Themed hiking trails
The Trail to the Water – The Source of the River Ribnica
The Trail to the Water is a themed trail that leads across undemanding terrain and is thus suitable for all hikers, including the youngest. On the circular trail, which takes just over an hour to walk, you will get to see some wonderful meadows and thick mixed forests, listen to the birds’ singing and learn all sorts of historical facts.
In the previous century, the source of the Ribnica was the site of a fish farm and a dam, whose remains are still visible. Until World War II, the Rudež family, an important and long-established local family that owns large areas of woodland, had a mill and sawmill here.
The river Ribnica is a typical karst exsurgence, which rises from the three springs between the foothills of Velika Gora and the northern part of Bukovica. It winds its way across swampy grassland-covered plains, before finally disappearing into the caves at the Chapel of St. Margaret on Dolenjevaško polje (Dolenja vas field). Underground, part of its waters flows into the river Rinža near Kočevje, and the other part into the river Krka. The riparian areas, which are home to numerous plant organisms inhabited by many animal species, boast wild swampy nature that is almost impossible to find anywhere else. The karst spring is characterised by shades of turquoise that have a beneficial effect on the body and mind. Due to its one-of-a-kind features, this area is part of Natura 2000, an EU network of nature protection areas.
A walk to the source of the river Ribnica is suitable for all age groups, including children under the age of two. The only section where you should pay a bit more attention is when crossing the footbridge. The entire trip is doable with a baby stroller. The path is flat with a macadam surface and no hiking equipment is needed. There are some tables and benches by the source, where you can have a bit of a rest and enjoy some refreshments.
The Trail to the Tobacco Pear Tree
Have you ever heard of smugglers? How about tobacco smugglers? Legend has it that back in the 19th century a popular spot for the local smugglers to exchange their goods and thus earn a bit extra money was at a pear tree that you’ll get to see when you follow this trail. On the way, you will experience the magnificent nature and woodlands of Mala gora on the eastern part of the Ribnica Valley. You will get to enjoy peace and tranquillity, and admire the mighty beech trees, which provide shelter from the scorching sun during the summer months.
The Trail to the Tobacco Pear Tree is part of the path that runs from the village of Dolenji Lazi towards the Church of St. Ana. The starting point is at a large parking lot at the Dolenj Lazi Fire Station, where you can leave your car, before continuing on foot along a marked route. The macadam path is a low difficulty level and no hiking equipment is required. The trail is suitable for both young and older hikers who would like to fill their lungs with some fresh air.
If you need to rest for a bit there is a bench in the shady shelter of the mighty pear tree. You can combine the themed trail with the Ribnica Nature Trail, as part of which you can also visit the Cavers’ House (Jamarski dom) at the Francetova jama cave, which is considered the first cavers’ house in the former Yugoslavia. If you feel like a longer hike, you can continue all the way to the Church of St. Ana (964 m), which was built in the 16th century.
The Fiery Trail – The Trail to Grmada
Grmada nad Ortnekom is an 887-metre-high hill that rises above the village of Vrh pri Poljanah in the Mala gora hill range. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Grmada was an important strategic defence point against the infamous Ottomans, who plundered the area of Ribnica at the time. The arrival of the hated Ottomans was signalled by cannon shots and beacon fires, warning the local people and urging them to hide in churches, castles or encampments. Beacon fires were lit at the top of mountains in a previously agreed order, thus creating the so-called ‘fire phone’, which the hiking trail was named after.
The starting point of the trail is at the asphalted parking lot by the cemetery at the Church of St. Thomas, one of the oldest and most important churches of the former Ribnica Parish. It was built by Count Otto of Ortenburg in the mid-14th century. A road marked with signposts leads to the starting point. Pay attention to a white sign board with a cemetery symbol that reads ‘pokopališče’ (cemetery). From the parking lot, walk back along the same path until you reach the first wooden signpost that reads Grmada and then along the waymarked hiking trail.
The seven-kilometre-long, low-difficulty-level circular trail with an asphalt and macadam surface is a perfect choice for longer family walks. At the top of Grmada, there is a mountain hut, which is open at the weekends. In fine weather, the viewpoint at the hut offers wonderful views of Snežnik, the Julian Alps, the Karavanke and the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. This is also a perfect spot to enjoy a well-deserved snack and a refreshing drink.
The Žlebič Trail Leading to the Ortnek Old Castle
The Ortnek Castle, also called the Old Castle, which was built in the early 14th century, stands on the Veliki Žrnovec hill (765 m) near the village of Hudi Konec to the north of Ribnica. It is believed to have been named after its first owners – the Counts of Ortenburg. Owing to its location, it is considered the best-known high-altitude castle. During its long and turbulent history, it has been owned by a number of different owners, the last and current owner being the Kosler family. Near the once-mighty castle are the ruins of the Church of St. George, whose sudden demise occurred after World War II, when it was plundered by vandals who took away large amounts of equipment, coats of arms and paintings.
Today, however, the only things still standing are the castle and church ruins, a testament to their fascinating history. Only certain parts of the castle church equipment have been preserved and are now stored at several locations in the Dolenjska region. The main altar of the Church of St. George is on view at the National Gallery of Slovenia in Ljubljana.
