The St. Paul Trail in Turkey is a 300+ mile long trekking route that reputedly follows the same path as the apostle whose name it bares By most accounts he took the path on his first missionary journey to the city of Anatolia and most likely did it without hiking boots. The trail runs from Perge to Yalvac, which is found northeast of Lake Egirdir, and is said to be more wild and remote than Turkey’s better known hiking route, the Lycian Way.
The trail was first opened in 2004, and was designed to be an easy to follow route for independent hikers through remote backcountry. That goal will soon be achieved, as volunteers are nearly finished waymarking the trail, making it easier than ever to navigate the hike from end to end.
Of course, any long distance hiker knows that navigation is only one small part of the trek, and the St. Paul trail offers plenty of challenges beyond finding your way. The trail begins at sea level and rises as high as 7200 feet, as it winds its way into the Anatolian highlands. Two optional side-paths can extend the distances further and altitudes higher, taking backpackers up to nearly 9200 feet, if they are feeling especially adventurous. The path also makes its way past ancient roman ruins, through rocky canyons, and to the shores of serene lakes, mostly untouched by outside visitors.
Indeed, the remoteness of this trek is one of its major draws. Unlike the Lycian Way, there is little to no tourist infrastructure in this part of Turkey, and the villages that St. Paul’s trail wanders through are still getting use to the idea of outsiders dropping by for a visit. Also unlike the Lycian Way, this trail has two starting points, one in Perge, as mentioned, and another further east, along the Pamphylian plain at Aspendos, a site known for its well preserved ancient architecture.
At this time, it is unknown how many people hike the St. Paul each year, but it is certainly not a busy trek. In fact, if you plan on making the journey yourself, be sure to pack your tent, as there are few places to stay along the way, other than in a villagers house. All of that could change however, as the waymarking should complete by the end of April, and the way of St. Paul will be made clear for all.
For a more detailed account of the trek, read this article at Today’s Zaman.