Skuta Trail – Hiking the Alps


Skuta Trail

Skuta Trail

About Skuta Trail

For the fifth hike of my “Hiking the Alps” tour I decided to climb the 2539 meters high Skuta which is a part of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps in northern Slovenia, close to the Austrian border. Skuta is the third highest peak of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps (after Grintovec and Jezerska Kocna) and thus offers a great view on the surrounding peaks as well as on the valley beneath. I wanted to ascend Skuta because the trail to the top is physically and technically challenging and therefore not crowded. This means a lot on such a narrow and exposed trail (as most trails in the Alps are) because you can set your own tempo without the need to scramble your way past other hikers. It is indeed possible to do this trail in only one day but it requires that you start very early in the morning (7 am at latest) so that you can return back to the starting point before the night falls. I decided to do this trail in two days in order to have enough time to explore this beautiful mountain range – which is possible due to a small newly built mountain shelter, placed on a ledge 320 meters below the peak. The simple yet functional shelter has won several design awards and has a capacity of 6-8 people.

The Skuta trail is suitable only for physically well-prepared hikers who already have experience with scrambling or via ferrata routes as it crosses a few very exposed and steep areas. Reaching the peak requires ascend of more than 2000 meters over the distance of 8.8 kilometers. In winter (snow) the ascent involves ice climbing and thus requires additional equipment, such as crampons, ice axes and gaiters.

Skuta Trail Details

Difficulty RatingVery Hard
Distance17.60 km (10.9 mi.)
Highest Point2539 m (8330 ft.)
Lowest Point616 m (2021 ft.)
Total Ascent2100 m (6890 ft.)
Total Descent2100 m (6890 ft.)
Date of the hike23. - 24. August 2016
WeatherMostly Sunny
Temperature5 – 24 C (41° F - 75° F)
WindUp to 40 km/h
Duration2 days
Duration Day 1 8 h 6 min
Duration Day 23 h 40 min
Average Heart Rate117 BPM

About Trail Details

Skuta GPS Route and Trail Description

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About GPX Route

Note: This GPS route shows the directions from the starting point to the top and back to the mountain shelter. From the mountain shelter back to the starting point there is 6.60 kilometers of hiking left. To return back to the starting point I used the same trail as for the ascend.

Reaching the starting point

The trail starts at a parking place near Kamniska Bistrica, a small village approximately 35 kilometers away from Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Kamniska Bistrica is relatively easy to reach by car as it lies in the proximity to the Slovenian E61 and E57 highways.

If you are coming from north-west (Villach, Austria) you should drive along the E61 highway until your reach the Vodice exit. Then take the Vodice exist and continue on the local road towards Kamnik (north-east). After driving for 12 kilometers you will reach Kamnik where you should follow the directions for Kamniska Bistrica. You will be directed on to a local road towards north and after 11 kilometers you will reach Kamniska Bistrica. Continue through the village and after 2 kilometers you will reach the mountain hut called Dom v Kamniski Bistrici. Just beneath the mountain hut you will find a parking place where you can park your car free of charge. Here the asphalt road turns into a wide dirt track. If you have a GPS device you can use the 46.3272, 14.5894 coordinates in order to reach the parking place at Dom v Kamniski Bistrici. The above attached GPS route starts on this parking place.

If you are coming from any other direction you should drive along the Slovenian H3 expressway (northern part of Ljubljana) until you reach the Tomacevo exit. Here get off the expressway and continue on the 104 road towards Kamnik (north). After driving for approximately 18 kilometers you will reach Kamnik. In Kamnik follow the directions for Kamniska Bistrica and continue as described above.

If you don’t have a car, you can also reach the starting point by bus. Buses run daily from Ljubljana Bus Station to Kamniska Bistrica where they stop less than hundred meters from the trail’s starting point. The bus drive will cost you approximately 5 € ($ 5.6) and take you around one hour and twenty minutes. For more information about public transport routes check the Ljubljana Bus Station website.

Trail

From the parking place start walking on the wide dirt track that runs past the Dom v Kamniski Bistrici mountain hut towards north-west. After walking for approximately 400 meters you will reach a crossroad where you should continue straight ahead towards Kokrsko Sedlo (the path that goes right leads to Kamnisko Sedlo). The path will become narrower and soon you will reach another crossroad that is poorly marked. Here you should take the right path that starts ascending gently (the left path leads to Spominski Park). Then continue on this path for 600 meters till you reach a wide dirt track. From here on continue ascending on the wide dirt track for 700 meters until you arrive to a small building (the aerial tramway station). The aerial tramway runs to Kokrsko Sedlo but is only built to carry cargo such as food and beverages for the mountain hut there.

From here on the trail is very well-marked with direction signs and painted red and white circles on rocks, trees etc. Therefore, I believe that you won’t have any problems with the navigation. From the aerial tramway station, you should continue on a narrow path that starts ascending rapidly towards west. This is the steepest part of the trail as it over the distance of 2.2 kilometers ascends no less than 900 meters. The stretch is not technically challenging but does require good physical preparedness. The path is first ascending through dense woods until you reach the tree line 1500 meters above the sea level. Then the trail keeps ascending over a large scree (loose stones covering a slope) all the way up to Kokrsko Sedlo (1800 meters above the sea level) where you will find a relatively large mountain hut.

