Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains offer numerous stupendous hikes. The mountains resemble crushed green velvet dusted with snow, and among them hide old shepherding villages and scenic waterfalls. The most famous hike – and the best for first-time visitors – is up to the 14th-century Gergeti Trinity Church, built, somehow, atop a low mountain just beneath the massive peak of Mount Kazbek.
My guide initially suggested starting our hike from the Rooms Hotel where we were staying, but it’s much more sensible to begin just above Gergeti Village itself, across the valley. Have your driver drop you near the trailhead north of the village – not at the exposed southern trail, as many guidebooks recommend – so that you can walk uphill while shaded by cool pine forest. Eventually, the trees give way to a sweeping alpine meadow studded with wildflowers, punctuated by the ancient stone towers of the church.
After viewing the candlelit icons inside, descend along the sunny meadow path behind and to the south of the church. It leads into a gorge protected by a crumbling stone watchtower that looks straight out of a fairy tale.
This hike is best done as early in the morning as possible, before clouds wreathe the snowy heights of Mount Kazbek and touring vans clog the meadow below the church.