The temperature may be dropping, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still fun to be had in the great outdoors of Armenia. While hiking is typically seen as a seasonal activity better suited to spring or summer, it shouldn’t be completely counted out during the winter! You’ve got skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating – why not hiking? It’s not only good for your overall health and wellbeing, it offers an opportunity to see Armenia’s vast countryside transformed from its usual green, lush lands to white, glittering snowscapes.
With the proper gear and preparation, you can hike just about any trail from our website in the wintertime, as long as weather conditions allow. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered with a list of the trails we recommend trying out this winter season and practical advice at the bottom of the article to help you plan and stay safe along the way.
Location: Parz Lake to Dilijan, Tavush Province
Distance: 14.1 km
Time: 4.5 hrs
Situated in the northern Tavush province, Dilijan National Park is the perfect place to escape to for a wintery adventure. And this trail, which is also part of the Transcaucasian Trail (TCT) route, takes you right through the heart of it.
You can start this hike either at Parz Lake or in Dilijan town. No matter which starting point you choose, you’ll find the best that Dilijan National Park has to offer. Though you’ll be missing the spring and summer wildflowers that dot the meadows of this trail, you’ll find that the heavily wooded areas of the trail are especially beautiful when covered in snow. Leave plenty of time to complete this trail in the winter as it typically takes longer in the snow. Keep in mind that depending on weather conditions, the drive to Parz Lake can be difficult and in some cases, inaccessible. As a reminder, practical info on what to wear or where to rent snowshoes can be found at the bottom of this article.
Location: Parz Lake, Tavush Province
Distance: 2 km
Time: 1 hr
If you’re looking for an easier alternative to the Twist & Shout trail, the Parz Lake Loop is the perfect trail for a quick hike through nature, taking you through the woods around the lake’s recreational area along a newly marked trail. At the end of your hike, take a moment to chill by the water (which may be frozen) and take in the sounds of the woods around you. As Parz Lake usually gets quite a lot of visitors in the summer months, winter is the perfect time to enjoy the area in peace. As stated above, keep in mind that poor weather conditions can make the drive to Parz Lake difficult.
Location: Arthurs Aghveran Resort, Arzakan village, Aragatsotn Province
Distance: 10.1 km
Time: 5 hrs
When hiking this trail in the winter, we strongly advise you to wear snowshoes as there can be quite a bit of snowfall. Make sure you’re aware of the snow conditions before heading out (see bottom of article) – risk of an avalanche is always possible.
Starting from the Arthurs Aghveran Resort in Arzakan, a village known for its spas and resorts, this difficult loop trail takes you up the beautiful ridges of the Tsaghkunyats mountains. Formed by a volcanic field, this mountain range stretches from the Pambak Mountains in the north to the right bank of the Hrazdan River in the southeast. Its highest peak is Mount Teghenis, which you can see from this trail. After crossing from Kotayk Province into Aragatsotn Province along the snowy mountainsides, you’ll find Tsaghkunyats Lake, where you can get a spectacular view of the surrounding landscape, a winter wonderland. From there, the trail goes down and back to the resort area via the ridgeline on the east side of the valley.
Location: either Antarut village or Amberd Fortress, Aragatsotn Province
Distance: 7.1 km
Time: 3.5 hrs
Follow ancient paths through forests and river valleys for this adventure to the legendary fortress in the clouds, Amberd Fortress. Extending between Antarut village and Amberd, this trail can be hiked starting from either location.
At Amberd, take some time to explore the 10th-century fortress complex, which gets its name from its location on the slopes of Mt. Aragats, standing at a staggering 2,300 meters above sea level. If you plan on entering the grounds of Amberd, note that the site opens at 10AM and the entry fee is 700 AMD for locals and 1400 AMD for foreigners. From Amberd, wind your way down into the Arkashian River valley along the ancient trail, passing through wide open spaces and forested areas. Once you’ve crossed the valley, you’ll get unique views of the fortress before reaching Antarut.
