When you set foot in Bulgaria, mountain ranges will startle you with diversity and grandeur. And in case someone didn’t tell you yet, the pearl in the crown is called Pirin.
Pirin Mountain is located in the southwestern part of Bulgaria and is in a common massif with the Rila and the Rhodopes. Unlike Stara Planina, which extends west to east across Bulgaria, Pirin is small and compact.
It occupies 2585 square kilometers of territory, which, however, has a highly folded relief – with numerous steep peaks, scenic slopes, and deep valleys.
Today, we are taking you on a hike through the Pirin Mountains in Bulgaria – an experience worth your time and effort.
Pirin Mountain – The Basics
A straight line northwest-southeast, Pirin Mountain is only 66 km long. It reaches a maximum of 40 km from the town of Sandanski to Obidim. On its 2585 square kilometers, however, the mountain has 96 peaks between 2500 and 2900 meters above sea level.
The highest peak in Pirin National Park is Vihren – 2914 meters above sea level. It is second in height on the Bulgaria mountains’ map – “lagging” 11.4 meters from Rila peak Musala. However, Vihren is also well ahead in the international “charts” in height. It is third in the Balkans and the seventh in Europe. The other peak in Pirin Mountain, which is over 2900 meters, is Kutelo.
After Vihren and Kutelo, follow the seven peaks of Pirin, which are more than 2800 meters high. 17 are over 2700 m, 32 exceed 2600 meters, and 40 are over 2500 meters high.
The average height of Pirin is 1033 meters. For comparison, the highest point of Sakar, which is from the low mountains, is 856.1 meters – on Mount Visegrad.
These characteristics define the Pirin as an alpine-type mountain. Such are the Rila Mountains, as well as parts of Stara Planina and Vitosha. From a geological point of view, these are young mountains – they grew about 10 million years ago by seismic activity on the Eurasian plate.
In other parts of Europe, this activity has formed, for example, the Alps.
Pirin Mountain – Perfect for Skiing and Perfect for Summertime Fun
The location and relief of the Pirin Mountains determine its diverse climate. Climatic conditions here range from the transitional Mediterranean to moderate continental and mountainous in the high parts of Pirin.
Theory into practice – in this mountain, one can enjoy a ski vacation in the winter and a summer experience even better than the beach near an exotic seaside resort. For example, the outdoor pools of the aqua complex of Lucky Bansko SPA & Relax 5 stars hotel offers exactly this kind of luxury summertime fun.
In fact, Pirin Mountain is attractive all the seasons. As a part of a wider Bulgaria mountain range, it offers multiple resorts, different hiking routes, and tens of chalets you can visit for an unforgettable trip.
The climate is relatively mild between the three parts of Pirin – north, middle, and south. Average winter temperatures range around zero and a little below zero, with average annuals reaching over 11 degrees.
Of course, if the separate areas of Pirin Mountain are considered, the picture is different. The high parts have their temperature parameters, typically mountainous. In the higher regions, the snow lasts between 7 and 8 months of the year. In the southern part, the snow cover stands at 3 months per year.
The northern part of Pirin is markedly alpine and is the real part of Pirin with characteristic glacial forms of relief. Here are Vihren and Kutelo, and the higher peaks of Pirin mountain.
From the point of view of tourism, North Pirin is best developed with resorts, huts, and routes. Of the 13 active chalets in the Pirin Mountains, 11 are in the northern part.
Middle Pirin occupies 7 percent of the mountain and has characteristic karst forms, with a peak over 2000 meters – Oreliak. The remaining peaks are less than 2000 meters, mainly with deciduous forests.
The southern part of Pirin is the lowest part of this Bulgaria national park. It’s predominantly round, unlike the alpine peaks and valleys. Its highest point is 1977.6 meters – Mount Ears, while the forests are mixed – broad-leaved and coniferous.
Pirin – Unique World Heritage Nature
With its varying climatic conditions and relief, Pirin Mountain has developed a rich animal and plant world.
The vertebrates in Pirin Mountains, Bulgaria, are 250 species – 177 species of birds, 45 species of mammals, and 6 species of fish. However, invertebrates such as spiders, insects, and centipedes, are much more – over 2000 species with subspecies. Of the vertebrae, the most common are deer, wild goats, bears, foxes, wolves, capercaillie, and falcon.
Pirin has several animals that are in danger of extinction in the Red Book. Among them are the three-leaf woodpecker, the rock eagle, and the tortoiseshell.
You can find over 1300 species of high plants in the Pirin Mountain. These are plants with a distinct root, conducting stem, and leaves. Here, they vary from ferns and bushes to centuries-old trees. Mosses are 320 species, and algae in many rivers and ponds are hundreds of species.
