Plitvice Lakes National Park: The Big Hiking Loop

November 1, 2019
Vagabonding Day 32
Plitvice Lakes (Plitvička Jezera)

Read the posts about my first two days at Plitvice here:

Plitvice Lakes – Trail K

18,300 meters/11.4 miles

Veliki Slap (the Great Waterfall) in Plitvice Lakes National Park.

On our third and final day at Plitvice Lakes National Park, I awoke early and ready for a good workout. During our first two days, we took it easy and explored small sections of the park. Today, however, I was ready for a new challenge. So I chose the K Trail which encircles the entire park in one continuous loop. Lucky for me, the fog wasn’t as heavy today. It wasn’t exactly sunny, but I’d take it. Maybe I’d even get to see some views!

Trail K trailhead.

Plitvice Lakes Trail K map.

At the Trail K trailhead.

The K Trail begins near the “P1” ferry dock. This section of trail hugs the eastern edge of Lake Kozjak as it proceeds in a counter-clockwise direction. The early morning felt peaceful as I strolled along the lake shore. Wisps of fog rose from the lake and leaves crunched underfoot as I walked. I didn’t encounter any other people except for the ones in the ferry boat that went by.

Walking along Lake Kozjak.

Walking along Lake Kozjak.

Wisps of fog on the lake.

A ferry on Lake Kozjak.

After about a mile, the path leaves the lake shore at a major trail junction. I stayed to the right and followed the K Trail up the limestone canyon. At the top, I found myself at the shuttle bus station. Hmm… this looked familiar. I was here yesterday when I hiked the B Trail.

Trail junction!

At this point, the B and K trails merge to follow the same path for the next couple of miles. As I hiked along the canyon’s rim, I couldn’t help but notice how different the experience was from yesterday’s hike. I could see all the way to the lakes at the bottom the the canyon. And the view! It was truly breathtaking.

Top photo: view (or lack thereof) from yesterday. Bottom photo: today’s view.

Looking down onto the lower lakes from the rim of the canyon.

Another vista of the lower lakes.

I continued along the trail, framed under a canopy of trees that were losing their leaves. Soon I came to another viewpoint. This time, I had a bird’s eye view of the Great Cascade waterfall (Velike Kaskade). I got an up-close view of the Great Cascade yesterday from the canyon’s floor but seeing it from this angle was an entirely different experience.

Walking along the canyon’s rim.

The Great Cascade waterfall (Velike Kaskade).

The Great Cascade waterfall (Velike Kaskade).

The Great Cascade waterfall (Velike Kaskade).

Then I spotted something on the other side of the canyon wall that I hadn’t been able to see yesterday. I took a closer look and caught my breath – it was The Great Waterfall (Veliki Slap). Good lord! From this angle it was like something out of a fairy tale.

The Great Waterfall (Veliki Slap).

The Great Waterfall (Veliki Slap) with Sastavci Slap in the foreground.

Sastavci Slap waterfall.

After hiking down the canyon and taking a closer look at Veliki Slap, I hurried through the rest of the lower lakes loop. This section was much the same as when I walked it yesterday, but with less fog. It was gorgeous but crowded. I was looking forward to a bit more solitude.

The Great Waterfall (Veliki Slap) – up close and personal!

Hiking around the lower lakes loop.

I found solitude in spades after I finished the lower lakes section and began hiking around the western shore of Lake Kozjak. It’s a delightful section of trail that is largely ignored. It’s also quite a bit longer than the east side of the lake due to the squiggly nature of the shoreline. It took a bit longer to hike it than I anticipated. But I didn’t mind.

Walking along the western shore of Lake Kozjak.

Rambling through the woods.

Moore woodsy ramblings.

This handsome guy joined me on the trail for a while.

Upon reaching the upper lakes section, the K Trail does something interesting. Rather than joining the other trails down along the boardwalk, Trail K heads uphill into the woods. This section of trail avoids the crowds down below and provides amazing vistas of the entire upper lakes region. It’s a bit steep at times but worth the effort.

Trail junction!

A view of Veliki prštavac from the hills above.

Another waterfall! This is on the upper loop. I’m not sure what it is called.

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen! This concludes my 3-part series on Plitvice National Park. If Plitvice isn’t on your bucket list yet then I’ve done something wrong.

It’s truly a magical place.

Plitvice Lakes upper loop vista.

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