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Kopaonik owes its name to its abundance of mineral resources. To this day, ores of iron, lead and zinc, as well as silver and gold, can be found in the bosom of the mountain.Today, Mt. Kopaonik is the number one ski resort in Serbia and the wider region, attracting those who pack uo their gear and hit the road at first sight of snow, on the hunt for the adrenaline rush they are sure to get from Kopaonik’s slopes, even if just for the weekend.However, Kopaonik is equally bustling with life in the summertime. Because of its plentiful annual sunshine, it has been dubbed “the sunshine mountain”. Still, ski enthusiasts need not worry: the peaks and valleys of Kopaonik are covered with snow from November to May.
Because of its diverse plant and animal life, Kopaonik has exerted an irresistible pull on numerous scientists, including Josif Pančić, as well as those who explore nature only as a hobby.
More than a thousand plant species grow here, including Kopaonik's houseleek, Kopaonik's violet and Pančić's bittercress as the most famous among them. Although you probably won’t have time to see them all, you should know that Kopaonik is home to numerous mammal species, almost two hundred bird species and an endangered butterfly endemic to this habitat.
Kopaonik is also a mushroom forager’s paradise. More than two hundred species grow here, some of them rare or endemic to the area. On one of the many hiking tours, you can find edible mushrooms such as penny buns, chanterelles, true morels, parasol mushrooms, common mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and many other species.
Few experiences can rival the hiking tours of Kopaonik mountain, on which you can pick local fruits and herbs or simply enjoy resting your body and soul in the vast expanse of emerald green.
There are hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty to choose from, so pick one that best suits your level of fitness and physical endurance. Markova stena and Duboka are among the easy trails, while trails of a medium degree of difficulty include Treska, Janova bara, Oštri krš. If you feel you’re up to a serious challenge, we suggest you try the “Seats of Heaven” hiking trail. This hiking tour takes four to five hours to complete and ascends to an altitude of 414 metres above sea level.
One of the best-known – and also most difficult – hiking trails is the long-distance alpine trail “Josif Pančić”, which leads to the eponymous highest peak of Mt. Kopaonik.
If you choose to spend your one-day excursion on the Kadijevac picnic site, which sits just seven kilometres away from the central tourist area of Kopaonik, you will have an opportunity to relish the splendour of a thick coniferous forest intersected by the river Samokovka.
If you feel the Barska reka, situated at an altitude of 915 metres above sea level, is more to your liking, you will find yourself surrounded by the magnificence and endless murmur of waterfalls.
Mountaineers and cyclists can take the same trails by following the Red, Orange and Green “Borje” Routes. The Red Route is of a medium degree of difficulty and passes by the Lake Čomaga and traverses the Borje viewpoint, continuing along dirt roads to the Lake Borjak and the Dubovske bačije viewpoint. The Orange Route will take you to the Tijanićki potok waterfall and the Green Route will allow you to explore the more undiscovered parts of Borje and rewards you with a magnificent view of the peaks of Kopaonik.
At Kopaonik National Park, you can enjoy the murmur of rivers under strict protection from the state, including the Samokovska, the Gobeljska or the Brzećka rivers.
The most striking among them is the Samokovska river, the lifeline of Kopaonik adorned by a myriad of small waterfalls. But if monumental cascading waterfalls are what you’re after, be sure to check out the Zaplaninska river, right underneath Pančić’s peak, echoing with the mighty roar of the multi-step waterfall of Jelovarnik, with the highest drop in Serbia.
Kopaonik also boasts several magnificent lakes, shimmering like medals on its proud chest. The largest of them is the round Semeteš Lake. Thanks to its many underground and surface springs, this aquatic gem never dries out. In fact, the underground springs are so deep and wide that the lake’s depth is virtually impossible to measure. And, as if all these wonders of nature are not enough, the surface of the lake is also interspersed with the so-called “floating islands” which are set in motion when gusts of wind ruffle the lake’s surface.
Kopaonik is also ideal for those who appreciate the health effects of spa resorts. The popular Jošanička banja and Lukovska banja spas, with hot springs that are sure to rejuvenate your body and soul, are situated within this national park.
Man-made structures rarely match up to the marvels created by nature. To ensure the natural landmarks and numerous nature reserves in the area are preserved for visitors and for future generations, they have all been placed all under state protection. Must-see sites include Bele stene (“White Rocks”), whose stunning heights used to be a nesting area for grey falcons, and the Duboka nature reserve on the left bank of the eponymous river.
Other notable natural landmarks and amenities include Lisičja stena, Pajino preslo, Suvi vrh, Visoki deo and Karaman-Vučak, as well as Široki do and Velika Gobelja cirques.
If you feel like experiencing Kopaonik from the vantage point of the local masters of the sky, you can visit the peaks and viewpoints of Velika stena (“Large Rock”), from which you can see the mountains of Jastrebac, Velika Šiljača, Jelica, Gvozdac and Oštri krš.
Once air temperature drops below zero degrees Celsius, both beginners and experienced winter sport enthusiasts flock in droves to Kopaonik. Skiers and snowboarders test their limits and enjoy the ski slopes both in daytime and during the evening. As the sun sets down on the mountain, its exciting nightlife takes centre stage, with a little bit of something for everyone; ski wear gives way to evening gowns, as cafés and clubs stay jam-packed until the early morning hours.
For the best skiing experience, check out the Ravni Kopaonik plateau, home to a huge tourism complex, with an expansive system of ski slopes and gondola lifts. Those who don’t have their own winter sports gear can rent it here. No less exciting is the tourist resort near the village of Brzeće, on the eastern slope of Kopaonik mountain.
Both easy and difficult ski slopes are available, all of them category 1 slopes, measuring approximately 62 kilometres in length. There are also 12 kilometres of Nordic skiing trails, while the ski slopes at Crvene bare are slightly shorter, measuring 3.5 and 10 kilometres.
Visitors to Kopaonik National Park should not miss the opportunity to visit the nearby monasteries of Studenica, Đurđevi stupovi and Gradac. Relax and soak up the magnificence of these monasteries built in the 12th and 13th Centuries while learning more about the history and culture of Serbia and its people.
Perched on the cliffs overhanging the river Ibar, near the road to the city of Kraljevo, you will spot the medieval city of Maglič which remains virtually inaccessible to this day. It is believed it was built in the 13th Century to protect the roads in the old Serbian state of Raška and especially its monasteries, where all those roads led.
Another interesting cultural landmark is Veliko Metođe on Kopaonik mountain, a 3rd Century church dedicated to Saint Methodius of Olympus, notable for the fact that it was built inside a rock.