Location: either Jrambar village or Yeghiapatrush village, Aragatsotn Province
Distance: 6.5 km
Time: 3.5 hrs
Pass by the ruins of an abandoned village on this easy, picturesque hike along the beautiful Aparan Reservoir. As you make your way up the reservoir bank, you’ll find yourself walking among the remnants of Old Zovuni village, which was abandoned back in 1965. Keep your eyes peeled for the Mausoleum of St. Vardan Mamikonyan, the Armenian hero known for leading the Armenian army at the Battle of Avarayr in 451 against the Sassanid Persians. On the bank of the Aparan, near the Mausoleum, you’ll also see the ruins of the 5th century St. Poghos-Petros Church. From there you will start walking through the pine forests that will take you up and eventually back towards the reservoir. On the second half of the loop, you will be met by a fantastic view of the water and the snowy peaks of Aragats Mountain in the distance.
This trail has two possible access routes, one from Jrambar village and other towards Yeghiapatrush village. From Jrambar, you’ll have to drive over the reservoir itself, and guards are stationed at the crossing point. Occasionally, they will not let travelers cross, which is why the second access route exists.
Location: Artavan village, Vayots Dzor Province
Distance: 19.4 km (with both off-shoots)
Time: 6 hrs
Starting and ending in Artavan village, this loop trail can be hiked in the winter without snowshoes, as long as you have a good pair of boots and gaiters to help keep out extra moisture. Starting and ending in Artavan village, this trail has two off-shoots: one that takes hikers to a beautiful waterfall and another that leads to a mysterious fortress.
Early on in the hike, you’ll have the option to take a side journey to the remote Nareh Waterfall. At the midpoint of the loop, you’ll find Lake Hayeli (Armenian for “mirror”), where you can stop for lunch and a rest. Here you’ll also find the second off-shoot, which takes you to Andranik’s Fortress. Situated atop a hill, the fortress offers beautiful panoramic views looking back at Artavan as well as into Armenia’s southernmost province, Syunik. As always, be wary of weather conditions when driving to this trail spot.
Bringing the Right Gear
Winters are cold in Armenia, and being prepared with the proper attire is essential to a good hiking experience. A long-sleeved shirt, a sweater, and a warm jacket or coat will keep you warm outside in the cold, along with snow pants and wool socks. Wear good hiking boots that are waterproof. In the southern provinces, you might not need any other footwear, but you’re more than likely to need snowshoes if you’re hiking in snowy areas. Their large footprint spreads the user’s weight out and allows them to travel largely on top rather than through snow, which makes for easier hiking. If you’ve never snowshoed before, check out this guide for some pointers!
Apart from snowshoes, you might also want to bring a pair of gaiters on your next winter hike. Fabric guards that cover the gap between your pants and your boots, gaiters protect your feet and lower legs from moisture, like rain or snow, or debris, like stones, thorns, and branches. Essentially, they provide you with an extra layer of defense against the elements.
Check Weather Conditions
Once you’ve got the right gear, you’re almost ready to hit the trails. But first, make sure you check the local weather conditions and learn about avalanche safety, especially if you’re hiking in the mountains or wherever there is lots of snow. The best way to avoid risk of getting caught in an avalanche is to stick to the trails – none will involve going near the steep slopes where risk of avalanche is greater.
There are a few great resources you can use to check weather conditions. We recommend visiting snowforecast.com or checking out the Windy app and website, where you can see more detailed statistics about snow in Armenia. Start by typing either “Armenia” or a more specific location in the search bar, then clicking on the “more layers” option at the bottom of the right hand sidebar. There, select “Snow Depth” to check how much snow there is and where. You can also select “New Snow” if you’d like to see where and how much it has snowed recently in the area. From there you can use the legend on the bottom right of the screen to see how many centimeters of snow there is.
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Finally, keep in mind that though a trail might be listed as “easy”, it might be more difficult to hike in the wintertime. Always take difficulty ratings with a grain of salt, and come prepared regardless.
The HIKEArmenia Office & Website
As always, we are here to offer free info and advice on how to plan the best hiking adventure in Armenia according to your wants and needs. Message us online or visit our office at 5 Vardanants Street in Yerevan with your questions, and we’ll be happy to help – in English, Armenian, Russian, Dutch, French, German, AND Swedish! Our office is open from Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 19:00. You can also contact us by phone (+374 011 445 326) or by email (email@example.com). Happy hiking!