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Coins Cachés. Julijske Alpe
Slovenia is a true cycling jewel on the crossing of the Alps, Adriatic coast, Pannonic flats and the Dinaric mountains. This makes for a crazy amount of diverse landscapes of rolling hills filled with forests, vineyards, castles and churches, high mountains filled with beautiful valleys, lakes and rivers, seaside with nice cliffs, beaches and mediterranean towns, and some nice flats with thermal pools emerging in the shade of trees and caves.
The very north-west corner of the country is covered by the Julian Alps, the highest and most spectacular mountain range in Slovenia with Mt Triglav as its highest peak and the most important symbol of our small nation. It is the place of our most beautiful valleys, pastures, lakes, rivers and just about everything that you might think of when you think about mountains.
The majority of these mountains is a part of Triglav National park, the only national park in Slovenia. And while we fully support all attempts of preserving the nature as much as possible, there is one downside to that: no cycling allowed on mountain trails!
So we took this limitation as a challenge and tried to come up with the most scenic and challenging routes, on and off road, that you can take and see almost all the best sights the Julian Alps have to offer (and there is no small amount of those either)!
Pokljuka is a high forested karst plateau in Slovenia, mostly known for its vast spruce and fir forests, swamps and idyllic pastures. It is also a main starting point for hikers attempting the ascent on Mt Triglav and other nearby mountain peaks. In winter it transforms into a ski running paradise and holds a biathlon World Cup race annually.
This route starts from the shore of Slovenia`s biggest mountain lake Bohinj and follows the dirt road up to the Uskovnica pasture. The ascent offers some nice views and after only a few kilometres you reach the first wooden huts that fill the meadows surrounded by forests overlooking the mountains. What we love most about these pastures are the cows grazing the grass, gently ringing their bells to create that idyllic pasture atmosphere.
The dirt road then ascends further through the forest onto a smaller, but incredibly scenic pasture Zajamniki. Stop as you reach the highest point overlooking the whole Bohinj mountains, the highest peaks of the Julian Alps and down to Bohinj lake. It is the most spectacular and breathtaking sight you can find on Pokljuka!
The remainder of the route descends through forests, past wooden huts and villages, until the asphalt road takes you through the valley all the way back to the Bohinj lake, where you can relax and cool down with an after-bike swim!
Soriška planina is a range of hills stretching from the Sorica pass (Soriško sedlo), a road cycling pass which you can conquer from three different directions. Bohinjska Bistrica is the first (asphalt) part of this route, but you can also skip it by taking the bus to the top, where the real fun begins!
We are taking the easy dirt road towards the Bača saddle, already enjoying the views of Julian Alps. Reaching the Bača saddle is like emerging on the other side of the world, overlooking the mountain valleys to the South and being hit by the warmer air coming up from the Adriatic sea.
The trail becomes steep and narrow as it heads East through the forest, but soon becomes easier. The views become increasingly impressive as you reach the small grassy saddle with a big military fort turned into a pasture housing dozens of sheep. From here, it is worth making a small detour to the peak called Možic, where you will be able to enjoy the best view of the Bohinj valley and the Julian Alps.
You can then either follow the rocky road going down the ski slopes to the Sorica saddle or opt for an amazing single-track descent to the South, to the village of Podbrdo, where you can catch a train going back to Bohinjska Bistrica. It is a great experience riding the only mountain train tunnel in Slovenia, however, the curvy, narrow and steep trail is only suitable for experienced mountain bikers.
Tromeja translates to tri-border and is the point where the borders of Slovenia, Italy and Austria meet. You can start this route anywhere along the cycling path between Kranjska Gora and Rateče (we recommend the car park in Rateče adjacent to the cycling path).
You will first tackle the asphalt ascent from Podkoren to the Koren saddle on the border with Austria. After a kilometre of ascending you will need to stop for pictures from a look-out point that overlooks the Podkoren village, the Vitranc ski piste and the beautiful mountain ranges that you will enjoy on the whole of this ride.
The route soon takes a turn onto a dirt road and you will immediately enjoy the peace and quiet as you ride along the pastures and through the forest with amazing views of the mountains almost the entire way. The last few kilometres become steeper but the look-out points will make you stop and forget about the effort.
When you reach the tri-border point on the top, you can literally cross from Slovenia to Austria to Italy and back in a matter of seconds, but the most amazing thing is the view of almost the whole of the Julian Alps all the way to Italy and the majestic mountains and lakes in Austria. Take your time to relax on the meadows or have lunch at the hut on the Austrian side before you enjoy the thrilling descent down to Rateče.
East Julian Alps ultimate
This first road cycling route will take you from Bohinj lake, along the river Sava Bohinjka under the high walls embracing the valley until you reach lake Bled. Take your time to enjoy one of the most famous and beautiful lakes in Europe, if possible with a slice of the famous dessert called Kremšnita.
The route takes you almost all the way around the lake, behind the castle, through villages and descends to join the Sava Dolinka river in the industrial town of Jesenice. Here you follow the path towards Kranjska Gora until Mojstrana, another beautiful village at the foot of the mountains. Cross into the valley of the Radovna river, a very popular route among cyclists which is almost traffic-free. Stop and have a snack or take a swim in the mesmerizing blue waters of lake Kreda.
Cycling in Radovna valley passes in a heartbeat and you will find yourself back high above Bled before you know it. If you're feeling tired, descend down to the lake and follow the same route back to the start. Otherwise, it is time to tackle the climb to the Pokljuka plateau. This infamous climb is where Pogačar beat Roglič in the national time trial championship for the first time in 2020 (forecasting the events of the Tour de France just a month later)!
It is not for the weak, but it is a beautiful climb and takes you to the stunning forests of Pokljuka plateau and even more mountain views. The long ascent rewards you with an even longer and far more enjoyable descent through forests and pastures all the way to the starting point at Bohinj lake.
West Julian Alps ultimate
This is the longest and hardest route in this collection, but it also takes you to some of the most amazing roads and sights Slovenia has to offer. A short stop at the beautiful lake Jasna is a must, but then it is time to tackle the most famous mountain road pass in Slovenia, Vršič. The 25 switchbacks on each side with constant views of the mountain ridges everywhere around will take your breath away (as will the incline).
On the other side is the Trenta Valley and you can stop frequently along the glorious emerald river, Soča. At the old military fort Kluže you will start the main climb of the day through the beautiful village of Log pod Mangartom, up to Predel pass, steering right just before the top, only to climb further on to the Mangart saddle.
The Mangart saddle road takes you up 2050m of elevation at the foot of Mt Mangart. Don't forget your bike lights as you will cycle through tunnels, and prepare yourself for the most thrilling ascent of your life which will reward you with some of the best views you can reach on an asphalt road in Slovenia.
You then descend and cross over the Predel pass to Italy and the Lago del Predil. From there, follow the fast descending road to Tarvisio where we recommend an espresso to add a bit of Italian flare to your ride and join the cycling path at the railway station that will take you all the way back to your starting point.
Before you really finish, we included two detours you simply cannot miss! The first one are the Fusine lakes, amazingly beautiful bodies of water overlooking the Mangart saddle you just descended from. The other is the Tamar valley with the Nordic centre of Planica, where world ski jumping records have been set since the 1930s.