*Five Mountains Trail*
The Bulgarian part of Е4 long distance path is perhaps the most beautiful hiking route in the country. It is also known as Five Mountains trail, because it traverses five mountains – Vitosha, Verila, Rila, Pirin and Slavyanka.
The track starts from Dragalevtsi Neighborhood – one of the districts of the Bulgarian capital Sofia that is just an hour away from Sofia International Airport – and ends 260 km later on the Bulgarian-Greek border on top of Mt. Gotsev Vrah (2213 m).
For most of the time it crosses protected areas – national and natural parks – with stunning alpine scenery and provides exquisite views of rugged peaks, narrow jagged ridges and emerald glacial lakes.
Perhaps the most recognizable feature of Five Mountains path is Koncheto (The Little Horse) – a knife-edge ridge in Pirin Mountain with almost vertical slopes on both sides at an elevation of over 2 800 m.
Dragalevtsi Neighborhood, Sofia (42°37’44.7″N 23°18’34.0″E)
Mt. Gotsev Vrah (2213 m) (41°22’37.4″N 23°37’14.3″E)
Which cities and towns does the E-path pass through
Around 260 km
Ground path of the E-path
- Dragalevtsi Neighborhood, Sofia – Mt. Cherni Vrah (Black Peak) – Smilyo Mountain Shelter – 6-7 hours;
- Smilyo Mountain Shelter – Village of Klisura – 8 hours;
- Village of Klisura – Lovna Hut – 6 hours;
- Lovna Hut – Mt. Malyovitsa – Malyovitsa Hut – 7-8 hours;
- Malyovitsa Hut – Strashnoto Ezero (Scary Lake) Mountain Shelter – Kobilino Branishte Mountain Shelter – Ribni Ezera (Fish Lakes) Hut – 9-10 hours
- Ribni Ezera (Fish Lakes) Hut – Macedonia Hut – 6-7 hours;
- Macedonia Hut – Predel Hut – 8-9 hours;
- Predel Hut – Yavorov Hut – 6 hours;
- Yavorov Hut – Koncheto (The Little Horse) Mountain Shelter – Mt. Vihren – Vihren Hut – 9-10 hours;
- Vihren Hut – Tevnoto Ezero (Dark Lake) Mountain Shelter – Pirin Hut – 10 hours;
- Pirin Hut – Popovi Livadi Hut – 9-10 hours;
- Popovi Livadi Hut – Slavyanka Hut – 6-7 hours;
- Slavyanka Hut – Mt. Gotsev Vrah – 6 hours.
The Bulgarian section of E4 route is well waymarked with standard red markings as well as signposts.
The exposed parts of the route have also winter markings – metal poles painted with black and yellow on which azimuth plates are mounted.
Traditionally, the Bulgarian part of E4 is covered by moderately trained tourists for 13 days with an average daily duration of the hikes from 6 to 12 hours at the end of which a hut or a shelter is reached. If desired, some of the stages can be further divided in order to make the walking less tiring.
Most of Five Mountains path does not require special technical training, but sometimes the route passes through technically complex sections and narrow ridges that are not recommended for hikers, suffering from acrophobia.
The ramblers must also bear in mind that often the altitude is over 2500 m and the weather changes are sudden, and fogs, strong winds and thunderstorms are common even during the summer months.
Numerous mountain huts and shelters are available for overnight stay in accordance with the recommended 13-day itinerary. The capacity of some of them is limited and in high season hikers should book well in advance in order to guarantee their stay. The use of tents is permitted only outside of the protected areas where strict restrictions are imposed.
Five Mountains trail passes through just two small villages and the possibility of buying groceries is quite limited. Most of the mountain huts and shelters along the path offer some cooked meals, but the variety is rarely diverse. Some of the ridge sections have no drinkable water source and it is important to stock up for the day.
For most of the Bulgarian part of E4 the path raverses mountain ridges, but at a few occasions it crosses the national road network and that can be used to organize additional supplies or to join or leave the track if you plan to walk it in sections.
Tourists need the usual personal equipment suitable for high mountains with possible low temperatures even during the summer season.
In winter Five Mountains trail is suitable for only experienced and well-trained hikers, equipped with all the necessary mountain gear like ski or snowshoes, crampons, ice axes, etc.