Story: While mountains with occasional plains is pretty normal for the Balkans, the southern part of Macedonia is just the opposite. Instead of the jagged, rocky mountain landscape, Baba Mountain is covered with trees and vegetation. The unique pines and ubiquitous ferns make a nice setting, but they give incredible contrast to the 5-kilometer river of rocks that begins at the Vanguard point (1,936 meters altitude). This stop gives you a lookout platform at the beginning of the trail to get an idea of what lies ahead. This rock trail makes for a picturesque, challenging hike. As you go along, it is easy to understand why Baba Mountain was a battle line in World War I.
Vibe: The vibe here is sharp contrast. The fronds and pine needles give way to massive rocks to navigate. While I was at Baba Mountain, the cloud cover was thick most of the time. It made for a great experience, but pictures were harder to come by.
Rec: This hike is a must for the adventurer and the photographer. It is moderate plus. You will crest at 2600 meters. All hikers should be in good shape and ready to be out for the whole day. Lots of casual hikers turn back just a couple hours into the journey. While Baba Mountain is expected to be about an 8-hour hike, it is not uncommon for it to take 12 hours for stops along the way to rest, chat and take in the scenery. For the hard-core climbers, there are opportunities to abandon the zig-zag approach up Baba Mountain and to follow the rocks on a more vertical trajectory.
Notes: Leave early because you will need the daylight. Also, pack some gloves because after a while the rocks can start to make your hands raw as you pick your way along the path. Start the hike up at Hotel Molika. This is a decent spot for the budget traveler at 15-20 euros for the night.
Place: Pelister National Park