Biking to the Žumberak plateaus
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  Posted October 16th, 2012 by Zdenko  in Cycling, Travel | No comments yet.

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Source: The Pedala web site

Cycling routes in Croatia
Tuscany gets a lot of press and attention as a cycling paradise, and rightly so. It has a special something that makes people go back year after year. But it’s hardly off the beaten track. There’s another cycling haven that you should know about – one that the masses haven’t found yet. It’s the small country of Croatia. Read on!

Through the Bregana River Valley to the Žumberak plateaus
This route is a part of Zagreb County Cycling Network project run by Tourist Board of Zagreb County. We are recommending that together with this description you are using published/paper map (scale 1:55000) which can be obtain from office of Tourist Board of Zagreb County, Preradovićeva 42, Zagreb, Croatia, www.tzzz.hr Please contact office for map delivery.

Entering village of Jarušje

Route description
This route is somewhat demanding due to the total ascent (1026 m), however, it can be divided into two sections. The first section is easier and is suitable for recreational bicyclists as an excursion and ride from Samobor, via Bregana and Grdanjci to the popular excursion site Divlje Vode (Wild Waters) Bio Park and the Žumberak Eco Village in the natural environment of the Bregana River Valley. The total distance from Samobor is about 22 km, and so count on the same distance for the return trip.

The route: Grdanjci – Jarušje – Dragonoš – Smerovišće

The second section of this route is for physically strong bicycle lovers, ready to take on the entire route filled with climbs and steep downhill sections. The route passes through the beautiful landscapes of the Samobor and Žumberak mountains, with views over the Žumberak plateaus, villages and the highest peak of the Žumberak Mountains – Sveta Gera (1178 m), especially on the sections of the route around the villages of Golubići, Pavkovići, Dragonoš and Šipački Breg. The majority of the route follows the existing marked bicycle trails of the Žumberak-Samobor Mountains Nature Park, and as such, with the help of this map, there should be no orientation problems.

Entrance to Bio Park and the Žumberak Eco Village

Žumberak plateaus

Our photographer Nikica Smolic in the Žumberak hills

The route begins at the parking lot in the centre of Samobor. At the exit of the parking lot, turn left and head towards the turn circle, then continue straight along the Health Clinic to the traffic light. At the traffic light, turn right onto Ban Josipa Jelačića Street. At the 4.2 km mark from the route starting point, you will pass through an intersection where you can turn left for Velika Jazbina, Otruševac and Grgosova špilju (Cave) as well as the bicycle repair shop “Instruktor”.

Here continue on straight. Turn left at the intersection in Bregana. Just before the international border, better known as the Bregana ‘small’ border crossing, turn left on the road towards Grdanjci and Gabrovica. At the 9.7 km from the route starting point, you will be in the centre of Grdanjci at a Y intersection, where you will turn right and continue along the road towards Gabrovica. From the Bregana border crossing, you will ride along the border with the neighboring Republic of Slovenia and the EU through the Bregana River Valley. After 13.8 km of riding, you will arrive at a Y intersection, just before the restaurant – picnic area of the Divlje Vode Bio Park.

From here the road heads uphill to the village of Stojdraga

Turn left at the intersection, while the road to the right heads uphill for Stojdraga, Budinjak, Gornja Vas and Kostanjevac all the way to Krašić and Sošice.

Nikica Smolic from Zagreb, enjoys a short stop in the Žumberak hills

After the intersection, you will pass by the restaurant – picnic area of the Divlje Vode Bio Park, and this is a good place for a short break, rest and refreshment. The route continues alongside the fishponds and soon onto a wide gravel trail which first winds through the meadows and then through the forests along the Bregana River towards the restaurant – picnic area of the Žumberak Eco Village and Koretići.

Typical house in the Žumberak hills

At the 21.6 km mark from the route starting point, you will arrive at Koretići at the T intersection, where you will continue straight. To the right, the gravel road leads towards the Žumberak Eco Village. At this point, you may decide whether you prefer to take only a short break at the Eco Village, or whether you decide to end your ride here, and after lunch, a rest and some refreshment, to head back to Samobor along the same route. If you’re well rested and feeling good, then continue riding along the entire route.