Hiking along this highly interesting and educational trail you will learn a number of interesting historical facts. You need to follow the yellow-red or yellow markings on the boards and trees. There are two information boards next to the former castle and church buildings with all sorts of useful information.
The trail was marked in 2016 by Mirjam Trdan, president of the Lions Club Ribnica.
The Petrified Wedding Guests – The Wedding Party Trail
According to the local lore, Bele Stene (1129 m), massive layers of limestone protruding from the forests of Velika gora above the village of Dolenja vas, are called Petrified Wedding Guests. One of the local legends is about the bride who was so haughty, she insulted the sun. Enraged by her behaviour, the sun summoned some dark clouds and thunder, turning the entire wedding party to stone.
Velika gora is a mountain range of medium height, consisting of limestone and dolomite. The southern, limestone side, where the slopes are very steep and high, has a mostly highland climate with low temperatures and large amounts of rain and snow. The highest peak of Velika gora is Turn (1254 m), which boasts views of Mt Triglav (2864 m) – the highest peak of the Julian Alps and Slovenia’s highest mountain – in clear weather.
With its length of 6.8 km and a starting point in the village of Rakitnica, the hiking trail, which runs almost entirely along the waymarked Ribnica Mountain Trail, is a low difficulty level, however, hiking equipment is recommended.
*** A suggested extended route for hikers with a higher level of fitness: continue along the Ribnica Mountain Trail to Turn, Korita, Jelenov Žleb, Glažuta, Korita and back to Rakitnica. Due to its length (an additional 17.6 km), this is quite a demanding hiking route and good hiking equipment is recommended. The highest point on the hiking trail is the Turn peak, from where you can enjoy fine views of Snežnik and the woodlands of the Notranjska region, and in fine and clear weather, also views of the Julian Alps and the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. An important historical point along this trail is the abandoned settlement of Jelenov Žleb, where a World War II battle took place between a battalion of the Italian Macerata Infantry Division and two brigades of the Partisans (the National Liberation Army). The Jelenov Žleb battle is one of Slovenian partisans’ most successful national liberation war battles. If you walk along this trail, you will also pass the Glažuta, where Prince Karl of Auersperg had a glassworks – with the first steam boiler in the historical region of Carniola – built in 1835, and later also a steam-powered sawmill. Remains of both buildings are still visible. Along the way, you will also see the Wayside Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is a replica of a former chapel built in 1926 by Countess Auersperg.
The Ribnica Nature Trail
The hike from Ribnica to the Stene svete Ane peak past the Cavers’ House (Jamarski dom) near Francetova jama cave and the Seljan farm boasts stunning views of the entire Ribnica Valley, Struge Valley and Suha Krajina, as well as the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. The well-waymarked trail, which leads across undemanding terrain, is perfectly suitable for a family trip.
The Mala gora hill stretches in the northwest-southeast direction. The highest peaks are Stene svete Ane (964 m) and Črni vrh (961 m). At the site of the Church of St. Ana, the remains of a fortified Iron Age fort with a triple rampart are still visible today. During the time of the Ottoman incursions (in the 15th and 16th centuries), this was the location of one of the beacon fires that made up the so-called ‘fire telephone’, a network of fires to warn the wider area against invading pillagers. The Church of St. Ana overlooking the valley is visible from afar. Since the 16th century, the church has been a popular destination for pilgrims who come here for some solace in times of distress and prayers of intercession, and in recent decades, also an increasingly popular hiking destination.
Along the trail, there are a number of tips and explanations encouraging hikers to think about their surroundings and watch it closely. Walking the trail is a perfect opportunity to take some time off from the daily grind and see a different side of the forest. Nature never lacks diversity and offers something new every single day. Today you can listen to the sounds of animals, tomorrow you can watch the leaves change colours with the season, on days with fine weather you can head to the viewpoint, and another time you can forage for herbs or wild berries.
The Dragon’s Trail – The Chapel of St. Margaret
The Chapel of St. Margaret in the middle of Dolenjevaško polje (the Dolenja vas field) stands in a slightly elevated spot. The present-day chapel, built in 1828, is the presbytery of a former church. It is not known when and why the nave was demolished. The chapel ceiling features a fresco of the Holy Spirit and a picture of St. Margaret, the patroness of diligent people. According to oral lore, the Dolenja vas cemetery used to be located here, there are, however, no written sources to confirm this.
Legend has it that the way out from a mighty dragon’s cave used to be located at the site of today’s chapel. To drive the dragon away for good, the local people decide to fill up the cave with rocks and stones. The dragon stormed around the underground in fury, making the ground and Velika gora shake. As a result, the cave walls collapsed, burying the dragon underneath, and the people were free.
For the easy circular hiking trail with a starting point at a large asphalted parking lot right next to the Prigorica cemetery, you need low-cut hiking boots. Part of the trail leads on asphalted roads and part of it on macadam country road and forest paths. A section of the trail follows the Ribnica Mountain Trail – marked red on the map, and with red-white markers along the trail itself.
Hiking Trails /Ribnica Valley and the Surrounding Area
Visit the most beautiful corners and green pearls of Ribnica and relax in nature.
You have likely come to know Ribnica for its craftsmanship , woodenware and pottery but now you have the opportunity to experience the picturesque local countryside and nature.