Risnjak and Snježnik
Risnjak and Snježnik
Peaceful rocky giants
If one should pinpoint a small area of Croatian mountains covering the largest number of phenomena, this would most probably be Risnjak. Various Alpine, Dinaric, Mediterranean and continental influences meet here in a unique way. Visitors will be thrilled by old and well-preserved woods, beautiful viewpoints and bright green shades of the river Kupa, bursting with strength of a huge river straight from its spring under Risnjak, and many other phenomena. Risnjak has been protected as a national park.
It is at Risnjak that the Pannonic and Peripannonic areas have come closest to the Adriatic and the watershed of the Adriatic and Black Sea basins is here closest to the Adriatic coast. In other words, although Risnjak is only 15 kilometres away from the Adriatic Sea, a raindrop falling on Risnjak and travelling across a vast karst area will end in the Kupa, Sava and Danube rivers, and finally in the thousand kilometres away Black Sea. Still, the data on the watershed must be taken cautiously, as the limestone structure of the field is such that water finds its unimaginable underground ways through.
The Kupa river’s spring gushes under Risnjak, under the steep rocks of the Kupečki summit, close to village Razloge, and assumes immediately all the features of a large river. Its unique turquoise colour and the location in a deep ravine at the bottom of the Gavranova Rock and Kupeški summit (715 m), a natural amphitheatre giving birth to the river Kupa, offers a spectacular experience of beauty and calm. The very spring of the river Kupa is an oval-shaped lake sunken under hundreds of meters high steep cliffs. In its further flow, from its confluence Čabranka to Kamanje next to Ozalj, Kupa is a bordering river separating Croatia and Slovenia.
The top of Risnjak is recognisable from afar as per its rocks of Big and Southern Mali Risnjak with a saddle between them accommodating a mountain lodge. Risnjak is one of the most picturesque Croatian peaks, the second highest in Gorski Kotar (6 meters lower than Bjelolasica). Thanks to its position, the top of Risnjak offers a good view of the Rijeka Bay, Krk, Učka, Ćićarija, Snježnik and Slovenian Snežnik, Lokvarsko lake, Bjelolasica and Velebit, and the saddle below it accommodates Schlosser’s mountain lodge. It is particularly thrilling to see no settlements nearby but rather vast woodland from which numerous mountaintops arise.
On the western side, the ridge of Risnjak is separated from Snježnik by a deeply indented valley whose forest trail leads from Gornje Jelenje towards Gerovo, allowing thus the shortest possible mountain access to the mountaintop of Risnjak (an hour and a half of climbing). On the eastern side, the slopes of Risnjak descend less steeply towards Crni Lug. The ascent from Crni Lug to Risnjak takes three hours and there are two trails. Close to Crni Lug there is the Leska valley, which can be explored on foot, taking an educational trail which starts right next to the administrative building of the National Park, in a small village of Crni Lug, Bijela Vodica.
The neighbouring ridge of Snježnik is also impressive as per its views of Slovenian Snežnik, Obruč, Učka, the Rijeka Bay with northern Adriatic islands, and the top of Risnjak can only be so beautifully seen from Snježnik. Just like its Slovenian namesake, the entire ridge and the highest mountaintop were named after huge quantities of snow, which despite the proximity of the sea linger on until late spring. The ascent to the top of Snježnik begins on Platak, a series of picturesque grasslands, which is also a skiing destination for the citizens of Rijeka. To climb to Risnjak from Platak, one needs an hour and a half, and the mountain trail is well marked and particularly interesting.
Because of its rather difficult accessibility, all that makes Risnjak unique has still remained preserved and intact and offers beauty to all those who wish to meet this small and attractive corner of Gorski Kotar.