Many of the routes in the Bulgarian mountains have been marked in order to help the orientation of the tourists and to secure their walking during bad weather conditions. The way marks are essential during some parts of the self-guided (or the so called “inn to inn”) walking holidays in Bulgaria but also they could be of use during the escorted (guided) hiking tours especially during bad weather conditions.
Thanks to a network of comfortable mountain chalets, guest houses and camps, the visitor has the choice of more than 5,000 marked paths and routes through unspoiled nature, secure in the knowledge of a warm welcome at the end of an exciting day.
Thousands of kilometers of marked trails provide a high degree of security when moving around through the Bulgarian mountains although some routes are still not really reliable for foreigners walking alone. The four-color marking characteristic of most European countries with developed hiking is adopted in Bulgaria too. The key colors in it are red, blue, green and yellow, and white colour is an auxiliary one. It should be known that the red marking, in principle, is for ridges. Although looking the same as style and size, black stripe between two white stripes is not a tourist marking!
If you loose the marking along unfamiliar trail go back to the last mark and try to find the right way again!
Summer Marking Stripe-marking is used primarily, comprising three horizontal bands. The middle one is painted with the main color for orientation, while the role of the two side bands (in most cases white) is just to attract the hikers’ attention. The marks are usually painted on visible places over trees, rocks, walls of buildings etc. In recent times specially prepared metal 3-coloured tables are also used being more durable. Tables, representing arrows with the color of the marking at the front show the direction and the last point of the route (this place is written on the table in these cases). By the huts or near crossroads there are information desks with schemes of the most popular routes and places to pass in the vicinity and also the color of the marking, leading to these spots. Over the summits of the mountains there are sometimes pyramids made of stones for orientation in bad weather conditions. But this could be quite confusing when several trails cross each other at one point only… That is why during summer if the weather is not good enough it is recommended to use the winter marking, although this is combined with overcoming greater altitudes.
Winter Marking Winter marking consists of yellow-black metal stakes, at a height of between 3 and 4 meters, and indicates the comparatively safest way along a certain route in the event of thick snow cover.
Sometimes on the very top of these stakes there is a little table with the serial number of each particular steak. The greater part of the routes, mainly in Rila, Pirin and along the ridges of the Balkan Mountains, have azimuth table plates in addition to the numbering of the stakes.
The winter marking in Bulgaria in general is in not in a very good condition – steaks are missing or lying on the ground thus being invisible from a distance of more than 5 m.
Walking Bulgaria highly recommends the presence of at least one local mountain guide for escorted hiking trips in the alpine parts of the highest mountains in Bulgaria (Rila, Pirin and Balkan). When planning a walking holiday in Bulgaria without a local guide please always take into consideration the following risks:
– there are no online possibilities to prebook accommodation in mountain huts in Bulgaria
– during the high season accommodating groups, that have not been booked in advance, is extremely risky due to limited capacity of most of the huts
– the mountains in Bulgaria are not the Alps – the markings may lack, the network of paths over the ridges could be very misleading, there is no regular flow of tourist groups which you could ask for the direction
– the existing mountain maps are not very correct for certain areas and local knowledge is a must in such cases