A Hidden Gem: The Slovenian Mountain Trail – Facts and Special Gear
Before you’ll see any trail updates from me, I’d like to introduce the Slovenian Mountain Trail a little bit. For those of you living and hiking outside of Europe, it is highly probable that you’ve never heard of this trail. Even for those within Europe, it is quite likely that you have yet to encounter its name. The first time I hiked it in 2021, I met only two (!) other thru-hikers, but I hope that this is going to change.
The SMT is around 650 km (400 miles) long, or let’s say short, and crosses the most beautiful regions of the Slovenian alps. It is often referred to as one of the oldest long-distance hiking trails in Europe. While it is difficult to definitively claim it as the absolute oldest, it is certainly among the oldest and most well-established hiking routes on the continent. The trail incorporates sections of older paths and trade routes that have been used for centuries by local shepherds, hunters, and traders.
Starting in Maribor, you cross the Pohorje plateau, a welcoming warm up through the magical Šumik primeval forest, meadows and pastures, waterfalls and peat bogs with small lakes.
The warmup soon is over as you reach the Kamnik-Savinja mountain range, which is characterised by large, rugged limestone mountains and deep valleys.
Next up are the Karawanks which divide Austria and Slovenia. After walking along the border you enter the Julian alps and climb Slovenias highest peak – Triglav itself. The trail leads along steep mountain sides on old military roads where you can still find remnants of the first world war. It is hard to believe people fought a war in this terrain.
Soon you’ll leave the mountains behind and descend slowly over some smaller hills all the way to the terminus: the Adriatic Sea. By this time you’ll have ascended and descended around 37.000 meters or 122000 feet!
What is so Special about this Trail?
Hiking the SMT requires some special gear such as a via ferrata kit, harness and helmet. You’ll hike and climb in some serious exposure, summit EVERY high mountain of the country – it is worth the views! Carrying this extra equipment of course makes your pack a little heavier as usual, but I quickly got used to it.
As in many European countries, you’ll pass many mountain huts on your hike which serve warm food and offer accommodation at a very fair price. It is possible to hike the entire SMT without carrying a tent, even though I don’t prefer this option, since I am a poor student 😉
The SMT climbs over all of the countries highest peaks, which I think is entirely unique to this trail.
On the 16th of July, I will embark on my thru-hike of the SMT, and through this blog you can follow along. If you want to see more of this hidden gem of a trail, make sure you subscribe to my updates by entering your e-mail address on the bottom of this page!
I hope you enjoyed my first post, see you on trail!
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