Turkey isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of fall colors. Blue-tiled mosques and sparkling seas, yes. But burnt red, blazing orange and striking yellows? For that kind of arboreal display, most people think of New England. But the fact is there is a place in Turkey where leaf-peepers can get their fill of autumnal colors.
High in the Western Black Sea highlands, the Seven Lakes region is home to one of Anatolia’s loveliest mixed forests. In Yedi Goller (Seven Lakes) National Park, oak, alder, pine, fir, birch, elm, poplar, ash, hazelnut, linden and hornbeam trees are intermingled with large stands of beech. What’s more, the region boasts some 84 lakes which are scattered across two separate plateaus half a mile above sea level.
A visit to the Bolu province and the Lakes region makes for a great day-trip or overnight respite from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul. To get there, you take the Yeniça?a exit off the Istanbul-Ankara highway and then follow 14 miles of scenic, winding road to the Yedi Goller National Park. Once inside the park, you can continue by car to each lake or you can strike out on one of the footpaths, such as the popular 4.5-mile trail around Lake Abant. Travelers can also complete the Abant tour by horseback or horse cart.
Nature-lovers looking to sit and savor the fresh air will also appreciate the picnic tables and fire pits scattered throughout the park. Visitors who wish to overnight in the park can stay in the tent campground or reserve one of the rustic mountain cabins.
Of course, nothing caps off a refreshing hike or meandering drive among the Seven Lakes like a hearty meal. The area offers plenty of delectable regional foods – Bolu-style stews cooked in cauldrons, trout, hazelnut candy, honey potato bread, cheese and clotted cream.
For a glimpse of Mother Nature in all her autumnal glory, check out these stunning photos at trekearth.com.