Row, twist, go: active summer in the Urals

Row, twist, go: active summer in the Urals

When talking about the Urals, travelers usually first remember the majestic mountains. However, the possibilities of summer active recreation in the region are not limited to hiking in remote protected areas. Tourists can enjoy family walks along equipped eco-trails, steep tracks in bike parks, rafting on wild rivers and rock climbing on natural terrain. We have collected activities and tips for a successful vacation among rocks, water and trails.

Where to go for a walk: national parks and eco-trails

Row, twist, go: active summer in the Urals

Mountain and natural parks of the Southern and Middle Urals are ideal for beginners, tourists with little experience and families with small children. Take a closer look at “Taganay” near Zlatoust, “Zyuratkul” on the lake of the same name, Mount Iremel near the village of Tyulyuk, “Bazhovsky places” near Sysert and “Oleniy ruchiki” near the city of Nizhnie Sergi. The length of the routes here varies from one and a half to fifty kilometers, all the paths are well marked and equipped with signs – you won’t get lost. Along the way there are shelters and guest houses where you can spend the night for a small fee, so you don’t have to carry a heavy backpack. The views will delight you: a large stone river, rock outcrops, kurum peaks, clear lakes, moss-covered spruce trees and open spaces to the horizon. If you’re lucky, you’ll see wild animals and birds: foxes often come to the White Key shelter, near Talkov Stone there are beavers, roe deer and partridges, and in the vicinity of Zyuratkul there are moose.

There are also routes in the region for independent travelers 100 km long: the Great Central Ural Trail and the “Sysert Hundred”. The first option is linear, runs from Verkh-Neyvinsk to Yekaterinburg through ponds, rocks and the Ganina Yama monastery at the site of the execution of the royal family. Travelers will find a sea of ​​blueberries, funny chipmunks and natural viewing platforms, ideal for watching sunrises and sunsets.

Row, twist, go: active summer in the Urals

The bicycle and pedestrian trail around Sysert is circular; among the interesting objects are not only natural beauties, but also museums, creative clusters, ancient mines and modern peasant farms. Tourists are invited to get acquainted with the history of the almost three-hundred-year-old Sysert iron foundry, examine the production mechanisms of the 19th century and take part in the events of the Summer at the Factory festival, visit the house-museum of the Ural storyteller Pavel Bazhov and admire the panorama of the city pond from the ancient dam. On the way, tourists will see gold mines and pits preserved in abandoned deposits, an installation of the wall of the Shchelkunskaya fortress with a cannon on the bastion, flooded quarries and pre-revolutionary churches. An eventful trip around Sysert will be remembered for gastronomic joys, fields worthy of the brush of Ivan Shishkin, and the spirit of Ural history.

On weekends in winter, Ural soups from Cossack kulesh to fish soup are cooked right on the factory embankment. Gourmets will find something to pamper themselves with all year round: the Cheryomukha tea house serves baked goods based on local recipes; we recommend trying their signature bird cherry buns. The Sysert Hundred passes through the Nikolskaya Sloboda farm, where you should try the freshest cheeses, yoghurts and ice cream. And in the family cheese factory “Lyulyublyu” in the village of Kosmakovo, cheese is made using classic Italian technology, so stop by – or stop by – for camembert and cachotta.

Where to ride: bike parks 

Row, twist, go: active summer in the Urals

Photo: Maria Vikhreva

Mountains and bicycles are made for each other, and the easily accessible and relatively low Urals are an ideal place to master the skills of enduro and downhill, technical downhill riding. Drops, counter-slopes, rock sections and jumps will give you the feeling of flying, and the sky-high level of adrenaline will remind you how wonderful life is.

With the comfort of learning the basics of mountain biking, beginners come to the Bannoe ski center near Magnitogorsk, where the infrastructure of a modern resort is available: a gondola lift, accommodation options from hostels with three meals a day to four-star hotels, restaurants and activities for accompanying persons. The current eight-time Russian downhill champion Anna Skumbina conducts training camps here. Beginners master the stance, learn how to do basic exercises and piece together their first steep descent with a height difference of 450 m. More experienced participants can prepare and take part in the Ural Cup in DH – coaches will help disassemble the route. Between workouts, don’t forget to swim in Lake Bannoye and ride along its shores, photographing feather grass, gophers and horses. 

Other ski centers in the region also offer training on your own or with a coach: the Solnechnaya Dolina mountain bike park near Miass and the Egoza bike park near Kyshtym. The tracks here are of different levels, from simple green to difficult red, so it will be interesting for all cyclists. The Russian Cup stage will be held in Solnechnaya Valley on July 8–9; at the end of the season, a local cup and competition for the best trick are held at Egoza. The exciting atmosphere of the competition, the drive and the views will be remembered for a long time.

