High Scardus Hiking trail
High Scardus Trail is the Europe’s newest long distance hiking, ski touring and mountain biking adventure. Developed as a transnational cross-border product, it is the natural extension of the Via Dinarica project, connecting North Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo along the mountainous-shared border.
It’s name, High Scardus is the latin name of Shar Mountain, the longest range in this part of the Balkans. Most of the High Scardus trail is positioned on Shar Mountain so it was only natural to give this name to the tour, referring it to its past which connects us the people from the Balkans.
Developed as a project by GIZ to improve the tourism offer in the region and additionally enhance the cross border cooperation, the trails were prepared and marked, locals were educated to be able to offer improved service and a cross border procedure was developed.
The High Scardus Trail hike:
The hike itself begins on the amazing Shar from its natural start, the beautiful peak Ljuboten, which is just a meter shy from 2500 meters. It lies on the border between Macedonia and Kosovo, and is also depicted on the coat of arms of the city of Skopje. It passes the amazing Livadica glacial lake, and also some of the most breathtaking peaks and areas like Kobilica with its rocky neighbor Treskavec, positioned above amazing scenery.
It passes through the grandeurs’ valley of Leshnica, where the rocky peaks stand above deep pine forest and Mountain Rivers. Going toward Kosovo, the hike goes by the amazing springs of the river Pena, next to the giant Djini Beg positioned at 2610 meters. Next to him are Trapeznica and Rudoka peak, which at 2658 meters is the high peak of Kosovo.
The trail connects Shar Mountain to Korab, where stands the king of kings — peak Korab the highest of the trail and of Albania and Macedonia with its 2764 meters.
It passes Deshat and Jablanica mountains, where it comes to Ohrid lake, the oldest lake in Europe. From there it passes again through North Macedonia into Albania via Galichica mountain, and ends next to the wild Prespa lake.
Along the massive trail ridge, there are more than 30 peaks peaking above 2500 meters. Abundance of glacial lakes, mountain springs, old sheepfolds and beautiful villages. The region is very diverse, with a mix of different nationalities and religions. You can meet Macedonians, Albanians, Gorani, with a mix of orthodox and catholic Christians and Muslims.
The full cross-border route follows a 495 kilometers long main trail. The main trail is intersected by a large number of secondary trails that provide alternative options as well as a great number of entry and exit points to the main path.
This makes High Scardus trail suitable for long distance hikers as well as daily hiking enthusiasts.
While being on route you can cross six national parks, by two in each of the neighboring countries. Hopefully the number will soon increase to seven, since the procedure for Shar Mountain to become a National Park in North Macedonia is at its finish.
Completing the entire route from the furthest place on North, near the Macedonian capital of Skopje till the most south place at Lake Prespa would take as much as full 20 days.
Thru-hikers may tackle the entire trail, while most will pick a multi-day section or visit on a day walk. It’s equally suited for mountain bikers seeking a single trail experience in one of the wildest ranges of the Balkans.>
Best time to visit:
The High Scardus Trail can be walked in both directions from South to North and in reverse.>
Best time to hike the trail is from June to mid October. Most of the areas above 2000 meters have snow coverage with snow from late November until the end of May, which would make the hike more technical and require winter equipment such as crampons and ice axe.