While Sumela is a hard act to follow, there are a number of other possible destinations in the hills southeast of Trabzon. The valleys leading to and past them are also useful alternative routes toward Erzurum, avoiding some or all of the often congested E97/885 Highway.
The coastal starting point for excursions up the valley of the Solaklı Çayı is the unprepossessing OF (pronounced “oaf”, the ancient Ophis). Both Of and ÇAYKARA, around 7km south, the unexciting main town of the lower valley, are renowned for their devoutness, with the highest ratio of kuran kursus (Koran schools for children) per capita in the country, and phalanxes of bearded and skull-capped hocas and hacıs striding about in the shadow of huge, ever-multiplying mosques. It should come as no surprise, then, that you haven’t a prayer of anything stronger than a fruit juice between Of and Uzungöl.
Sixteen kilometres inland stands the covered wooden bridge of Hapsiyaş (Kiremitli), photogenic despite its prosaic setting. The present structure dates from only 1935, and was badly damaged to the point of collapse by floods in 1998, but it seems likely there’s been a span here for several centuries. Common are the cross-river teleferikler, rope bridges that whizz shopping, sheep and the occasional person across the raging river to the other side.Read More
From Çaykara, it’s 45km on a paved road up to Uzungöl (Long Lake), the main attraction of this area. After Sumela, it’s the second most popular excursion out of Trabzon, and could be Switzerland were it not for the mosques. Frequent dolmuşes make the hour and a half trip up from Of, and tours are laid on daily according to demand by Trabzon travel agencies. The scenic lake, at just under 1100m, has a bazaar district around its outlet and is best seen by hiring a mountain bike from one of the teashops. Parascending from the surrounding hills is also popular.
Uzungöl makes an ideal base for rambles southeast up to the nearby peaks of Ziyaret (3111m) and Halizden (3376m), with a chain of glacier lakes at the base of the latter. It’s a very long day’s hike there and back – though you can go part-way by car to save time – so take a tent and food for two days if at all possible.