The mountain cannot be extremely big and high to be a nice place to visit. One of those places in North Croatia is Kalnik Mountain. It rises on the boundary between three central Croatian regions; Zagorje, Prigorje and Podravina, as imposing, 16 km-long and approximately 400-500 m high wall.
It has two parallel ridges - the northern one is forest-covered, while the southern one has a number of limestane rocks. Its tallest peak – Vranilac (643 m) is the only limestone peak in Northern Croatia.
Throughout history the mountain was a barrier, and has played a significant role in holding back the successive invasions of Tatars, Avars and Turks. It is rather curious that its watershed is not the southern ridge with the tallest peaks, but rather the northern one. A number of streams rising on the northern side of the main ridge make their way to the south through the area which required most effort, carving their beds across the ridge of Kalnik and expanded the Sava basin at the account of the Drava. It is quite fascinating how many different and interesting features are to be found in this relatively small and narrow area: two ancient ruins of imposing size; the Little Kalnik botanical reserve (429 m); the Vranilac peak (643 m); a training route; an Alpine climbing site on the rocks of Kalnik.
the capital of Croatia via Gornja Rijeka to Vukovec. The distance is 80 km (app. 1.5 hours ). GORNJA RIJEKA
is located in the foothills of the southern slope of Mali Kalnik (Little Kalnik). The settlement is known for the picturesque castle of the Erdödy.
From Gornja Rijeka we can choose several routes. Little Kalnik route - f we start from Gornja Rijeka our route will first take us between the local inn and the parish office, following the markings through the village of Deklesanec to a large meadow at the foot of Littlekalnik, from where a sharp ascent leads along its ridge to the site of the castle From Vukovec to Little Kalnik.
If, on the other hand, we start from the village of Vukovec, we will first turn north for 2 km, down the road to the village of Vojnovec where, some 50 m from the local inn, a marked track bears left. After following this track for 150 m we turn right off it, through a corn field, onto another track, climbing along it for a further 20 minutes until we suddenly come out onto a wide road. Our route crosses this road, leads through brushwood until it arrives at a meadow with a path leading through it and which shortly enters the forest once again, beneath the rocks of LittleKalnik. Having reached the ridge of LittleKalnik, a 5-minute hike along it brings us to the peak. LITTLE KALNIK (MALI KALNIK) - 429 m.
Its specific location has made it a sanctuary for many rare and protected plants, which is why it was granted the status of a protected botanical reserve. The peak, known also as Pusta Barbara after the homonymous plant that grows there, is rock-bound. On its barren slope stand the remains of Pusti Grad (Lonely Town), once upon a time a small burgh with a semi-circular ground-plan. Despite its somewhat insignificant height, LittleKalnik and its steep rocky slopes make it a truly beautiful location.
From Vukovec direct to VELIKI KALNIK (BIG KALNIK) – 643 m
If we do not wish to go to LittleKalnik, we would do better to start out from Vukovec, from where there are two routes to Big Kalnik: one join the training route and the other leading to Big Kalnik, through Ilica - a small ethno-park comprising a long row of vineyard huts and lovingly tended vineyards. From LittleKalnik down the training route to the mountain lodge. This route leads across LittleKalnik, downhill and eastwards. After 30 minutes we come to the training route which circles around the highest peak of LittleKalnik, and along its length 10 tablets draw one's attention to specific features and providing information about them. One can opt for either its northern or its southern side, both of which will take us to the Mountain lodge after about 1 h of leisurely walk. The training route on Kalnik is circular in form, 5 km long and can be covered in 2-3 h of undemanding walking. The route begins at the Kalnik castle ruins, runs along the northern side of the Kalnik ridge, skirts around it and returns to the lodge along its southern side. The starting point of the route is marked by a fairly large sign post.
THE MOUNTAIN LODGE AT KALNIK
(480 m) stands between Vranilac Peak and the ruins of Big Kalnik, on the edge of wide meadows next to Kraljevo vrelo (King's Well). The lodge comprises two large dining rooms and a kitchen on the ground floor, and 11 bedrooms on the first floor. The lodge is permanently open (it also has a restaurant and an inn), and has electricity, water, TV and a telephone booth. It is reached via the road leading through the village of Kalnik (ascent up to 18%).
ASCENT TO BIG KALNIK RUINS
– 5 minutes.
The vicinity of the lodge offers a number of opportunities, the most attractive being the ascent to the Big Kalnik ruins. BIG KALNIK (first mentioned in the 13th century) once consisted of three parts, each of which was built in a different historical period. The rock upon which this old burg perched is well known far and wide as an Alpine training ground (it offers about 20 routes). The ascent to the ruins is possible only from the southern side, starting from the Podgraden meadow, via a stone stairway leading right through the remains of ancient walls.
ASCENT TO VRANILAC PEAK
(643 m) – 20 minutes.
The other interesting option is the 20-minute ascent along the rocky ridge of the mountain to Vranilac, its highest peak. The route leading to the peak on the northern side is Alpine in character, while from the south an asphalt road leads directly to the peak. VRANILAC is the highest peak in the whole of Kalnik, and its broken, boulder shape is clearly visible from Prigorje region. The peak is marked by a geodetic post from which one can enjoy a lovely view of both Prigorje and Zagorje. Beneath the peak is a TV tower, and from the peak, extending in a north-easterly direction is a string of pointed rocks, popularly known as "the seven teeth".
(620 m) - 40 minutes.
The route turns north, behind the lodge and to Varazdinske Toplice (Varazdin Spas) - Novi Marof crossing (10 minutes); there, it veers right and uphill through the forest to a plateau known as Bravcev vrh. Here, at another branch point, the route bears left, reaching the peak after 10 minutes. PECA is a peak in the mountain spur which branches off northwards from the Kalnik ridge and which is characterized by open meadows, from where there is a beautiful view taking in Ivanscica and Ljubelj. In contrast toVranilec, there is no outstanding rock on Peca, not even a prominent peak. Its beauty lies in its rich world of flowers - totally opposite to the nature of limestone-built Vranilac.
- 1.30 hours
From the lodge we turn north towards Novi Marof, through the Prezid Pass beneath the ruins and where, immediately behind it, we turn right along the forested northern slope of the Kalnik ridge. The route then descends to and crosses a log-bridge spanning a stream, leading to Vratno Hunters' Lodge. VRATNO is a picturesque narrow passage in the eastern part of Kalnik and was created by the Kamesnica stream by widening its source from the southern to the eastern side of the Kalnik ridge, all the way to Kozji hrbat (Goat's Back). Not far from here is Skrinja (Coffer) Peak which, as well as the existence of three caves nearby, provides lovely views Through Prigorje to Krizevci.
CIRCULAR ROUTE AROUND MOUNTAIN
– 2 hours
That trail is long around 5 km (app 2 hours of walking). It starts from the Old town, surrounding the highest reef and ends at the mountain house.
All around the highest peak and Stari Grad (Old Town)
are many rocks reaching up to 40 m in height. To date, 30 such routes have been created, mostly around Stari Grad and on Pomper's Rock. Since 1991 the Kalnik Rocks have gained in popularity among sports climbers from all over Croatia, because here they are able to find routes of varying degrees of difficulty - from the very easy to the truly demanding. The list of diffrent free climbing routes by Gurman can be found here
External LinksParagliding club Fenix - Kalnik
Climbing guide in North Croatia
Red tape /Camping
No fees. You can camp anywhere.