The attractiveness of the area lies in its diversity. The plateau itself would not be anything much special. Many rounded summits, rising out of it, are almost to their summits covered with woods, so only a few of them are attractive for hikers. Of course, forrests are also attractive for hiking and biking. There are many paths and mountain roads, on clearings there are forrest huts. Due to karstic terrain there are no surface waters on the plateau. Even on the southern part, which is grassy and would be appropriate for farming, water is a major problem. While in winters there are big amounts of snow, in summer the landscape can be very dry.
A few interesting spots to visit are on the northern part of the area: a panoramic summit or two, sinkholes, filled with ice, a mysterious karstic lake near Idria. But southern part is for hiking much more interesting. There the plateau drops abruptly down towards Vipavska dolina (valley). The whole edge is very panoramic, the summits above it are grassy, some rock formations are even appropriate for climbing. Erosion caused some strange formations in the rocks, the most beautiful are two natural windows. And below, where limestone hits flysh terrain, water comes out of mountains in some spectacular sources.
In the future, I believe on SummitPost there will be not many distinct pages of mountains, perhaps a few of crags for climbing. So, on this page I will briefly describe some spots, worth of visiting.
Borders of the Area
The Summits of Trnovski gozdIn the NE part of the plateau there are many rounded, forrested summits which are probably not very interesting for hiking. The exception is...
Špičasti vrh, 1128 m
This summit above Črni vrh offers open views on all sides. You can see forrests all around, on meadows villages and in the distance many higher mountains of the central Slovenia.
Ascent routes: A marked path crosses the summit in the north-south direction. From Zadlog village, 702 m, on the north, you have on hour on top, from Hrušica saddle (Cenc), 850 m, on the SE, you have a bit more due to the distance.
Veliki and Mali Golak, 1495 m, 1480 m
On some older maps the altitude situation is reversed, so you may find it that Mali (Small) Golak is the highest peak of Trnovski gozd, not Veliki (Big) Golak. As the name indicates its top is free of woods, so it offers a really broad panorama - from the Adriatic sea, over the hilly Central Slovenia, to the high and attractive Alps. Both peaks are also ascended with skis in winter. Depending on snow conditions, you can even have some downhill skiing, at least to one of the forrest roads. SW of the summit, on 1230 m, there is a mountain hut, opened in summer.
Ascent routes: One marked path goes in the NE-SW direction, from Hudo polje (bordering Vojsko), over the summit of Veliki Golak and further to the SW to the hut and southwards to the hut on Čaven. Doing all that route is a long-distance trek, but you can capture it closer to the summit on one of the forrest roads. If you drive from Predmeja village towards the NW (towards Lokve), you can leave the road on some 1000 m and again later on 1100 m, deterring right on the marked path. The other option to come directly on top is from Predmeja vollage - you leave the village in the northern part, capturing the marked path.
Poldanovec, 1299 m
This rock, rising out of the woods on the edge above Trebuša valley, would be nothing special if there was not such a great northern panorama from it. Other, higher summits in the neighbourhood are covered with woods and rarely visited, but Poldanovec is rocky, so a marked path reaches it. The slope above Trebuša is high, very steep and rugged. Approaches from that side would be hard, but through one or two ravines ascents do go, requiring easy climbing and very good orientation.
Ascent route: You start the tour in Lokve, a tourist village in the NW part of the area. By car you can follow a forrest road towards the east (inscription: Lazna), but just to the second crossroads (the first road goes right on top of ski slopes). There the main road continues in the N direction, you must take the forrest road right, towards the SE, which is closed for public traffic. Well, if the ramp is lifted, you may risk and continue driving, but that's your decision of taking chance. The road continues some 3 km, ascending only slightly. Reaching to Mojska draga (high valley) the road encircles the forrested valley. The marked path takes a cart road even before the crossroads, it goes N and soon descends on the road. You continue by the road till the end of the valley, where it turns right, soon afterwards the marked path deters left from the road, gains the main ridge above Trebuša, and goes by it right. The marked path encircles Poldanovec, because the easiest ascent goes from the south.
Kovk, 962 m
This is the first higher summit above the edge of Vipavska dolina, coming from Col on the east. The summit is grassy, there are mostly abandoned pastures around, the southern slopes are falling steeply down. Panorama is very fine.
Ascent routes: The so-called "Grebenska pot" (Ridge trail) is crossing the summit of Kovk. Depending on your intentions it is a good advice to leave bicycles somewhere above, preferably in Otlica village, and do the whole ridge tour in 3-4 hours. If you start below, the marked path deters left from the main road some 500 m west of Col (on 620 m), taking first a dull cart-road. Only after some 20 minutes the marked path leaves the cart-road and does the ascent by at firs forrested edge. In many turns you gain altitude and finally exit on the grassy, panoramis summit. Continuation is very nice. Over open grassy plateaus you go towards the W and then NW, all the time the path keeps at the edge of the plateau, offering great scenes and distant views. So you approach Sinji vrh, which you detour by the southern side.
Sinji vrh, 1002 m
This is one of the most popular panoramic points on Trnovski gozd. From the NW an asphalt road reaches just below its top, where a nice tourist pension is located. From there, it's only a few minutes on top.
Ascent routes: besides the road on top, the other option is the path which comes by the edge of the plateau from Kovk (see above). If you want to ascend also Sinji vrh, you can leave that path when you're S of the summit and get back on the edge by the marked path (and summit road) which comes on top from the SW. From south of Sinji vrh the "Grebenska" marked path continues towards the NW, all the time by the edge. It passes Otlica natural window and continues all the time to Predmeja village. So, you may also start the tour in Otlica village, visit the natural window, go towards the SE and E on Sinji vrh and return by the road.
