Hiking the High Scardus Trail

Mount Korab along The High Scardus Trail | Photo by ikiryo
Mount Korab along The High Scardus Trail | Photo by ikiryo

Hiking the High Scardus Trail

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

At just over 307 miles long, the High Scardus Trail is a long-distance hiking and biking opportunity that outdoor enthusiasts can’t resist. This multi-country trail is crossed by many other secondary trails if you are looking for something a little less intense. The Balkan trail runs through Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia and connects six national parks and several mountain ranges. 

This incredible trail was created by the Romans and crosses some of the oldest and largest pastures Europe has to offer. Think beautiful, sprawling meadows enfolded in a bear-hug by the surrounding mountains. To complete the entire trail is no small feat and takes approximately 20 days. 


Rainbow over Lake Prespa | Photo by nehru

Begin your adventure in Macedonia near the capital of Skopje and hike up a storm all the way to the end of the trail at Lake Prespa in Albania. Of course, you could also do it in reverse. In Macedonia, the trail starts at the information board at the upper part of Staro Selo. Look for the church near the village fountain and you’ll know you’ve found the right place. Tackle as much of the trail as you can handle, be it for one, five or 10 days. The trail is separated into 16 main stages and has an additional 13 secondary stages that make great starting/stopping points. Regardless of how much you conquer, you’re sure to be dazzled by the natural surroundings. 

Depending on when you decide to do the trail, don’t forget the higher altitudes will have snow from November through May. The highest point along the trail sits atop Mount Korab at 9,042 feet. The views from here are truly staggering. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture this outstanding scenery! 

On your incredible journey, you’ll likely find various wild animals. Keep your eyes peeled for horses, brown bears, wolves, foxes, deer and more. You’ll also come across local farmers and their flocks of sheep, farmer’s markets, an incredible suspension bridge high above a perfectly blue lake and phenomenal wild scenery. If you go for more than a day, be sure to learn about local culture when you stay in guest houses owned by villagers along the way.  

To say the least, the High Scardus Trail offers an adventure of a lifetime! Hiking this trail is perhaps the perfect activity after having been cooped up for months due to that pesky COVID-19. Get outside, stretch your legs and see some beautiful scenery along the way. It’s the perfect way to spend a summer day...or 20!

 

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