Stage 4: Parz Lake to Dilijan (Takhta)

Part of the Transcaucasian Trail route through Dilijan National Park, Armenia.

Distance: 10.1km
Elevation
Difficulty: Medium
Status: Open & Marked

Trail description

If beginning at Parz Lake, follow the dirt road from the top of the complex for 1km to the clearing and the junction for both the Goshavank and Dilijan trails. From the clearing, follow the dirt road SW 60m from the signpost. The entrance to the trail to Dilijan will be immediately on your right.

Follow the trail into the forest, climbing gradually and skirting the edge of a lush plateau of grass and nettle. It is easy to lose the trail here during the low season when the vegetation has died down, so follow the markings closely. The trail will climb again, traversing steep sideslopes and making another switchback to gain a ridge, roughly 700m after leaving the junction with the road.

As the trail levels out on the ridge, look to your right, where the trail passes an enormous oriental beech tree (fagus orientalis), which has been estimated at least 300 years old.

Continue following the defined trail along the gentle gradient of the ridge. The trail will begin to narrow and plunge into deeper forest on steeper slopes, climbing continuously. The construction of this trail by TCT volunteers in summer 2017 was one of the biggest projects of the year, requiring 6 weeks of work for a team of 15-20 people.

After another 700m you’ll ascend two switchbacks. Another 250m will bring you to rockier terrain. Follow the switchback up through the rock for 200m before the trail switches back once again. Another 150m of walking will bring you to a clearing with a fire pit and space for a small number of tents. There are no formal facilities here; if you wish to wild-camp, make sure to pack out your trash and bury any human waste according to the Leave No Trace principle.

The trail weaves across the clearing before continuing W, crossing two logging roads and ascending through well-preserved forest. After 1.7km you’ll reach a junction with an old logging track; turn right and after 150m left to continue on the newly built trail. After 300m or so, you’ll reach the edge of the forest, where the trail will bring you out at the bottom of a huge alpine meadow, known locally as Gyolort (reportedly meaning ‘place of wolves’).

If you’re hiking here in late spring or early summer, it may still be wet but you’ll be treated to one of the most spectacular displays of wildflowers to be found in this part of Dilijan National Park. Conversely, in late summer, the drying grasses are harvested as hay by local villagers, after which time the trail can be more difficult to follow.

Follow the signposts across the meadow to the high point near the NW corner of the field, where you’ll see the remains of Soviet-era water infrastructure in the form of a vertical pipe protruding from the ground – while ugly, it’s a useful orienting feature! Here, the trail crosses a dirt road. Walk N for 60m to find the entrance to the forest and the trail down to Dilijan.

Instead of crossing the dirt road, turn left and follow it SW uphill to the edge of the meadow for some truly spectacular views of the National Park.

From the edge of the forest, follow the dirt road downhill NE for 250m, then take the side road on the left. Be aware that this turning may not be obvious at certain times of year due to undergrowth, and also because the main dirt road continues straight on at this point. After 170m, the route switches back to the right and continues for another 150m. As the road begins to steepen sharply, look out on your left for the entrance to a newly-built footpath.

Follow the footpath for 900m until you emerge on a logging road that runs straight up the hillside to your left. Bear very slightly left and cross the logging road, looking for the entrance to the continuation of the trail, which is nearly opposite the trail exit behind you. This abandoned logging road bear slightly to the right and proceeds down through the forest. Follow it past several small clearings until it begins to become more pronounced, eventually leading to a stream crossing after 650m.

Cross the stream and walk uphill for 120m to a junction of two dirt roads. Take the road to your right and follow it steeply down through the trees for 180m until it crosses a fast-flowing stream. Continue W for another 220m, following a rocky trail beneath a steep cutting to another broader stream crossing. Cross the stream and follow the road right and uphill; after 50m the terrain will flatten out and the trees give way to open land.

There is plentiful flat ground available here for camping if you wish to overnight before Dilijan. You are unlikely to be disturbed here, except perhaps by cows from one of the nearby farms.

Cross the clearing and walk 150m over a rise in the road. Look out for the entrance to the trail on your left, shortly before a trench across the road that has been dug as a roadblock against logging trucks. Follow this narrow trail for 650m along a pleasant wooded hillside, passing above one of Dilijan’s abundant dairy farms.

You’ll cross a stream by a spring in close proximity to the farm before continuing to meander W among trees and streams, as the land becomes ever more pastoral and inhabited. Another 300m will bring you to a picnic shelter and spring to the right of the trail; 300m beyond that is the junction with the dirt road to Dilijan.

Local encounters can be a welcome change from solitude, but if you do approach any of Dilijan’s outlying farms, please beware of dogs, which are trained to defend their territory and livestock against intruders. See our guidance on dog encounters for more detailed advice on what to do in such situations.

Turn left onto the dirt road and cross the stream. A tangle of tracks traversing these hillsides will all take you to the same place, roughly 750m from the stream crossing, where the various roads converge into one and descend steeply E for 450m to the Takhta suburb on the edge of Dilijan.

You can follow a direct route to the town centre from here, but we recommend those with the time and inclination try the waymarked scenic route through the ‘Drunken Forest’, which will bring you to Dilijan centre via pine forests, panoramic views, and many of historical Dilijan’s older remains.

TCT Dilijan National Park

Trail Guide Contents

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