Veliki Modrasovec, 1355 m
Čaven is the mountain area west of Predmeja village, so on the SW edge of Trnovski gozd. Even if we most often say only "on Čaven", there are several peaks, rising from the high plateau. The highest, again very panoramic, is Modrasovec. The southern slopes of these mountains are still steep and mostly rocky, above the main valley there are many nice villages with orchards and fine views around. For an easy tour, if you have an extra hour or two, it is worth visiting some of them. A nice place is the small church of Sv. Marija above Vitovlje, on some elevations the remains of prehistoric settlements were also found. You can see on the above map that there is a dense network of marked paths in the whole area of Čaven.
Ascent routes: We already mentioned the marked path which comes on Modrasoves from the north, from the hut below Golaki. But the majority of people reaches the summit from the south. There is a mountain hut on some 1250 m, which can be reached also by a forrest road from Predmeja. It's only some 20 minutes on top from the hut.
Kucelj, 1237 m
This grassy and panoramic summit is nice to be ascended also from the south, from above Vrtovin village. From there we can do a round tour, using marked paths coming up from the villages. The second option is again a hike which goes all the time high, crossing by the edge of the plateau in the E-W direction.
Ascent routes: From the mountain hut on Čaven we have only some 30 minutes of walk towards the west. From Kucelj we can continue westwards. From above Vrtovin (some 350 m) we have up to 3 hors of walk on top. The path is easy and well marked, but can be hot in summer.
Other Interesting Places to Visit
Just south of Idrija, the waters of Trnovski gozd come out with a source of Vaucluse type. See more information on SP on the page of Divje jezero
Klavže on Bela river
If you continue from Divje jezero towards the W, following Idrijca river, and then deter left and follow its tribute Bela, you will see on many places interesting dams on the river. They are nowadays protected as a natural technical monument. Once they were used to hold water and then release it at once, using its stream to bring big amounts of logs down in the main valley. The most known are Belške klavže and Putrihove klavže. They can be reached by car, just stop by inscription plates which explain the story.
On Trnovski gozd there are many caves and sinkholes in which ice never melts. These sources were in the distant past (before we invented refrigirators) even used commercially. Big blocks of ice were cut on those high mountains and transported to Trieste port and further - they say even to Egypt and around. One of those sinkholes can be visited by a secured path. Paradana can be almost reached by car. From the road Predmeja - Lokve we deter right on Mala Lazna meadow (inscription). The forrest road goes in the NE direction and we soon reach north of the sinkhole. The inscription on the parking place says: "Velika ledena jama v Paradani" - The big ice cave in Paradana. In a few minutes we are by the cave, take care when descending into it (good shoes are needed)!
Otlica natural window
This is the eastern of two famous natural windows in the limestone walls above Vipavska dolina. "Votel" means in Slovenian "Hollow". The window is some 12 meters high and 7 meters wide and is quite deep below the ridge. From the northern side, the slope leading into the window is forrested, so we have an interesting view through the mountain down in villages near Ajdovščina.
Ascent route: You best reach Otlica natural window from Otlica village, north of it. You best park by the cemetary and continue by a marked path towards the south. Some 20 minutes of walk to there. Otherwise the window can be also ascended from the south, from the main valley above Ajdovščina (near the source of Hubelj). The altitude of the trailhead is 240 m, the window is on the altitude of some 760 m.
Skozno natural bridge
On the far western side of the group, below Trnovo village, there's a place in the main ridge above Vipavska dolina where the walls collapsed and a beautiful natural arch was formed. The name "Skozno" means in Slovenian "Through". There is a fine view from top of the bridge, the whole scenery is great.
Ascent route: It is best to ascend Skozno natural bridge from the south, from Šmihel village above Ozeljan or from Vitovlje, more to the east. The path is not marked, but winds up comfortably and there are inscriptions on main crossroads. Around 1 h to the arch (from Vitovlje 2 h). The second option is to approach the edge by mountain roads from Trnovo village (from the north).
When driving by the lower Vipavska dolina (valley), you will certainly notice a huge funnel-like wall formation. Indeed the word "lijak" means in Slovenian "funnel". You can think than from its bottom a strong water source must come out, but that's only rarely a case. Only after really heavy rain out of the slopes on the bottom of funnel big quantities of water emerge from Trnovski gozd interior. At that time the place is worth visiting. You can reach the place from the main road W of Ozeljan, the ascent path goes by the western side of the stream.
Lijak climbing area
In the walls of Lijak there are many crags, appropriate for sport climbing. Their difficulty varies from 4b to 7b.
The overviev (in Slovenian) is on this page: http://www.plezanje.net/climbing/db/showCrag.asp?crag=597
A similar, but more constant source of water is above Ajdovščina. North of the town, water masses abruptly come out of the slope, the scene is again especially worth visiting after heavy rain when you can admire several waterfalls. Otherwise the source of Hubelj supplies Ajdovščina with water.
Getting ThereThe area of Trnovski gozd can best be reached by the highway through Vipavska dolina. From Ajdovščina two good roads go up on the plateau. The eastern one goes around the massif and mountain roads deterring from it can offer east approaches. Towards the north goes a good road to Predmeja village, already on the plateau. From Predmeja you can drive either along the edge of the massif, or towards the NW to Lokve. The western part can be accessed from Gorica, driving up towards Trnovo and Čepovan. Along the northern border of the massif the roads through Idrijca and Trebuša valleys go.
A useful source can be the map of the area on Geopedia. To see the layer of marked paths, click on the left: INFO --> Pohodništvo (means: hiking).