Mezmay, a small village in the south of Russia, is one of the region’s undiscovered gems. The area boasts a wide range of hiking tracks that are often largely undiscovered, especially by international tourists.
This week, we’ll be looking at another track through the exquisite forests of this area. If heights aren’t your thing but you still want to enjoy the beauty of Mezmay, then the old forest surrounding it is for you.
It’s a fantastic track that leads you through an immaculate rainforest to three lovely waterfalls. The track is mostly flat with a few ups and downs and the surrounding nature is truly superb.
When you enter the small village, you pass the beginning of the track to Eagle Ledge. Shortly after this, the bitumen ends and the dirt roads begin. Most of the houses in Mezmay are on large blocks of land filled with various greenery. There are Queenslander-style homes with verandas overlooking the pristine nature in the surrounding valley. There are no chain supermarkets, no fast food and no tram stations. Just eco-lodges, farm animals running freely and a beautiful tranquility.
Turn left at the first intersection you come to and continue down the gravel road. After rain it can get quite muddy, make sure you’re in a 4WD in that case. The track starts at the next right hand turn and you should already be on foot by this stage.
Rural life surrounds this road and you may well find yourself accompanied by goats, ducks or sheep as you walk down the dirt road and across a small culvert. A small incline takes you to the beginning of forest and it’s not unusual to see racoon droppings and lots of wild berries here.
To the right and you’re at the beginning of the track and also near a nice monument to the soldiers who fought in WW2 in the area? The statues can be found right on the edge of the clearing and this is also where you can hear the mighty roar of the first waterfall. Let the adventure begin!
From here you will almost abseil down a steep, rocky and potentially slippery (subject to rain) cliff for about 20 metres to reach the forest floor. The journey down will be aided by a thick metal cable that you can use for balance. It’s not too scary as long as you hold on tight!
This cable will also come in handy as you walk around another small cliff, following the dirt track, until you reach the first waterfall. Depending on your fitness level, this section could take up to twenty minutes. But once you’re down the rocky part, the walk around the cliff to the first waterfall is quite quick.
The first waterfall is located in a small clearing. There is a tall rock face with torrents of water pouring down into a small pool that is in the middle of the clearing. This pool then flows on to a river that runs further into Mezmay.
The pool is surrounded by rocks and logs so there are plenty of places to take great photographs. The rock face itself is mossy and has various flowers growing on it. When we were there, we also spotted a golden bird that landed right beside the flowing water, to feed on something. Such a magical sight!
From here, the path onwards isn’t immediately obvious. You must walk behind the waterfall and then through a patch of land and rock completely covered by bright green moss before you see it.
This part of the trail is really interesting. You walk along the side of the rockface and can stare down at the ferns and shrubs growing on the slope below. There are all kinds of flora and fauna here including insect and birdlife.
The path itself is simply a dirt track with no bins, ropes or handrails which really makes you feel like you’re in the wilderness. Having followed this track right around the side of the hill, you will need to make a short descent to reach the next waterfall.
This one is slightly smaller but much wider and seems to flow down over a series of different levels. There is a nice stone platform that spreads out to the waterfall itself so you can wash your face with the icy cold water flowing by.
Every stone, every log in this forest is covered with big, furry moss and every nook and cranny seems to be home to someone or something. Everything feels ancient and smells wet and planty. Follow the trail around another small bend and you’ll come to the edge of the river that you will have to cross. It’s not deep but the stones inside are very slippery.
If you’re game, you can cross using a giant tree that has fallen across the river. The track then takes you up and down small slopes that run beside the river. At some stage, you’ll need to cross the river again to reach the third and last waterfall.
The scenery here is simply breathtaking and you could easily stop for a picnic lunch somewhere to really soak up the delight. After about 20 minutes of walking, scrambling and hopping your way through the forest, you’ll reach the third waterfall.
You can approach it from either left or right. The left-hand track is extremely slippery and dangerous so we recommend using the right-hand one. One more little slope and you’re up on a series of rocks that surround this powerful waterfall. There is a small pool for swimming and lots of places to sit back and enjoy the sound of water crashing over rocks and logs.
To return to your car, you just follow the exact same path back to where you came from. The whole circuit takes about 3 hours with photo-stops included. Do make sure that you plan your trip with enough time to return to your car before dusk. You definitely don’t want to be in this forest when darkness falls!