The mountain hut at Kokrsko Sedlo provides food, drinks and accommodation in case that you want to extend this hiking trip. I do recommend that you resupply with water here as you will otherwise be slowed down significantly by carrying all the water you need from the starting point to the top and back. Altogether I needed 5.5 liters of water for this hike (2 days). However, the water is fairly pricey in the mountain hut; a one-liter water bottle will cost you no less than 2.5 € ($ 2.8).

From Kokrsko Sedlo continue right (towards north) in the direction of Skuta and Grintovec. After approximately 200 meters you will reach a crossroad where you should go right towards Skuta (the path that goes left leads to Grintovec). The trail will then take you over the steep eastern slope of Grintovec towards north. Soon the path becomes technically challenging as you need to cross a very steep and exposed spot. Here surefootedness is required as there is no steel cable for attaching a via ferrata set to. After you cross the exposed area the path becomes easier and is gently ascending to the mountain shelter “Bivak pod Grintovcem” 2100 meters above the sea level.

The mountain shelter “Bivak pod Grintovcem” can be used free of charge, but is primarily meant for emergency situations (thunder storms, injured hikers etc.). Therefore, don’t use it for more than one night’s stay. I’m mentioning this because I heard that the local mountain rescue service often has problems with tourists who use this shelter as a free camping destination for several days. The shelter is otherwise very modern and has three floors – a ground floor with a table and seats and two upper floors where hikers can sleep over.

From the mountain shelter, continue ascending on a narrow path towards north-west until you reach a crossroad. Here take the right path towards Skuta which will lead you over an area full of abysses. Some caution is required here as falling in one of the abysses could result in serious injuries. I recommend that you stick to the path and do not wander about too much. After crossing this area you will arrive to a steep ridge that runs from east towards west. Here the most technically challenging part of the trail begins as you need to climb to the top of the ridge. Again there is no steel cable for added security. The path will lead you almost vertically to the top of the ridge (ascent of 70 meters). When you climb to the ridge continue towards east and soon you will get a great view on the peak. Then the trail will descend slightly and after that it will start ascending to the peak. In 20 minutes or so, you should reach the top of the mountain.

Getting back to the starting point

For the way back I used the same path as for the climb. I spent the night in the mountain shelter “Bivak pod Grintovcem” 2100 meter above the sea level as it was already getting late by the time I reached it.

Skuta Trail - Free parking place

Skuta Trail – Free parking place

Skuta Trail - Wide dirt track at the beginning

Skuta Trail – Wide dirt track at the beginning

Skuta Trail - Aerial Tramway Station

Skuta Trail – Aerial Tramway Station

Skuta Trail - The path keeps ascending over a scree

Skuta Trail – The path keeps ascending over a scree

Skuta Trail - Mountain hut at Kokrsko Sedlo

Skuta Trail – Mountain hut at Kokrsko Sedlo

Skuta Trail - Mountain shelter Pod Grintovcem

Skuta Trail – Mountain shelter Pod Grintovcem

Skuta Trail - Here go right towards Skuta

Skuta Trail – Here go right towards Skuta

Skuta Trail - The technically difficult stretch of the trail

Skuta Trail – The technically difficult stretch of the trail

Skuta Trail - View from the top

Skuta Trail – View from the top

Equipment

As I knew that the hike is physically very demanding, I wanted to go as lightweight as possible – although spending the night in the mountain shelter naturally entailed that I had to carry more items than I do on day hikes. In my Osprey Talon 44 backpack I was carrying a rain jacket, fleece jacket, socks, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, headlamp, hat, gloves, climbing helmet, food, 3 liters of water and some accessories. On both the way up and down I stopped in the mountain hut at Kokrsko Sedlo and bought additional water (2.5 liters altogether).

During the hike I was wearing the Icebreaker Tech T Lite Merino wool t-shirt, Montane Terra Pack pants, Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid hiking boots, Woolx Merino Boxers along with a baseball cap and socks made of Coolmax fibers. I was really satisfied with all the apparel utilized as it kept me comfortable throughout the hike.

I highly recommend that you bring a climbing helmet on this hike as there is a great danger of falling stones on some stretches. There is, however, no need to bring a via ferrata set since there is no steel cable along the path for increased security.

If you are doing this hike in any other season than summer you will definitely also need crampons, ice axes and gaiters as the trail will require ice climbing.

Equipment under scrutiny

Icebreaker Tech T Lite T-Shirt

Both days I was wearing the Icebreaker Tech T Lite base layer which really impressed me with its anti-odor performance. It is made mainly of Merino wool which is naturally antimicrobial, so even after two days of extensive use I couldn’t detect any signs of odor. Furthermore, the t-shirt is made of very thin and porous fabric which offers outstanding breathability. I recommend this t-shirt to every hiker and mountaineer who wants a well-performing base layer for various outdoor adventures.

Icebreaker Tech T-Lite T-Shirt

Icebreaker Tech T-Lite T-Shirt

Conclusion and photo gallery

The Skuta trail is best for experienced and physically well-prepared hikers and mountaineers who want to test their skills and performance by climbing this incredible 2539 meters high peak. The trail runs through dense woods as well as exposed and rocky terrain. On the top of the mountain you will be rewarded with a great view on the surrounding peaks as well as on the valley beneath. Before going you should check the weather conditions thoroughly as doing this hike in bad weather (storms, snow) could be hazardous (also avalanche danger).

If you have any questions about this hike, please drop me a line in the comments below.

Skuta Trail Terrain Video

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