Bukova Staza is one of three paths that ascent from Paklenica hut directly towards highest peaks of Velebit. The other is Lipa Staza which at half way point branches in two. Bukova Staza, which means beech path. It got its name because it mostly goes through very nice beech forest. It is steep, on spots very steep. It ascends over the rocky forested area between Rapavac (1617m) and Crljeni Kuk (1661m). On the way there two sections of torn cliffs where is easy climbing. Once you reach pass between both peaks, which is at around 1450m, most difficult part is behind. Through beautiful Babin Dolac valley and over a lower step you reach Babino Jezero (1580m) lake and finally VPP trail, which comes from Struge plateau, above the lake. When everything is added and subtracted this is very beautiful but tough route which lasts 5h. If you are starting from parking in Paklenica canyon add 1.30h. From Starigrad Paklenica on the coast add 2.30h to the route.
Paklenica hut – Babino Jezero Lake – Vaganski Vrh: 5h
Behind the hut, by the pool, path enters the beech forest and ascent begins. After few minutes and several bends view towards peaks above and back down on Paklenica valley opens. After further short ascent path turns left and heads horizontally till Ramici hamlet and passes right of house of Jole and Maria, last inhabitants of Paklenica, 15mins from the hut. Here is important junction of paths. Left is Struge route, straight up Bukova Staza, while little bit to the right leads Lipa Staza route.
We are heading straight. Path gradually ascends over mixed rocky and grassy terrain, through bushes of juniper and one pine grove, till it reaches beech forest, 15mins. From here it becomes steeper; after several sharp bends and 15mins you’ll reach a junction. Right path leads to Lipa Staza route.
You are going left. At first path ascends gradually trough mixed pine/beech forest, taking you far to the left, then it gets steeper. After some 40mins, above short but very steep section, path gets out of the forest, onto section of sharp rocks and cliffs. View down upon Paklenica valley and sea in the background opens. Behind initial cliffs section there is short, relatively flat section, towards left before reaching cliffs again. Steep ascent leads over them, on places hands are needed. Above the cliffs path reaches nice meadow, 20mins, 1.45h from the hut. Above are torn cliffs of Rapavac (1617m) and its huge window.
Behind the meadow path turns right and reaches another section of cliffs, shorter than previous. 15mins from the meadow you are above the cliffs and in the beech forest. Steepest part of the route, except cliff sections, awaits you through nice beech forest which grows on the slope which has 45° angle. After 1h of constant ascent suddenly you leave the forest behind and exit onto grassy Babino Sedlo pass (1450m), good 3h from the hut. Beautiful Babin Dolac valley opens in front of you. On the left is Rapavac (1617m), behind the valley Babin Vrh (1738m), while on the right is Zoranicev Vrh (1712m) and cliffs of Crljeni Kuk (1661m). View back down towards Paklenica is limited by beech forest you just left but sea is visible.
Behind the pass path descends little bit to the bottom of Babin Dolac. Next 15mins are flat over the bottom. Then valley becomes narrower and ascent begins again. Path goes left, between beech forests on both sides and then makes gradual right turn towards narrow pass over this step. Behind the pass is small Babino Jezero (1580m) lake, 20mins from Babin Dolac. View from its shore is dominated by rocky dome of Babin Vrh (1738m).
Path goes left of the lake and then steeply ascends towards the pass between Babin Vrh and Zoranicev Vrh on the right, 15mins from the lake and probably 4h from Paklenica hut. Here is junction as Bukova Staza joins VPP trail which traverses slopes of Babin Vrh on the way from Struge towards Vaganski Vrh (Struge route).
Vaganski Vrh is right. From the pass path begins to descent traversing the slopes of southern Babin Vrh head, above deep funnel shaped basin which is on the right. Vaganski Vrh joins the view from here. After 10mins you are on the pass and bottom of descent. Behind short ascent is longer horizontal section where path traverses steep slopes above huge funnel shaped basin that is placed between Babin Vrh and Vaganski Vrh. At the end of horizontal section path turn left and ascends towards the shoulder, 20mins. Vaganski Vrh now obscures most of the panorama. In front is another horizontal section before final summit ascent. On the left is open slope towards continental terrace. Over 500m lower is Vagan (1150m), beautiful rounded grassy basin, surrounded with beech forest. After 5mins you are at the foot of final ascent which lasts 10-15mins, 5h from Paklenica hut. On the summit fantastic view opens.