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Gracen left and right and up and downgree hike


Summary: Gracen lies on the road from Tirana to Elbasan. Few travellers stop to look down on either side of the ridge. Rarely any traveller will venture down from the ridge to visit the lower lying villages, well knowing that it is harder to get back and up than down. This loop hike descends first on the west side of the ridge, visits three villages and then climbs back on the ridge, just to descend on the east side (where the village of Gracen is actually located). From there the trail leads to the center of Mamël Commune, and back on the ridge and to the trailhead.

The trail is a combination of rarely used farmroads, short pieces of asphalt, roads fallen in complete disrepair for many years, and footpaths that connect the many homesteads and satellite villages. Generally the walking is easy, but orientation can be difficult. With 18 kilometers the trail is quite long, and the total ascent is about 1000 Meter. This trail is like hiking two mountains in reverse.

The trail west of the Tirana-Elbasan road is generally delightful and through farmland. If you ever wondered where the fruits are coming from that are sold along the stalls of the Tirana-Elbasan road - now you know. The road from Tërbaq back up to the Tirana-Elbasan road is now also asphalt -  it has a good gradient and leads through a nice pine forest.

The trail on the east side is also part of old farmroads, most of which are badly eroded and not passable even for 4WD (at least not without a major effort), and on footpaths connecting the homesteads and on mountainpaths. The east side is wild, with hamlets clinging to the mountainside, which drops deep into the Deksi valley. This is the valley where the new Tirana-Elbasan Highway, with tunnel, is being built. Still, virtually all villages of the commune Mamël, including Mamël itself, are only accessible by foot and mule. It adds a particular feel to the place, of remoteness and hardship.



The Hike: 

Maximum altitude: 801 meter
Minimum altitude: 457 meter
Cumulative height: more than 705 meter
Cumulative length: 17 kilometer
Difficulty easy
Time: 7  hours
Date of this record March 2012
Download GPS info: Gracen left and right



General location and approach: Take the highway from Tirana to Elbasan (not the to-be-built tunnel road). The trailhead is at restaurant Ismet, just before the commune Gracen, on the top of the ridgeline.


Other Information: We got lost in the village of Mamël, not because it is so big, but it lies on a steep slope and and it has no roads but a maze of paths. We ended up in the backyards of houses, and of course we were promptly helped. Perhaps, as you pass the first houses of Mamël village, you may want to ask for the best way. Also note, there is a possible shortcut (see waypoints), though you may miss the experience of Mamël!

Your could do the trail in two parts (west side and east side), but you would have to arrange transport or hitch a taxi. If you combine the two to a loop hike, as we did, we recommend to do it anti-clockwise (west side first).



GPS and trailmaps: The map and trailinformation is generated by www.wikiloc.org, based on GPS information collected from the actual hike. Waypoints can be downloaded to a GPS device from Wikiloc. If necessary, use GPSBabel to convert GPS data to different formats. For more hike descriptions by Palmtreetreeproduction, browse this website or visit Wikiloc and search for "Palmtreeproduction". You may also find nearby trails from other authors.


Google Earth: You may also view the trail in 3D by clicking "view in Google Earth" when on Wikiloc. You need to have Google Earth installed on your computer.