Woods … woods … woods everywhere around you. That is almost everyone´s first impression after climbing the mountain Bjelolasica (1,534 m) the highest mountain in the mountain group Velika Kapela in eastern part of Gorski kotar (meaning „Mountain district“ in Croatian), area in western Croatia.
Gorski kotar (Velika Kapela included) is in real sence of word „a forest country“ and together with forests in adjoining regions of Notranjska and Dolenjska in Slovenia they make one of the largest still naturally preserved forest complexess in Europe and realm of bears, lynx, wild-cats and wolves.
Such natural features and other social-historical reasons make Gorski kotar and Velika Kapela group especially, very much under-populated areas, and here you can experience a day hike without even meeting a single person, even in summer. To illustrate this, just to mention that no single permanent settlement exists from Bjelolasica area to the coastal area in northern Adriatic. Only people you can meet here from spring untill fall are hikers/excursionists or lumberjacks!
And rising from this „green undulating carpet“ Bjelolasica is one of the most recognisable mountains in the area. It thanks such an honor to its height (higher than surrounding mountains) and its mountain-ridge which is mostly woodless – a one kilometer long grassy plateau and partly rocky ground with thick low vegetation. Opposite to Bjelolasica´s features, the most of other summits in the area are either all covered by mixed woods or are rocky. And under its elongated ridge the both slopes of Bjelolasica are full covered with mixed woods, also.
In snowy winters especially, this vegetation-free mountain-ridge shows its real white appearance, comparing to surrounding woods. And the prefix of the mountain´s name “Bjelo-“ means “white” in local language – thus Bjelolasica getting its name thanks to its feature in winter, but also in summer with its light-green ridge standing above surrounding dark-green woods.
Bjelolasica streches for around 6 kilometers from NW to SE, thus following dominant direction of Dinaric Alps mountain chain.
Around the foot of the mountain there are some nice picturesque fileds like Matic-poljana, Plana, Okruglica, Duga, Vrbovska, Tucka Okruglica, Milivojka, Rapavica, Zuta i Gomirkovica.
Forest roads (non-paved) make a circle around the whole mountain and making it easy to approach the foot of the mountain by a bike/car/bus from all sides.
The summit of Bjelolasica mountain is called Kula („tower“) because on its rounded summit stand remains of an geodesycal stucture. Beside that you get panorama from here to the forest covered Velika Kapela and Gorski kotar you can also enjoy wide panorama that includes mountains of Velebit, coastal range, small part of the Adriatic sea and many other Croatian and Slovenian mountains all the way to Medvednica, a mountain above Zagreb, Croatian capital (105 km away). On a very clear day Julian Alps, Kamniske and Savinjske Alps can also be seen.
The best and most popular ascent points to start climb to Bjelolasica by foot are: Tuk Mrkopaljski (3 km from Mrkopalj, 25 km from Delnice), Begovo Razdolje (6 km from Mrkopalj) and Vrelo (27 km from Ogulin) and the foot of the mountain itself.
Other possibilities to approach and to climb Bjelolasica are from Ravna Gora (via Velika Visnjevica mountain), from village of Jasenak or from Bijele and Samarske rocks direction (a small sub-group in Velika Kapela group – approach by foot only).
Ascents from major 3 starting points and others to Bjelolasica mountain will be described in Routes Section of this mountain page.
1. To get to Tuk Mrkopaljski / Mrkopalj
By bus: There is no regular bus connection to Tuk Mrkopaljski. The nearest you can get to Tuk is Mrkopalj, cca 3 kms away. To get to Mrkopalj from Zagreb or Rijeka you should go for Delnice first. From Delnice take local bus to Mrkopalj. The buses from Delnice to Mrkopalj drive 2-3 times a day and weekdays only!! From Mrkopalj to Tuk Mrkopaljski use your own feet, or hitch-hike, there is no other way!!
Info at Delnice Bus Station ++385 51 812 060.
By car: From direction of Zagreb/Karlovac take A1-highway (Zagreb-Split) and in Bosiljevo-2 junction turn to A-6 highway to Rijeka. After 32 kms exit at Ravna Gora. In Ravna Gora turn to Mrkopalj. In Mrkopalj enter the villlage, pass the main church and get to the road for Tuk Mrkopaljski. It is about 125 km From Zagreb to Tuk Mrkopaljski.
From direction of Rijeka take A-6 to exit Lokve (10 km to Mrkopalj) or exit Delnice (14 km), then head for Mrkopalj and in Mrkopalj for Tuk Mrkopaljski.
By train: On Zagreb-Rijeka railway you have to take off at Delnice station, then from Delnice to Tuk Mrkopaljski by local bus.
