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Sveti Jure(ow)

This is a very special group of mountains. They are made of limestone, which is extremely prone to forming large, precipitous cliffs. It forms difficult to traverse karst topography of sharp craggy rocks. This a very special set of limestone mountains. They adjoin the Adriatic sea, rising over 1700 meters above it, the highest coastal range in Croatia. This road leads to one of its highest peaks, St George Mountain. It is also the highest road in all of Croatia, and therefore I don't need to say that it's special again. Sorry  - I just did. All of this is enclosed in the Biokovo Natural area. So, generally you pay for access and commercial development is controlled.

1.START-END WEST:low point in Podgora
2.profile turns right on D512 from Makarska
3.route turns onto park road
4.TOP, 1740m


From West.
The most obvious way to start this ride is on D512 in Makarska. But the profile substitutes a smaller road from Podgora, which leads through interesting villages and has less traffic (even if traffic on D512 is not really a problem in my experience). The turnoff from D8 on the coast, onto this smaller road, is signed as going to the Biokovo Natural area. A few tight switchbacks lead to a church underneath the limestone cliffs (picture included). A balcony looks out over the sea.  A sign explains that before the age of tourism, simple constructions like this were used by the agricultural workers to enjoy the end of a day of hard physical labour. It conjures up an old romatic painting with deep hues and saturated dark colors, even if reality may have been different.

This scenic traverse finally ends on D512. To get to the road to Sveti Jure you have to turn right, not left as my Hravatska Atlas clearly shows. There is usually an entrance fee collected at the turnoff to the out and back road to the peak.

I remember this climb in three sections. The first one consists of switchbacks climbing above the Adriatic. Dead trees make the foreground to a blue sea from above. The early switchbacks become smaller and smaller, until they disappear below. Now the road enters a forest, and a few choice views at exposed switchbacks are separated by extended forest workouts.

The road reaches a kind of edge on the plateau. Signs advertise a "skywalk", a kind of glass floor walkway that reaches out over the cliff. Even though it is closed and barricaded, it inspires motoryclists and cars to stop in respectable numbers and talk loudly about things I cannot understand. This is the largest group of people I saw along the way. This may also be the last stunning views of the sea, and definitely the last views (till the return) of the the two gigantic steps, the mountains make, to descend into the Adriatic vertically.

Section Number 2 of this climb is a kind of rolling plateau ramble in this karst range. It is amazing to observe just how difficult this terrain of jagged rocks is to traverse, by taking a few steps next to the road, and observe all the sharp edges cutting into shoes and clothing. Then - just ahead a cairn seems to show up on a small hill. Can that be the top already? Actually yes, but it is not as small as it appears, and it is not even a cairn - but a transmission tower sitting on a cone shaped mountain. The road circuitously aims for this general goal with a million small turns and dips. It is the perfect cycling road, even if very rough for regular skinny tires.

Now it is time for the last phase of the climb: a traverse in the limestone, the edge marked off with tall snow poles marks the transition: Past that six regular ramps, connected with tight switchbacks lead up the backside of Saint George Mountain. During clear weather I think there are more great views all the way to the Adriatic. But more often, shreds of clouds form ever changing patterns on the pitted bowls of the mountains and obscure the sea. The shape of these mountains here seems to mimic its own erosional patterns: a cascade of pitted craters

At the top the gated transmission tower blocks the view to the east. But a walkway leads around a fence to a great view point at a small church. In that direction several vertical faced mountains show the most interesting area (along with Sveti Jure) of the Biokovo Natural area. I made the top cycling elevation a little lower than what is usually specified for Sveti Jure, because the top of the mountain with the transmission tower is not publicly accessible.

Slideshow of the section starting at the park road to the summit:

cLiCk on image , arrows , or thumbnails to advance slideshow

( < Dubce Pass | Kozica Pass > )

D8 Igrane s(u) x2 :
Zivigosce Camp Sela <> Mala Duba <> Milagrane <> D8 Igrane s(u) <> Podgora <> Sveti Jure(ow)

Slideshow of the lower sction from Podgora to the Natural Park road.

cLiCk on image , arrows , or thumbnails to advance slideshow