In the vicinity of Yekaterinburg, the man-made bike park “Iset” is popular. To fully enjoy the two dozen tracks with natural boulders and technical elements, you will have to work hard: there are no lifts here, you will have to climb up under your own power, and the average drop per descent is 100-120 m. Each track is created manually and delights with a variety of drops, stones, and slides and control. In the Iset region, the Eurasia multi-day bicycle race is held annually at the beginning of summer, and on June 25, the bike park will host amateur enduro competitions for the second time, where beginners can also participate.

For those who prefer less extreme cycling, we advise you to take a closer look at the paths around Lake Turgoyak, the picturesque open spaces along the Chusovaya River from the village of Sloboda to Kourovka with fighting rocks and the fields around the ancient village of Shchelkun. It is especially beautiful here in the golden autumn, in the second half of September.

Where to swim: paddle boarding and rafting

Row, twist, go: active summer in the Urals

The active development of paddle boarding has not bypassed the Urals, especially since local rivers have long been inhabited by lovers of rafting on classic catamarans and kayaks. Now fans of swimming on an inflatable board with one oar have been added to them: SUP stations are appearing on popular reservoirs with the opportunity to watch the sunset on the water, and proprietary tours are being conducted with drop-offs to nearby and distant spots.

The choice of routes varies from the calm surface of lakes Turgoyak and Shartash or the Shershni reservoir to mountain rivers with fun riffles, rapids and impressive outliers on the banks. The most popular rivers are Chusovaya, Iset, Rezh, Serga and Usva. A simple and beautiful option is to swim 20 km from the St. George Church and the Slobodsky Stone in the village of Sloboda to the village of Treka, admiring the steep cliffs, suspension bridges and gray herons.

The walk along Serga from the town of Nizhnie Sergi to the village of Arakaevo is more difficult and longer. The path passes through the Oleniy Ruchi natural park: here you will find caves that you can look into, rock paintings of ancient people, reminiscent of a drinking horse, a holey stone with a karst arch through which you can swim on a glanders, a sculpture of the Angel of One Hope, deep forests and green hills. After rafting, it’s nice to have dinner at a trout farm 6 km from the village. While your order is being prepared, you can go on a tour of the farm or buy home delicacies from smoked, salted and freshly caught fish to pate and dumplings. The restaurant menu is impressive: smoked creamy fish soup, grilled trout in herbs, stroganina with spruce salad and trout ice cream with homemade cheese.

If you want to admire the impressive stone giants to the maximum, go rafting along the Usva in the Perm region. In the area from the settlement of the same name to the village of Cape there are three interesting points: the rocky tract Stolby, 1.5 km long and up to 120 m high, with a separate Devil’s Finger – a seventy-meter vertical pillar, a characteristically shaped stone, a Big Log with caves at the foot, and the huge Omutnoy. Sailboating along massive cliffs hundreds of meters high and listening to the echoes is an unforgettable experience.

Where to climb: climbing on natural terrain

Row, twist, go: active summer in the Urals

Photo: Maria Vikhreva

The Ural climbing school is considered one of the strongest in the country. It’s not surprising, because the region has many places where beginners and professionals can practice on natural terrain. The routes are mainly designed for difficulty climbing; suitable options for bouldering and speed are much less common.

Arakulsky Shikhan is a beautiful rock ridge 2 km long and up to 80 m high near the lake of the same name, next to the Silach railway station in the Chelyabinsk region. There are about eighty routes from the simplest fives to complex lines of level 7C+. Near the massif there are convenient sites for a tent camp; from the top you can see several lakes, and in Arakul you can swim and fish. Rock climbing and mountaineering competitions and children’s sports camps are often held on Shihan.

Trips for beginners are also organized closer to Yekaterinburg, at the Devil’s Settlement and the rocks of Peter Gronsky. Adults and children learn to climb under the guidance of instructors – this sport is available to children from five years old. The Seven Brothers massif near Verkh-Neyvinsk is interesting: on the southern wall there are many easy routes, while on the northern one it will not be easy even for experienced athletes – among the 75 routes there are several sevens and one eight.

Row, twist, go: active summer in the Urals

Photo: Maria Vikhreva

Tips for a successful vacation in the Urals

  • Get vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis in advance – there are a lot of ticks in the region, they are especially active in the first half of summer.
  • Don’t forget to take mosquito spray when going outdoors.
  • If possible, plan rafting and SUP trips along the rivers at the beginning of summer. In August-September, the water level in Chusovaya may in some places not exceed 10 cm.
  • When riding in unfamiliar bike parks, use a trail map, for example, in Trailforks, to find your way around.

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