Distance from the chapel of St. Petka to Lake Panichishte – 1.30 h, return on the return route 1 h.
GPS coordinates: 42.284248, 23.267183
Degree of difficulty: ★☆☆☆☆
Valyavitsa Eco-Trail, Health Trail, or Living Water Trail are some of the interesting names with which the route is connected.
The main part of the eco-trail is actually parallel to the asphalt road that connected Sapareva Banya and Panichishte.
There are gazebos and bridges along the way, including a restaurant. In the final phase, before the final, the section has a greater displacement and therefore I define it for more advanced tourists.
The trail is connected with various religious and cult places for the region. It meanders along the Valyavitsa River and you can enjoy magnificent forest sketches.
Stage 1 of the Valyavitsa eco-trail
You can start the route from the center of Sapareva Banya and a symbol of the town – the geyser.
Another place that is recommended to visit is the consecration of Holy Water, at the end of Pchela Street at the foot of Rila, but when we visited it, there was no water.
Since we had already seen the fountain on another walk, we aged the path from the chapel of St. Petka, which is located in the southern part of town.
We park after a bridge, where there are a lot of old abandoned cars and go on the road in the direction of Rila.
St. Petka Bulgarian is considered the patron saint of the Bulgarian people and family. The feast of the chapel is on October 14. A sacrifice for health and well-being is prepared and consecrated.
The courtyard of the temple is very nice and well maintained. Since we started our tour at noon, we eat under the cool roof of one of the wooden gazebos.
Then you go out and cross a vast meadow. It is followed by a pine forest and a huge complex under construction on the left side.
You go out on the asphalt road and walk a few meters on the road in the direction of Panichishte.
After about 10 minutes, you will see a gazebo and an information board for the eco-trail.
Stage 2 – Valyavitsa or forest paradise
The trail continues in a wide path that turns into a forest trail. The marking is red arrows. In the beginning, it is quite close to the road and passing cars can be heard. There are bridges and gazebos in 2 places, from where you can join at a later stage of the asphalt road.
You can enjoy the fresh splashes of the river Valyavitsa and its gentle murmur through this part of the route.
So many wild strawberries we had never seen !. We slow down after seeing whole meadows with them and the greed says its own thing.
Stage 3 – steeper part of Valyavitsa eco-trail
We reach the restaurant Valyavitsa, which is approximately around the middle of the route. We cross the road and continue following the sign for Panichishte.
As already mentioned, there are parts of the road with greater displacement.
The forest becomes a little looser and we admire the warm June rays.
Almost at the end, the trail passes once more along the road and you start again along its continuation, which I have indicated in the photo below with an arrow.
The final meters follow and you go out right next to the sign at the entrance of Panichishte.
Reaching the end of the trail, there is still much to see. You can quench your thirst at the fountain on the other side of the road. Next to it begins a path closed with a wooden barrier for cars.
On it, you descend a few meters to the drainless lake Panichishte.
The lake is located at 1350 meters above sea level among beautiful and fresh coniferous forests. Its depth is 4 meters and has an area of 12 decares. This is the only drainless lake in Bulgaria and the lowest in Rila. It has the shape of a bowl, whence its name, as well as the area and the mountain resort – Panichishte. Due to these identical features, the lake is a kind of natural phenomenon.
We hear croaking frogs and various noises typical of swamp inhabitants.
It’s time for a well-deserved rest after the kilometers traveled along the steep Rila foothills!