If you’re headed to Plitvice Lakes National Park and looking for some hiking that’s a bit more off the beaten track than the main park routes, here’s a quiet lake I found my way to during my own adventures.
These photos are from the long, difficult trek from Entrance 1 of the national park to the lake, but you can also take a shorter route from the other side of the park (see below photos for detailed instructions and hiking times).
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Want to experience the park for yourself? Here are some relevant details:
You can reach this quiet lake from a couple directions.
Difficult: The route from Plitvice Lakes National Park takes 3.5 – 5 hours one-way and you’ll need to plan to either return the same way (making for a nice long hiking day) or have someone pick you up at the other end of the trail (in the village of Plitvički Ljeskovac).
Moderate: If you start your hike from the tiny nearby village of Plitvički Ljeskovac, the walk to the lake should take less than hour one-way.
For the difficult trail from Plitvice, enter the park at Entrance 1 and make your way toward P3 (a restaurant and bathroom area indicated on the park map they give out at the information booth at the front of the park). I recommend popping in to use the restroom here as you’ll be on a small road through the forest for the rest of the hike with no bathrooms and sometimes long stretches without any real forest access – due to steep hills or open areas – to use nature’s bathroom).
From P3, facing the lake, you’ll now make a left (instead of a right along the lake to take trail K) and keep left up a small road. Keep left and stay on the road until you reach a little ticket booth/entry. Pass through it and turn left on the road into the little village (where you’ll see signs for several B&Bs). Keep on this road and keep left (the roads on the right lead to B&Bs) and continue following into the forest! There are a variety of trails that lead off the road along the way, but if you keep to the main road, in about 3 – 5 hours, you’ll reach the lake. The start of this walk goes uphill for awhile and you’ll catch some cool glimpses of the lakes from high above. Eventually, the trail winds downward, then follows a stream for awhile before coming to the lake.
The moderate trail starts in the village of Plitvički Ljeskovac. If you are coming from the direction of Road 52, walk the road through the village and you will come to a little road leading off to your left. You’ll know you’ve got the right road if you walk a few steps down it and see an abandoned-looking building on your left. To your right, there’s a stream. Follow this road and you should get to the lake in less than an hour. The path leads alongside the lake and there were a few good spots for a picnic. When I was there on a Saturday in May in the early afternoon, literally not another soul was at the lake.
Dogs on trails and in the park
Dogs are welcome in the national park on leash. Once you get to the secluded lake, I’m not sure what the leash requirements are. Luna stayed on leash the whole time at least in part because there were a lot of smushed salamanders on the trail and they can be poisonous if your dog tries to eat them, so I wanted to keep close track of her.
Keep in mind that Croatian buses are hit or miss when it comes to dogs, so if you are taking a bus on either end of your journey, make sure you know that bus line’s rules.
Is the trail crowded?
If you’re coming from the park, the first portion of the trail may be crowded. As soon as you get off the beaten track, though, you’re unlikely to see another soul for hours.
What to bring
As always with hiking, wear good shoes (these are the ones I use) and weather-appropriate clothing. Wear sunscreen (portions of the trail are in the sun). Carry plenty of water (there are no water fill-up options along the way).
For the dog, I always carry a small carrier backpack just in case she needs a ride (which is getting more common as she gets a bit older). And because I love taking photos, you won’t find me on a trail without my camera (All the photos above were taken with my Sony a6000.)