Exploring the natural beauty near Plovdiv

Three hiking trails within 30 km

Written and photos by our media partner Highstreet.bg

Walking is the most natural human motion and if city strolls feel a bit short, you might be in need of some fresh air on a countryside trip.

Plovdiv is the perfect starting point for mountain walks in the Rhodope mountains. Here I want to share 3 hiking trails within 30 km of Plovdiv. They are very convenient destinations for day trips and are suitable for beginners as well as more advanced hikers who want to do a quick workout and keep fit.

1. Hrabrino – Academic Hut
Location – 15 km from Plovdiv

Hrabrino is quite a popular village with citizens of Plovdiv. Only 15 km away, but nestled among the beautiful hillsides of the Rhodope mountains. It is a starting point for short and long hikes in the mountain. Academic Hut is also a famous destination as it is accessible by a 4 km road from the village, by all kinds of vehicles. The route begins right at the end of the village, where on the righthand side there is a detour and a gravel road. After a couple of minutes drive, you arrive at an old Roman bridge where you should park your car. Cross the bridge and follow the road (which gets better soon). In about 1.5 km on the left-hand side is the detour for two walking trails, both marked and clear, both taking you to the hut.

The trail starting to your right side follows a steady ascent through the forest and takes up to 2 hours. The trail splitting to the left-hand side is fairly even in the first hour while running along the steep canyon above the Parvenetska river. Then just when the trail gradually approaches the river shores you reach an area with quite a few big fallen trees, before you cross over them turn your head to the right and you will see a trail leading towards a pretty steep slope. This is where you have to decide whether you want to accept the challenge of a tougher climb towards the hut, or you want to take a break by the river before heading back towards the Roman bridge.

I recommend these hikes because they are accessible for beginners and advanced hikers, and are suitable for walks in all four seasons. The restaurant at the hut is open all year round, so if you are hungry or thirsty they will look after you.

Above - View from Academic Hut Below - Ustinski Waterfall

2. Ustina – Ustinski Waterfall

Location – 25 km from Plovdiv

Ustina is famous for the Villa Yustina Winery. If the reason for your visit here is wine, bear in mind that there is also a beautiful waterfall nearby, again named after the village – Ustinski. The trail starts at the central square, look for a huge tree and turn left (I always ask locals for directions). 

The route is marked, with a fairly easy degree of ascent and it only takes 30 minutes to get to the waterfall. If that is only a warm-up for you and you are not ready to go back home, there is more: another 5 minutes along the stairs on the left and you reach St. George Chapel and a beautiful view of the village. Then again look to your right and you’ll see cliffs that offer a challenging ascent towards the big cross above the Chapel and an even more magnificent view.

3. Boykovo – Dedevo – Boykovo 10km

Location – 27 km from Plovdiv

It is not a coincidence that Boykovo has a huge holiday villa area – the altitude of the village is 1105 m, and the nature surrounding it is stunning. In under an hour’s drive from Plovdiv, you arrive in centuries-old pine woods where the air is extremely clean. There are plenty of options for hikes from here, but I want to suggest a 10km walk from Boykovo to Dedevo and back. 

The path begins at the end of the villa area (always ask locals for directions, they love chatting to tourists, and it is always smart to double-check). The trail is actually a dirt road that curls along the gorgeous ancient forest between Boykovo and Dedevo. We did the hike at the end of October and were blessed with beautiful Autumn shades of the abundant flora, while the sunlight at this time of the year is very crisp and pretty.

NOTE: A piece of advice from personal experience – October is game hunting season and I recommend you keep that in mind when planning your trips in the Rhodope Mountains. On the day we did this hike there were hunters working in the nearby gorge, all of a sudden a deer being chased by a hound ran right past us. Since our cocker spaniel dog Milla is always part of our hiking group, she quickly switched on her hunting drive and dashed off after them. She is not trained to hunt so after assessing the situation she quickly returned and we swiftly moved on.

Open Sofia and Highstreet Magazine partner up to support creative expression, local talent, and knowledge to the people. All in support of our communities. Originally published on Highstreet.bg.

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