This easy and scenic hiking route will be a boon for city dwellers. Just a two-hour drive from Chelyabinsk, and you find yourself in incredible landscapes. You will see the entire Taganay National Park in full view, climb the Imperial sopka (hill) and walk along the shores of a pure lake called “Baikal’s younger brother”. This place has everything you need to relax and connect with nature: mountains, forest, rocks, panoramic views, water and mysterious islands.
This journey has become truly exciting for our two protagonists. After all, it turned out to be much easier to go to the country than they thought. All they had to do was to dress warmly, grab a snack, take their backpacks and set off towards adventure. It was not by chance that the guys chose this direction. They have long dreamed of visiting a beautiful place together, taking a break from the bustle of the city and taking many beautiful photographs. And they did it!
«We spend most of our time in the big city. It’s not often that we get outdoors. Sometimes we walk in the city parks or go to the suburbs. We’ve always dreamed of going to Taganay for a real hike, as we’ve often heard how much our friends admire this place. However, we realized long-distance hiking is not for us, but we could go there for one day and see the mountain range and other natural landmarks. It turned out to be a great idea. And we managed to fit it all in one day. Awesome! I’m sure we’ll remember this great day for a long time».
TAGANAY NATIONAL PARK, BLACK ROCK
We recommend that you start the route from the Black Rock. Despite the dramatic overtone suggested by its name, the place is truly bright and picturesque, it attracts thousands of tourists. Not everyone knows that you can get a full bird’s eye view of the Sredny (Middle) and Maly (Small) Taganay Ridges, which have a history of 1.5 billion of years. There is no need to walk dozens of kilometres or launch a drone into the sky. You can just visit a convenient viewpoint accessible even for people who are not very fit.
A nature trail called All Taganay in 600 Steps leads to the Black Rock. This trail, about 1500 metres long, is one of the easiest in the Taganay National Park. First, it is a wooden staircase and a deck, then a comfortable loose path with three fully equipped observation decks. The Black Rock rises 853 metres above sea level. At the top, there is a rocky ridge stretching over 200 metres from north to south. The eastern slope drops off steeply and is practically inaccessible.
An incredible panorama will open in front of you from the observation deck. You will see the amazing landscapes and peaks of Taganay, strung like precious stones on the rich belt of the ‘Grandfather’ Urals. The Otkliknoy Ridge, Dvuglavaya Sopka, Kruglitsa, Aleksandrovskaya Sopka – everything is in full view! The natural sights behind the Bolshoy (Big) Taganay Ridge will be hidden from view, among them are Dolina Skazok (the Valley of Fairy Tales), Yurma, Itsyl, Mont Blanc, and Dalny Taganay. You can see them by taking a full-fledged hike along the Upper or Lower Trail of the South Ural National Park.
The walk will take about two hours. This location is picturesque in any season, but we especially recommend that you visit it during the golden autumn from September to October or on a frosty sunny day from December to February. Put on warm and windproof clothes, as it is always windy here.
Before or after visiting the observation decks in the Black Rock tract, visit the Central Estate of Taganay National Park. In the main visitor centre, you might want to choose a branded souvenir, take a photo near the large, beautiful National Park logo or visit the cosy local café Thermosok to drink a cup of tea with herbs and treat yourself to a delicious bird cherry pie.
A visit to the National Park requires a fee. The price of an entry ticket is RUB 100.
There are never too many beautiful mountain landscapes! We go further to the next natural location to look at the Bolshoy Taganay Ridge, see the largest national park of the Urals and the city of Zlatoust from a new perspective. Interestingly, the future Emperor of Russia, Alexander II, decided to admire the panorama from this point. He visited this area on June 9, 1837, when he was still Grand Duke Alexander Nikolaevich. After his visit and ascent to the top, the hill was named Aleksandrovskaya Sopka. However, you may hear the opinion that the hill got its name in honour of Emperor Alexander I, who visited Zlatoust in 1824.
Aleksandrovskaya Sopka is a peak of the Ural-Tau watershed ridge rising 843 metres above sea level. Aleksandrovskaya Sopka, as well as the entire Ural Ridge, forms the boundary between Europe and Asia. The nearest granite border obelisk is located to the south, next to the M-5 highway. The top of the mountain is heterogeneous and has beautiful, oddly shaped rocky ledges. The dark coniferous forests almost reach the top. There is a small spring at the foot of the mountain. Here you can take a break before climbing and drink some water. You will have to climb large boulders. But it’s worth it!
«We realised that this place is very popular with the locals, as the trail is quite easy. If you leave your car to the side of the M-5 highway near the Syrostan turnoff, you will only have to walk about 1 kilometre. This path is manageable by both small children and older people. But the sheer cliffs may not be for everyone. We wanted to get to the very top, to the commemorative plaque, so we had to try hard. There are no such equipped observation decks as on the Black Rock. On the plus side, you can enjoy the feeling of wild, pristine nature and test your fitness».
The mountainous part of our journey is done. Now you can relax and head to the city of Miass to see perhaps the most beautiful lake in the Urals. The trip from Zlatoust will take about 30 minutes. Lake Turgoyak is located within the municipality. This is a favourite vacation spot for the locals, so the first thing you see upon entering is the organised sandy city beach on the east coast. To the right of the beach and a small pier, there is a gazebo on a high cliff. We recommend going there to see the lake in all its glory. If the weather is good, you will see a marvellous sunset.
Lake Turgoyak is of tectonic origin. It is big, cold and deep. The lake stretches about 7 km from north to south. Its maximum depth is 36 metres, and its height above sea level is 320 metres. People call Lake Turgoyak “Baikal’s younger brother”. The water in the lake is exceptionally clean, transparent and soft. The transparency reaches up to 18 metres, making it a great diving destination. Or you can go sailing on a sailboat.
The lake has six islands, the largest are Vera and Chaika. Vera Island boasts several archaeological sites, where megalithic structures dating from 4000 BC, a Neanderthal site and a menhir, were discovered.
Many holiday resorts, campsites and country clubs are located along the shore of the lake. You can stay overnight in any of them. You can also rent a house in the village of Turgoyak with a Russian sauna and a terrace overlooking the lake. In summer, we recommend renting non-motorised boats (motorboats are prohibited here), paddleboats, kayaks or stand-up paddleboards. Any of these will get you to one of the islands. Should you want to take a walk, try trekking to the Zaozerny Ridge along one of the hiking trails. It offers a stunning view of the lake and its surroundings.
The Brezel Bräuhaus restaurant, well known even outside the city, is located on the way from Zlatoust or Miass to Lake Turgoyak. This is a good place for carnivores and connoisseurs of beer. It features Bavarian snacks, classic European dishes, and the chef’s culinary highlights, plus a children’s menu.
We recommend that you come to Zlatoust and Miass in your own car, with family or friends. You can also travel to Zlatoust by bus or train. The distance from Chelyabinsk is 143 km.
The easiest way to get to Zlatoust from Chelyabinsk is by car. Follow the M-5 highway, along the Ufimsky tract, past Chebarkul and Miass. The distance from Chelyabinsk is 143 km. Travel time is about 2 hours.
Zlatoust railway station is located at: 180A Anosov Street. A ticket for a commuter train will cost you approximately RUB 400. The commuter train runs twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. You can also take a long-distance train. Travel time is a little over 3 hours. And the road among the mountains is incredibly picturesque!
Zlatoust bus station is located at 1st line, 21 Gagarin Avenue. You can get there from Chelyabinsk by any of the many daily buses, starting from 5 a.m. A bus ticket will cost you from RUB 350. Travel time is about 3.5 hours.