, 15.55559
03Ruška koča1246m46.49501, 15.50816
04Koča na Klopnem vhru1280m46.50164, 15.39879
05Koča na Pesku1386m46.46721, 15.34401
06Ribniška koča1507m46.4982, 15.25999
07(A) Grmovškov dom pod Veliko Kopo1377m46.50274, 15.21015
07(B) Koča Planinc1010m46.53172, 15.1722
08Koča pod Kremžarjevim vrhom1102m46.52808, 15.12853
09Poštarski dom pod Plešivcem805m46.49622, 15.01277
10Dom na Uršlji gori1680m46.48474, 14.96514

Section Two – The Kamnik to the Slovenian Alps

NOTE: The closer you get to the Alps, the more people you will encounter and the more expensive it will become.

11Andrejev dom na Slemenu1,086m46.43814, 14.96436
12Dom na Smrekovcu1,377m46.41333, 14.90027
13Koča na Travniku1,548m46.41586, 14.80769
14Koča na Loki pod Raduho1,520m46.4093, 14.75913
15Velika Raduha2,062m46.40999, 14.73722
16Koča v Grohotu pod Raduho1,460m46,42344, 14,74332
17Kocbekov dom na Korošici1,808m46.35569, 14.63973
18Ojstrica2,350m46.36388, 14.6375
19Kamniška koča na Kamniškem sedlu1,864m46.35926, 14.5975
20Frischaufov dom na Okrešlju1,396m46.3708, 14.5913
21Kranjska koča na Ledinah1,700m46.37054, 14.5494
22Križ (Koroška Rinka)2,433m46.36675, 14.565
23Skuta2,532m46.36333, 14.55777
24Cojzova koča na Kokrskem sedlu1,793m46.34406, 14.54688
25Grintavec2,558m46.35722, 14.53527
26Jezerska Kočna2,540m46.35861, 14.52194
27Češka koča na Spodnjih Ravneh1,542m46.3699, 14.53597
28Planinski dom na Kališču1,540m46.33706, 14.41695
29Storžič2,132m46.35027, 14.40472
30Dom pod Storžičem1,123m46.35938, 14.38969
31Koča na Kriški gori1,471m46.35171, 14.33336
32Koča na Dobrči1,478m46.37617, 14.246

Section Three – Karavanke (Caravan) Mountain Range

33Begunjščica – Veliki vrh2,060m46.42194, 14.23166
34Roblekov dom na Begunjščici1,657m46.41779, 14.21228
35Planinski dom na Zelenici1,536m46.429, 14.23359
36Prešernova koča na Stolu2,174m46.43136, 14.17494
37Golica1,835m46.49138, 14.05361

Section Four – The Julian Alps

The busiest and most expensive part of the Slovenian Mountain Trail.
Mountain huts can be 5x the price in this area.
At the highest altitudes, the mountain huts need to have all supplies brought in by helicopter, so beer is much, much more expensive.

38Alpine Museum in Mojstrana641m46.45795, 13.93623
39Aljažev dom v Vratih1,015m46.40904, 13.84338
40Dom Valentina Staniča pod
Triglavom
2,332m46.38733, 13.8601
41(A) Triglavski dom na Kredarici2,515m46.37893, 13.84879
41(B) Dom Planika pod Triglavom2,401m46.37154, 13.84604
41(C) Koča na Doliču2,151m46.36486, 13.81949
42Triglav2,864m46.37919, 13.83391
43Pogačnikov dom na Kriških podih2,050m46.40193, 13.80076
44Razor2,601m46.41222, 13.79111
45Prisojnik2,547m46.42472, 13.76972
46(A) Tičarjev dom na Vršiču1,620m46.43273, 13.74462
46(B) Poštarski dom na Vršiču1,688m46.43239, 13.74753
46(C) Erjavčeva koča na Vršiču1,525m46.43909, 13.74937
47Zavetišče pod Špičkom2,064m46.4102, 13.67795
48Jalovec2,645m46.42111, 13.68
49Koča pri izviru Soče886m46.40953, 13.72543
50Kugy’s Monument in Trenta773m46.40427, 13.74293
51TNP Info Center Dom Trenta600m46.38045, 13.75266
52Zasavska koča na Prehodavcih2,071m46.35856, 13.79229
53Koča pri Triglavskih jezerih1,685m46.31861, 13.77944
54(A) Dom na Komni1,520m46.28443, 13.77316
54(B) Koča pod Bogatinom1,513m46.28768, 13.76332
55Planinski dom pri Krnskih jezerih1,385m
56Gomiščkovo zavetišče na Krnu2,182m46.26535, 13.65717
57Koča na planini Razor1,315m46.23516, 13.79314
58Vogel1,922m46.23833, 13.8125
59Rodica1,966m46.22861, 13.86611
60Dom Zorka Jelinčiča na Črni prsti1,835m46.23095, 13.9315
61Koča na Poreznu1,585m46.17916, 13.97607
62Bolnica Franja (Hospital)600m46.1502, 14.02732

