Starigrad Paklenica - Velika Paklenica - Sveto Brdo: 7.30 or 8.30h
Velika Paklenica is larger of two Paklenica canyons (velika = big, huge). It has a letter "T" shape. Upper valley is parallel with the Velebit's main ridge, which is falling steeply in valley, firstly with cliffs and scree and rubble, than is forested slope, with total altitude difference of more than 1200m. Lower valley is perpendicular on upper valley. It is cutting through the Velebit's massif towards the sea, ending with spectacular, 400m deep canyon, which is famous destination for alpinists. Here they find endless numbers of various courses, from novice to expert toughness. Through Velika Paklenica runs Velika Paklenica creek, the only constant water flow on Velebit. Through the canyon it is thundering down in many cascades and small waterfalls making thundering noise. This part runs dry from June to September.
Starigrad Paklenica - Paklenica hut: 1.30h or 2.30h
This is very beautiful section of Sveto Brdo ascent that will first take you through wild and impressive canyon and later through gentle forested valley of Velika Paklenica to Paklenica hut. Marks begin at Starigrad Paklenica but most people begin from parking in the canyon.
In the Starigrad Paklenica town turn towards Velika Paklenica some 200m from or before gas station. Road goes 1 km between several camps till the entrance gate at the beginning of the canyon.
From here it is 2 km more to the parking place in the heart of the canyon. If this parking if full rangers will tell you to leave car at the entrance gate. In such situation National park minibus will take you to the parking inside the canyon for free. If you go on foot from Starigrad Paklenica you'll need almost 1h to get there. This is also very nice section where sides of the canyon constantly rise.
From parking everyone continues on foot. Wide path leads through the most beautiful part of canyon. Wild cliffs are rising hundreds of meters above the bottom, some are overhanging and make you dizzy when you look up. After 10mins path reaches the foot of main ascent in the canyon which is surmounted in many bends by wide build path, crossing the creek 2 times with bridges. Ascent lasts 15-20mins, and ends at the foot of mighty, 400m high, NW face of Anica Kuk (712m). If you have a good eye you might notice climbers in the face. From here they are only tiny colorful dots. Here you can refresh yourself with water that is running out of pipe.
Canyon here suddenly turns into calm and quite wide valley at whose bottom are meadows of Anica Luka (250m). Path continues through green tunnels of hornbeams, by the gurgling creek. After 10mins you’ll reach junction towards Mala Paklenica. Few minutes behind is another junction where signs point left towards Manita Pecina cave, 40mins from parking.
Behind path very gradually ascends that it seams almost flat. On this part of the route there are few beautiful pools in the Paklenica creek, which is just by the path, where you can refresh yourself in crystal clear water. Later you pass another drinking point. 30mins behind Manita Pec junction you reach another junction where signs point left towards Veliko Rujno via Njivarska Strana. Soon behind path crosses on the right side of the creek and reaches bridge where on the left shore stands forester’s house (5mins from last junction). Next 10mins before reaching last ascent are flat with beautiful views towards high part of Velebit in front. Ascent lasts 5mins and takes you on top of gorge from where is beautiful view towards Rapavac (1617m) and Crljeni Kuk (1661m) while below creek murmurs nicely. Last 10mins till the hut are flat and lead through beautiful beech forest. Before the hut you cross to the left shore over double bridge.
Paklenica hut - Ivine Vodice refuge: 2.45h
From here go back over the bridge and left following "Ivine Vodice" direction. The path gradually climbs 2 hours till the Martinovo Mirilo pass (914m), all the time through beautiful beech forest with some maple and pines. First part goes near the creek and later higher above it. Through the trees all the time you can see main ridge of Velebit, high above. Martinovo Mirilo is important point, from right Mala Paklenica route joins.
Path now turns left, straight towards Velebit's ridge, climbing steeply, in sharp bends. In 45 mins you reach Ivine Vodice refuge (1200m).
Refuge is settled on the edge of small meadow, surrounded from all sides with beech forest but south side, on which is rocky Badalj peak. It is possible to stay here but refuge is not in great shape. From here there is path to Vlaski Grad refuge, 1 hour from here, which lies on Modric route. From hut in Paklenica it is 2.45h till here.
Ivine Vodice refuge - Sveto Brdo: 3.15h
Behind the refuge climb doesn't let down. For the next 30-40 mins it climbs steeply, in sharp bends, and suddenly you are above forest line on grassy slopes. View literally explodes towards the sea and both Paklenica valleys and on Sveto Brdo. 20-30 mins more of steep climbing till the Cicina Dolina, where is important junction of paths where we join VPP (Velebit Long Distance Trail).
Altitude is 1520m. Towards left is to Vaganski Vrh (1757m), highest peak of Velebit (2h). Straight forward, 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.
In mere 5 mins towards Vaganski Vrh you get to spectacular view point, where deep below is Paklenica valley (almost 1000m of altitude difference) and further in the back is sea.
At Cicina Dolina junction we turn right. 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, 2h from Cicina Dolina.