[Updated 2020] Hiking Malyovitsa Peak in Rila Mountain, Bulgaria (In Winter)

Hiking Malyovitsa peak in Rila mountain, Bulgaria is a great adventure and a lot of fun.

Malyovitsa is one of the most known and recognizable peaks in Rila Mountain and is a must hike for every mountain and hiking lover.

Often, Malyovitsa is also being called one of the most dangerous peaks to hike in Bulgaria (in winter) due to the avalanche danger. The area around Malyovitsa is one of the most avalanche-dangerous in all of Bulgaria.

Anyway, if you’re well prepared, and choose the right time it’s absolutely alright to go hike it in winter.

In the summer, there is no danger of avalanches, obviously, so lots of people are going there. It’s one of the most popular peaks to hike in Bulgaria and usually, the trails leading to the top are very crowded in the hot months, and especially on the weekends.

 

Malyovitsa and I 

At the moment of updating this article, I have already been on Malyovitsa peak five times – four of which in winter. 

The first time when I was in this part of Rila Mountain, I spend the time hiking in the surrounding area and spending a nice time overnight at the ”Scary Lake” shelter – one of my absolute favorite places in Bulgarian mountains. On the next day, I was at the foot of Malyovitsa peak, at Malyovitsa hut, but we were lazy to go to the top and decided to head straight back home.

The next time when I actually went hiking to the peak it was in the summer and everything seemed promising from the beginning. However, halfway to the top, heavy rain, which turned to snow thwart our plans. Our group of 4 people split in two – 2 of us wanting to continue and the other 2, who thought it would be better if we just get back. Unfortunately, that’s what we did, although it was probably for our best. 

The third time was the time when I finally got to the top and it was amazing!

After trekking to the Musala peak in winter, my first winter climbed peak, and remembering what an amazing experience it was, I had no patience to go to the all covered in white mountain.

People say that the view from the top in summer is wonderful and it really is, but I do prefer the view in winter. In winter, when everything is covered in snow, the view is truly incredible – look at the pictures, they speak for themselves.

hiking malyovitsa peak rila mountain bulgaria

About Malyovitsa

Malyovitsa is a 2 729 meter high peak in the northwestern parts of Rila mountain. The region is famous for rock climbing and mountaineering and as well as a ski resort.

Malyovitsa is also one of the most avalanche danger areas and unfortunately, many people have lost their lives there.

hiking malyovitsa peak rila mountain bulgaria

About the hike

So what is like hiking Malyovitsa peak in winter?

I’m very happy that I’ve had the chance to hiking Malyovitsa peak in Rila Mountain with some good friends, all 5 times. People with whom I have had many other adventures before and people with whom, I always have a great time with.

Did I mention that we’ve also had dogs as a company? And that seriously happens every single time!

hiking malyovitsa peak rila mountain bulgaria

Meet Johnny and Rangel – two dogs that live down in the area of the hut, dogs who probably have hiked the peak many times before. We meet those two on my first hike to Malyovitsa. I believe I meet Rangel again last time. 

The hike, in general, is not difficult. The last time, however, instead of in snow, I hiked the trail mostly covered in ice. In such conditions, it might be more challenging to complete the hike to the top. 

Hiking Malyovitsa peak in Rila Mountain is a great adventure as already said – the mountain is so beautiful when it’s all covered in snow and all the surrounding views are just amazing.

hiking malyovitsa peak rila mountain bulgaria

Description of the trail

The classic route of hiking Malyovitsa peak in winter takes about 4 hours in one direction.

The trail starts at Malyovitsa CPS, crossing a meadow named ”Mecha Polyana” on a blue mark and continue to the hut, which is the base at the peak’s foot. The walk from the meadow to the hut goes parallel to the Malyovitsa river and takes from 40 minutes to 1 hour.

From Malyovitsa hut the hike to Malyovitsa peak continues on a red mark – it continues along the first and second terraces and Elenino Lake. From the hut, depending on your fitness level, you should reach the top within 3 or 4 hours.

To make it more understandable, let me break the trail into a few stages: 

  • Stage 1: Mlayovitsa CPS to Malyovitsa hut – 40 minutes 
  • Stage 2: Malyovitsa hut to Elenino lake – 1.5 to 2 hours 
  • Stage 3: Elenino lake – Malyovitsa peak – 1 to 1.5 hours 

 

Stage 1: Malyovitsa CPS to Malyovitsa hut

Just so you know, Malyovitsa CPS is already at an altitude of 1,720 meters while Malyovitsa hut is at an altitude of 1,960 meters. Having this in mind, the hike shouldn’t feel like too big of a challenge when it comes to ascending. The terrain is mostly flat and could be walked without any stops and breaks.