Section Five – South-West Slovenia

A few hundred years ago, the vast wine region in South-West Slovenia was a dense forest. The entire region was cleared in order to supply the massive amount of wood needed to build the pylon foundation for Venice, which is not too far to the South.

63Planinska koča na Ermanovcu968m46.10933, 14.05309
64Bevkov vrh1,051m46.08666, 14.00694
65Sivka – Mrzli vrh1,008m46.05722, 14.04805
66Koča na Hleviški planini818m45.98735, 13.99578
67Mali Golak1,495m45.97861, 13.86444
68Koča Antona Bavčerja na Čavnu1,242m45.92897, 13.85311
69Sinji vrh1,002m45.90833, 13.9375
70Pirnatova koča na Javorniku1,156m45.89487, 14.07555
71Furlanovo zavetišče pri Abramu900m45.81924, 14.01893
72Vojkova koča na Nanosu1,240m45.77205, 14.05309
73Vremščica1,027m45.68833, 14.06194
74Škocjanske jame (Caves)395m
75Artviže817m45.61284, 14.02708
76Tumova koča na Slavniku1,028m45.53386, 13.97547
77Socerb389m45.58922, 13.85918
78Tinjan374m45.56108, 13.83444
79Ankaran18m45.57914, 13.73628
80Debeli Rtič19m45.59096, 13.70333

HIKING HUT-TO-HUT

Keep in mind that the mountain huts higher up in the Alps are not accessible by road. Supplies are hiked in on foot or by pack animal, and in some cases delivered by air. Running water is available at some lower elevation huts, but rainwater is the only source of water at some higher elevation huts, meaning there are usually no shower facilities. The trade-off is a warm bed, delicious food and drink, and gorgeous views. Spaced out a few hours walk from each other, hikers can decide between a leisurely pace or mile-crushing marathons.

In Slovenia, there are 181 mountain huts, shelters, refuges, and bivouacs with over 6000 beds. Walking the Slovenian Mountain Trail, there are mountain huts for overnight stays at the majority of checkpoints along the trail. There is absolutely no need to carry camping equipment, as there are mountain huts all along the way.

However, do daily research and contact each mountain hut in advance and let them know you are on your way and plan to stay there the next night. Some mountain huts are only open on weekends during the slow season. In August, the huts can also be extremely busy as Slovenians are avid hikers, and this is the time of year when everyone heads to the mountains, so you may need to book in advance in order to reserve a bed.

Eating at Mountain Huts

Hut menus focus on hearty comfort foods that meet the twin goals of satisfying your belly and fortifying your body after a calorie-burning trek. And at the risk of sounding sheltered, I’d never tried half of the foods I ate at the huts, making for an international expansion of my palate.

Warm dishes and cold beverages are offered at each hut, with options for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. While the offerings vary across locations, expect a homemade menu of warm soups, simple cold dishes, hot teas and coffee, and beer. While any of these would taste delicious in a city, everything tastes that much better after hiking in.

At Triglavski dom na Kredarici, the most expensive hut due to its high elevation, a bowl of vegetable soup costs $5.70, a beer $5, and a bowl of goulash for $11. Again, lower elevation huts are cheaper. Visitors are allowed to eat their own food at the huts, but cooking in the huts is not allowed. Remember to bring enough cash with you, as all transactions will be made to the innkeeper with real money, not credit cards.

Sleeping at Mountain Huts

Slovenian Mountain Trail mountain huts offer a variety of lodging options, from private rooms to 12-person bunk rooms. If the hut is really packed, the innkeeper may offer you space to sleep in the dining room. Most huts have a dining room, a washroom, restrooms, and outdoor seating areas. Large porches with sweeping views are also commonplace, and are a great place to gather with new friends, and cold beers.

The cost of lodging depends on the amenities provided, the elevation of the hut, and your membership in the Alpine Association. If you plan to stay for more than a night or two, I recommend joining for the cost-saving benefits. There are three tiers of lodging, Tier 1 usually being higher elevation and costlier, and Tier 3 being lower in elevation, sometimes with amenities like running water.

