Lesser Fatra (Malá Fatra) is a coreal mountain in the north of Slovakia, in the district of Žilina. It is part of the landscape as a whole Fatra-Tatra area, which is part of the Internal Western Carpathians. After the High, Low Tatras and Oravské Beskidy, it is the fourth highest mountain with a rich and relatively preserved west Carpathian nature.
Strečniansky priesmyk (Strecno Pass) is a frequented traffic artery that connects the two largest cities around Zilina and Martin.
Lesser Fatra belongs to Fatra-Tatra area. The pattern of Lesser Fatra is an irregular ellipse (poetically “butterfly wings”) with a total length of 52 km. The distinctive feature is the main ridge, which creates zigzag crotches separating deep valleys.
In the place called Strečno Pass, the mountain is divided by the river Váh into two geomorphological subassemblies.
- To the north of the river is Kriváňska Lesser Fatra (Kriváňska Malá Fatra), which is a National Park since april 1988. It is named according to the highest peak – Great Kriváň (1708,7 m asl).
- To the south of Vah is Lučanská Lesser Fatra (Lučanská Malá Fatra), which is named after its highest peak – Great Meadows (Veľká Lúka) – 1475,5 m asl. Lučanská Fatra boundes with the river Turiec on the East and the river Rajčianka on the West.
The river at this place creates the Domašínsky meander. The further upstream of the Váh creates the Kraľoviansky meander, which separates Lesser Fatra from the Greater Fatra. Lesser Fatra separates Žilina Basin from Turčianska. To the southwest Fačkov forms the border with Strážovské hills. To the north it borders upon hills Kysucké, Oravská Magura, Orava hills and to the east upon the Greater Fatra.
Krivanska Mala (lesser) Fatra is under legal protection since 1967 as Landscape Park Lesser Fatra and in 1988 was in this territory declared National Park Mala Fatra. National Park boundaries are almost identical with the territory of European importance of Natura 2000. The most valuable areas are protected as nature reserves and national nature reserves in 5th degree of protection. For the bird protection in Lesser Fatra was created SPAs Mala Fatra, which is the fourth largest SPA (71481 ha) in Slovakia. Overall, at Lesser Fatra are 16 national nature resorts, 9 natural resorts, 5 natural monuments and 2 protected areas.
The tops of Lesser Fatra are concentrated mainly on the main ridge Krivanska and Lucanska Mala Fatra. Smaller proportion of lower peaks are at the shorter lateral ridges (Sokolie, Boboty, etc.)
Peaks of Krivanska Mala Fatra
· Veľký Kriváň (Great Kriváň) – 1708,7 m asl
· Malý Kriváň (1 670,9 m nm) Maly Krivan (1 670.9 m)
· Chleb (1 645, 6 m nm) Chleb (1 645, 6 m asl)
· Hromové (1 636 m nm) Thundering (1 636 m)
· Veľký Rozsutec (1 610 m nm) Big Rozsutec (1 610 m)
· Pekelník (1 609 m nm) Pekelník (1 609 m)
· Stoh (1 607 m nm) Rick (1 607 m asl)
· Steny – (južný vrchol 1 572 m nm, severný vrchol 1 535 m nm) Walls – (South hill 1 572 m above sea level, the northern peak of 1 535 m)
· Stratenec (1 513 m nm) Stratenec (1 513 m asl)
· Suchý (1 428 m nm) Dry (1 428 m asl)
· Poludňový grúň (1 460 m nm) Poludnovy Grun (1 460 m asl)
· Malý Rozsutec (1 344 m nm) Small Rozsutec (1 344 m)
Peaks of Lucanska Mala Fatra
· Veľká lúka (1 475 m nm ) Great Meadow (1 475 m)
· Veterné (1 441,6 m nm) Wind (1 441.6 m)
· Hnilická Kýčera (1 217,6 m nm) Hnilička Kýčera (1 217.6 m)
· Minčol (1 364 m nm) Coin (1 364 m)
· Kľak (1 351 m nm) Klak (1 351 m)
· Úplaz (1 301 m nm) Uplazy (1 301 m)
· Kozol (1 119 m nm) Goat (1 119 m)
There are a lot of caves in Lesser Fatra. All of them are inaccessible to the public.
