On the SW ridge of Matajur - the view towards the NW, on Kanin / Monte Canin On the SW ridge
Matajur is a very popular mountain. Not of a real cult size, but for Slovenian people who live south below it, and so across the border in the neighbouring Italy, it is a symbol of their identity. If a mountain road brings you to less than 1 h below the summit, that obviously means that "civilisation" already penetrated much into the mountaneous world. Two mountain huts on the southern side, an ex military mountain road almost to the top, bringing up paragliders, mountain bikers, skiers, etc.
But the ascent over the SW ridge presents you Matajur as it once was. Or, today there can be found even more solitude as some 100 years ago. Mountain pastures are abandoned, shepherds huts decayed, at best some are converted into weekend huts. And there's the path - a perfect example of an old, broad, paved shepherds path which for sure survived centuries and saw a hundred of generations moving up and down the mountain. It hasn't changed much. A chapel, some god signs along it, the same views in distance, only its purpose is different today.
So, if you wish to experience Matajur as it was in the past, ascend it by the SW ridge. You can return towards the south and then by the connection road to the trailhead, in order not to repeat the same path downwards. And if you find some time to see the old villages in the lower part of the mountain, that can make your day fairly complete.
San Lorenzo / Sv. Lovrenc A typical village below Matajur
The road on the mountain starts in Loch/Log, by Natisone/Nadiža river, 200 m. See the main page how to get there from Cividale/Čedad! Then you drive up towards Mersino/Marseli village, and through it till the highest village, named Ierep/Jereb, 850 m. On a big right turn the road is closed for public traffic (2012), so you park there. It is worth visiting there a small church of St. Lorenzo / Sv. Lovrenc, you reach it in a few minutes.
The route description does not need to be very detailed. You continue up by the road some 200 meters, then on the left, by a nice bench, you see the inscription for Monte Matajur. Also Via Alpina goes there. A nice path goes comfortably up. It is broad, paved with big stones, would be suitable even for a bike descent. First the path goes up through forrests. Then a god sign on the left announces the first houses, but of shepherds huts not much has remaind. You continue by meadows and again through woods, in some 20 minutes reaching a group of better preserved houses of Planina za Čelom / Malga Tazacel. From there on woods are lighter and the path goes in some broad turns across the slope. Especially in spring the meadows are very nice and flora abundant. Above a ridge step you comfortably reach Planina Tam za Tlakom / Malga Tazatlaco. There the views towards the NW open, the huts are broadly scattered by the whole grassy ridge. The higher alpine meadow, Planina Tu v Dolini / Malga Tudolin, is already a bit behind the ridge edge, so the path now leads us more towards the right (east). We ascend to "Dom na Matajure", a Slovenian mountain hut, 1537 m, and from it we reach the summit in another 15 minutes. Altogether 2 h, 800 m of altitude difference. The path is all the time easy, appropriate for everyone.
To return, we can use the same path, or we can descend towards the south. From above Rif. Pelizzo, 1300 m, we can still choose a path which crosses the slopes towards the SW ridge, if we descend all the way down to Montemaggiore/Matajur village, 955 m, we can use an almost horizontal connection road, which is closed for public traffic (1 h from one village to another).
Good shoes and poles.