Schedules at Croatian Railways. (For Zagreb departure choose “Zagreb Gl.kol.”– Zagreb Main Station)
2. To get to Begovo Razdolje
By bus: There is no regular bus connection to Begovo Razdolje. The nearest you can get to Begovo Razdolje is Mrkopalj, cca 6 kms away. Follow the same instructions as for Tuk Mrkopaljski.
By car: The same approaches as for Mrkopalj, and in Mrkopalj ask for a local road to Begovo Razdolje which is around 6 kms away.
By train: The same as for Mrkopalj.
Schedules at Croatian Railways. (For Zagreb departure choose “Zagreb Gl.kol.”– Zagreb Main Station)
3. To get to Vrelo/Jasenak
By bus: Local buses to Vrelo or Jasenak drive from Ogulin bus station app. 2 times a day in target direction. They do not drive weekends!!
For buses to/from Ogulin see schedule at: Ogulin Bus Station.
By car: From Zagreb direction take A-1 highway, end exit Ogulin. Pass through the town of Ogulin and at the western edge of Ogulin turn south in direction of Jasenak and „HOC Bjelolasica“.– you will notice signs for Bjelolasica still when driving highway and all the way through Ogulin.
From Split direction - approach also by highway A-1, exit Ogulin then to HOC “Bjelolasica”.
By train: On Zagreb-Rijeka and Zagreb-Split railways take off at the Ogulin station.
Schedules at Croatian Railways. (For Zagreb departure choose “Zagreb Gl.kol.”– Zagreb Main Station) or Ogulin Train Station
Detailed info how to get to Vrelo (HOC Bjelolasica) at: Sports Center Bjelolasica-homepage
4. To get to the foot of the mountain
You can access the foot of the mountain by foot/bike/car/bus from all sides because of a network of non-paved fotest roads around Bjelolasica (from Tuk Mrkopaljski, Begovo Razdolje, Vrelo, Jasenak and Ravna Gora directions). To climb Bjelolasica you will usually chose to leave those roads at climb-starting points (where marked paths cross those roads, coming from various, more distant locations, and head for Bjelolasica´s summit).
From direction of Mrkopalj/Tuk Mrkopaljski you can go to Matic poljana (field) by a forest road, leave a car there to start climb by foot, or you can go further over Jancarica mountain hut to Vrbovska poljana (field) - where you meet another road coming from Begovo razdolje - and continue to the foot of Bjelolasica.
From direction of Begovo Razdolje you can choose two forest roads – one to approach Bjelolasica from south (to Vrbovka poljana and Milivojka) and another to approach it from the west and in continuation you can drive further to approach Bjelolasica from the north or from Vrelo area.
From direction of Ogulin you can choose to go to Vrelo (for north-eastern approach) with starting points for the climb to Bjelolasica or go via Jasenak village and non-paved road for Bijele and Samarske stijene (rocks) to approach Bjelolasica from south and south-east.
No special red tape info for this mountain. „The worst enemies“ of a traveller here are the common ones for the most mountains: weather conditions and close encounter with a wild animal, like bear, wolf, wild boar, wild cat or lynx.
When To Climb
The area is well known for lots of precipitation all the year round (rain and snow), especcially in winter, spring and fall – more than 3,000 mm a year.
You can climb this mountain in all periods of year, although winter conditions can make you more problems, because of thick snow layer and inaccessible roads in the area. Also in other „wet“ periods of a year because of clouds and fogs you will be very often left without nice views from the mountaintops.
If you plan a car approach to the foot of the mountain you should be aware that some of the forest roads are impassable from December until april/early may because of snow. But roads to places where from you can start your ascent by foot, like Tuk Mrkopaljski, Vrelo/Jasenak and Begovo Razdolje are accessible for most of the times, including in winter.
Winter is a „peacefull period“ when you will rarely meet people tring to climb Bjelolasica. The winter outfit is obligatory. On an average winter there will be from ½ m to 1 ½ of snow along your way.
Spring, Summer, Fall
In early spring you will still run into snow drifts, especcially on northern slopes and shaded areas.
Late spring and early summer are the best periods to hike in the area. Late spring is especcially pleasant and appropriate period to visit, when the weather is fine and vegetation blossoming.
Generally the mountains in the area are mostly visited from May untill September – during so called „- berry times“ (when you can pick up raspberries, blueberries and strawberriews along your way).
Spring and fall can have lots of rain but also the best views from the summits of Velika Kapela group.
Even the summer is the driest period, because of some rainfall and lots of woods the air can be more humid and views less beautifull than in other periods of a year.
Also despite lots of precipitation, the montains in the area are made of limestone which does not keep the liqid at the surface, so as a precaution take all the water you need with you, during all periods.