Steep climbing is required before you get to Žumberak plateaus

My friend and cycling legend from Zagreb: Vlado Fumic

Žumberak plateaus
Soon after the intersection for the Eco Village, where the left turn is for the Koretići Scout and Mountaineering Centre, the climb begins towards Jelenići. At the 24 km mark is a T intersection with a small bridge. Here turn right and follow the main gravel road uphill. About 3 km after the T intersection and the small bridge, you will arrive at a second T intersection, where you will continue straight. The gravel road to the right leads to Šimraki.

Continue to follow the main gravel road. At the 27.7 mark, turn left at the Y intersection towards Jelenići. The road to the right of the intersection leads uphill towards Budinjak and the Nature Park Eco Centre. In the centre of Jelenići turn left at the Y intersection with the crucifix and follow the signs for bicycle trail no. 3 of the Nature Park. After the climb, you will leave the forested canyon of the Bregana River, and while riding towards the village of Dragonoš, enjoy the sights of the Žumberak region. Soon you will pass through the picturesque village of Golubići, and then past the Church of St. John with its graveyard. Soon after the church, on the left, is a local sign and road for one of the caves of the area.

Sign for the village of Dragonoš and walking distances in minutes to the top of the surrounding hills

Continue along the gravel road towards the village of Pavkovići. At Pavkovići, 31.3 km from the route starting point, turn right at the Y intersection and follow the signs for bicycle trail no. 3 of the Nature Park. At the 34.6 km of the route, you will arrive at a Y intersection in the middle of the woods. Here continue straight uphill and follow the signs for bicycle trail no. 3a of the Nature Park. The gravel road (bicycle trail no. 3b) to the right heads downhill towards Draga and Gorica Svetojanska. Here it is possible to hook up to bicycle route no. 5 of the Zagreb County Tourist Association.

The Žumberak plateaus

Continue the climb through the beautiful and dense forest. In the summer, this ride through the forest shade is a real pleasure. At the 36.7 km mark, you will arrive at a large Y intersection, here turn right for Dragonoš, while the gravel road to the left leads for Jarušje. You will soon arrive at Dragonoš. Dragonoš is a well known mountaineering crossroads from Japetić towards Sveta Gera or Noršić Selo, as well as towards Slani Dol, the Cerinski Vir waterfall and Smerovišće. Dragonoš is also a popular motive for many photographers who love the Samobor Mountains, due to its lovely position on the hill and its Church of St. Anthony.

An old barn with interesting roof

Cyclist don’t come up here very often…

Local women from the village

In the centre of the village, turn left near the well in the direction of Šipački Breg and follow the signs for bicycle trail no. 3 of the Nature Park. From Dragonoš, fantastic views stretch out over Sveta Gera and the Žumberak plateaus with their scattered villages. In clear weather, the view also stretches towards the southeast all the way to the town of Ogulin and Klek – the cliff well known as an alpine and mountaineering area. Just before entering into Šipački Breg (40.3 km mark), the gravel road ends and pavement begins. Here, the steep descents begin and caution is required, particularly at the 43.4 km mark from the starting point, where you will come across a series of sharp turns on a very steep descent. Caution is required; adjust your riding speed to the road conditions.

Short break: Fumic and Marina Boduljak

Back in the valley, approaching small town of Samobor

One of the local, poorly marked turnoffs to the right on the descent will take you, if you wish, to the Cerinski vir waterfall only 15 minutes away, situated on a marked hiking trail. After the 44.6 km mark from the route starting point, you will enter into Smerovišće, with its well known restaurant and picnic area Dumić, a suitable spot for rest and refreshment. At Smerovišće, the steep sections of the route are finished, and the route heads back towards Samobor.

Old wooden house in the area (picture by Ana Lasic)

At the 49 km mark, you will arrive at a Y intersection with a bridge, here continue straight. The uphill road to the left, turn off from the route, heads for the Slani Dol Eco Centre of the Žumberak – Samobor Mountains Nature Park. You will soon enter into Samobor. At the traffic light, at the intersection of Ferdo Livadić, Starogradska and Obrtnička Streets, turn right into the centre towards the main town square next to the Samobor Museum, Hotel Lavica and Hotel Livadić. Don’t head home without treating yourself; this completed ride deserves to be rewarded with the famous Samobor kremšnita (custard slice). Take home some of the well known Samobor gastronomy souvenirs: bermet (an aperitif made of red wine and herbs), mustard or Samobor salami, or try them in one of the charming local inns. From the centre, continue along Mirka Kleščića Street along the Gradna River to the parking lot on Matice Hrvatske Square. Come see us again soon!

