The Source of the Soča, known as the Izvir Soče in Slovenian, is a relatively unknown hike and destination in Slovenia, but it was a spot that really blew us away in both beauty and adventure.
This is the spot where the gorgeous Soča River begins, the pristine river renowned for its crystal-clear turquoise waters and awe-inspiring beauty. Of all the places we visited in Slovenia, the Soča River Valley was probably both Matthew’s and my favorite, and the Source of the Soča was just one more data point in that love.
In this guide, we’re sharing what it’s like to hike to the Source of the Soča, as well as a few tips and tricks. Also, we’ll discuss who should and shouldn’t do this hike (it’s truly not for everyone).
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Getting to the Trailhead
The trailhead starts at a well-marked sign near a building. If you just type “Source of the Soca” into Google Maps, nothing comes up. However, if you type in “Ivzir Soče”, the correct location will appear. On the map below, I’ve marked the trailhead with the hiker icon and the parking lots in yellow. The parking lots are free, and each has 10-15 spaces.
The approximate coordinates for the lots are 46.408289 N, 13.727780 E, if you want to search that way.
There is limited public transportation to the trailhead, so driving yourself is definitely the most convenient way to get there. Driving yourself around Slovenia is one of the best ways to do a big tour of the country, because you can easily hit up all these small, hidden spots.
👉If you haven’t grabbed your rental car yet, do that ASAP! I recommend (and personally use) DiscoverCars.com for the best prices and availability.
If driving isn’t for you, no worries! There is one shuttle bus with stops in Bovec, Trenta, and Kranjska Gora that also goes up to the Source of the Soca. There are usually about 4-8 departures per day, depending on the season.
You will need to get off at the P. Mlinarica stop and walk another 1 hour to get to the Source of the Soca trailhead. It’s not terribly convenient, but at least there is a public transportation option.
Starting the Hike
The Izvir Soče hike is unofficially divided into 2 sections – we’ll call part 1 the regular trail and part 2 the adventure trail.
To start the hike, you’ll walk on an easy dirt trail along the river. The hike here is somewhat steep, but it’s not long, so it’s very doable. This is all part 1 of the hike.
You’ll quickly see the trail split, and you can choose to either keep to the left trail or the right trail. To the left is an older trail that closely follows the stream. To the right is a newer trail that has some steps and switchbacks. It’s only maybe 10 feet away from the older trail, but is far enough away that you don’t get a good view of the stream as you’re hiking.
Near the “top” of this section of trail is a viewpoint of the Razgledišče waterfall, one of Slovenia’s best waterfalls. If you’re hiking near the river, make sure to keep going until you see the waterfall. If you’re hiking on the slightly more inland trail, cut left to the viewpoint. You’ll have to walk along some boulders right along the river to see the falls.
Here you will see the Razgledišče waterfall crash over a cliff wedged between rocks, and then continue tumbling down ledges to continue flowing as the Soča River.
The air here is blissfully cool and feels fantastic on a hot day. Again, this section is fairly steep but is doable for most everyone, and is only about 0.4 miles (0.6 km) long.
Part 2 of the Hike
At the top of the hill, near the waterfall viewpoint, the left and right trails merge together and make take a big turn. As you begin this section, you’ll see this warning sign:
If you can’t read the fairly fine print, it says “Warning! Very demanding climbing trail, not suitable for children and elderly people, for experienced hikers only.”
And while we thought this may be an exaggeration, they mean it. To start, the trail quickly becomes a steep scramble up a pile of boulders.
While this can still be done even by many “kids and elderly”, the next section is the truly tricky spot. After the scramble, you’ll start on the narrow cliffside trail with a path that is only several inches wide, holding onto a chain drilled into the cliff so you don’t fall into the churning river water below. You’ll probably feel some vertigo and there are a couple places you have to really hold onto the chain and lean out to make it to the next step.
This cliffside section is really a one-way trail, and you’ll have to take turns with anyone coming in the opposite direction. The cliff section of the trail isn’t all that long – only about 200 feet (60 m), but it’s definitely very exciting!
The last part of the trail with the chains is probably the hardest part – you’re going down a steep incline, the trail is at its narrowest, and there’s one spot where you actually have to lean back a little bit to keep going. It’s all part of the fun!
Arriving at the Mouth of the Soča
The beginning of the Soča River comes from a cave, so the “summit” of the trail is at a pile of boulders at the mouth of a cave, with the tall cave walls reaching up and around you. You can see the water pooling behind you in the mouth of the cave, but the water actually flows underground and then resurfaces just in front of you, before flowing for only 10-20 feet before dropping out of view as it begins cascading down the mountain.
The pool of water at the mouth of the cave is the most stunning deep blue color, and is shockingly calm, considering how much the water crashes and roars just beyond the cave exit.
Make sure you notice the second cave opening higher up where the river used to come out, before erosion dug into the earth and created the newer, lower channel.
Trail Stats and Info
- Round Trip Distance: 0.85 miles (1.4 km)
- Elevation Gain: 413 feet
- Time to Hike: We spent about an hour on this hike, which spent time hiking, climbing, and then stopping and admiring the views.
While we kind of guffawed at the warning sign before Part 2 of the trail (certainly it couldn’t be that bad), after completing the hike, I do think that warning is warranted. While I do a ton of hikes with my children, I wouldn’t take anyone under 10-12 years old on this hike. And while there are certainly plenty of elderly people who could do this hike, if there is any problems with balance, hips, or knees, this trail just isn’t for you.
Also, if you are scared of heights or don’t feel like you can keep your balance on the skinny trail (even with holding onto the chain), this hike is not for you.
Visiting the Source of the Soča – The Wrap Up
This was a SUPER fun trail for us – we loved the tiny path with the chains section, the view of the falls down below, and the cave opening experience at the top. It’s so fun to see how blue the water is, even from the very beginning. This is for sure a hidden gem in Slovenia, and only further cemented our opinion that the Soča is just, from start to finish, a fantastic river.