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Garkalne – Baltezers isn’t the best route for walking near Riga.
It’s easy to get to it. There are a few interesting and beautiful parts of it. It’s also a part of the Forest Trail, like the Sigulda – Eglupe hike. But overall it isn’t a good place for walking. Simply because for most part you are walking on the side of the road. These aren’t very busy roads, but still there are cars passing you every few minutes.
During the winter, however, it’s possible to make it a bit more interesting.
1. Garkalne – Baltezers Lake Hike: Basics
For most part it’s a well-marked hiking trail (part of The Forest Trail).
The Forest Trail is a long distance hiking trail across Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. And it’s the Baltezers – Vangazi section. But it’s still very close to Riga, hence, unfortunately, it’s all walking on the side of a road.
My idea was to shorten the section and finish in Baltezers.
TIME & DISTANCE: around 8 miles / 12.8 km (around 3 hours).
TIPS: bring some snacks and water, as there are no shops on the way. During the winter, if the small river is frozen it’s possible to walk on the river — like we did. Be extra cautious if you haven’t done it before, ice may be very thin and dangerous in places like these.
2. How to Get to Garkalne from Riga
By far the best option is train.
I find trains more comfortable. In this case train station is also closer to the trail. If you plan to take your bicycle with you, it’s much easier to travel by train with a bicycle in Latvia than by bus.
What about getting back to Riga?
There are public buses going from Baltezers to Riga. The nearest bus stop is right in the middle between Baltezers and Mazais Baltezers lakes. Or you can take Bolt taxi.
3. Garkalne – Baltezers Lake Hike: My Experience
It was a very cold and sunny winter day — perfect conditions.
At first we didn’t know what the whole route will look like. So when we were walking on the road from Garkalne train station to the trail, we thought it’s the most boring part of the trail. Even thought it looked spectacular on that particular day.
Turned out that it was the most beautiful part.
Because the “trail” is right after the forest, and there are no trees or anything. Just fields and soon afterwards pretty private houses. The area of Baltezers is one of the most affluent neighbourhoods near Riga.
We did make the hike more interesting by walking on a frozen river.
We saw Gauja river frozen — something we had never seen before. It isn’t that cold usually in Latvia anymore.
And we finished with a beautiful sunset over a frozen lake.
Here are a few photos from our Garkalne – Baltezers lake hike.
Have you been to Riga? Did you go hiking in Riga or somewhere nearby? What was your experience?