Biking Trail Description
This biking trail is located in the Lori province of Armenia. Starting from Vanadzor, the 3rd largest city in Armenia, you will ride towards the Dendropark botanical garden, one of the most remarkable nature places in Armenia. Here, you have an opportunity to see numerous species of plants and trees, which have been adapted to the climate of Armenia. The fresh, bracing air and the cool environment, are the reasons why the Dendropark is a special protected area, and as such, open from 10:00 till 19:00.
The trail will lead you to the Lori Berd fortress, the old family residence of the Armenian King, Ashot-Erkat (i.e. iron) Bagratuni. It is in his honour the fortress was called the Ashot-Erkat fortress. Below, there is an arched stone bridge on the Dzoraget river built in the 10th century, which has been preserved to this day.
Leaving the cultural heritage of the canyon behind, accompanied with a breeze, you should continue riding up to the left plateau of the Debed canyon. Here you will see the Odzun basilica church complex.
The return path is from Odzun.
Dendropark or ‘Sochut Botanical Garden’ is 155km from Yerevan. It is located at an altitude of 1,450m above sea level. This is a special protected area established by Polish engineer-forester, Edmon Leonovich, in 1931. The botanical garden covers an area of 35 ha, 17.5 ha of which is occupied by the natural forest, and 15 ha by ornamental trees. There are ornamental plants, natural woods, small-leaf linden alleys and other species of wild plants in the botanical garden of Stepanavan. Most of the plants are brought from the botanical garden of Yerevan, as well as from Georgia, the Ukraine, Russia, the Middles East and other countries. Many plants were acquired from Germany, France, Portugal, China and America. Currently, there are over 500 species in the park. The annual precipitation is 550 mm. This collection of plants is of great scientific interest, an opportunity to explore the changes in the development of plants growing in new climatic conditions.
Lori Berd is an unassailable medieval fortress located at the intersection of the Dzoraget and Urut gorges, 4.5km from Stepanavan. The province of Lori is located on the northern trade road, and was a huge trade center during medieval Armenia. It had a population of over 10,000 during the 11th – 13th centuries.
At the end of the 18th century, Lori lost the status of “fortress” and became an ordinary castle, inhabited by migrants, and a harmonious village was established within the citadel. The village was desolated between 1926-1930. Nowadays, there is a Lori Berd village 2km from Lori.
The width of the old fortress wall reaches some 20m in some places, and the height was 20-25m. Initially, the Kyurikyan dynasty and then Zakaryan and their successors built palaces, churches, bathhouses and bridges in the gorges between the city and the suburbs, as well as khachkars (cross-stones) in this area.
The Yerevan State University expedition group has been conducting archaeological studies in Lori since 1966, with very fascinating rooms and building forms being discovered. Lori Berd was built of basalt.
Bridge of Lori Berd is a medieval bridge located in the Lori Berd village. This is one of the best examples of Medieval Armenian (11th-12th centuries) bridge-building. The superb single-span bridge stands strong to date. The bridge is built of the local chiselled basalt stone.
St. Astvatsatsin Church in Odzun is located in Odzun village of the Lori province. It is a domed basilica church. The church was built in the 5th century, on the place of a nave basilica church built by Grigor Lusavorich and King Trdat III (Tiridates) in the 4th century. There is a pillar of the early Christian period near the church. This is a superb monument symbolizing the triumph of Christianity in Armenia. There are many inscriptions in Armenian on the inner and outer walls of the church.
The church was built of a light brown local felsit, which is sparkling in different colors when the sun’s rays fall on the church. In the 19th century, two symmetrical bell towers were built beyond the eastern façade of the Church.
You will see residences and quietly smouldering villages in the distance, on tops of high mountains, and on the wide green plateaus. You will also see silhouettes of high hazy forested hills, gorges and canyons, as well as waterfalls and springs on sunny days. Everyone who has passed this trail noted how much they enjoyed the beauty of Lori and appreciated the importance of the cultural values of those places.
The Lori-Pambak region is located at an altitude of 490-3,196m above sea level, and is distinguished with a diversity of landscape zones. The lowest spot of the Lori province is in the lower stream of the Debed River, at an altitude of 490m, and the highest spot is the summit of Mount Achkasar (3,196m) of the Javakhk plateau.
The flora of Lori is very rich. There are about 60 species of trees and over 90 species of shrubs in the woods. The main tree species is the Fagus orientalis Lipsky, which grows in moist environments.
The fauna of the Lori province is very rich, particularly with rodents, such as field mouse (Arvicolinae), Dipodidae, Mus caecus, Spermophilus citellus, wolf (Canis lupus), fox (Vulpes). There are such birds as duck (Anatidae), gray partridge (Perdix cinerea), redbreast (Erithacus rubecula), sparrow (Passeridae), quail (Coturnix), partridge (Perdix), forest lark (Lullula arborea), swallow (Hirundinidae), pie (Pica), eagle (Aquila), hawk (Falco), among others. Reptiles are not common in this area. There are many species of animals that have left or may have gone extinct.
Safety and Security
All the communication networks operating in Armenia are almost always available in the Lori province, especially on the higher plateaus. In case of emergency, call 911, a service available throughout Armenia.
Best period: April -November
Distance: 117km from Yerevan
Duration: 2 hours
Biking trail length: 68.5 km.
Ride duration: 6 hours.
Altitude from sea level: 1330-1120 meters
The best drink to have on hand is bottled water.
How to Reach the Trail
To reach the above-mentioned biking trail, you should get to the city of Vanadzor, which will cost 12,000 AMD, if you take a taxi from Yerevan. Taxi services are quite affordable throughout Armenia. We recommend taking a cab with a taximeter.