Aleko – Cherni Vrah – Smilyo Shelter
In this section, the route is well-marked with line marking and poles. If necessary, you can spend the night in Smilyo Shelter. It is a building with concrete foundation, wooden walls and big south-facing windows. Inside there are a stove, a big table fit for 8 – 10 people as well as an improvised sleeping space made by sofa parts. The wooden walls are home to mice or some other kind of rodents whose excrements can be seen scattered on the floor and on the table.
Smilyo Shelter – Bukapreslapski Pass – village of Klisura
As a whole, the marking in this section is good. At some of the open sections, where there are no trees, instead of poles with signs or paint marking, there are pieces of white-and-red plastic tape tied to the bushes. 2.5km after Smilyo Shelter the trail goes out on an asphalt road. There is no sign on the crossroad to tell you the right way is to the right (although after you take the turn and go on for a few tens of metres you’ll see line marking). Further on, there’s a confusing moment at a section of the route where a new soil road has been made. For a while this road runs parallel to the old one and then goes out on a meadow (Vartalivata Livada) along which there’s no marking and from where the old path is not to be seen at all. At the end of the meadow the road draws closer to the forest and at this spot there’s a fork to the right (further up there are also markings on the trees) which you can easily miss and, instead, keep on down the road towards the village of Popovyane. It is highly recommended that this spot (N42° 23.618' E23° 16.938') gets a sign. Other places where potential signs would make orientation easier are:
N42° 25.367' E23° 14.424'
N42° 24.478' E23° 14.986'
N42° 24.209' E23° 15.355'
N42° 21.699' E23° 18.306'
//////// After Brusovete Peak there’s another spot where the path diverges in a meadow without any marking. The left path goes to Klisura while the right descends towards the valley of Sapareva Banya. Not far from the fork a white-red band has been tied which however might not be noticed. //////
The only functional fountain along the route in the Yarlovski Kupen – Klisura section is located at the place where the road makes a turn, about 1.4km after Bukapreslapski Pass. All other fountains along the route are either dried up or stagnant and their water isn’t good for drinking.
Village of Klisura – Lovna Hut
The marking in this section is good. There’s no bridge across the Dzehrman River before Lovna Hut so the river crossing might be difficult for some tourists. All fountains in the Klisura – Lovna Hut section need to be repaired so at the moment there’s no drinkable water along the route. Lovna Hut is open all year round, having about 25 beds in the main building and, additionally, 3 triple and 3 double sheds as well as solid fuel powered central heating. There’s possibility of taking a hot shower. The toilet is outside. As a whole, the conditions are not bad but it’s been long since the hut was wholly repaired so it’s by no means comfortable or luxurious. The hut also offers food.
Lovna Hut – Malyovitsa Hut
The marking in this section is excellent; no risk of getting lost. The only place you can get water is the fountain right before the ascent towards Okoto (The Eye) Lake. The large influx of tourists in this section has led to overwidening of the path and erosion in the area of the lakes and in the descent from Malyovitsa Peak to the valley of the Malyovishka River. Malyovitsa Hut is being repaired with the second-floor rooms being completely renovated and equipped with new flooring, beds, bed sheets and blankets. The second-floor toilets are also renovated and there’s a hot water bathroom. The hut is open all year round and serves food.
Malyovitsa Hut – Ribni Ezera Hut
The marking is good. The shelters of Strashnoto Ezero (The Scary Lake) and Kobilino Branishte are located in this section of the route.
The Strashnoto Ezero Shelter is in very good condition. It’s been recently renovated and insulated from the inside. It’s equipped with a stove (however, often there is no wood since there is no dry mountain pine near the shelter and collecting dry wood isn’t permitted on the territory of Rila National Park anyway) and there’s water at the outflow of the Scary Lake. There’s no toilet.
The Kobilino Branishte Shelter is in bad condition – the front door is hanging on one hinge; inside it’s dirty and the blankets and mattresses are also dirty and ragged. The place doesn’t provide even basic comfort and would only do in extreme situations. The toilet is outside and it’s almost dilapidated.
Ribni Ezera (Fish Lakes) Hut is a two-storey building that can accommodate up to 60 people. Its conditions are tolerable, what with the fact you’re spending the night in the mountain, but, as a whole, the hut is not well maintained.
