Hiking in Armenia, Dilijan
Built by volunteers in 2017 with the generous support of HIKEArmenia and Caucasus Nature Fund, this 80km ‘showcase’ section of the Transcaucasian Trail will take you on a journey through the very best the region has to offer, focused around the spa town of Dilijan and the surrounding mountains of Dilijan National Park.
As well as taking in the stunning limestone escarpments and broadleaf forests of the region, your hike will also pass close to some of the most iconic historical sites in Armenia, including the early Christian monasteries of Haghartsin and Goshavank, which date back to the 10th century, as well as several lesser-known natural and cultural sites.
Self-sufficient hikers will find plentiful wild-camping opportunities along the route, giving you the ability to modify the itinerary to suit your preferred schedule and level of challenge. For those wishing to spend their nights indoors, guesthouse accommodation is available at all but one of the suggested overnight stops (Haghartsin Monastery). However, the monastery is within easy reach by taxi of guesthouses in Dilijan and Teghut.
The route overlaps with many parts of the Dilijan National Park trail network. It is marked with red and white painted blazes, as well as TCT directional tags, and can be hiked in either direction. More information on trails in this region, as well as recommended accommodation, sites of interest, and local guides, can be found on the HIKEArmenia website and iOS/Android app.
The guide will describe the route in a south-north direction of travel, beginning at the village of Khachardzan and ending in Hovk.
The TCTA strives to provide accurate, current information as to trail conditions and the trail route. However, actual trail conditions may be different, and such information may not be accurate or complete. Trail users are urged to consider all the information available from other sources and to heed local advice when available. Trail users are ultimately responsible for all decisions as to the trail routes, trail conditions, weather, and safety.
In addition to the hazards posed by steep terrain and mountain weather, hikers in should be prepared for difficult route-finding and challenging trail conditions, the possibility of washed-out bridges and dangerous river crossings in high water, aggressive dogs guarding sheep and cattle, giant hogweed, and frequent summer thunderstorms with extremely intensive periods of lightning. Access to emergency medical care and search and rescue is not always available.
Getting To Dilijan
By bus from Yerevan: Minibuses (mashrutkas) depart from the Northern Bus Station (hyusisayin avtokayaran) for Dilijan every hour between 10am and 4pm daily, costing 1000 AMD. The bus station itself can be reached by the 259 bus from the city center, or by private taxi.
By taxi from Yerevan: A private taxi from Yerevan should cost AMD9–11,000 at the standard rate of AMD100–120/km.
By bus from Tbilisi: Minibuses or shared minivans to Yerevan may drop you in Dilijan for a reduced rate, which should be negotiated before departure.
When To Hike
It’s possible to hike from April onwards in the northern half of the Park, where snow begins to melt earlier, though it is unlikely to have vanished completely at higher elevations until May, and the trails will be very muddy. June and July can be wet but this is a fantastic time for wildflower lovers, when the alpine meadows are in full bloom. August is generally dry but can also be very hot, and the best of the wildflowers will be over. Some of the more remote sections of the trail can be quite overgrown at this time. September and October bring more favourable daytime temperatures and much of the vegetation will have died down. Late October and early November – when the autumn leaves are magnificent shades of red and gold – is perhaps the most visually spectacular time to be hiking in Dilijan National Park, though many tourist services will have closed down for winter, herding settlements in the mountains will be abandoned, and campers should prepare for cold nights.
Dilijan has a variable semi-rainforest climate with plentiful rain throughout the year, relative to the region. Winter sees subzero temperatures and snow throughout the region, while spring is the wettest season, with heavy rainfall from April to June. July to September is generally drier and does not reach the same high temperatures as elsewhere in Armenia. The drier weather continues through autumn; by December temperatures are already dropping well below freezing. Rainstorms can blow through at any time; we recommend hikers pack waterproofs and appropriate footwear for mud at any time of year. Even in summer, thunder and hail are not uncommon at higher elevations and near peaks and ridgelines.
Accessing The Trailheads
Neither Hovk nor Khachardzan are served by public transport at this time, so the easiest way to reach either trailhead is to take a private taxi. In Dilijan, taxis congregate outside the bus station, opposite Cafe #2. Be sure to negotiate a price before beginning your journey. A one-way trip from Dilijan should cost AMD2,500–3,000. Alternatively, shorter sections of the trail can be hiked beginning in Dilijan itself.