Summer hiking in Soskovcheto Nature Reserve in Rhodope Mountains

They say that the best time for hiking in the mountains is in August, especially when we want to hide from the heat of the urban landscape. Naturally, keen tourists value every season and neither rain, nor snow can stop them. In the mountains, one forgets all sorts of everyday worries to wake up into another world, immersed in the sounds and views of nature.

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Such places in Bulgaria still exist, despite the vanity and transitional laws that define our existence. Most often these are inaccessible spots in the mountains, where the independent spirit of Bulgarian nature preserves endangered animal and plant species. Among them is the Soskovcheto Reserve, to the west of Smolyan - the biggest town in the Middle Rhodopes, situated some 240 km from Sofia.

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In the protected area, which covers nearly 175 hectares, one can see the tender Orpheus flower, as well asthe Lilium rhodopeum that blooms in August. And if you have not seen a salamander yet, you can easily do it there. The likelihood of encountering the western capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), a deer or a bear is also good. So you should read and take seriously the sign that gives guidance on how to behave in case you see a bear. Prior to building the Canyon of the Waterfalls trail, the reserve was inaccessible to hikers. Now, however, the entire forest world of the reserve can be enjoyed by wildlife lovers.

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The trail for a hike walk in the park is strictly marked with signs and special marking, and starts in the Arnautskoto area, along the road Smolyan - Mugla village, in the area of ​​Kriva Reka. It is not the easiest, especially for people who are not accustomed to climbing steep paths and lasts for nearly four hours. The displacement is of about 700 meters and the trail curves through the canyon of the "Soskovchansky dol" river, between the volcanic rheolite rocks, called by the local people the Row Rocks.

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Resisting the constant impact of the water, gradually picturesque waterfalls were formed, hence the name of the trail.  It follows the the river and hikers are able to see the beautiful waterfalls and rock thresholds. About 46 waterfalls can be counted in the area, of which 10 can be seen. The waterfalls are most impressive during spring when the snow is melting.

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The names of the more impressive waterfalls along the trail are marked with signs. The first one is "Ropkata", where the water that carved a hole in the rock from which it flows. Then come the "Kazans" (Cauldrons) where the mountain water seems to descend into deep vessels, and up the path we see the river flowing through "The Heart". Looking up, we notice the small terraces of the Cascades.

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The highest is 68 meters and bears the name of Thracian singer Orpheus, who, according to the legends, lived in the mystic Rhodope Mountains. Thanks to the wooden bridgesalong the trail tourists can take some impressive photos of the river from various angles. The steeper places are secured by ropes, and there are also three panoramic sites revealing beautiful views to the surrounding area.

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The most beautiful of them is located at the highest point of the route at 1800 m above sea level. In clear weather, the view of the Rhodopes is simply incredible.

English: Alexander Markov
Photos: Darina Grigorova, wikipedia.org

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