MTB Matajur – fantastic single trail above Soča and Nadiža valleys

It's not a hard job to get to the top of the mountain Matajur on the Slovenian-Italian border high above Kobarid and the valleys of the emerald Soča and Nadiža rivers, if you're moderately fit. And if you start a trip high enough, of course :-). Matajur is a nice mountain, it's not steep, there are many paths that guide you to the top, narrow and wide ones, there's a lot of mountain flowers you can admire, if you make the trip in the spring or in the summer, there's a beautiful view from the summit ...

So – we make the MTB trip on Matajur every year (well, it was the third this year). What I wrote about the ascent suites both, hikers and mountain bikers. But for those that are fond of MTB, is Matajur a bit more special then for those who like to walk. Because there's a fantastic single track from the summit of Matajur that slides through vast mountain meadows and forests and it's long enough (1500 vertical meters) that it exhausts you more than the ascent. I wish I could say it's one of the best single tracks in Slovenia, but I can't since it's in – Italy. You start a tour in Slovenia, but you are descending in Italy. Two countries in one day :-)!

Matajur is a nice and undemanding mountain and a real belvedere: from the summit there's a beautiful view toward the mountain chain of Kobariški Stol and the Carnic Alps and part of the Western Julian Alps in the background; there's a view of mount Krn, which looks like a sharply shaped nose on the scarred face, and of the ridge of Krnčica with the highest Slovenian mountain Triglav somewhere behind. If the weather treats you well, you can also catch a glimpse of the Adriatic Sea.

Matajur was also the part of the Isonzo Front during the World War One; the first battles started in May 1915, so there's a big anniversary this year. If you're visiting Soča Valley I suggest you visit the splendid museum in Kobarid, dedicated to the Isonzo Front and hike a part of the Walk of Peace that connects some crucial war points along the Soča river in Slovenia and Italy.

And now back to Matajur. There are a couple of possibilities to reach Matajur by bike from the Slovenian side. Two years ago we started the trip in the village Livek above Kobarid (if you're there, check out the Chalets Nebesa, one of the most unique tourist accommodations in Slovenia!). Last year we started it a bit higher – in the village Avsa, where the asphalt ends and where the macadam starts. Each time we had to cycle from Italy back to Slovenia, to Kobarid, where we left one car to get another one above the valley. It was a loooong ride back: when we ended the descent from Matajur, we had to cycle another 25 kilometers (or was it 30?) on the busy and boring roads back to Kobarid. That's why we took care of the logistics this year: we drove our cars to Avsa (860 meters altitude), took our bikes from the cars, then drove down the other side of the mountain, to Italy, where we planned to end the tour. We were a team of four, enough to take care of the bikes and drive all the cars to Italy.

The tour started where the hiking path to Matajur begins. The path turns into the forest, but we started to ride a bike on the wide macadam forest road. It's not steep so the ride is quite comfortable (if you cycle more than twice a year, of course). Here and there you have nice views of the surrounding hills, all covered with dark green forests. Here and there you meet a cow or two and the herds of goats.

But the most beautiful part of the ascent starts where you already see the summit of Matajur. The road slowly narrows and the last some hundred meters you sweat on the single track, surrounded by high grass, leaves of some sort of berries and the nettles (so it's not recommended to fall aside :-)) and mountain flowers.

We didn't cycle to the summit of Matajur; we ended the ascent at the mountain hut (Dom na Matajure) a bit under one hundred meters below it. Let's say we needed around two hours to ascend to the hut (a minute more or less). A quick hike to the summit – a gentle one, no steep rocks, just grass – and then: doooown!

We took the route number 749 on the Italian side. And it was ... heaven! Purgatory if not hell the last two years in the beginning :-), but this year I could quote Monty Python: And now for something completely different :-)! Pure pleasure! First there's a very narrow single track through the meadows and then to the woods and then again through the meadows and back to the woods ... Mostly not too steep or with to much rocks that shake you to the guts. (Well, I do have a hardtail.)

We followed 749 almost to the valley; when we left the single track we joined a slightly wider forest road where we could speed up a bit. We ended the descent near Ponte San Quirino and cycled some hundred meters to reach our cars.

This tour was close to perfection. The conditions were superb, no harvested grass that hardened the descent last year, no mud, no slippery rocks ... And while talking about perfection, I don't care about comparisons like: Weeell, yeah, may be, but the one in the Dolomites (or anywhere else) was muuuch better! It doesn't matter what and where was and will be better. What matters is now and the experience itself!

P.s.: For those who are visiting the area for the first time and would like to experience the tour I'd suggest hiring a local guide – for orientation, logistics and safety, of course.

P.s.s.: A suggestion: make a jump into the Nadiža river (or Soča if you're really tough!). Or drive to Bača pri Modreju at Most na Soči and swim in the Idrijca river like we did :-)!

P.s.s.s.: And check out the nicest notice from the way down! I miss something like that in Slovenia!

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