Stage 1: Khachardzan to Gosh Lake
Part of the Transcaucasian Trail route through Dilijan National Park, Armenia.
Status: Open & Marked
A medium-difficulty 11km hike along newly-built trails, historical footpaths and dirt roads through the forests of Dilijan National Park, from Khachardzan to Gosh Lake via the ruined village of Chermakavan (Aghkilisa), with road access and parking available at each end of the route.
Khachardzan is a small village 8km off the M-4 main road that follows the River Aghstev between Dilijan and Ijevan. The main road is served by mashrutkas (minibuses) from Yerevan; drivers will set you down at the correct junction (signposted for Chambarak) if you make the request in advance.
Taxis are available from Dilijan, Ijevan or Yerevan. A private taxi from central Yerevan to Khachardzan (~120km) should cost 12,000-15,000 AMD. From Dilijan or Ijevan, prices should be negotiated in advance, but should be around 5,000 AMD one way.
From the junction, follow the H-30 provincial road up the River Getik valley. Traffic is light, but hitch-hiking is relatively easy. Shortly after passing the roadside sign for Khachardzan on the H-30, look for the bus stop on the right. Turn right here and proceed over the bridge and into the village on a dirt road. After 500m, turn right again and cross another bridge over the river. After 150m you’ll find a small shop on your right that sells groceries and basic supplies.
Bear left and continue 600m, following the main road S through the village in parallel with the river, passing a church on your left, and crossing the river again to reach a junction with another dirt road. Turn right on this road and follow it for 300m until it bears left and starts to climb. Take a right turn once again. Following this dirt road S will take you out of Khachardzan and along the valley floor into the forest.
There are various side roads leading off the main track. Stay on the route closest to the river, which will begin to bear SW. You’ll shortly encounter a metal barrier and a sign board indicating the territory of Dilijan National Park. From here, a pair of large water pipes also act as a navigational guide for the first 1km or so until they terminate at a small Soviet-era weir. Continue to follow the route closest to the river; look out for a freshwater spring just off the left of the road, together with a picnic bench.
3.8km after leaving Khachardzan, the road will begin to bear right and climb up into a small side-valley. Follow the hairpin bend through the stream crossing and continue to climb. You’ll emerge from the forest at the corner of an orchard. Continue alongside the orchard for another 250m until you see a signpost on the side of the road. Follow the direction indicated, walking 100m more or less directly uphill among the fruit trees towards a natural gap in the forest. The entrance to the trail will be clearly visible on your right.
This overgrown and long-disused historical trail between Chermakavan and the riverside orchards was explored, mapped and restored by TCT volunteers in 2017. You’ll follow it roughly N up a side valley and back into the forest for 800m before crossing the river and climbing steep switchbacks through dense overgrowth, ascending along narrow rocky escarpments until you emerge from the forest to be presented with magnificent views of the valley below. Continue following a gentler footpath through the forest until you emerge onto an open plateau. Follow the signposted route N across the hay fields until you reach the dirt road.
The road will lead you through the ruined village of Chermakavan, meaning ‘white church’ (also known colloquially by its former Turkish name Aghkilisa, which translates to the same meaning). It is easier to see the surprising extent of the village from a high vantage point; however sticking to the road will still take you past the ruined walls of some of the old houses. It’s worth making the short 100m detour to see the remains of the hilltop church on your right, together with its surrounding khachkars. Passing the village in late summer or autumn, you may find locals from Khachardzan making hay or harvesting apples and pears from the abundant trees which still bear fruit.
Walk 850m N past the church along the same main road until you re-enter the forest. After another 750m, you’ll come to a crossroads. Continue straight on in the same direction with which you arrived. The road will bear W and start to descend steeply. Following it straight downhill will take you to Gosh Lake via a very steep and rutted road, but better to look for the new trail on your left. This winding singletrack trail, built by volunteers in summer 2017, will take you on a much more gentle and natural route through untouched forest, bringing you out after 1km to a picnic area at the edge of Gosh Lake.
Gosh Lake is an obvious choice for hikers wishing to make camp before arriving at Gosh village. It is, however, also a popular destination among locals for khorovats and oghi-fuelled evenings of revelry! You may wish to consider this before expecting a quiet, uninterrupted night in nature, especially in summer and early autumn…
TCT Dilijan National Park
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