North Macedonia creating ‘Endless Trail’

If you’re looking for a new challenge that’s somewhat off the beaten track, North Macedonia may be about to provide a great new option.

The small Balkan nation is putting together a mammoth 2,070km (1,286 miles) loop around the country that looks a little bit like an infinity symbol. The trail, which ranges from 103m to 2,415m (7,923 feet), is estimated to take between 60 and 90 days to complete.

And for those for whom a trip to the highpoint of the trail isn’t enough, a side path goes up to a height of 2,764m (9,068 feet), pretty much twice the height of Ben Nevis.

The nation of just 2.1 million people – more than 25% live in the capital Skopje – already has some trails, but most are not well defined or marked, and difficult to navigate. The new trail, also known as the Sammiana, will avoid this through better markers and infrastructure.

The planned route will avoid walking on asphalt roads as much as possible. Also, slopes greater than 15% will be avoided, with trails using zigzags or switchbacks to make it to the tops of the mountains.

The goal is also to form a precise route and GPS records that contain all information about the path and the nearby environment, so that the track can be used without difficulty for multi-day tours or longer-term hiking.

The entire trail takes in a variety of scenery from mountains to valleys, waterfalls to forests, lakes to archaeological and historic sites.

The meaning behind the infinity loop and the name endless trail, is that the designers of the path envisaged the centre of the symbol as the starting point, from which hikers can choose one of four directions of the loop. When they reach the same point, they can then choose a different direction. And, because of the time it takes to complete, by the time hikers have completed the entire path, should they so choose, the changing seasons will mean that the part of the trail they have already encountered will give a different experience.

The eastern ‘wing’ of the trail is nearing completion, with work continuing on the western part of the project.

For more information on the project and the different stages of the trail, visit the Sammiana Trail website (in Macedonian).