The Chelyabinsk Region is a paradise for hikers. Even if you are pressed for time, there are many interesting routes in the Ural mountains that you can enjoy over the weekend. The most popular destinations are, for climbing, the Urenga, Zaozyorny and Chashkovsky Mountain Ranges, Mount Sugomak and Mount Yegoza, and the amazing rocks of the Arakul Shikhan for hiking.
The Urenga is the longest mountain range of the Chelyabinsk Region, starting in the centre of Zlatoust and stretching 70 km south-westward.
The northern part of the range is the most appealing for tourists with its highest peaks: Pervaya Sopka (First, 1,165 m), Vtoraya Sopka (Second Hill), or Golaya Gora (Bald Mountain, 1,198 m), and Tretya Sopka (Third Hill), or Dva Brata (Two Brothers, 1,027 m). In clear weather, the ridge offers a beautiful view of the city of Zlatoust, as well as the Taganay, Nurgush and Zyuratkul Ranges.
The easiest route for climbing starts from the village of Veselovka and goes to Vtoraya Sopka, running about 8 km along a dirt road to the top of the ridge. The main landmark for tourists is a repeater station installed at the pass between Vtoraya Sopka and Tretya Sopka. A steep ascent up a moraine starts here. It will take you 5–6 hours to climb, to an elevation of 700 m. The trail is not marked, but it is clearly visible and comprehensible.
If you go by car, then turn off the M-5 highway following the signs to Veselovka. We recommend you leave your car here, as the road gets bad further on. If your vehicle is all-terrain, you can reach the repeater station, and then it is only 2.3 km to Vtoraya Sopka.
You can take a bus or train to Zlatoust, then change to a suburban bus to Veselovka. You can check the current schedule and buy a ticket on the bus station's website.
An alternative route to the top of the ridge starts from the M-5 highway from the Café Autolunch. The road goes through Pervaya Sopka. In summer, the trail is poorly visible and it is very windy with many forks in the path, so it may be difficult to navigate. This route is mainly recommended if you are hiking with a group and an experienced guide.
You can stop for the night in Veselovka in the Vesyolaya Melnitsa tourist complex. Zlatoust has many hotels.
There are no organised campsites on the route.
Two picturesque and easily accessible ridges are located near Miass.
The stone range of the Zaozyorny Ridge stretches for one kilometre around Lake Turgoyak. A tourist trail runs along the top of the ridge offering the best views of the lake and Vera Island. The highest peak is 687 m, with Mount Varganova (763 m) next to it.
This is a great place to see the rocky outcrops typical of the Southern Urals. Some rocks have bizarre forms and tourists have named them the Chinese Wall, Bastion, Gate, Small Tower, Lone Guardian, Mirror and Throne of the Gods.
The trail to Zaozyorny Ridge starts from Mukhorinskaya Kurya Bay on the western shore of the lake and will lead you to the Chinese Wall cliff after 1.5 km.
The best way to get to the start of the trail to Zaozyorny Ridge is by car. If you take public transport, you will have to switch buses: first, take a bus from Chelyabinsk to Miass, then change to a minibus to the village of Turgoyak. The distance from the beach to the ridge is about 16 km. You'll have to cover this distance on foot, take a taxi or hitchhike.
The village of Turgoyak has many recreation centres and comfortable hotels near the lake. There are also well-organised camping sites.
Another interesting rock massif near Miass is the Chashkovsky Ridge. It is around 400 to 600 m high. The edges of the huge stone slabs are rounded, as if carved. In some places, cavities, caverns and through-holes are formed in the rock.
A popular tourist trail takes you to the top of the ridge, Mount Golukha (580 m). The ascent is pretty easy. The trail starts at the end of the village of Chernovskoe and follows a well-maintained forest road for about 3.5 km.
One place tourists love is a horizontal stone with a large hole inside. You can crawl under the stone and stick your head out to make an original photo. Some researchers believe that this place could have been home to an ancient observatory.
The nearest settlement to the trailhead is the village of Chernovskoe. A regular bus runs to here from Miass in the direction of the Bashkir city of Uchaly. You can check the current schedule and buy a ticket on the bus station's website.
This is one of the most picturesque rock massifs in the Southern Urals. If you have a drone, this is the best place to take a photo from a bird's eye view.
The rocky ridge stretches for 2 km from east to west and the Shikhan peak is 563 m high. In some places, the rocks form massifs that resemble human figures or the outlines of animals. There is the Old Woman, Chicken, Baby Elephant, Turtle, Head and others. The highest point was named Chamberlain (the cliff is 80 m high). In clear weather, you can see as many as 11 lakes from the Shikhan.
A beautiful mountain lake, Arakul, is situated at the foot of the Shikhan. On weekends, tourists camp in tents along its banks.
In the village of Arakul, you can stay at a recreation centre or in a guesthouse with all the amenities. Tourists can also rent boats and paddleboats, or even snowmobiles in winter.
The best way to get to the Arakul Shikhan is through the village of Silach. You can get there from Chelyabinsk by commuter train.
People usually park their cars in the villages of Silach or Arakul. From the outskirts of Arakul, the trail is shorter, but the ascent is more difficult. From Silach, the trail goes along a gentle slope, but the distance is slightly longer.
In the vicinity of Kyshtym, in the north of the Chelyabinsk Region, you can clearly see two gentle wooded mountain peaks: Mount Sugomak (591 m) and Mount Yegoza (607 m).
Mount Sugomak, Sugomak Cave and Lake Sugomak are located close to each other and can be easily combined into one simple route.
Sugomak Cave is unique as it is located in solid rock — striped white marble. It has three grottoes inside, connected by narrow passages. It is easy to visit the first and second grottos of the cave, but the third grotto can only be reached by rappelling.
If you want to descend into the cave, bring a flashlight, gloves and warm clothing. Your shoes should also be suitable, with slip-proof soles.
The cave is open to tourists at any time of the year. You cannot get there by car, so it is better to leave your car in a parking lot near the highway and take a walk along the new nature trail featuring information boards and benches. The length of the trail is about 800 m.
Next to the cave, you can find a nice place for rest, the Sugomak Glade, with a clean water spring called Maryiny Slyozy (Marya's Tears). Every year on June 12, the Sugomak Glade hosts the Russian Khorovod (Round Dance) festival.
The trail to the top of Mount Sugomak starts from the cave. The ascent is simple, even preschool children can manage to complete the route. The length of the trail is 2 km, the journey takes about an hour.
You cannot pitch a tent on the slopes of Mount Sugomak or near Lake Sugomak, as these areas are in a specially protected natural site.
Mount Yegoza rises to the north of Mount Sugomak. Both peaks are connected by a path, but it is better to take it with a guide.
A ski resort has been operating on the slopes of Yegoza for many decades. In winter, you can go downhill skiing, snowboarding and tubing here, and in summer thrill-seekers go downhill mountain biking and motorbiking. There are five hiking trails around Yegoza for tourists of different levels of fitness and skill.
You can get to Kyshtym by bus or train from Chelyabinsk (a distance of 98 km).
You can stay overnight in a hotel in Kyshtym or in the village of Slyudorudnik, where you'll find a sports and tourist centre. There are also guest houses in the village of Kanifolny, located next to the Yegoza ski resort.