The summer heat has covered the northern hemisphere like a blanket, and we are all looking for a way to enjoy this season and at the same time escape the heat. Some go to the seaside, some to the mountains, and some combine the two by going to the mountain lakes or rivers, such as the 7 Rila lakes or the Summer Bar Bedouin. Another option to enjoy nature near the water and cool down in Bulgaria are the lakes near the town of Smolyan.
It is not clear when precisely the lakes have appeared, but they for sure are old, just like the majority of the natural landmarks in Bulgaria. In the past, there were 20 lakes, and today, only 8 are left. The other 12 have either dried up or turned into marshlands. The lakes are scattered along the Cherna River Valley. Two of those 8 have been transformed into dams, and one of them completely disappears during the summer.
Reaching the Smolyan Lakes is also part of the experience because not all of them are listed on the online maps. In this article, I will show you the most prominent ones. The easiest and fastest way to reach the lakes is by car. If you are coming from the town of Smolyan, it will take you about 15-20 minutes to reach the destination. Another option is to stay in the Pamporovo resort, which is about 230km from the capital city Sofia. From Pamporovo, you take the road to Smolyan, and after 10km take a turn for the town of Devin. There are enough signs, so you cannot possibly get lost. The whole trip from Pamporovo to the lakes takes about 15 minutes by car.
The first lake is located very close to Smolyan and is called Keryanov Gyol Lake, or Platenoto Lake. It is located at the 1114m of altitude, and there is a dam built on it. Curiously, it is the one located at the lowest elevation. It is often used for fishing, and there is a vast camping area around it. The second one is Saladzha Lake. Its located at the altitude of 1323m. The interesting fact about this lake is that there is a small island in the middle of it.
Osmanoviya Gyol is the third lake, and it is surrounded by small ponds which go dry in the summer. Next one, follwoing the road is Iztochnoto Lake, that disappears entirely during the summer because there isn`t a constant flow of water towards it (such as a river). It could only be filled up in the rainy season or when the snows melt. Its altitude is 1384m, and it is located 100m north-west from Osmanoviya Gyol Lake.
The fifth and the last of the small Smolyan Lakes is called Lagera Lake. There are great places for camping and picknicks everywhere around it. At the altitude of 1481m, this is the second of the lakes to have a dam built on it.
The last three lakes are part of the eco-path “The Three Smolyan Lakes”, as they are the most beautiful. The first one of them is called Trevistoto Lake. Located at the altitude of 1540m, it is the most significant natural lake among the nine mentioned today. On the meadow next to the lake, there is a small temple, called the Holy Spirit, where you can get a hint about the Bulgarian religious culture. Near the lake, there is also a ski lift which could take you to the nearest mountain peak – Snezhanka (1926m).
The next lake, following the eco-path, is called Bistroto Lake or Milushevskoto Lake. Its waters are crystal clear, and it is connected to Trevistoto Lake through a small river. This lake is the biggest one of all. Around it, you can see many spruce trees, which contribute to the magical appeal of the area. There are possibilities for many outdoor activities, but perhaps the most interesting is the paintball, taking place in the space between Bistroto and Trevistoto Lakes.
After Bistroto Lake, there is a steep path which leads directly to the last lake from today`s trip – Matnoto Lake. It is located about 200m away from Bistroto Lake at the 1590m of altitude. It is the deepest of the Smolyan Lakes. On the way to the last lake, you could see many interesting and old trees. There is a group of trees, called “Euredyce`s throne” as well as a tree called “Orpheus` lyre”. According to the legend, Orpheus, the Thracian musician, and a poet, lived in this area, in the Rhodope Mountain. As a result, many of the natural sights are named after him. The high cliffs which are towering above Matnoto Lake are called "Orpheus` rocks". The lake is located in the thick forest and very little light reaches it during the day. Therefore, it looks dark and muddy, which explains its name – “matnoto” means “muddy” in Bulgarian.
No matter what type of person you are, and what kind of vacation you are into, the Smolyan Lakes are worthy of your time. The trek around them is not challenging, and it is an excellent way to cool down from the summer heat or relax and get rid of the stress of everyday life.
Did you like the travel story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.