LIFE

Trekkers, mountain climbers explore beauty of autumn in Ballıkayalar Canyon

As one of Turkey's most spectacular hiking areas, Ballıkayalar Canyon showcases beauty of autumn a riot of yellows and greens scattered over some 1.5 kilometers

Encompassing 847 hectares (2,092 acres) in Kocaeli's Gebze district, Ballıkayalar Canyon and its natural park offer visitors uniquely spectacular scenery.

With its rich flora and fauna that has resisted the intense industrial activity of the area, the park is home to 416 species, 15 of which are indigenous to the region.

Extending 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) and with a width ranging from 40-80 meters (130-260 feet), the canyon lies close to the major districts of Tavşanlı, Pelitli, Köseler, Balçık and Muallimköy. It is also located in a transitional region for the Mediterranean and European-Siberian vegetation zones.

Ballıkayalar Canyon is a popular training spot for climbing enthusiasts. All of the routes are very easy to navigate, and you may even come across other climbers while trekking, especially on the weekend. The area is suitable for climbing year-round, but the March-June and September-November periods are considered optimal. For those looking to hike for more than one day, camping is also possible.

The canyon also has a natural lake, small waterfalls and viewing terraces over the travertines, in addition to plains that are suitable for camping.

A natural wonder, the canyon is the most spectacular in the autumn months with its colorful landscape blanketed with fallen leaves.

Nature lovers who want to remember the beauty through photographs and spend time getting in touch with nature can capture images as beautiful as postcards here.

Preferred by trekking enthusiasts and day-trip visitors, it takes half an hour to reach the area.

Images taken by drones have also revealed the beauty of Ballıkaya Canyon.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), the Kocaeli provincial representative of the Turkey Alpinism Federation, Sinan Fakir, said this canyon is a natural wonder located between the cities of Istanbul and Kocaeli.

Fakir also noted that the park is one the most popular spots for nature enthusiasts in the spring and is known for its close vicinity to Istanbul.

Noting that Ballıkayalar was one of the first facilities for mountain climbing established in Turkey, Fakir said: "One of the best features of this natural spot is that there are climbing gardens available for alpinists in various regions. It is one of the most unique places in Turkey. The climbing gardens feature more than 100 routes, and the trekking and climbing routes make the area highly popular among trekkers."

Fakir added that there are also climbing routes in the most challenging spots in the canyon: "So many alpinists from Turkey come here to practice. As alpinists of the Kocaeli region, we often visit the canyon for climbing."

Underlining that the region is also ideal for those who want to trek and camp, Fakir said: "So many people come here, especially from Istanbul, to enjoy the weekend. They go for walks around the waterfall in the 1.5-kilometer canyon. It is really one of the most heavenly spots in Kocaeli."

While emphasizing Ballıkayalar's exceptional autumn beauty, Fakir added: "The park is home to many tree and animal species. It is an important spot for bird observation. On the other hand, photographers have the chance to capture beautiful frames in the canyon."

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