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June 2011
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Adigene Valley Loop Hike (and extension)

Trailhead Sign

The Adigene Valley Loop Trail is one of the closest hikes to Bishkek, and yet is an opportunity to get away from it all.  I’m sure it gets traffic on a summer Sunday afternoon, yet the three times I have been up there I haven’t seen a soul.  It runs through woods and meadows, and past the climber’s cemetery.  The loop trail climbs some 2,000 feet to 8,500 feet of elevation at its top, and connects to an unmarked trail which continues up the valley from there.  The loop itself is a 4.1 mile hike, but with the extension I suppose you can make it as long as you like.  I’m told that for the really adventurous, you can cross over into the Sokoluk Valley.

I have provided a GPS file you can use with your GPS or open in Google Earth to get a better look at the route.  I’ve also input the whole route into OpenStreetMap, so if you use the OSM implementation on your GPS, you can just use the “follow road” option to create your own route.

Road to Trailhead - click to enlarge

Getting There

The road to the trailhead is simple, and likely you’ve already driven it.  Just up Ala Archa canyon to the parking lot, on the right side of the road, marked Adigene Valley.  The map above shows the driving route from the corner of Panfilova and Gorkova, but you probably already know that you just need to drive up Mir to the traffic light, take a right.  Take the next major left, and continue on straight all the way.  You pay the park entrance fee at the Ala Archa Gate, of course.  From there, it is another 6.2 miles, for a total of about 20 miles from the U.S. Embassy.  The drive should take you only about 40 minutes.

Typical Scenery

The Loop Trail Hike

From the parking lot you cross the bridge and pass through a relatively flat informal “picnic area.”  Unfortunately, the picnic area is pretty overused and trash-strewn.  There are paths leading every which way, but you just keep going upriver and to the right and you will soon find yourself on the single trail heading up towards the beginning of the loop.

Climber's Cemetery

Your first real choice is when you come to the beginning of the loop, at almost half-a-mile from the trailhead.  If you take the left fork, to the climber’s cemetery, you will make almost half of the remaining uphill portion of the hike (and about a quarter of the total altitude gain of the hike) under the cover of
trees.  If it is a warm, sunny day, that is probably a good idea, since taking the right fork means you will make the full climb completely exposed to the sun.

Trail Map - click to expand

As the trail maps shows, there are several stream crossings.  Most are small creeks and you need not get your feet wet.  The top crossing of the Adigene River is a bridge.  However, the lower crossing is a log which looks very slippery and treacherous to me.  I waded, instead.  You might do well to have some good footwear for water that you could change into for that crossing, to avoid slogging up (or down) the trail with wet feet after that crossing.

Log Crossing

The Extension

The extension of the trail upward does not seem to be marked, and many trails crisscross the alpine meadow above the loop trail.  It really doesn’t matter how you proceed upward, but keep in mind that if you want to continue on past the top of the meadow, you will need to be at the southern end, closest to the river.  At the “Trail” waypoint, the furthest I have been, you come to a gorge which must be crossed, and all the trails come back together, as the only trail across the gorge sets off from that point.

This is a very nice, moderately difficult hike, through classic Ala Archa terrain.  Have fun.

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