This is very important section of VPP (Velebit Long Distance Trail) for anyone who wishes to connect two highest peaks of Velebit during same trip. Section is quite long (4h) and has lot of ups and down. Path moves on open terrain, well above forest line. First 2/3 of the route path is traversing steep grassy slopes or is going through very dense dwarf pine colonies, above huge funnel shaped holes which lie between seaboard and continental streaks of peaks. Because of this views are quite restricted on this section, towards sea completely while towards Lika (continent) partially. On the other hand last third is very panoramic with beautiful views towards the sea while Lika is not visible at all. At Cicina Dolina, where last third of the route begins, VPP is joined by Mala & Velika Paklenica routes towards Sveto Brdo.
Vaganski Vrh – Cicina Dolina: 2h
From the summit of Vaganski Vrh path descends steeply over the grassy slopes, 10mins till the junction where from right approaches Lipa Staza route from Velika Paklenica valley and Paklenica hut. In the case of bad weather this is possible retreat towards the valley.
From the junction path continues to descent for the next 5mins till you reach foot of Vaganski Vrh. Next section is relatively flat as path winds along the edge of deep and large funnel shaped basin, which is overgrown by dense colonies of dwarf pine to the right. Above it is Brundo (1714m) while on the right is Golic (1723m), first neighbor of Vaganski Vrh. Soon path reaches pass between Brundo on the right and Segestin (1715m) on the left. Now it traverses steep slopes below Brundo and above funnel shaped basin to the left. Further in front is massive cone of Malovan (1709m).
10mins from the pass is next junction where path leads steeply right through the dwarf pine towards Liburnija (1710m) and further towards Velika Paklenica valley (Paklenica hut – Liburnija – Vaganski Vrh route).
In another 10-15mins path traverses slopes above next basin which is deeper and larger than previous one. At the bottom are ruins of Zapadni Malovanski Stanovi or western Malovan houses which where small rocky shepherds houses used during the summer when people used to drive their cattle from the shore to highest peaks of Velebit. Once around the basin you are at the foot of Malovan (1709m), 1.15h from Vaganski Vrh.
Malovan is useful peak to climb because of very nice view towards the Bunovac (1185m) valley which lies on the continental terrace, over 500m lower. Behind are vast spaces of Lika region. To the summit is some 15-20mins of steep ascent over rocky and grassy terrain. Also here, at the spot where you reach the foot of Malovan, used to be Malovansko Jezero lake. It was actually a larger pond but unfortunately it dried lately.
Behind the former lake path traverses steep grassy slope of Malovan while on the right is deep and large Janjcara funnel shaped basin. In 5mins path reaches eastern slope of Malovan where are ruins of Istocni Malovanski Stanovi and periodical pond. These were the highest houses (1600m) on Velebit used by shepherd during summer but that kind of semi nomad cattle driving from coast died after WW II.
In next 5mins path reaches inner or northern slopes of seaboard streak of peaks and gradually ascends while traversing them. On spots path is cut through dense dwarf pine colonies and in 30mins you reach a pass over which path crosses to seaboard slope of Velebit. At this spot breathtaking view literally explodes.
During next 10mins path traverses steep scree slopes of Bili Vrh (1657m), called Zala Ploca, while deep below is upper Velika Paklenica valley. On the other side of scree path enters grassy Cicina Dolina basin where is few minutes of gradual descent to the junction, 2h from Vaganski Vrh.
Cicina Dolina – Sveto Brdo: 2h
Cicina Dolina is important junction of paths on the ridge of Velebit. On the left, over Bunovacka Vrata pass (1620m), path descends towards Bunovac valley and further to Lika region. Sign by the path says that it is closed because of possible land mines planted during early 90’s independence war. From the right our path is joined by Velika Paklenica route which was further down (2h from here), below Ivine Vodice refuge (1h from here), joined by Mala Paklenica route towards Sveto Brdo.
Behind the junction path traverses grassy slopes, going around the small cove on the slope. Behind the cove it gradually turns left and descents to the bottom of Ledena Draga valley which descents from the peaks on the left. From the bottom is short steep ascent out of it and further path traverses grassy slopes of nameless peak (1710m). 45mins from the junction you are on the small pass between nameless peak and Obla Glava (1557m) on the right. Along this section views are fantastic towards the sea. Those that wish to climb Sveto Brdo via Babin Vrh should turn left here and climb steep slopes to the summit of nameless peak and further to Babin Vrh. If you are returning from Sveto Brdo via Babin Vrh you’ll descent here.
In next 10-15mins you’ll reach a junction where this route is joined by Modric route which ascends from the coast to Sveto Brdo via Vlaski Grad refuge, 3h from Vaganski Vrh.
During next 20mins path is traversing grassy slopes of Sijaset (1558m) and large Doci basin till it reaches the bottom of Sveto Brdo. On the left is Babin Vrh (1744m) while in front is massive Sveto Brdo.
From here to the top ascent is steep with 300m of vertical gain. After some 20-30mins from bottom of climb you reach a pass and northern view towards Lika explodes. 15mins more and you are on top, enjoying one of most beautiful views in Croatia, 4h from Vaganski Vrh.