Hikers and cyclists will soon have even more reason to make trips to Turkey, as a beautiful new network of trails is opening up in the southwest of the country.
The ECO Trails are based around the towns of Köyceğiz, Ortaca and Dalaman in Muğla Province. The routes will effectively link up southwest Turkey’s existing long-distance routes, the Carian Trail to the west and the Lycian Way to the east, with only a stretch of about 20km that will need to be navigated by transport.
The trails are the brainchild of local resident Murat Demirci, who wanted to increase hiking and cycling tourism in the region, and preserve the area’s natural beauty.
The trails follow three main routes: a mountain route, a coastal option and a middle path. They take in many of the region’s standout sights, such as İztuzu Beach and the Dalyan delta. Speaking to Lonely Planet Travel News, Murat said, “The primary focus of the trails is on the region’s rich ecosystem, including a complex structure of lagoons, lakes, wetlands, rivers, beaches, sweetgum forests and endemic and/or endangered species, which are under protection. As the region is Turkey’s first official special protection area, I thought trails here should promote eco-tourism and allow users to enjoy hiking and cycling amid relatively untouched nature.”
Some parts of the routes follow existing pathways, while other stretches have been cleared from scratch. Murat and his team have waymarked all the routes, with walking paths marked in yellow and cycling routes in red. Certain points along the trails offer a choice of taking an easier or more difficult route. The cycling routes are all complete; some hiking sections are not yet fully waymarked but are due to be ready by the end of the year.
The trails will be opened officially at an event on İztuzu Beach on 14 October. All routes are available for free download on the ECO Trails website, which will have its English-language sections ready by the end of November. The trail guidebook and app are set to be published by the end of October. The trails will also all be uploaded to the GPS trail-sharing website wiciloc.