Ribni Ezera Hut – Makedoniya Hut
The marking is in good condition. There’s risk of getting lost only amid the mountain pine at the ascent after Kadiev Grob where the path is easy to miss.
Makedoniya Hut is a two-storey building, accommodating 40 people in 4-, 5- or 7-bed rooms and a shared double-bed room for 24 people. There are two outdoor toilets. The hut is open all year round and serves food.
Macedonia Hut – Predela
The marking to Kapatnik Peak is good, despite a few obscure places, and allows one to easily find the way without using GPS. The path from Kapatnik Peak to the exit on the dirt road near Mrazenitsa River is the worst-marked section of the entire length of E-4 in Bulgaria. After the peak there’s a descent along an indistinct path; the line marking is too sparsely placed and very difficult for one to follow without getting lost between two markings. Things become even harder when you get down to the forest where – after a while – you get out on an old cartway: the marking leaves the road without there being a path to the right and soon after that it disappears. Further down, there are a couple more places where the path gets lost to later reappear at unexpected not clearly marked places.
Down at the Simitli - Bansko asphalt road there’s no marking at a few places either. What follows is an unpleasant 3.2-km walk along the road with cars swishing by – definitely the worst part of the route.
Predela – Yavorov Hut
The marking is good and allows one to easily find the right way. There are a couple of places, however, where people might get lost if they’re not careful – in the section between the beginning of the descent after Dautov Peak and the Okadenska River.
Yavorov Hut can accommodate 70 people. There are six double rooms with private bathroom and satellite TV, one apartment, four triple rooms without a bathroom and shared rooms. The hut always has hot water and is centrally heated. It works all year round and has a restaurant. The conditions are good; the sleeping areas and the toilets are clean.
Yavorov Hut – Vihren Hut
The marking in this section is very good. The metal rope along the path cutting across the southern slopes of Kutelo has been extended. There are metal poles put aside so perhaps in the future the rope will be further extended. There’s a metal chain placed on the path from the col leading to Vihren Peak which facilitates the passing even in case of ice. The section of the path from Vihren Peak to the saddle between Vihren and Hvoynati Peak is heavily eroded due to the great number of tourists so there are a few parallel paths made.
Vihren Hut – Tevnoto Ezero Hut
The marking is very good; no problems with finding the way in this part of the route. Tevnoto Ezero Hut (officially a shelter) can accommodate about 50 people (around 30 on the second floor in the old part of the building and the rest – in the extension in the northern part of the shelter) and serves food. The toilets are outside. There’s also a fountain fed by water from the lake. It’s open from May till November (approximately), depending on the conditions and the amount of snow.
Tevno Ezero Hut – Popovi Livadi Hut
The marking in this section is also very good; with little exceptions there’s no danger of getting lost. The fork at Komitski Chark wasn’t very well-marked. The bridge across the Treta (Demirkapiyska) River was rebuilt this year (20016). The marking in the Komitski Chark – Popovi Livadi Hut section has been recently fully renovated under the initiative and with the financial support of Popovi Livadi keeper Dimitar Pirnarev and done by volunteers. The new marking is distinct and there’s no risk of getting lost. The only unmarked place is in the open section of Dobro Pole under Orelyak Peak but the worst that can happen is for one to lose the path and spend some more time walking if having got out on the dirt road towards the transmitter which is to the right of the correct way.
Popovi Livadi Hut is in comparatively good condition. It is open all year round. There are indoor toilets and hot water. Tourists are also offered food. The keeper is a very active person and you could talk with him about potential co-initiatives.
Popovi Livadi Hut – Slavyanka Hut
The marking in this section was repainted this autumn by the group of enthusiast and the hut keeper of Popovi livadi hut. Now tha right path is well marked and a GPS unit is no longer needed. Slavyanka Hut is a fully renovated former border post; the accommodation is very good; there are indoor toilets and hot water. The hut is open all year round and serves food. This is the hut that offers the best conditions in terms of comfort for the whole length of the route.
Slavyanka Hut – Gotsev Peak
Although the marking in this area is sparse, it’s not really possible for someone to get lost because there’s just one path along the route here which is easy to follow all the time.