New Baltic Mega-Trail Opens

Gauja National Park in Latvia is part of the new mega-trail.

The Forest Trail is easier than most long-distance paths

A new hiking trail spans 2,141km through all three Baltic states.

The Forest Trail adds to the E11 European Long Distance Path, which runs for 4,700km from The Hague in The Netherlands to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.

Passing through forest roads, country roads, sandy and rocky shorelines, this trans-national route links some of the Baltic’s most scenic forests and national parks.

The new Forest Trail meanders through national parks throughout the Baltics, including Lithuania’s Žemaitija National Park. Photo: Lithuania Travel

In Latvia, hikers traverse Gauja National Park, known for its virgin pine trees. The Lithuanian section includes the postcard lakes of Žemaitija National Park. Latvia’s Ķemeri National Park features sleepy fishing villages between protected bogs and forests. Quietly scenic rather than extreme hiking.

The trail crests Suur Munamägi, the highest peak in the Baltics, at a modest 318m. The next highest point reaches 190m in Lithuania’s Samogitian Highlands, formed during the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago.

Whether broken into stages or completed in one go, the route offers transportation links and accommodation roughly every 20km. Each country has nearly the same spread of distance: Lithuania, 747km; Latvia, 674km; and Estonia, 720km. Each section takes an estimated 35 to 38 days to complete, while ambitious hikers can nail the entire route in roughly one full summer, between 102 and 114 days.

Forming part of the E11 European Long Distance Path, the Forest Trail takes about three-and-a-half months to complete. Photo: Baltic Forest Hiking

Aside from meandering through a smorgasbord of nature, the trail can help initiate people with intermediate athletic abilities into long-distance hiking better than most cross-country routes, which are more difficult.

Aside from the odd wild boar, animal encounters aren’t too threatening, either. As in many areas of Europe, ticks are the most dangerous creatures on the trail, because of the Lyme disease or encephalitis they may carry. Ticks latch on slowly, so a body check at the end of every day eliminates this threat.

Hikers can download an app from the Baltic Forest website for maps and other planning information.

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About the Author

Chasing Dreams Travel

Alex Myall

After 22 years in the exercise industry, offset by long-haul adventures around the world, Alex Myall found a better option a few years ago and has never looked back. She took a diploma in travel journalism, backed it up with travel industry certificates, then launched Chasing Dreams Travel NZ, her own travel agency.

Now she combines her love of writing and world travel with running her business from her home on the spectacular South Coast of Wellington, New Zealand, while simultaneously being mum to a gorgeous baby girl. She maintains a “life’s too short to do things by halves” attitude.

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Pär Leijonhuvud
Pär Leijonhuvud
4 months ago

Tick Borne Encephalitis — TBE — is a rather nasty disease, but one that it is possible to vaccinate against. Strongly recommended if one is going to spend time in nature in the areas where it is endemic.

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