- Crystal cave in Malý Rozsutec (Kryštálová jaskyňa v Malom Rozsutci)
- Hoblíkova cave (Hoblíkova jaskyňa)
- Cave in Kraľovianska Hill (Jaskyňa v Kraľovianskej kope)
- Kraľovianska upper cave (Horná kraľovianska jaskyňa)
- Kraľovianska middle cave (Stredná kraľovianska jaskyňa)
- Old Stratenecká cave (Stará stratenecká jaskyňa)
- Višňovská cave (Višňovská jaskyňa)
- Žaškovská cave (Žaškovská jaskyňa)
Most of the Lesser Tatra’s territory belongs to the basin of Vah and a tiny part to the basin of river Nitra. Flows have streamlike character , rivers and mountain streams with steep gradient. Dierova stream created spectacular formations and waterfalls in Lesser Fatra.
The northwest mountains border with the river Varínka and Rajčianke, the river Vah is bypassing the mountains to the east , which divides Lesser Fatra in to two parts and forms a natural sight Domašínsky meander. The river Orava flows form the north which leads to the river Vah, near the village Kralovany. Behind the junction of these rivers, Vah creates an impressive and protected Kraľoviansky meander. Further along the Vah flow is located an artificial dam Krpeľany with an artificial aqueduct that is used to produce electricity. In the village River (a part of Šútovo) and Nezbudská Lucka, are located afloated quarries.
The mountain is located near mineral springs, for example the village Nezbudská Lucka, Poluvsie, Zaskov, Stone Poruba, Rajecka Forest, and especially in the spa town of Teplice Rajecke. Right in the mountain Slovianska dolina there is a spring called Stinking water.
In areas of calcareous rocks waterfalls have been formed. The biggest and the most beautiful is the Sutovsky waterfall. Others can be found in the valley of Stohového potok, in the area of Janosik´s hollow and above the village Biela.
- Sutovsky waterfall – the most famous and largest (38 m) waterfall in Lesser Fatra
- NPR Klacka waterfall –below the peak Klak in the Lucanska Mala Fatra
- Dierova Creek Falls – in Janosik s hollows
- Tiesnavy – several small waterfalls on the stream Varínka (Vrátňanka)
- Fackovske waterfall – below the peak Klak in the Lucanska Mala Fatra, about 3 km southeast of the village Fackov.
Animal & Plant Life
The natural sequence is preserved in all stages of forest vegetation, from beech oak, spruce, fir and the dwarf pine zone. Degrees are made up by rock communities, alpine meadows , wetlands and spring areas. Throughout Lesser Fatra were detected 26 types of habitats, 6 kinds of plants and 29 animal kinds of European importance.
Lesser Fatra´s fauna is very varied. Some species are threatened and rare in Slovakia.
· Mammals (selection): brown bear (Ursus arctos), lynx (Lynx lynx), mountainous roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), red deer (Cervus elaphus), Wolf (Canis lupus), wild cat (Felis silvestris), otter ( Lutra lutra), …
· Bats (selection): bigeared bat (Myotis bechsteini), plain bat (Myotis myotis), Barbastella barbastellu), a small horseshoe (Rhinolophus hipposideros), a large horseshoe (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum), …
· Reptiles and Amphibians (selection): salamander (Salamandra salamandra), Grass Snake (Elaphe longissima), plain viper (Vipera berus), Carpathian Newt (Triturus montandoni), Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus). ..