There are also 18 plants found here only, including Dwarf Lupine, Pirin Lily, and Pirin Poppy. The edelweiss is common along the Vihren peak. This is a rare protected species that stands out with amazing beauty.
Pirin’s natural wealth as a state policy has been appreciated since the 1930s. In 1934 the Bayuvi Dupki-Djindjiritsa Reserve was designated and became an important part of the Bulgaria mountains map.
Over half of its territory is made of virgin forests – mostly black and white fir, black and white, pine, and spruce. Most are centenarians up to 500 years. So vast old forests are rare in Europe. And in the Pirin Mountains, two of them are more than 1300 years old.
In 1962, Pirin Mountain was defined as a vast natural park of 40 332 hectares of national importance. Originally called “Vihren”, it was renamed “Pirin” National Park in the 75’s, as its name is still today. In 1983 the park in the mountains was also considered part of the world’s significant heritage – it is included in the UNESCO list.
So, are you up for touring the most beautiful mountains in Bulgaria? Map Pirin as the first one on your list, and you won’t regret it.
Pirin Mountain – the Beautiful Tale of 186 Lake Mirrors
The Pirin Mountains have a very picturesque nature, but the areas with lakes are particularly fascinating. The lakes in Pirin are 186, and in the northern part of the mountain, there are over 160, which are at high altitudes – more than 2000 meters.
There are pond complexes with which, for example, the Yulen reserve in Pirin Park is saturated. There are also single lakes, some of which start with small rivers. Viewed from a distance, the lakes in Pirin Mountain are like strange mirrors.
The lakes in the mountain are of glacial origin. The waters are clear, cold, and deep. Among these “mirrors” high in the Pirin Mountain, the largest is Popovo Lake, at an altitude of 2234 m.
The Great Popovo Lake in the Pirin Mountain is one of the most visited natural landmarks in the Pirin Mountain. It is about 123 acres, its depth is 29.5 meters, and it is 480 meters long and 336 wide.
The other Popovi lakes are located a bit lower down the hills. They all gather water from two steep streams of peaks, precipitations, and snow cover, which begin to melt in the spring.
Pirin’s lake circuits are beautiful and widely visited by local and foreign tourists. They include mesmerizing natural formations such as the Vasilashki lakes, Strazishki, Titipikite, Dissilishki, and Poljezhanski lakes.
The group of Vasilashkite lakes is of 10 lakes, the biggest of which are Gorno and Dolno. The total area of the group is 180 decares; the shores are rocky and quite steep. The water is cold – up to 10-12 degrees in the summer.
Perhaps the most visited of the complex is the Fish Lake – around it is always full of tents of nature lovers. It is below the Upper and is 2145 meters high, surrounded by centuries-old firs and peaks. Its length is 325 meters, its width is 177 meters, and the depth reaches 2.5 meters.
Its name is associated with the many trout in the lake, although all the Vasilashki lakes are loaded with trout.
Pirin Mountain – Routes for Beginners and Experienced Mountain Tourists
In the Pirin mountain, the tourist routes are numerous – there are many different trenches according to the type and difficulty of the terrain and the duration. Transitions are on forest roads, paths, and wagon roads.
In Pirin, there are also routes with an alpine part, in which the terrains are especially difficult – rocky, steep, with great displacement, passing deep precipices. Such are, for example, the approaches to the saddle of Koncheto. Instead, the trail shrinks to 50 centimeters.
From 1963 the passage of the famous saddle in Pirin was facilitated with a metal rope, and in 1969 a trail was dug in the south-western slopes. They say that before the railing, the tourists passed through the cave and crept, and from there came the name of Koncheto.
The northeastern slopes of Koncheto are vertical walls of about 400-500 meters, and you can often see climbers trying to conquer them.
In the mountain you can choose very short routes – for example from Yavorov Chalet to Yavorova Polyana, it is less than an hour. On the other hand, the duration can be several hours – 17 hours from Dobrinishte to Melnik through the Gotse Delchev, Bezbog, and Pirin chalets.
A popular among experienced tourists is the route from Yavorov hut to Melnik. It is beautiful but also quite difficult; it passes through three stages and lasts 5 to 7 days.
There are many other routes in Pirin, among which E 4 is the most notable. It is a euro route from Spain that goes through France, followed by Switzerland, Germany and Austria, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, and Bulgaria. Finally, it goes through Greece and reaches the island of Crete.
This section of the Pirin Mountain has the most beautiful virgin nature. Anyway, you can pass the route after a special agreement with the directorate of Pirin Park with a guide and no deviations from the designated paths in order to preserve the unique nature.