Lakatnik Rocks is a stone phenomenon in Bulgaria, not far from the capital Sofia. The view from the top of Lakatniк Rocks towards the Iskar Gorge will take your breath away. You can get there by a relatively easy eco-path. The place is a fantastic idea for a day trip from Sofia. The natural beauty and picturesque landscapes of the place can make you an Instagram star at least for a while.
In this article, I’ll tell you how to reach the spot with that unmissable view. You can get there via a very pleasant hiking trail. It starts from the Zhitolyub karst spring, which is one of the largest karst springs in Bulgaria, and ends to the Septemvriytsi monument above the rocks. Well, this is the panoramic site.
About the Lakatnik Rocks
If you have traveled by train through the Iskar Gorge, you have seen for sure from afar the small alpine house perched on the edge of the cliffs. This is the Eagle’s Nest shelter.
The Lakatnik Rocks (also called Lakatnishki Rocks) are a national protected area, part of the Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park. The beginning of Bulgarian alpinism happened there in 1925, when an alpine rope was used on them for the first time in Bulgaria. Nowadays, the Lakatnik Rocks are quite a popular place for cliff climbing. There are 6 separate climbing areas with more than 350 routes with different levels of difficulty.
The Dark Hole cave (called Temnata Dupka in Bulgarian) is one of the attractions in the Lakatnik Rocks area. It is not ignobled and therefore only a very small part of it is accessible to amateurs, but otherwise it is very well studied by specialists. Its entrance is located 27 meters above the level of the Iskar River. It has 4 floors and abounds with galleries, siphons, underground rivers, waterfalls and lakes. It is assumed that the total length of the galleries in the entire labyrinth of the cave exceeds 7 kilometers. Over 60 species of cave organisms have been found in the Dark Hole. With this fact, the cave holds the top place in Bulgaria in terms of richness of cave organisms.
Be carefull and enter the cave with a guide only!
How to get to the beginning of the trail “Lakatnik Rocks”
The starting point is the Zhitolyub spring that is located about 60 kilometers from Sofia and 18 kilometers north of the town of Svoge. Trail begins from the road to the spring. BTW, in a reiny periods or after the snow melting, Zhitolyub is a very beautiful waterfall.
You can go there either by car, or by train.
By train: you should take the train from the Central Railway Station in Sofia and get off at Lakatnik Station. It will take you about one hour and a half. The train moves quite slowly in the Iskar Gorge and stops at a lot of small stations. It takes less than 15 minutes walking from the Lakatnik station to the beginning of the ecotrail.
By car: Driving from Sofia to the ecotrail takes about 1:20 hours. Just before the start of the eco-path, there is a wide turn-off to the right of the road, convenient for parking.
Tip: pour yourself water from the tap at the beginning of the route, there are no fountains at the top!
The ecotrail in short
- Start: 43.088256, 23.383260.
- Duration: roughly one hour in direction not counting the stops.
- Attractions: waterfall, panoramic views, rock phenomenon, cave.
The Lakatnik Rocks route in details
The route can be divided into the following stages: Zhitolyub – gazebo – The Dark Hole cave – gazebo – shelter – Septemvriitsi monument.
The trail begins with several stone steps and information boards. It is well-formed, a railing has been set up in many places. Benches are placed here and there.
After ten minutes, you reach a gazebo with a wonderful view of the gorge. The opening to the black maw of the Dark Hole cave can also be seen from the gazebo upwards. From the gazebo to the cave is about a 5-minute walk.
In the large vestibule of the cave you can rest in the cool. Next to the entrance there is also a small panoramic terrace for more views of the Iskar Gorge.
To continue up to the monument, you have to go back to the gazebo and from there to take the path up. You climb smoothly up, accompanied by the incredibly beautiful views of the gorge.
After about 15 minutes you reach a stone shelter. After it, a path branches off to the right to a panoramic platform just above the alpine house in the rocks. The house itself can only be reached by ropes.
From the panoramic platform, you must return to the path and continue up. After about 5 minutes, you reach a meadow where the path forks – ahead is the red-marked path that you must follow and which leads to the monument for about 25 minutes.
The whole trail can be hiked for about one hour or more. It depends on your speed.
The monument was built in honor of insurgents who died in battle during the September Uprising in 1923.
What’s more in the area of the Lakatnik Rocks
There are other landmarks nearby. One of them is the Petrenski dol waterfall that is reachable by car. Its river’s name is Petranitsa. You can see at: 43.086716, 23.37.
Another eco-trail starts just from the waterfall. It runs along the Petranitsa river . You can see several waterfalls along this trail, especially in periods of high water. You also pass several caves. But they are all ignoble.
Another interesting route nearby climbs the neighboring hill, the top of which is called Benova Chuka. If you want to know more about the route, I can suggest you to download a GPS track of my climb to the top.
Other interesting easy hikes near Sofia are:
If you want to stand atop a majestic rock formation, overlooking breathtaking views of the imposing river gorge, consider the Lakatnik Rocks. With its rugged cliffs and stunning vistas, this Bulgarian stone wonder has captured the hearts of both hikers and climbers.