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Seven Lakes National Park, Turkey

Also known as: Yedigoller Milli Parki, Buyukgol, Deringol, Seringol, Nazligol, Sazligol, Incegol, Kucukgol

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Seven Lakes in northern Turkey are the focal point of Yedigoller National Park. These small, beautiful lakes were formed from one small mountain stream when successive landslides dammed portions of the flow in years past. The Seven Lakes are named Buyukgol, Kucukgol, Deringol, Nazligol, Seringol, Sazligol and Incegol. Water tumbles down rocky hillsides and between boulders from one lake to the next in rushing cascades. Some of the lakes are also fed via underground springs.

The Turkish word, yedigoller, means 'seven lakes'. The entire 1,359-acre park, established in 1969, is heavily forested with oaks, beech trees, hornbeams, alders, spruce, black pines and firs producing a riot of color during September, October and November. A maze of forest trails meanders from view point to scenic overlook, drawing nature fans, photographers and wildlife watchers to this beautiful area.

Located a few miles south of the Black Sea, the Seven Lakes National Park is seldom crowded. Most locations within the park require some walking, and the only services provided are picnic tables and a few rental bungalows offered by the Forestry Ministry. Advance reservations are necessary for staying at the bungalows; all have fireplaces for chilly evenings. Campers are commonly seen setting up tents alongside one of the little lakes. Even those reserving a bungalow must carry everything in with them as no supplies are sold or provided other than water within the park.

Getting to the Seven Lakes area is a two-hour car journey from Bolu, the nearest city. The gravel road is rough and often closed in winter, making traveling to the Seven Lakes an adventure. A few commercial tours come here. One of the first stops in any Yedigoller itinerary is the observation tower atop Kapankaya peak. The sightseeing tower provides a tantalizing panorama of the Seven Lakes and their surrounding mountains. Not surprisingly, many visitors decide to explore further.

Park wildlife is protected, and numbers are increasing. Some of the wild denizens of the Seven Lakes National Park are roe deer, red deer, brown bear, wild boar, lynx, fox, jungle cat, wolf, otter and many small mammals such as rabbit and squirrel. At least 500 species of birds have been sighted here, some of which are seasonal as the Yedigoller is along the migration path. The park is open year round, although some access roads are closed in inclement weather. Although fall color visits are the most popular, trekkers arrive all during the warmer months to hike the paths and camp in the pristine wilderness.

Several of the tiny Seven Lakes teem with salmon and rainbow trout. Fishing is allowed from May to September with a permit from the Forest Ministry. Many campers purchase fish from the nearby trout hatchery at Deringol for cooking at their campsite. A couple of small cafes are located at the outskirts of the park but are mostly accessible from perimeter roads. Other than the Ministry bungalows, lodgings are found outside of the park, with the widest selection located near Bolu. Other small guest stays can be located along the Ankara-Istanbul highway and the road leading to Mengen. As Mengen is noted for producing some of Turkey's best chefs, many visitors to the Seven Lakes stop here for lunch. Even non-athletic types can enjoy some of the park scenery just by driving the forest-rimmed 26-mile Yedigoller road, a scenic day trip from Bolu.

Those staying in the area of Bolu and Seven Lakes National Park will find a number of other local destinations worthy of a visit. Abant Lake is 25 miles southwest of the City of Bolu and offers swimming beaches, a nature park and plenty of local food vendors. Small boats may be rented locally to fish for the endemic Abant trout. Carriage rides along the lakeshore are favorites, as are picnic lunches assembled from the offerings of the local vendors accompanied by locally-produced wines. Abant is one of the most scenic lakes in Turkey, with small local farms producing a variety of vegetables near the shoreline.

The City of Bolu has natural mineral bath spas, a 14th century mosque, and the Bolu Archeology and Ethnography Museum. The small Bolu Museum also provides an excellent selection of artifacts from Bithynion-Claudiopolis, ancient cities underneath present-day Bolu. The former population center flourished in 2 AD, and the opulent luxury of its decor is recalled in the collection of marble busts, the gravestones of gladiators, and fragments of architectural detail. The entire area around Bolu and the Seven Lakes National Park holds a wealth of ancient history and modern resorts, one of Turkey's best winter ski areas, excellent local cuisine, and getaway spas for relaxation and rejuvenation. There are plenty of local roads and pathways suitable for bicycling and horseback riding.

Going to Seven Lakes National Park takes some planning, and local tourism officials are glad to be of service. A car rental may be necessary as there is no public transportation into the park. The climate is temperate and may become quite cold in winter due to the elevation of the surrounding mountains. Much of the park is located at about 2800 feet, although there are higher areas. A light jacket is a good idea even in summer. So, while planning your northern Turkey vacation, put Seven Lakes National Park on your itinerary.

*There are few statistics available for the lakes. Those listed are for Buyukgol only.


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