Climbing Hoverla: the Routes
20 July 2021
Hoverla is the highest mountain in the Ukrainian Carpathians. Although its peak is at 2,061 m, climbing here doesn’t require any special preparation. The fatigue from the walk will vanish quickly, but the pride of the new achievement and a lot of exciting impressions will remain. To make sure the climbing is successful, it’s important to choose the right route to Hoverla. The best option depends on the most convenient starting point and your physical fitness.
There are quite a lot of routes to Hoverla Mountain, most of which are carefully mapped by the Carpathian Trails Tourist Society (Karpats’ki Stezhki TT). Let us discuss all basic options.
Zaroslyak Resort – Hoverla
The Zaroslyak Resort is located at a height of 1,300 m, and it is most often chosen as a starting point. From here, four mapped trails begin, which differ in length and complexity. Let us look at the features of each route to Hoverla from Zaroslyak.
- Red/Green. They start at the same point and differ only in the cumulative length. While the green signs end at the Hoverla peak, the red ones lead all the way to Dzembronya. It takes 4.3 km to the top of the mountain (2.5-3 hours walk). These routes are the best choice for climbing Hoverla for the first time or with children. The trail is quite flat and well-marked.
- Blue. This is the shortest but also the most challenging route. On the way to the top, you will have to overcome 3.7 km only, which will take an average of 2 hours. The trail is quite steep, so it may be difficult for children and people with chronic illnesses. There are slightly fewer hikers here than on the red/green routes. However, if you don’t want to conquer the peak in a crowd, choose quiet weekdays.
- Yellow. This is a good choice for those who want to see several Carpathian landmarks at once. Leaving Zaroslyak with the yellow trail, you will go to the NesamovyteL by gentle traverses. From there you will turn to the red trail that leads through Pozhyzhevsʹka and Breskul peaks all the way to Hoverla. You can take the blue or green trail back to the Zaroslyak Resort. This route takes about 2 days. It is required to have a tent.
Technically, any of the routes to Hoverla start in Vorokhta. The part of the route to Zaroslyak is an ordinary road without any special beauties and sights, so most tourists get to the resort by taxi.
Lazeshchyna – Hoverla (through Koz’menschik)
The route to Hoverla from Lazeshchyna is not complicated. It is designed for 2-3 days of leisurely hiking. The traveler has to overcome 17.2 km from the railway station. The trail goes through Koz’menshchik, the mountain hut, and is marked in yellow. It leads directly to the top of Hoverla. There are a lot of water sources, museums, and traditional shepherd’s stalls along the way. From Hoverla you can go down to Zaroslyak, the Nesamoyite Lake, or to Petros Mount.
The second option is to take the blue route from Lazeshchyna, which leads to the foot of Petros mountain. From there you should turn to the red trail, which goes through the junction to Hoverla.
Kvasy – Hoverla (through Petros)
This route to Hoverla begins in the village of Kvasy. The railway station of the same name helps hikers to get to the starting point easily enough. Here you can also taste the healing mineral water and then start the route. The route has a length of 30 km, so you should plan 2-3 days for it. Although there are no abrupt climbing and steep paths, the path is chosen mainly by more experienced tourists because includes climbing two peaks: Petros (2,020 m) and Hoverla (2,060 m).
If you feel confident in the Carpathian Mountains, it is worth trying the Hoverla climbing routes set by amateurs. These trails do not have official markings, so it is better to check the map at each fork.
Kukul – Hoverla
A hiker will have to walk about 9 km, so if you leave early in the morning, it will take one day. The starting point is Kukul Mountain, which can be an adventure on its own. The trail runs along the former Polish-Czechoslovakian border. For a long time, the route was impassable because of the large amount of bush and deadwood. But in 2020, volunteers helped to restore the trail. The route is picturesque but not an easy one, as it passes through the upper points of the mountain range with constant elevation changes.
The village of Hoverla – Hoverla
A hiker will have to walk about 14 km, so it is worth bringing a tent in case you want to spend the night. You can get to the village by taxi, bus or join a local who goes in this direction for a similar fee. Most of the road goes through the valley of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve, where you can admire the age-old primeval forests. The trail will take you first to the Breskul polonyna (meadow), and then to the saddle near the Breskul mountain. From here you can start climbing the Hoverla along the route, which is impossible to stray from.
Winter routes to Hoverla
All of the discussed climbing options and their descriptions are aimed at tourists who come to the Carpathian Mountains from late May to mid-September. But sometimes you just want to admire the snow-covered mountains and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a winter fairy tale! Such hikes are recommended only for trained tourists and it is better if they are accompanied by an instructor.
It is good if you already have experience in winter hiking (not necessarily in the mountains). You should have special clothes and equipment, including quality membrane boots and crampons. Before starting the hike you have to register with the rescuers and provide them with the hiking route and add a GPS navigator to the map.
Although the way to the top does not look difficult even in winter, do not underestimate the dangers of high altitude: frost, icing, risk of avalanches, snowdrifts. It is forbidden to climb the peak by traverses, as there is a high probability of falling off the slope. In winter, routes to Hoverla are not so diverse. The safest route is believed to be the one from Koz’menshchik.
Less convenient would be climbing from the Zaroslyak Resort (only the green route will be available). The start from the resort should be postponed there was a sudden change of weather or heavy snowfalls in previous days.
Regardless of the route, you choose in wintertime, warm but lightweight clothes are a must. If you plan to stay in the mountains overnight, take extra-thick karrimats (or better – inflatable mats) and a gas burner for cooking.
How to get there?
Armed with the Hoverla route map, you can safely plan your trip. It is important to check the ways to get to the starting point in advance. So, it is easy to get to Vorokhta by commuter rail or intercity train (there is a stop on the way from Kyiv or Odesa to Rakhiv). Only suburban railway routes pass through Lazeshchina and Kvasy. Also, you can get to any settlement by bus (direct or with a transfer) from Ivano-Frankivsk, or Lviv.
What to bring?
Please give special consideration to the clothes and shoes you plan to wear for climbing:
- thermal underwear is designed to keep moisture away from the body, thus protecting you from overheating or hypothermia;
- windbreaker protects you from the chilling wind gusts awaiting for hikers at the top, and possible rain;
- fleece is a functional substitute to a sweater that is especially needed in the cold season;
- seasonal hat will help to keep you in good health, no matter what the weather conditions are;
- trekking shoes or regular slip-proof and waterproof boots/sneakers will protect you from injuries on the rocky and uneven areas and will keep your feet dry during the snow/rainfall.
If you’re planning an overnight trip, be sure to bring a tent. They are gradually arranging huts in the Carpathian Mountains, especially on popular routes, for hikers to stay overnight. Thus, the trips “without a backpack” will be possible. But in fact, currently, there aren’t many tourist huts, and they are mostly fully occupied in peak season. It’s better to cover all bases and take everything you need for a self-contained overnight stay.
If you have time and choose a route to Hoverla, add at least 1-2 extra days to it. Thus, you will be able to visit the nearby natural attractions and just relax in the midst of magnificent forests and gentle mountain slopes. This approach is also relevant when traveling with children – young tourists are less tired of hiking at a relaxed pace. At the same time, you can be sure that the younger members of the family will be delighted with the opportunity to play in nature and taste the local cuisine.
In the warm season, it pays to go to the most famous Ukrainian peak on weekdays when there are fewer tourists and souvenir sellers. In winter this place is quite peaceful, except for festive dates, so you can schedule your trip for any convenient day. To experience the vocation in the mountains to the fullest extent, it makes sense to rent a hotel room and plan the entertainment program that includes visiting mineral springs, waterfalls, lakes, and other special places of this region!