Vrtaca Wertatscha Trail – Hiking the Alps   Recently updated !


Vrtaca Wertatscha Trail

Vrtaca Wertatscha Trail

About Vrtaca Wertatscha Trail

After climbing the 2164 meters high Batognica in the Julian Alps in Slovenia, we decided to continue our “Hiking the Alps” tour by ascending a peak called Vrtaca (Wertatscha in German). Vrtaca is a 2181 meters high peak in the Karawanks, on the border between Slovenia and Austria. The Karawanks mountain range is a part of the Southern Limestone Alps and features many astonishing peaks. The highest peak of the Karawanks is the 2236 meters high Stol (Hochstuhl in German) which we climbed in 2017.

Vrtaca is a quite popular peak because the trail to the top is not technically difficult, and the starting point can be quickly reached from big cities such as Ljubljana and Klagenfurt. Furthermore, there is also a mountain hut (Dom na Zelenici) close to the trail which is convenient in case that the weather changes rapidly. Note that thunderstorms are very common in this area in summer. We decided to climb Vrtaca exactly because of the possibility of shelter within easy reach in case of thunderstorms as the July weather was very unpredictable. In summer the Vrtaca trail is suitable for everybody who is in decent shape, and doesn’t require any equipment besides from hiking footwear and clothing. However, in winter, early spring and late autumn you will need proper winter gear such as crampons and ice axes to safely ascend this astonishing mountain.

Vrtaca Wertatscha Trail Details

Difficulty RatingMedium
Distance12.03 km (7.5 mi)
Highest Point2180 m (7152 ft.)
Lowest Point1063 m (3500 ft.)
Total Ascent1164 m (3818 ft.)
Total Descent1148 m (3766 ft.)
Hike Conducted July 2018
WeatherMostly Sunny
Temperature30° C (86° F)
Wind5 km/h
Duration5h 30 min
Average Heart Raten/a

About Trail Details

Vrtaca Wertatscha GPS Route and Trail Description

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About GPX Route

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Reaching the starting point

The Vrtaca trail starts at the Ljubelj Pass (Loibl Pass in German) which is located on the Slovenian-Austrian border. You can leave your car free of charge on a big parking lot on the Slovenian side, 1063 meters above the sea level (coordinates 46.431299, 14.260257). The above attached GPS track starts exactly at this parking lot.

If you are coming from the south (e.g. Slovenia, Croatia etc.), drive along the E61 highway towards Jesenice and take the Ljubelj exit (approximately 40 kilometers north of Ljubljana). Then drive on road E652 towards Ljubelj and Austria. After driving for approximately 16 kilometers you will reach the border and the Ljubelj tunnel. Just before the border and the tunnel, turn left and park your car on the big parking lot.

In case that you are coming from the north (e.g. Austria, Germany etc.) you should first drive to Klagenfurt. From there you should drive towards south on road 91 over the Ferlacher Stausee river and across the border, through the Ljubelj tunnel. When you come out of the tunnel, turn right and park your car on the big parking lot.

Even though the road to the Ljubelj pass is in a very good condition, the Ljubelj pass is unfortunately not accessible by public transport.

Trail

The Vrtaca trail is well-marked with direction signs and painted red and white circles on trees and rocks. Therefore, you shouldn’t have any problems navigating your way to the top. However, for easier navigation you can also download our GPS track above for free and use it with your smartphone or handheld GPS device.

At the parking lot at the Ljubelj pass find the direction sign for Zelenica, Vrtaca and Stol and start hiking towards west on the wide dirt track. The wide dirt track ascends rapidly across the slopes of an old ski resort and after hiking for 1.3 kilometers you will reach the first mountain hut, called Vrtaca. The Vrtaca mountain hut was closed in July when we executed this hike and we are therefore not sure if it is even still operational. After the Vrtaca mountain hut, the path will first take you towards south-west and then towards north-west. After one kilometer or so you will reach the next mountain hut, named Dom na Zelenici. This mountain hut was open when we did the hike. The Dom na Zelenici mountain hut offers drinks and warm food. The prices are very reasonable – you can get a beer for less than 3 € ($3.5) and a warm meal for approximately 8 € ($9.3). Since the weather was good we decided to proceed towards the top and first make a stop in this mountain hut on the way back.

After the Dom na Zelenici mountain hut, the path becomes narrower, less steep and changes its direction towards north-west. After hiking for approximately one hour you will reach a crossroad (4.5 kilometers from the starting point) where you should go right in the direction of the Vrtaca peak. Note that this crossroad is not clearly seen and thus some attention is required here. In case you miss the right turn here, you will go towards Stol Hochstuhl – the highest peak of the Karawanks. After turning right at the crossroad, the path becomes quite steep and first goes towards north-west, and then changes its direction towards north-east. After hiking for one kilometer more on rocky terrain you will reach the Vrtaca peak.

On the top you will get a great view on the surrounding mountains such as Stol Hochstuhl, Begunjscica and many more. You will also have a great view on the Slovenian and Austrian valleys beneath. In clear weather, you can also spot the famous Bled lake towards south.

Getting back to the starting point

As we couldn’t find any other trail that goes back to the starting point, we decided to descend via the same trail. On the way back, we stopped at the Dom na Zelenici mountain hut where we relaxed for an hour or so. Many hikers were having fun there after their successful ascents.

Getting back to the starting point

As we couldn’t find any other trail that goes back to the starting point, we decided to descend via the same trail. On the way back, we stopped at the Dom na Zelenici mountain hut where we relaxed for an hour or so. Many hikers were having fun there after their successful ascents.

Vrtaca Trail - Starting point

Vrtaca Trail – Starting point

Vrtaca Trail - The slopes of an old ski resort

Vrtaca Trail – The slopes of an old ski resort

Vrtaca Trail - Towards the mountain hut

Vrtaca Trail – Towards the mountain hut

Vrtaca Trail - Towards the top

Vrtaca Trail – Towards the top

Vrtaca Trail - The top

Vrtaca Trail – The top

Vrtaca Trail - Bled lake is seen

Vrtaca Trail – Bled lake is seen

Equipment

Because the temperatures were very high +30 C (+86 F) and the hike was not technically difficult, I didn’t bring too many things with me. In my Osprey Talon 22 backpack I was carrying 3 liters of water, some food, sun cream and the Montane Minimus jacket. During the hike I was wearing the Klattermusen Eir t-shirt, Montane Terra Pack pants, Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid hiking boots and a sun hat.

Equipment under scrutiny

Klattermusen Eir T-shirt

The Klattermusen Eir T-shirt is made of Merino wool and silk. Therefore, it has the qualities of Merino base layers (good breathability, odor-control and moisture-management) but is due to the silk fibers much more durable. I’ve had the t-shirt for almost a year now and I can confirm that the durability is not a problem with this t-shirt. The best thing about the t-shirt is its odor-control – it literally doesn’t get smelly. The only downside is that the fabric is slightly less soft than at garments with higher Merino wool content.

Klattermusen Eir T-Shirt

Klattermusen Eir T-Shirt

Conclusion and photo gallery

The Vrtaca trail is a great day hike because of the easily accessible starting point. It is perfect for those who are crossing the border between Slovenia and Austria and want to do a pleasant hike in the mesmerizing Alps. While no special equipment is required in summer, keep in mind that if the trail is covered with snow you will need crampons and an ice axe. Also, check the weather forecast before going on the trail and postpone the hike in case of bad weather.

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

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