A Week on the Kom-Emine
Hiking (a fraction of) the width of Bulgaria.

June 14 - 20, 2024 -- compiled by Jeff DePree


The Kom-Emine Trail forms the Bulgarian portion of the Trans-European E3 route and follows a nearly uninterrupted ridgeline for around 400 miles. Well appointed mountain huts punctuate the route such that you can find warm beds, delicious food, and wifi, every night of the hike, with no reservations required.

I quit on day 7 because of the dearth of opportunities for awkward interactions with locals and getting lost in strange cities. Also, I ran out of money. But if you were looking for a tranquil wilderness experience, replete with spectacular scenery, resplendent wildflowers, and unusually vocal deer - and you have at least 800 lev in your pocket - then this could very well be the hike for you!

The Huts
These are typically 3-story buildings on remote mountain sides that host a hundred dorm beds, restaurants, bars, clean sheets, and hot showers. They’re exactly the sort of place you’d want to recharge after a full day in the alpine. And the cost for bed, three meals, and post-hike beer consistently came in below $25/day.

The Crowds
In the course of my 7 days of walking, I saw two day-hikers on the trail and two weekend warriors sleeping at one of the huts. I also encountered one old man that considerately tied his wild-eyed bull to a tree so it wouldn’t charge me as I passed. I’m told it gets busier later in June due to prevailing weather patterns

The Weather
Almost perfect! It was never cold enough to warrant a jacket and never uncomfortably warm. And there was zero rain, both on the hike and forecast for the 10 days to follow. Since much of the hike stays atop a ridge, you do get quite a bit of sun.

The Fauna
I saw a chamois my first day, as well as various unidentifiable mammalian blurs scurrying hurriedly away. Several barking deer convinced me that I had run across aggressive dogs, but for once, no sheep dogs pursued me. There were plenty of obstructing cattle. The horses were more skittish.

I failed to read the fine print explaining that you don’t pass through your first town until day 14. While the huts feed you plenty, it’s hard to imagine a hike without regular snacking. And though it’d be hard to find a cheaper European trip, you still need a rather large wad of cash to make it through those two weeks sans ATMs.

You might also like…
The E-4! It starts on the south side of Sofia and is a bit shorter at 155 miles. I’m told it has more frequent huts, more challenging terrain, and more dramatic scenery.

Despite its diminuitive appearance, this egg and cheese dish kept me full for the next seven hours.
Free first-aid!
"Beans and meatballs"

The route begins at Kom Peak and continues to a lighthouse at Cape Emine.


I didn't order this - it just appeared when I woke up.
Even signage needs a warm cap sometimes.
Chavdar Hut
I never once had to share my 16-bed rooms.

Momina Polyana Hut

Double the price of a hut, but still an affordable hotel room at $19.
Goat salad contains no goat.
One of the ubiquitous purveyors of 30-cent coffee

A bit reminiscent of Gmork from Neverending Story
Honey vending machine store

Church in Asen's Fortress
Bachkovo Monastery is rather spectacular

Rolling into Varna at dawn.
A lumberjack and his stoat.
Stuffed zucchini, cabbage, and bread for only $2.50
Dragons and the Black Sea

Train station art
Lovingly-decorated old town hostel
A highly-decorated church in the middle of the fortress

So many hives!
Understated monastery in the middle of the forest
Mashed aubergine

A single artist seems to have put these worm monsters on the side of every train in the country.
One of many painted electrical boxes
Steampunk gift shop
One of many craft beer stores (tap rooms don't seem to exist here)

Contemporary art gallery
View from fancy Russian restaurant
Roast rabbit and potatoes (a splurge at $7)
Artist's depiction of rabbit I just ate for lunch.
Socialist sculpture garden
I think I counted 7 versions of Lenin.
Free entry if you bring your own muscle car

Massive yarn playground
Random unmanned library trailer in city park
The ever-popular knee-level store window

20 autobelays on 60ft walls! Why can't Denver have this??
Creamed spinach with egg on fried bread (10/10 would eat again).

Narrowly missed the Tour's finish in Nice
When in France, find some Ethiopian food!
Day 1: Berkovitsa to Kom Hut
Day 2: Kom Peak to Proboinitsa Hut
Day 3: Proboinitsa Hut to Trastenaya Hut
Day 4: Trastenaya Hut to Murgash Hut
Day 5: Murgash Hut to Chavdar Hut
Day 6: Chavdar Hut to Momina Polyana Hut
Day 7: Momina Polyana Hut to Koprivshtitsa
Day 8: Plovdiv
Day 9: Asen's Fortress to Bachovo Monastery
Day 10: Varna
Day 11: Veliko Tarnovo
Day 12: Arbanasi
Day 13: Sofia
Day 14: Cheap Art Museum Day
Day 15: Critical Mass
Day 16: Vitosha 100
Day 17: Murals
Day 18: climbing
Day 19: Crab Run
Day 20: Nice Transit