Hiking trio close to Ljubljana: Katarina, St. Jakob, Grmada

by Jerneja Fidler Pompe

If you are visiting Ljubljana, here are some of the most popular hiking destinations for a quick stretch of legs near our city, which you can do separately, or combined in an enchanting half-day tour like me the other day.

First, Katarina

I had been planning the trio trip for at least a month, thus waking up to a drizzling grey morning on the day I set the date for, I was not the one to be deterred. I packed a sandwich, a bottle of water, hot tea, and a camera, and set off for Gaberje, a small village on the way to Polhov Gradec with the trailhead towards my first goal, Katarina in the Polhov Gradec Hill Range. If you’re taking a bus, take the route 51, Ljubljana – Dobrova – Polhov Gradec (More information on city buses).

  • Slika 2 in 3 + tekst
  • Slika 2 in 3 + tekst

The trail started as a gravel road where instead of cars I met an equally surprised Alpine ibex. If the elegant beasts usually don’t mind our presence in the mountains and even allow us to approach them as close as 20-30 metres, this almost-city fellow fled immediately upon our eye contact. Can’t say I blame the poor guy; walking alone, I too felt the urge to run as soon as I saw strange eyes looking at me from the forest. Nevertheless, the sight of a furry friend fitted nicely in the setting, the trail being a combination of solitude, peace and quiet in a thinly populated landscape.

If truth be told, once in a village called Topol with its famous St. Katherine Church from the 17th century, not a lot of visitors actually know that the barely visible trail continues even further up to a true peak of Katarina at about 770m and doesn’t end by the church. At the top, you can sit on a lonely bench and get lost in a curvy landscape, ending slowly somewhere behind the white mountains in the north.

  • Slika 4, 5 + tekst
  • Slika 4, 5 + tekst

Stats so far? A little over an hour, about 4km and 410m of elevation gain for the Katarina peak.

Second, St. Jakob

If you are to follow my lead and continue going on to the next rolling hill in line, the white church on an enchanting small hilltop named St. Jakob will be your next stop. But no worries as the trail will not take more than half an hour and 1.5km of an easy walk up and down and up again.

  • Slika 6, 7 + tekst
  • Slika 6, 7 + tekst

On a clear day, considering the small effort to arrive there, the views from both Katarina and St. Jakob peaks are indescribably rewarding, letting one see as far as Triglav in the north-west with the rest of the Alps extending across the horizon.

  • Slika 8, 9
  • Slika 8, 9

Third, Polhograjska Grmada

After a home-made sandwich and hot tea at the top of St. Jakob, I was excited to be off for my last goal of the day, Polhograjska Grmada or one of the highest peaks in the Polhov Gradec Hill Range. Stats ahead? A little over 5km, 280m of elevation and 1.15 hours one way. The best part? I could have gone on and on easily to yet another rolling hill ahead, and I whole-heartedly encourage you to do so; if you’re taking a bus, you can easily descend directly to Polhov Gradec and take a bus back to Ljubljana from there.

Finally, lunch back in Topol

Anyway, my stomach had been getting impatient by the minute, therefore I didn’t dally much at the top of Grmada. It was a sort of trail-running end of my trip, pushing it to a laudable pace as my mouth watered excessively by a mere thought of the best restaurant in Topol (just under the Katarina peak), Gostilna Dobnikar, and their tasty traditional dishes. All I can say is that was a perfect ending to a perfect trip. To many more of the kind!

  • Slika 10, 11 + tekst
  • Slika 10, 11 + tekst

Overall stats for the Katarina, St. Jakob and Polhograjska Grmada hiking trip? 18.5km, 751 elevation gain and loss, and 5 hours. Is it worth it? Definitely!

Jerneja Fidler Pompe

An adventurer, a dreamer, an explorer. A real mountain enthusiast. A blogger.

More about Jerneja Fidler Pompe

Related stories