With its 200+ nature trails, Lithuania has much to offer visitors wanting to escape the city for a day or two. But this season, the Baltic country has added a newly marked 747-kilometre forest trail to one of the longest hiking trails in Europe – the E11. The Miško Takas (Forest Trail) passes through some of the greenest spots in the country, including several national parks.
Hiking, rambling, trekking and other ways of nature exploration have grown popular among European travellers, who are used to well-maintained trails, breathtaking scenery and comfort along the way. Lithuania’s Miško Takas trail forms a part of the E11 (Hoek van Holland-Tallinn) hiking trail, but also the longer Forest Trail that cuts across all three Baltic states. After finishing the Lithuanian trek which takes 36-38 days, hikers can continue on the E11 routes in Latvia or Poland. The trail in Lithuania is divided into newly-marked segments of approximately 20 kilometres, with accommodation spots available at the start and end of every section. Each of the sections has a difficulty designation of either easy, medium or hard.
When mapping the trail, both geographic and ethnographic variety of Lithuania were taken into account. Thus, the Forest Trails features sparsely populated woodland and river valleys, tiny villages, Lithuania’s mineral water resorts and the Modernist architecture of Kaunas, Lithuania second largest city. A through-hike features the following segments:
Dzūkija ethnographic region
Length/duration: 140 km, 6 days.
Starting at the Polish-Lithuania border, this segment of the Forest Trail takes hikers through the ethnographic region of Dzūkija, known for its deep connection to woodlands. The area is popular among foragers, who come here to pick berries and mushrooms (Varėna, a small off-trail town, even hosts an annual Mushroom Picking Festival). The trail passes through Dzūkija National Park and Veisėjai Regional Park.
Nemunas river loops
Length/duration: 111 km, 5-6 days.
The Forest Trail meanders along the wooded banks of river Nemunas through the Nemunas Loops Regional Park. Even the most seasoned hikers will be impressed by the 40 m-high outcrops that provide a spectacular view of the serpentine-like river, the longest in Lithuania. The trail also passes through Birštonas, a resort town popular with mudding enthusiasts that features multiple mineral water springs.
Kaunas and Kaunas District
Length/duration: 79 km, 5 days
The most urban segment of the Forest Trail introduces visitors to Kaunas. The city, which served as Lithuania’s capital between the two world wars, hosts some of the finest examples of Modernist architecture in Europe and is surrounded by forests, meadows and floodplains.
Dubysa river valley
Length/duration: 141 km, 6-7 days
The Forest Trail passes through Dubysa Regional Park, where castle-mounds, churches and other cultural and historical sites dot the riverbanks. The Dubysa is a beautiful river favoured by kayaking and rafting enthusiasts because of its rapid flow. The Forest Trail passes through the historic settlements of Betygala, Ugionius and Šiluva and finally reaches the wetlands of Tytuvėnai Regional Park.
Žemaitija ethnographic region
Length/duration: 276 km, 14 days
The longest section of the trail passes through the ethnographic region of Žemaitija (Samogitia), which has its own distinct traditions. Passing through quaint Samogitian towns and along the region’s most picturesque lakes, this section also showcases the country’s pagan past, as it features many ancient castle-mounds and the Hill of Šatrija – a meeting point for Samogitia’s witches. The section ends at the Latvian border.