A straighforward hike to the iconic Georgian landmark.
Gergeti Trinity church is an unmissable landmark, standing right above the Stepantsminda village. For many hikers, it is just a stop along the route to the Gergeti glacier, but if you don´t have such high ambitions or simply lack time, this is a great destination as well. It can be also reached by taxi which takes the road through the forest, but the footpath is nicer and passes one of a few remaining Mokhevian towers. The disadvantage is that if you start at Stepantsminda, the approach to the start of the footpath at the end of Gergeti village is about as long as the climb itself.
It takes a little more than one hour to climb up and even less on the way down. But if you want to visit Tsminda Sameba church and stroll a bit around for even better views, reserve at least 3 hours for this trip. Either way, it can be comfortably done even if you arrive on the same day from Tbilisi by morning marshrutka.
Pretty short distance and less than 500 altitude meters up and down. Suitable also for kids.
Marshrutkas to Tbilisi leave hourly from the bus stop at the main square. The first one departs at 7:00 am., the last one at 5 pm. and the trip also costs 15 GEL.
The best place to start your trip to Kazbegi is the Didube bus station (located by the metro station of the same name). Here, you will need to decide if you want to take a marshrutka or a taxi.
Gergeti Trinity church is reachable by foot during the whole year. The valley route should be passable even in winter, when there is snow cover, as long as it's well-trodden. However, when there is lots of snow and no good soul trod the trail, instead of trying luck in the snowed hillside, it might be safer to take the forest route.
Preserved Mokhevian tower along the route
The hike starts at the main square of Stepantsminda. Follow the main road going north, down towards the river. Cross the bridge and immediately turn left, onto the large, concrete road to the Gergeti village. Follow it for one kilometer, till it ends in a T-junction. Turn left and follow it for a while, till you pass the Gergeti cafe on your left - here, the concrete road ends. Shortly afterward, the trail splits - the left branch follows the creek while the right branch climbs the hill. Take a right branch and follow it towards the tower you see ahead. The trail passes it from the right side - at the land turn before the tower, there is a small trail branching to the right. This is the most direct and steepest route to the church, but I can't recommend it, it's overgrown and hard to follow so as a result, you won't save any time. In this case, it's better to stay on the "official", marked path.
Once you pass the tower, the route is pretty straightforward. You just follow the wide trail carved into the hillside and slowly gain an elevation. At some point, the church appears not far above you, giving you some additional motivation. Finally, once you walk past the church, the terrain flattens up and the trail sharply turns right for the final climb to the church itself.
Gergeti Trinity church visible above
The iconic view of Gergeti Trinity church with Kuro massif in the background