Hidden away in Slovenia’s northwestern corner, along the country’s mountainous borders with Austria and Italy, lies Triglav National Park – Slovenia’s only national park and a outdoor lover’s paradise with scenic alpine lakes, jewel-toned rivers, yawning gorges, staggering mountain passes, and a number of hiking trails threading through the majestic Julian Alps.
At the recommendation of our friends in Munich, we spent one day exploring the banks of the Soča River, one of their favorite spots in the picturesque park. The alpine river forms part of Slovenia’s border with Italy and, interestingly, was the site of a number of significant WWI battles. Winding through quiet forests, the Soča River Trail follows the turquoise waters for ~25 kilometers, from Bovec to Trenta, and is undoubtedly one of the park’s most desirable walks. Throughout the length of the trail, a number of swaying, wooden, hanging bridges span the narrow river, inviting hikers for a bouncy crossing as well as some lovely views of the crystalline river and its surrounding peaks. The dazzling teal water snaked across the landscape, cutting through dense woodlands and occasionally carving deep canyons through the surrounding limestone rock. While the water level was quite low when we visited, persistent November rains can sometimes fill the 15 meter (50 foot) deep Soča River Gorge with sapphire water.
During the peak summer season, there is regular public bus service between Bovec and Trenta, the towns at either end of the Soča River Trail, making the 25-km (15.5-mile) trek an easy one-way hike. Because our visit was in the shoulder season or early autumn and there was no evidence of buses running between the two towns, we wandered along the river’s edge to just beyond the hamlet of Soča, just over half of the total trail length. The ‘main’ road that follows the banks of the river is narrow, windy, not heavily trafficked, and doesn’t offer many spots for vehicles to pull to the shoulder, so we weren’t sure we’d be able to hitch a ride and had to be prepared to hoof it back to town with enough daylight. In the end, though, some friendly motorists picked us up and delivered us back to Bovec. If you’re looking for a flat, easy walk with some lovely scenery and few other people, the Soča River Trail would be a great choice.
Total distance: 12.0 miles
Elevation gain: 1,066 feet