Hike to the Soca Gorge
There is a secret walk along the most beautiful river in Europe to find the Soca Gorge and when you get to the gorge there are loads of places to swim in this icy, crystal clear water!
Our guests often stop off on their day trips to marvel at the different sections of the emerald green Soca river and there are many narrow, stunning parking places to squeeze into and visit along it's route. We had also heard that you could climb up to see the very source or spring, (Izvir), where the water actually bursts out of the Alpine rocks at the very start of this stunning river.
We had also seen several photos of the uberstunning Soca Gorge and so we wanted to see if we could find another one of Slovenia's hidden gorges in combination with a visit to where the river actually starts at it's spring to make a splashtastic day out.. Well, we cracked it and as a massive bonus, we also found a really lovely secret walk down the river directly to the gorge and then back to the car along the rocky mini cliff top!
We describe it as a "secret" walk as you won't find any signs to tell you where to start, middle or finish and you will feel a naughty pleasure hearing the traffic going down the main road on the other side of the river, without a clue about the amazing little path you are walking down, all to yourself!
So if you didnt know about this lovely stretch of green loveliness, just like us, you would probably drive along the river admiring its beauty, but never know about a little church where you could park and follow the river to this amazing gorge, maybe have a swim or a paddle and then return, high up, along the stony, rocky top!
We started this amazing day by driving up to visit the very source (Izvir) of the Soca river. There are several rivers we know about in little old Slovenia where you can go and actually see where the river starts and this is a very special thing to see indeed. Sometimes the water will be bubbling up from the earth through the first stones of a new riverbed, whereas the Soca bursts out up through the massive rocks of the Alps to make its way down into the valley of the same name.
Even though we knew where we were going on the map, we still missed the turn to the river source. The little road is a one way crossing over a narrow bridge on one of the hairpin bends winding up the amazing Vrsic Alpine pass, so easy to miss, but once over the bridge the tarmacked forest road is really great and you can park at a nice little pub at the start of the marked trail that leads up to the source.
Safe to say there was quite a bit of trepidation for one of us about walking to the source, as not being good with heights, we heard there was some climbing involved. But, do not worry, if you are reasonably fit then do this walk, you'll love it!
The trail leads out from the pub into the forest and soon up and along some rocky slopes with a wonderful strong steel wire and steps sticking out of the rocks to get you there. It's really fun and not scary at all. You feel like a real rock climber! The views from up in the foothills of the Alps are stunning and the feeling of achievement when you get to the source is rock star.
We went in September at the end of the summer when the water flow was probably at its very lowest after a dry summer, so we could climb right up and peer into the well-like hole from where the fresh mountain water springs up. It was great, you can still see the amazing blue emerald colour of the water! In Spring or early summer the water will be pouring out from the source and this will be another thing all together.. Probably a wetter experience and we can't wait to see this too!
So this is how you hike to the Soca Gorge:
Our next aim for the day was to go drive down the river a bit to find the Soca church and follow a walk to one of Slovenia's most photographed, but least visited gorges.. the Soca gorge. We had been given a guided walk brochure from one of our guests the week before and on the way up here in the morning, we had driven first to the pretty alpine town of Bovec for coffee and to visit the local tourist office (TIC) to check our directions. This office has produced some brief guides to help visitors find some of the secret local walks, gorges and waterfalls in the area.
Too many visitors to Slovenia are missing out on so many stunning walks and places because they just don't know about them and we applaud the Bovec TIC (tourist info centre) for producing this mini guide.. without it we couldn't have found this walk by ourselves and now in turn, tell you all about how wonderful it is!
The mini guide gave us the confidence to park next to a beautiful little church where a visitor might not know you can park and then cross the road and go over a bridge that you probably won't have noticed. Then join a path where you might not have known you can find a path and then bang, you are walking alone, quietly on the other side of the Soca river, hearing the cars and motorbikes buzzing along the other side, completely missing out on what you are seeing and breathing!
The walk is a loop of about 2 hours there and back, depending how long you stay admiring the gorge. We recommend you take the country track on the way to the gorge, winding past shepherd's little tin huts, tiny villages and then popping out at the top of the amazing Soca gorge, where the river has carved out high cliffs into the limestone rock and created a small crystal clear lake at the bottom, before the river disappears down the valley.
The water colour is out of this world and even when we went, as said, in autumn, the gorge was still deeply filled. Some people were jumping off the top of the largest cliff and swimming in the chilly water, but most were just staring at the beauty of this place.
To go back, we recommend you walk along the top of the gorge, (still on the other side of the road) on a separate path, hugging the river for yourself. It's a bit wild and rocky, but a real adventure if you can find it, the massive clue is to stay right next to the river! You will see bits of the gorge not visible from the other path or road, just stunning and then the final stretch at riverside is just enchanting.
Just go and do this walk and enjoy this river paradise, a walk along the Thames or the Rhine will never be the same again!
And not far, but completely hidden from the Soca gorge, is another one of Slovenia's amazing secret places! Yes, its possible to walk to the Lovely Lepena Waterfalls using the same route we have just described above along the Soca river, for a doubly amazing day out! You might have to miss out on climbing to the source of the Soca and instead start at the church car park. You will need to be a reasonable walker, but wow, just check out our secret place to visit article on the Lovely Lepena Water Gardens and maybe combine these walks!