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near Marchaevo, София-град (България)
This hike is part 2 of a 2-day hike from Knyazhevo to Zheleznitsa, which crosses the entire Vitosha mountain and touches the peak. You can find part 1 here: https://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=27502613.
Towards the end of the hike my GPS went haywire when it couldn't get a fix in the forest. That part looks very chaotic on the trail map, but in reality it's very easy, and you can't go wrong. Unfortunately this has messed up the statistics of the hike. This trail was about 15km in length, starting with a 600m climb for the first 6km, and then a 1300m descent.
Only the first and the final 3 kilometres were in the forest. For the rest of the hike you're out in the open, with no shade or shelter. There are also few water sources to fill your canteen, so bring plenty of water and sunscreen. The restaurant at the top of the Black Peak is the only place where you can buy food, so either use it or bring your own food.
The starting point of this hike is the last mountain hut that can be reached by car, so if you can arrange transportation you can do this hike as a stand-alone. From the top of the mountain you could also hike down to the Aleko hut and take the gondola lift back to Simeonovo, to make the hike considerably shorter.
The landscapes you encounter along the way are very varied, including pine forest, swamp, small shrubs, rocks, and some leafy trees towards the end. Most of the trail is technically easy, but there are some swampy parts where it is really hard to keep your feet dry. I recommend bringing a dry pair of socks. There are some fantastic views along the way that make the hike more than worth it.
At the end of the hike you can take bus 98 back to Sofia (metro station Vitosha).
There is a water fountain here too, but it gives off only a few drops. You can turn left here to go to Zlatni Mostove (Golden Bridges) instead of up to the Black Peak.
The slope hasn't been used in years, but its decaying infrastructure is still visible.
Here it's hard to follow the trail while keeping your feet dry.
The area around this part of the trail is very swampy. It's nearly impossible to traverse with dry feet. From here the final 300 metre climb to the top starts.
The restaurant at the top of the mountain has a few tables and sells hot and cold drinks, soup, a few fried dishes, and packaged snacks. Enough to keep you going on the hike.
From here you can descend on the North side to the Aleko hut, from where you can take the gondola lift down to Sofia (observing working hours). We will descend to the South-East, to Zheleznitsa. You could also go down on the South-West side, to Chuypetlovo, but then you'd find yourself far from Sofia by road and with few public transportation options. Finally you can descend to the West, going back to where we came from, and potentially connect to the Zlatni Mostove (Golden Bridges).
View of the South-Eastern parts of Sofia.
The small river is easy to cross. Because the water is fast-moving, it's probably reasonably safe to drink, lacking other sources of water.
The building was closed when we visited (on a Monday in August). It may cater to winter sports.
From here you can take bus 98 back to Sofia. The bus goes to the Zoo, but it makes a stop at metro station Vitosha.