· Birds (selection): the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), eagle owl (Bubo bubo), Gray-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus), pygmy owl (Aegolius funereus), white-backed woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos), black woodpecker ( Dryocopus martius), Collared Flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis), skaliar carp (monticola saxatilis), kingfisher (Alcedo ATHIS), black stork (Ciconia nigra), honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus), owl Owl (Strix uralensis), Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus), Syrian Woodpecker (Dendrocopos syriacus), Corn Crake (Crex crex), pygmy owl (Glaucidium passerinum), Hazel Grouse (Bonasa bonasia), Great Gray Shrike (Lanius excubitor), quail (Coturnix coturnix) Common Redstart (Phoenicurus Phoenicurus ) muchár gray (Muscicapa striata), capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix), woodpecker Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus), Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva), …
· Fish (selection): river trout (Salmo trutta), Hrúz stale (Gobio uranoscopus) stamp spinner (Zingel streber), brook printing (Eudontomyzon danfordi) Kuhli glossy (Sabanejewia aurata) bieloplutvý bullhead (Cottus gobio), …
· Butterflies (selection): Apollo (Parnassius apollo), Clouded apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne), Garden Comfrey (Callimorpha quadripunctaria) East Orange (Leptidea morsei) krvavcový Large Blue (Maculinea teleius) bahniskový Large Blue (Maculinea nausithous) ohniváčik hadovníkový ( Lycaena helle) …
· Beetles (selection): lamprey Carabus (Carabus variolosus) Zawadského Carabus (Carabus zawadszkii), Rosalia longicorn (Rosalia alpina), schnauzer Carpathian (Pseudogaurotina excellens), red flats (Cucujus cinnaberinus) Rohac plain (Lucanus cervus), …
Geology, rugged topography and wide range of altitudes conditional evocated variety of flora. About 83% of the area occupied by forests, mostly mixed with a predominance of deciduous trees, especially Beech. Throughout Lesser Fatra was previously identified more than 900 kinds of higher plants. 22 of these kinds are west Carpathian endemic, 14 endemic Carpathian, 15 Carpathian subendemics and 1 self endemic of Lesser Fatra, rowan Margittaiho. Slopes of peaks in the dwarf pine zone are overgrown shrubs of blackberry.
Among the limestone and dolomite several legally protected species can be found such as Pulsatilla middle, alpine aster, species, gentian, dryádka osemlupienková, stračonôžka Tatra, European vulture (Trollius europaeus), and others.
Throughout this area grow carnivorous plants, mostly butterwort wheat (Pinguicula vulgaris), alpine butterwort (Pinguicula alpina) and rosičiek Drosera rotundifolia (Drosera rotundifolia) and rarely, English sundew (Drosera anglica).
Other notable plants: Lady’s slipper orchid (Cypripedium calceolus), shiny pink (Dianthus nitidus), Slovak Pulsatilla (Pulsatilla Slavica), solid Moravian Aconitum (Aconitum firmum subsp. Moravicum) vrchovka alpine (Tozzia carpathica) hrubokoreňový bellflower (Campanula serrata)
Sights & Attractions
The most wanted are Crystal Cave in Malý Rozsutec, Moses springs and Domašínsky meander.
Attractions of Lesser Fatra:
- highest point: Big Kriváň (1709 m.a.s.l.)
- highest waterfall: Šutovský Waterfall 38 m
- largest river meander in Slovakia: Domašínsky meander
- lowest point: the river Váh in Strečno (350 m.a.s.l.)
Nearby the Cottage Vrátna is a symbolic cemetery (1998) dedicated to victims of disaster in the mountains with inscription “in remembrance of the dead, warning for the living.”
The area of Lesser Fatra is a popular summer and winter tourist site. The most-known tourist area is Vratna Valley. Other known winter tourism centers are the following: Lucivna, Valcianska Valley, Rajecka Forest, Fačkov, Martin Hole, The Jedľoviny and others. The surrounding also offers opportunities for cycling and a dense network of bicycle routes. In villages Nižné Kamence, Varin, Rajecke Teplice a caravan site is situated. In Štefanová we can find a nature trail called Nature trail Stefanova, its route is identical with the yellow tourist route Nove Diery – Podžiar – Stefanova. Several tourist attractions are offered by the city Zilina, Martin, spa town Teplice Rajecke and community Terchova, which is a center of culture and tourism.
