Bulgarian Mountain Attractions :: Mt. Musala
Highest Bulgarian Peak: Located in Rila National Park
At 2,925 meters, Mount Musala is the highest peak not only in Bulgaria, but also on the Balkan Peninsula. Musala is located in the Eastern part of the Rila Mountains, within the Rila National Park. Rila National Park is noted for its rich flora, including species such as Macedonian Pine and Bulgarian Fir in the forests on its middle slopes, and fauna.
View from the Top: See Every Mountain Range in Bulgaria
All major mountain ranges of Bulgaria can be seen from the top; these include Vitosha to the northwest, Sredna Gora towards the northeast, the Balkan Mountains along most of the northern horizon behind Vitosha and Sredna Gora, the Rhodope Mountains to the southeast, Pirin to the south, Osogovo and Ruy Mountain to the west, and of course Rila. The next highest peaks in the vicinity of Musala are Little Musala (2,902 m) and Irechek (2,852 m). The average annual temperature is 3.1°C, and the snow-cover stays 8 months.
The name of the peak probably derives from Mus Allah, "the mountain of Allah", being so named during the period when Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire. During the years 1949-1962, the peak was named Stalin after Joseph Stalin. The first written document about the climbing of the peak refers to Philip – the father of Alexander the Great.
Walk to the top of Bulgaria!
Short Cut: Use the Lift: It will take 3-4 hours to climb up Musala peak if you take the gondola lift from Borovets to Yastrebets and then follow the marked track that passes by the Musala chalet and goes to the top of the summit.
Yastrebets Hotel Starting Point: (4 hour-30min walk or 35 minutes by gondola) is the starting point for the ascent of Mount Musala, the highest peak in Bulgaria (2,925 m). The first leg of the trail (1 hour) brings you to the Musala hut (2,430 m) from which the ascent to the summit takes another 1.5 to 2 hours via the shelter Everest, the highest mountain hut in Bulgaria.
Mount Musala – a favorite in all seasons..
Musala's peak is a favorite for alpine activities and tourists. The average number of visitors exceeds 50,000 people annually. At the foot of the summit, the largest and most famous Bulgarian winter resorts (Borovets) is located, and its slopes are laced with numerous vacation villas and chalets.
Short-Cut Detail: Gondola to Yastrebets
In Borovets take the gondola lift (which takes around 25 min) to Yastrebets:
The 3-mile long cable car line ascends 3,400 vertical feet into the Rila Mountains. The 23 minute cable car ride ascends to the Yastrebets Chalet (2,369 m; 7,710 ft). From there, enjoy a panorama of Rila's high peaks. Looking south, you'll gaze upon the summits of Deno, Irechek, Malka Musala, Musala, and Aleko.
Walk to Musala Lakes & Musala Hut:
From the Yastrebets Chalet, a gentle walk through alpine meadows and groves of stunted mugo pines brings you to the still waters of the Musala Lakes and the Musala hut.
From the end station on the gondola follow the marked path to Musala hut. The trail is almost level, cutting across the slope of Markudzika, crosses three T-bar lifts and through alpine meadows and groves of stunted mugo pines. In less than an hour, you should reach the Musala hut. Musala hut is one of the oldest huts in Bulgaria. It is situated 2,389 meters above the sea level.
Hike to Mount Musala Summit:
From the Musala hut, the walk to the top of Mount Musala will take you about two hours. The path is clear and well marked and starts along the northern side of the lake. After half an hour of relatively steep climb, you'll reach a beautiful lake ("Alekovo ezero") which, together with the mountain reflected in its waters, bears the name of Aleko - a famous Bulgarian writer and founder of the tourist movement in Bulgaria.
An hour from the lake is situated the refuge "Ledenoto ezero" (Icy lake). If it's cold and windy, the refuge provides an ideal place for rest before the last part of the ascent. Musala is only 30 minutes walk from the refuge.
Although you may be tempted to follow the poles which are put in a straight line along the North-East ridge of Musala, it's much easier to stick to the summer track. The poles mark the winter route, which is really steep and therefore equipped with a metal rope.
At the Summit of Mount Musala
The view from the top of Mount Musala is truly breath-taking - you can make out the remaining peaks of Rila Mountains; the marble edges of the Pirin Mountains; Mount Vitosha and the Sredna Gora Mountains; the green summits of the Rodopi Mountains; and last, but not least, the long body of the Balkan range.
In addition to the view on top, you'll find two buildings: meteorological station (where you can also buy hot drinks and post cards) and a scientific research laboratory.