Stage 2: Malyovitsa hut to Elenino lake

If you’re starting the hike at Malyovitsa CPS, you can make a quick stop at the hut. From here, you can already see where are you headed to. The peak is right in front of your eyes – it’s the one in behind, on your right-hand side. It looks so far, but in a matter of about 3 hours, you’ll be standing on it. 

From the very start, the trail is nothing challenging. Almost no ascending. In summer, and when there’s not enough snow, the path is covered in rocks.  Sometimes, you’ll jump have to jump from stone to stone. 

After about 50 minutes, you’ll reach the second terrace – this is where you can make another quick stop before starting the climb to the peak. Also, this is the place where many Bulgarian alpinists have lost their lives. You should be able to see a big rock covered in memorial plaques. 

Follows an ascent, which in 40 minutes or so will take you to Elenino lake. This is the biggest lake that you might be able to see from the peak – depending on how much snow there is. In the first picture in the article, where am I standing on the top with arms wide open, you can also notice the outlines of the lake. It has the shape of a heart. 

hiking-malyovitsa-peak-rila-mountain-winter-elenino-lake

Stage 3: Elenino lake to Malyovitsa peak

The third and last stage of hiking to Malyovitsa peak is, in my opinion, the best one. From this point, you can already gaze at the views of surrounding peaks, Elenino lake, and Malyovitsa valley. 

hiking-malyovitsa-peak-rila-mountain-winter-elenino-lake-view

When you reach the ridge, you might have the opportunity to see Rila Monastery from a birds-eye view. The last part from the ridge to the peak is easy, but you need to be careful as there are some narrow parts where the snow might be slippery. 

And you’ve made it!

Now enjoy the views… 

hiking-malyovitsa-peak-rila-mountain-winter-views-top

 “On earth, there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.” – this one of my favorite nature quotes!

Practical tips for hiking Malyovitsa peak in Rila Mountain

Distance: 7, 90 km, from Malyovitsa hut to the peak and back 

Elevation: 746 meters of positive altitude; -732 meters of negative 

Difficulty: Easy to medium, depending on your fitness level

Time: 7 to 8 hours 

What you’ll need: 

Comfortable, hiking shoes are an absolute must (no matter the season)

Water – Make sure to get enough water for the hike. In summer, there are water streams where you can fill up your bottle. In winter, it’s also possible to find, but just in case, take as much as you usually drink when hiking.  

Food – Sandwiches, energy bars, nuts, chocolate. You might want to get a bite when you reach the peak. The only place on the way where you can find food is Malyovitsa hut. 

Windproof jacket, hat, and gloves – Must have hiking essentials when hiking in winter!

Headlamp – Just in case you need it. The last time when I did the hike, we finished it after sunsets and got back from the hut to the car at Malyovitsa CPS on headlamps. The days in winter are shorter after all. 

hiking malyovitsa peak rila mountain bulgaria

How to get to Malyovitsa CPS

Rila mountain is situated in the southwestern part of Bulgaria, 70km away from Sofia. There are 3 ways to get to the starting point of the hike from Sofia

The most convenient way to get there is by car – it takes about an hour and a half to reach Malyovitsa CPS (where there is parking) from Sofia.

The second way is by bus – to get there by bus, you will need to get a bus from Sofia (Bus station South) to Samokov first and then a mini bus that goes to Malyovitsa CPS. You can also take a taxi. 

From Sofia to Samokov buses are leaving every day, every half an hour. The ticket costs between 5-7 leva which is around $3-4. The route takes about an hour. Find the schedule on this link – look at the second chart. 

From Samokov bus station, there are two minibusses a day going to Malyovitsa CPS. One is at 9:15 in the morning, and the second one is at 15:30 in the afternoon. 

And yes, the third way is to hitchhike – I have done that and it was a lot of fun. But it works in summer, in winter it might not be your best option, especially if you’re planning to the hike in one day. 

 

Where to stay

If you’re not traveling by car, I would recommend doing the hike in winter in two days, so you can start early enough and have the how day. If you need to take the bus back, times simply don’t work, unfortunately. 

The closest place where you can stay is Malyovitsa hut. Call 088 523 2325 for a reservation at the hut. 

Additionally, in this area, you can also stay in Govedartsi or Samokov. That’s in case you allow two days for the hike.

And since you’re interested in hiking to Malyovitsa peak in winter, you also might want to check my article on winter trekking to Musala – the highest peak in Bulgaria and in the Balkans!

Thanks for reading, 

Bilyana

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