Hrebeňovka – Ridge Hiking Trail
Perhaps the most attractive tourist experience of Lesser Fatra is the overpassing of the top of the ridge. This several days long tour is one of the most beautiful forest ridges in Slovakia. Arris tile is principally divided into two separate parts: ridge Lucanska and Mala Fatra Krivan.
Ridge of Lucanska Mala Fatra
The first peak is characteristicly rocky called Klak (1 351, 6 m), which has a great viewing point. Below of which is the Klačka waterfall. The ridge continues over the Sharp rock (1 220 m), Vrícko saddle (950 m) at rocky peak Skalka (1 190, 7 m). From there, underneath the corner Janková (1 163 m) to slightly saddle Uplazy (988 m), which is a crossroad of tourist routes. Above the sadle is the peak Uplazy (1 085 m) and underneath is the favourite bivouac Saddle below Hnilická Kýčera (1 028 m) with a headspring of drinking water and the intersection of marked hiking trails. Moving up continues to the top Hnilička Kýčera (1 217, 6 m), which also has great viewing points. From the top, the ridge runs mostly through the woods across the saddle Marikova (990 m), Kopa (1 232 m), Horna luka (1 299 m) and Veterne (1 442 m). Here begins the most attractive part of the meadow mountain with permanent views. Next peak is the highest point of the ridge, which received the name of the mountain – Great Meadow (1 475, 5 m). This part is often slushed after rains, because there are bogs. After Great Meadow it will continue to Krížava (1 456, 7 m), which contains several transmitters. Zazriva (1 394 m) ridge continues to Minčol (1 363, 9 m) below which are memorials of the battles during World War II. From quotations Uplazy (1 301 m) the trail returns back to the forest and descends through the saddle Javorina (967 m) to the village Strecno.
Ridge of Krivanska Mala Fatra
The main ridge of Krivanska Mala Fatra begins in the village Nezbudská Lúčka pri Vahu and continues among the red marked path around the ruins Starhrad and cottages below Sucha (1 468 m). From there, the ridge continues from saddle Vrata (1 462 m) to Stratenec (1 513 m), then through the saddle Priehyb (1 462 m) to Maly (Little) Krivan (1 670, 9 m), the second highest peak of Lesser Fatra. Saddle Bublen (1 510 m) and peak Pekelníka (1 609 m) separate Maly Krivan from the highest peak Velky Krivan (1 708, 7 m). Further the ridge extends through Snílovské saddle (1 524 m) with the upper cable car station at Chleb (1 645.6 m), Hromove (1 636 m), Steny (Walls), Poludnovy Grun (1 460 m) to Stohového saddle (1 230 m) . Thence it continues to a significant peak Stoha (Stacks) (1 607.4 m) and through the saddle Medziholie (1 185 m) to the most beautiful peak – Big Rozsutec (1 609, 7 m). Saddle ridge descends into Medzirozsutce (1 225 m) and finally rises at the rocky Maly Rozsutec (1 343.5 m). The red marked path continues to the village Zazriva.
The area of Lesser Fatra is a popular ski resort. The most known in this direction is Vratna dolina (Valley). Vratna dolina (Valley) is ideal for hiking – particularly recommended the New, Lower and Upper Holes that can pass anybody. Very nice are Poludňový rock, Skalnate mesto, Tiesňany too, and of course we can not miss Big and Little Rozsutec
Martinske Hole Ski Resort
The ski resort is located in the Lucanska Mala Fatra offers not only a unique view of Turcianska dolina and surrounding hills but also offers very good conditions for winter sports. Skiers will find here trails of various difficulty levels and natural snow throughout the winter. There are 6 lifts, 7 ski slopes with a total length of 11 km, from the difficulty of light (blue), through the middle (red) to severe (black).
The Ski resort also provides numerous options for hiking and cross country skiing. Beautiful natural environment of Martinske hole is a big attraction for tourists during the summer too.
The best known in this direction is Vratna dolina (Valley). It offers opportunities for skilled skiers and beginners too, snowboarders, extreme skiers or skialpinists.