Vlado Fumic and Marina Boduljak… returning to Samobor and going fast!

Technical description of the route
1. Parking lot near the movie theatre on Matice Hrvatske Square in Samobor.
2. Bregana. Turn left at the intersection in Bregana and continue to the “small” international border crossing Bregana. Just before the crossing, turn left on the road for Grdanjci.
3. Grdanjci. Turn right at the intersection. Take the main road for Gabrovica and the Divlje Vode Bio Park.
4. Gabrovica. At the Divlje Vode Bio Park, turn left at the intersection. After 300 m, the gravel road begins. You will pass by the Bio Park and will continue through the Bregana River Valley towards Koretići.
5. Koretići. Continue straight at the T intersection. The right turns leads for the Žumberak Eco village.
6. Jelenići. Turn left at the Y intersection with the crucifix towards Golubići and Pavkovići, and follow the signs for bicycle trail no. 3 of the nature park.
7. Continue straight at the intersection. To the right is the turnoff for Draga and Gorica Svetojanska and the connection to bicycling map 5 of the Zagreb County Tourist Association.
8. After Dragonoš, the gravel road descends towards Šipački Breg, there are several sharp turns. Caution is required – adjust your riding speed to the road conditions.
9. Hamor. Y intersection of two paved roads. Continue straight towards Samobor. To the left is turnoff D from the route towards Slani Dol and the Slani Dol Eco Centre of the Žumberak-Samobor Mountains Nature Park.

Back in the Samobor and its main square

Cultural-historical values along the route
• Samobor Museum, Livadićeva 7, tel. + 385 1 3361 014, founded in 1948, has a naturalist-geological, archaeological, ethnographic, cultural and historical collection. Take a look at the Mirko Kleščić velocipede from 1877, then president of the Samobor Bicycle Association, which its owner drove to Trieste in 1887.
• Marton Museum, Jurjevska 7, tel. + 385 1 3364 160, the first private museum in Croatia, collection of paintings, porcelain, glass and silver objects, furniture and other objects of art from the 18th and 19th centuries, web: www.muzej-marton.hr
• “Prica Gallery” in the Samobor Open University, the paintings of the artist Zlatko Price, tel. + 385 1 3360 112, 3360 267, www.pousamobor.hr
• Baroque complex of the Franciscan monastery and the Church of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Samobor dating back to 1712 to 1731, with a valuable inventory from the time. Of special value in the church interior is the magnificent illusionist fresca ‘Assumption of Mary’ (Uznesenje Marijino) from 1752, the work of the F. Jelovšek. Address: Langova 18, tel. + 385 1 3360 810.
• The parish Church of St. Anastasia, Samobor, first mentioned in 1334.
• Chapel of St. Anthony, Dragonoš, built in the 18th century, the altar of St. Anthony and the pulpit are from the early 20th century.
• Cerinski Vir is the largest and most picturesque waterfall in the Samobor Mountains. It is found in the narrow valley with steep sides through which the Javorački Creek flows. The water falls in cascades, and its loud rumble makes for a lovely experience. The waterfall can be approached near Smerovišće, turn right at the sharp turn on the downhill section of the road Smerovišće –Šipački Breg where you will see the sign next to the weekend homes of Donje Cerine and the fields which head downhill to the creek and the base of the waterfall.
• Eco Centre of the Žumberak – Samobor Mountains Nature Park, Slani Dol 1, turnoff D from the route, the administration office of the natural park is located in the ground floor of a house. View the permanent exhibit with scenes of the biological and geological features of the Samobor and Žumberak mountains. The upper floor is a renovated mountaineering dining hall, tel. + 385 1 3327 660, 3327 661. In the village of Slani Dol (480 m) situated on the mountain ridge is a shop, inn and the Chapel of St. Florien dating back to 1937.

Most pictures in this blog were taken by Nikica Smilic, during the September 2012 training ride with Vlado Fumic and Marina Boduljak. They were riding on the course: Samobor, Grdanjci, Jarušje, Bregana, Samobor, Plješevica, and back to Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia.

Panoramic picture of the Žumberak plateaus (picture by Ana Lasic)

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