It is not very usuall to camp in the mountain areas of Bjelolasica and Velika Kapela group because you can find satisfactory network of shelters/bivouacs or mountain houses at a day of half/day´s walk distance.
Tents are mostly used when existing shelters or mountain houses are full (which does not happen very often), and then by asking the maintainer of the object (if there is any) to camp in the vicinity of the object.
1. On the mountain itself there is only one shelter:
"Planinarsko skloniste (mountain shelter) Jakob Mihelcic”, at 1,460 m, close to the summit - 10 to 15 mins walk eastwards, just below mountain ridge; maintained by mountaineering clubs “Kapela” and “Vihor” from Zagreb. The shelter is open all the times for everyone. It can accommodate cca 10 persons, no supplies, no electricity, water from local well (filtered rainfall water), small stove (handle with it with care, its partly broken).
Contact persons are Damir Gross, ++385 1 3733513, ++385 1 4808215, ++385 91 5752824 or Vlado Horvat, ++385 1 3778696, ++385 1 3394242
Situation in april 2005: beds were missing soft pads so prepare for uncomfortable sleep! Hope the maintainers will take care of this problem as soon as possible!!!
2. In the vicinity of the mountain
At the convenient distance of Bjelolasica´s summit are other accomodation possibilities:
Mountain Hut Jancarica (1,236 m) 40 min to 1:00 h from the summit of Bjelolasica to the Hut – 1:20 h in the opposite direction.
This is a wooden hut with electricity, kitchen and bedroom for cca 18 person. A well with filtered wated stands by the hut. It is not supplied and usually is locked, keys are being kept by maintainers Mountaneering club “Bijele stijene” from Mrkopalj. If you plan to use the house you should contact Branko Blažević: ++385 51 833248, ++385 51 833063.
Next to Jancarica Hut is a small, all the time open, wooden cottage/shelter with place for 7 person and a small stove. No previous arrangements necessary for this shelter.
3. Accomodation on other locations – starting points or other
Mountain House „Bijele stijene", in Tuk Mrkopaljski (875 m) 2:00 to 2:30 h from Bjelolasica summit to the House; 3:00 h in the opposite direction.
This is a solid structure situated in village itself, just by the main road. It has electricity, water, and kitchen with dishes to choose. Around 52 persons can find accommodation here (in 10 small rooms and more dormitories).
Telephone of the House is ++385 51 833-278. The House is opened all the time and is maintained by Mountain Club Bijele stijene from Mrkopalj.
Mountain hut “Bijele stijene”, situated in Bijele stijene (White Rocks) subgroup - 10 minutes from its top (1,280 m); around 3 hours from Bjelolasica summit; maintained by Mountain club “Kapela” from Zagreb, electricity from solar panels, a well with filtered water. Usually is open on weekends from late spring to early fall. For other information: Antun Pavec: ++385 1 6555440, ++385 1 3695173 or firstname.lastname@example.org and Slavko Ferina: ‘++385 1 3738412, ++385 1 3722716, or email@example.com
Mountain shelter/bivouac “Miroslav Hirc”, on Bijele stijene 1 minute from mountain hut “Bijele stijene” (1,280 m). Open all the time. No electricity. Water by nearby mountain hut. Can take up to 25 people.
Mountain shelter/bivouac “Ratkovo skloniste”, on Samarske stijene (1,200 m); around 3 hours by foot from Bjelolasica summit; maintained by Mountaineering club “Velebit” from Zagreb. Open all the time. Water from well (filtered water). No electricity.
4, Commercial accommodation and good information sources at:
HOC Bjelolasica - Croatian Olympic Center Bjelolasica is a sports and tourist center situated at the northeastern foot of Bjelolasica in Vrelo village. Beside accomodation possibilities it has developed wide range of outdoor activities including ski, mountain biking, hiking, riding, adventure races, team building, alpinism and more.
HOC Bjelolasica - accomodation and HOC Bjelolasica - homepage also HOC Bjelolasica – Hotel Jastreb Begovo Razdolje
You can find information on weather condition in the area from standard weather information sources for Croatia (DHMS – The Croatian State Hydrometeorological Institute). The nearest meteo-station for Bjelolasica is Ogulin, and partially Delnice. But be aware that Ogulin is at the edge of Velika Kapela group and sometimes the weather can differ here from that in Bjelolasica which lies in the heart of the mountain group. Most of he times Ogulin has slightly better weather than Bjelolasica.
General weather info at:
DHMZ-forecasts in English
DHMZ-local measuring points
Snow conditions at: DHMZ-snow conditions Begovo Razdolje is measuring point (at 1,060 m)
Actual info about weather in Vrelo (NE foot of the mountain) at Vrelo, HOC Bjelolasica-weather.