“Island hopping in the clear blue Adriatic on the beautiful Croatian coast on some mostly easy, mostly gravel roads.”
— Lost Justpastnowhere
This is a mostly easy gravel grinder (a hardtail will be more than adequate) on the islands of Pašman and Uglijan near Zadar. The route starts at the ferry port in Tkon and ends at the ferry port in Preko. You'll need to arrange some kind of shuttle for this route. The route follows the backbone of both islands, so you'll enjoy great views of the Croatian mainland, the Adriatic Sea and the surrounding islands. The wild Kornati Islands National Park lies just to the west of Pašman.
Need to Know
- A lot of the route has no shade. Bring sunscreen and avoid the hottest part of the year.
- The ferry in Preko at the end takes you to Zadar which is the largest city in the area and a great base to explore the Dalmation coast. You'll need a car or some accommodation to get to the starting point in Tkon. There is also a ferry in Tkon, but it doesn't go to Zadar to make a convenient loop.
From the port of Tkon, head south on the main road along the coast for about 1.2 miles (2.0 km) to get to the start of this gravel road. Just before the end of the coastal road, the gravel road (Pašman Island Backbone
) heads inland, climbing gently. Follow this for 0.8 miles (1.2 km) and then it turns abruptly north at a three-way intersection. You'll climb steeply for about 0.6 miles (1.0 km). Now you've earned an easy 6.0 mile (10 km) trek along the gravel road following the island backbone. The vegetation in the area is relatively small, scrubby bushes, so you'll enjoy great views (to the right) of the Pašman Channel with the Dalmation Coast and Zadar, Croatia on the mainland and (to the left) of the Adriatic Sea and outlying islands.
Around the 11.8 mile (19 km) overall mark, you'll reach the a four-way intersection with a very steep (8% for 1.0 km) climb to a radio tower directly in front of you. Continue straight on Radio Road
to reach the highest point (830 ft | 252 m) on the island for a 360-degree view. There's a small memorial at the top that serves as a great lookout. Backtrack to the intersection and then turn right to continue along the backbone road. Now you've earned a 1.5 mile (2.5 km) descent back to the western coast of Pašman. After a short climb, the descent continues. Just before the northern tip of Pašman, you'll merge with the paved Highway 110 (a lightly trafficked road running the length of both islands).
Turn left on the highway and cross the bridge over the strait between the two islands.
Follow the highway for 2.8 miles (4.5 km) and then turn left onto Uglijan Island Backbone
. This island has more vegetation than Pašman, including the occasional pine tree, so there is limited shade. From the highway, this trail climbs gently for 1.0 mile (1.6 km) to an overall height of 300 feet (100 m). Then you'll follow an old, and at times overgrown, hiking trail along a stone fence. This would be a fun and technical section as it winds beneath and between the low scrubby trees, but at times the trail becomes indistinguishable. There are occasional trail blazes and as a last resort the trail follows the stone fence. Eventually, the singletrack gives way into a stone doubletrack. Turn left at 2.2 miles (3.5 km) and follow this track into the outskirts of Kali. You'll merge with road 63100 for a short distance. When you get to Highway 110, turn left towards a cemetery.
The path makes an abrupt 90-degree right turn after the cemetery and just for fun climbs very steeply (440 feet over 1.0 mile | 130 m over 1.6 km). The climb does pass through a real pine forest though offering some shade. A short descent then takes you to an intersection; turn left and then quickly left again. This begins a 3.2 mile (5 km) loop through an area filled with stone fence lined grazing fields before you end up back on Highway 110.
At the highway, turn right (south) and continue about 0.25 miles (0.4 km) until the exit ramp. Take the exit ramp, cross under the highway, and you have arrived at the ferry port.