Lifestyle / hiking

Premužić Trail

The beauty of Velebit in one impressive walkway

If you are into hiking and would like to explore Velebit mountain, Premužić trail (Croatian: Premužićeva staza) is a perfect way to do it. In three days of moderate hiking and 57 kilometres of engineering artistry, you can see karst landscapes, forests and meadows. You can take a break at small peaks and enjoy a view of the Adriatic sea and islands below you. Velebit is a long and wide mountain full of different landscapes, with a lot of inhospitable karst pits and peaks.

At the same time, it is one of the most biologically rich areas in Croatia, a nature park with two national parks. Premužić trail itself is a work of art and since 2009, a protected cultural heritage. It also happens to be the only way you can cross and explore the Northern and Central parts of Velebit.

The history

The idea for this trail was born in the 1920s when Ivan Krajčar was holding a presidential position at the Croatian Mountaineering Society (Croatian: Hrvatsko planinarsko društvo). The building of the trail that connects Zavižan and Baške Oštarije, or Northern and Central Velebit, was initiated in 1930 when Krajčar was a minister of trade and industry. As an avid mountaineer, he advocated for opening Velebit to everyone, not just experienced mountain climbers. The main builder was a forestry engineer Ante Premužić, who traced the path and, with the help of the local people experienced in stone processing, made a one of a kind trail. The trail was completed after 4 years, in 1933. It is a true work of art because it is made from dry stone, cut in karst and placed on small viaducts where needed. It is designed to keep the level approximately the same for easier walking. The name Premužić trail was given later by local mountaineers. 

The trail goes from Zavižan and ends at Baške Oštarije (and vice versa). The usual time needed to cross the whole path is three days but it takes longer when going from south to north because it is uphill. While some online sources classify this trail as difficult, that is not the case. The whole idea was to make a trail suitable for tourists, but make sure to have good sun protection because the majority of the path lacks any kind of shade. On the same note, bear in mind that there is little, if any, supply of water and food so be sure to take enough for the duration and a little extra, just in case.

Points of interest

When going from North to South, the trail starts near the Zavižan mountain lodge (1954 m). There is a large parking lot where you can leave your car. The interesting fact is that Zavižan lodge was made at the place of an old mountain lodge built in 1929 and named Krajačeva kuća. The name was changed after 1945.

Going south, one can make a small stop and climb on nearby peak Gromovača (1676 m) and have a view of the Adriatic sea and the islands. Here, the trail is mainly placed in karst and made from dry stone.

The next spot, about 2 hours from Zavižan, is Rossi’s shelter (1580). It is a small house built in 1929 and a popular rest stop amongst hikers. You can also take a rest at the small meadow across from the shelter. Later, the trail goes to Rožanski kukovi, mountain peak Crikvena (1641 m) and down the built-in stairs to the Alan mountain lodge (1340 m). The last part of the trail goes through meadows and some forest and offers exceptional views of the Adriatic coast from mountain Učka on the north, to Zadar on the south, when climbing on the nearby mountain tops, for instance, Zečjak (1622 m) and Šatorina (1622 m). The trail finishes at the small Velebit village called Baške Oštarije (920 m), a common starting or finishing point for hikers.  

If you are more ‘touristy’ oriented or can’t afford a three-day walk, you can take a glimpse of the Velebit and Premužić trail by making a one day trip to see the part of it. Our recommendation is to take the two-hour hike from Zavižan to Rossi’s shelter, and back.

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