Slovenian Mountain Trail
INSIDE TIPS

Slovenian Mountain Trail Starting Location

Don’t bother asking around in Maribor where the starting point for the Slovenian Mountain Trail is. Nobody knows. Even the tourist information kiosk couldn’t tell me.

SLOVENIAN MOUNTAIN TRAIL - STARTING POINT
STREET ADDRESS: Streliška cesta
GPS: 46.533216, 15.628483

Note: The first stamp you will need to put in your book as at this location on the side of the street. There will be several places on the route where the stamp location is just a little metal box with a molded metal stamp on the side of the box. YOU WILL HAVE TO BRING YOUR OWN INK TO GET THE STAMP AT THIS LOCATION. I broke open a ballpoint pen and made a mess for mine.

I started the walk from the Plague Monument near my hostel and then walked to the start of the trail from there. This added another 2+ hours to my day’s journey and I do not recommend this. The first day is hard enough and long enough that you don’t need to add this extra distance. Take a taxi to the starting point. It is not cheating, and there is really nothing to see along the way.

After you start the Slovenian Mountain Trail and head into the woods just outside of Maribor, it will be very easy to get lost and you will be very frustrated again and again. There are so many trails in this area and they cross back and forth over each other. You will really need to pay attention and look for the trail markings. Maps will not be much help here, so pay close attention to your GPS. The good thing though, this is the only part of the trail where I experienced this level of constant frustration while trying to stay on the right path. A few hours into the trail and all of these alternative routes will disappear.

It Gets More Expensive in the Alps

The closer you get to the Alps, the more people you will encounter and the more expensive it will become.

When you finally do reach the Alps, prices for Mountain Huts will have quadrupled, and because all supplies are delivered by helicopter to huts high in the mountains, a beer will also cost 4x as much.

For example, at Triglavski dom na Kredarici, the highest mountain hut in Slovenia at 8,251 feet — and the most visited one due to its close proximity to Mount Triglav — a dormitory bed costs about $12 per person for Alpine Association members. A lower elevation hut might cost about $8.80 per person for the night. Bedding costs extra, so you can save money at some huts by using your sleeping bag. As payment is made to the innkeeper in cash, be sure to bring enough euros for your hut-to-hut lodging and dining needs.

WARNING

Slovenian Mountains Take More Than 20 Lives Per Year.

The majority of accidents were said to be caused by falls or slips on the rocks and the loss of control. According to the Slovenian Mountains Rescue Association, the second most common reason for accidents in the mountains is getting lost. This is followed by a lack of physical and mental strength, inappropriate gear as well as its misuse.

Mountain hikers use the trails at their own risk. Trail users must behave in a responsible manner so that they do not endanger or hurt themselves or others. A user must use mountain trails in a manner which does not cause any damage to the trail or to the land, property or buildings adjacent to it, nor causes any harm to the flora and fauna along the trail. It is prohibited to restrict access to mountain trails and to damage, remove or destroy trail markings, direction boards, boxes and protective equipment or any other labels. It is also prohibited to use unmarked shortcuts.


Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and, at no additional cost to you and I may earn a commission if you make a purchase.

Comments

    Daniel Hazelhoff
    Reply

    This.is.BRILLIANT

      Forrest Mallard
      Reply

      THANK YOU SO MUCH SIR!!

    J. Pat Harris
    Reply

    What is the easiest way to get to Maribor?

      Forrest Mallard
      Reply

      Most people will fly into Ljubljana (which is a stunningly beautiful capitol), and then bus it to Maribor. Bus or train from Ljubljana is about $10 and 2-hours. TRANSPORT LJUBLJANA TO MARIBOR. Amazing thing about Maribor is that it is closer than anyone realizes to Zagreb-Croatia and Graz-Austria. They're about the same distance as Ljubljana, so you could fly in to any of those cities.

    Lefteris
    Reply

    bravo..You are amazing, thank you very much..

      Forrest Mallard
      Reply

      So glad you liked this info. If you are going to hike this trail.. please let me know how you like it. Happy trails!

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Hi! I'm Forrest Mallard

In 2005, I moved to Quito, Ecuador with $35 in my pocket and a small handful of online clients. Fifteen years and five continents later, there were moments of absolute glamour, as well as a number of brutal rough patches. But I always felt that a horrible day of travel is infinitely more preferable than a great day at the office. Oh the stories I could tell, and I will try to do that here in Tramposaurus Treks. You'll have access to the good times, the horrifying times, and a few well-deserved moments of travel glamour.

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