Stage 7: Jukhtakvank to Haghartsin Monastery
Part of the Transcaucasian Trail route through Dilijan National Park, Armenia.
Status: Open & Partially Marked
From Jukhtakvank, head back downhill on the dirt road for 250m. Look on your left for the entrance to a narrow path leading up into the forest. Follow this path up and SE through the woods.
After 400m you’ll come to a small clearing with some khachkars on the right. Continue straight across the clearing and re-enter the forest. After 500m you’ll emerge onto a wider disused dirt road. Follow this uphill and out of the forest for another 600m to reach a collection of farm buildings and a junction with a well-used dirt road.
Turn right and head E on the road for 500m. It will dip down to a small river crossing and then climb back up to the point of spur. Turn left on this point and follow a faint track directly N up the ridge between fenced-off pastures with occasional clusters of trees.
After 1km you’ll come to a stream crossing. Cross it and follow the fencing on your right for 100m before turning right and following the edge of the field directly up the hillside. 300m of walking will bring you to the top edge of the pasture; turn right and traverse S along a narrow trail in parallel with the top edge of the fenced field, which will bring you to the point of another lightly wooded spur. Here, the trail naturally curves round to the left. Continue directly N along the top of the ridge, in parallel with the broken fence posts, for about 500m to reach a junction with a dirt road.
Turn right on the dirt road and follow it for 550m as it traverses the hillside between stands of oak trees. It will veer S and climb to another ridge where it joins another more well-used dirt road. Turn left and follow this road up as it winds its way up the rocky ridge. After 400m, take a left on a fainter dirt road, which will climb up towards the trees and to the right of the rock formations, taking you round the back of the outcropping.
Cross the dirt road to follow a narrow trail that runs NE in parallel with the dirt road above for 500m, before rejoining the main track. Continue 400m, turning right at the fork and joining the narrow trail across the hillside for a further 550m.
Cross the dirt road that follows the ridge, and continue straight on the faint trail that bears N across the hayfield towards the trees. After about 400m it will enter the woods. Follow the trail another 500m to a small stream crossing. Cross the stream, emerging from the trees, and continue following the trail for 600m around the hillside. The trail will meet another dirt road; join it and continue N through the forest for 1.5km.
The road will eventually leave the forest on the far side and climb steeply to a 3-way junction. Turn sharply right on the dirt road, cross the stream and continue winding down into the valley for 1km. Directly after another stream crossing, take the narrow trail directly in front of you SE, bypassing several farm buildings in the process and bringing you out directly opposite the uppermost of the dwellings.
Make your way uphill and N among the rocks for 400m, passing a small depression behind the hill above the farms and looking for the trail on the hillside behind it, leading up and to the right. Follow this narrow trail E and above the rock formations for 150m as it curves around the ridge. Keep gaining elevation as you traverse the hillside for 300m in order to meet the remains of an old road above the next set of rock formations.
Continue traversing on cow paths for another 900m, passing above each rock outcrop until you reach a junction with a disused road. Turn left on this road and follow it uphill for 530m to reach the highest point on this stage of the route, from where 360-degree panoramas across Dilijan National Park can be seen.
Take your time enjoying the view – the descent to Haghartsin Monastery is a relatively short trek down dirt roads used for haymaking and farming.
Follow the switchbacks down from the lookout point and across the hayfields below. For the first 1.8km of the descent, the road mainly follows the southern facing side of the ridge on a E bearing. After this, it drops down into the valley, still heading roughly E but traversing the terrain and passing in and out of the forest as it descends. There are a few junctions, but as long as you continue to descend E on the most well-used dirt road available, you will eventually find yourself following steep switchbacks down through the forest just N of Haghartsin Monastery.
The road will bring you out at the car park, where you may surprise locals and tourists alike by emerging from the forest in the opposite direction to which everyone else arrived.
There’s no formal accommodation available at the monastery itself at this time. Aurora Guesthouse has recently opened in the village of Teghut at the junction of the paved road to the monastery and the M-4 main road. It’s about 4km from the monastery.
Camping is informally allowed on terraced land behind the monastery, just beyond the spring behind the churches at the E end of the complex. Please ask the monastery staff before you pitch a tent here.
Monastery-made honey and jam is available from the gift shop. During tourist season, a coffee stand and snack bar operates just below the main car park. Walk 650m down the asphalt road to reach another coffee shop and a restaurant, which can be found by passing through the large set of gates on the corner.
TCT Dilijan National Park
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