At 14 km of ski slopes and 18 ski trails are available 15 ski lifts + 2 lifts (1 chair lift, 1 cabin lift) with a total lift capacity of 11 498 persons per hour (in winter).
Artificially snowed snowboard park is full of obstacles and jumps + bordercross track with its own lift, meet the expectations of even the most demanding visitors.
There are centers PASEKY with four-seat lifts, Poludnovy Grun, the area of Krivan with modern cableway to Snílovské saddle, slope Oštiepková mulda – with an opportunity for skiing until late spring, Príslop, Somárska luka (meadow) and others.
Other areas of Lesser Fatra are interesting too and they are gradually becoming important centers of local tourism. This includes the following example: Lucivna, Havrania (Raven), Valca (Snowland Valcianska dolina) Rajecka Lesna, Fačkovske sedlo, Martinske hole, and Pod Jedľovinou.
In Lesser Fatra is a possibility of accommodation and catering in many mountain chalets and hotels. The surrounding villages have a large number of lodging possibilities.
Mountain chalets and hotels:
Chata pod Suchým
Chata pod Chlebom
Chata na Grúni
Chata pod Kľačianskou Magurou
Chata na Martinských holiach
Horský Hotel Havrania Zázrivá
Chata pod Sokolím
In Lesser Fatra and its vicinity there are many castles, chateaus and mansions, some are ruins and some are converted into museums. Right in Lesser Fatra is only Strečno Castle, Starhrad and Kunerad castle. Striečnianske castles were built to guard an important route through Strečniansky priesmyk (Pass). Other castles in the area are: Oravsky Castle, Lietava Castle, Castle Budatin and Znievska castle.
Strecno Castle is located on the boundary of Turcianska and Žilinska Basin at the transition the river Vah through Lesser Fatra Mountains, between the towns of Zilina and Martin. Strečno castle stands at the beginning of Strečno canyons. In the past, it was the safest fortress of upper Považie. The castle history began, although only in half of the 14th century, but the first settlement is much older – archeological findings achieve the settlement of the castle hill since the late Stone Age. Written proof of the existence of the castle dates from the year 1384, 1384, when it was mentioned under the name “comitatus castri Strechyn.
Originally, Old Castle excludes in the forest background Domašínskom meander of Vah exalts Strečno castle. Gord located in its vicinity suggests that this place has been fortified in prehistoric times. During the reign of Matus Cak Trencin, the Old Castlewas the seat of province. The Old Castle is still mentioned in 1354 as a fortress Varin (Varna). The castle can be reached on the red marked path leading through the ridge of Lesser Fatra. Access is possible from the railway station Strecno in the village Nezbudská Lucka. Po žltej turistickej značke proti prúdu Váhu až ku križovatke s červenou značkou. Through the yellow marked path, upstream the river Vah, up to a junction with a red mark. Footbridge across the Vah and through the slade to the castleFrom the top of the castle rock is a beatiful view of the Vah Strečno breakthrough with the ruins of the Old Castle and Domašínsky meanders.
The population consists almost only of Slovaks. The largest settlement, which is located right in the mountains is Štefanova in the Vrátna dolina. Other settlements are Frankovci, Biela (Zázrivá), Jánošíkovo and others.
The relative remoteness of the region enabled to create some specific types of dress, dance and music. Preserved are also the elements of folk architecture, such as pastoral dwellings.
In the area of Lesser Fatra are more typical villages, which are known for their unique folklore. The most famous village in this direction is Terchova, where a large international folk festival Janosikove dni is held annually. The festival takes place directly in Vratna dolina, for example: Horse-car escorts from Terchova to Vratna. In Terchova is also an exhibit in Považské Museum – Janosik and Terchova. The village Zazriva is known for producing cheese whips and folk traditions. A special mention deserves huge carved wooden moving Bethlehems – Slovak Bethlehem in the village Rajecka Lesna and Bethlehem in the Church of St.. Cyril and Methodius in Terchova. Near Martin is the Martin Museum of Slovak village. In the village Trnove near Žilina is situated the westernmost wooden church in Slovakia Church of St. George.