Janapar Trail Repairs
Updated: Dec 24, 2017
Janapar Trail September 2017
In 2006 the concept of a long distance trail starting in Armenia and extending through Artsakh was born with 2007 seeing the trail defined and much of it marked. Funding came from the Hovnanian Foundation and the implementation of the project was planned and overseen by Raffi Kojian. The trail came together by connecting existing dirt roads and trails. The trail was designed so that hikers would end each days hike in a village or a town where they could stay in local homestays without needing to bring camping gear. This would allow them to experience first hand the incredible hospitality of the people and experience the local culture better. Those who did prefer to bring gear would of course have the option to camp as well.
Even as adventurous hikers started hiking the trail, the signage began to deteriorate. In 2012, work was done to renew the trail markings in the southern portion of the trail, between Stepanakert and Hadrut. The trail was extended into Armenia, and as hiking apps grew in popularity, the trail was added to apps in order to make following it even easier. This work was completed by the efforts and funds of Raffi and some friends, as well as volunteers from Birthright Armenia. Additional trail marking work was done by Birthright Armenia volunteers in 2014.
In 2016 Raffi oversaw and funded the scouting of an extension even further into Armenia from Vardenis to Yerevan. This portion has been completely scouted and the tracks will be added to hiking apps as an unmarked extension. There are no plans currently to mark this trail.
I first read about the trail in 2015 and with a group of friends we came to ride the trail in October 2016. We would be the first group to mountain bike the trail. We all had a great time and really enjoyed the scenery and the incredible hospitality of the locals.
The Trails For Change Crew made a trip to Artsakh in September and spent a week installing 200 signs along the trail as well as trimming brush and assessing some potential trail reroutes.
Here is a breif recap of our recent work.
Saturday September 16
Depart from TCT HQ in Dilijan for Karvachar. Started installing signs on the trail in and around Karvachar (this segment had never been signed before) Since I was the only one on the crew familiar with the trail we needed to spend some time going over the route.
At the end of a long day we had a dip in the Karvachar hot tub.
Sunday September 17
We split into two groups. One crew marked the trail through Karvachar and also on Zuar Road while the second crew went up to Nor Manashid. After a stop for coffee and chatting with Artur the Mayor at his house we began hiking and installing signs along the route.
There was one segment of trail that had eluded me during my past two trips on the trail and we were determined to find it. At one point there was a wide old road bed that abrubtly stoped with no evidence of a trail. We continued cross country following the GPS track on View Ranger along a ridge and after 1-2 KM we could see what looked like an old road bed in the distance. We continued down and once the old road dropped into the forest it became a single track. It was getting late in the day now so we did not have very much time to do anything but some quick cutting of a few branches blocking the trail. The route was very nice and most of it was a gentle sustainable grade. We will install more signs and trim back the brush when we return to this segment.
By the time we reached Zuar Road it was dark and we continued along with our headlights. We called the other crew to come and pick us up. They had made camp in someones yard. The owner of the house was originally from Yerevan but had lived in Glendale for 25 years before moving to Zuar 8 years prior. Its always nice to hear about people moving back to Armenia and Artsakh!
Monday September 18
We woke up early so we could make it to Dadivank to see the sunrise over the mountain behind the monastery.
We once again broke into two groups and one group marked the trail up to Vaghuhas while the other group drove ahead to Kolatak to begin work on the segment between Vank Road and Kolatak.
Tuesday September 19
We drove in on the trail as far as we could until it turned to single track and then proceeded up to Kachaghakaberd trimming brush and installing trail markers along the way.
After we made it to the peak we split up and one group went back down the same way to get the cars, pack our gear and drive to Badera to pick us up.
We installed signs along the way down. Most of the upper 2/3 of the trail to Badera was a very nice trail then at one point the trail cut through the forest and was a challenge to follow.
Some work will be needed on this segment as there are several overgrown sections.
We arrived into town hungry. As we walked along the road we were offered fresh bread. A short distance later a man invited us into his yard to pick apples from his tree. A short distance later we were invited to another house for yogurt and rice. No one goes hungry for long in Artsakh!
Wednesday September 20
Drive to Avataranots one group installed signs from Avataranots to the paved road just before Karmir Shuka and the other group marked the trail and cleared brush about 5 KM above Avataranots. Afterwards we drove to Tigranakert to take a tour and also look at the area for potential future trails. We then drove to the town of Martakert and stayed in a nice hotel and enjoyed a delicious dinner.
Raffi and Dimitri with Janapar Trail Organization have made a couple of trips this fall to look at potential reroutes.
AHA Armenia has plans to work on at least one segment of the trail from Shushi to Karintak.
Trails For Change will have a couple of our crew members returning to the Janapar Trail for a couple of weeks this fall to check on all homestays along the route as well as assessing a few segments of the route.