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A favorite day trip for residents and visitors to Bolu, Lake Golcuk is one of the most scenic sights in the north-western region of Turkey. Created in 1958 when a dam impounded the waters from melting snow, Lake Golcuk covers about 11 acres between heavily-forested, low hills. Only nine miles from the City of Bolu, Lake Golcuk is the perfect spot for picnics, nature walks and cool breezes. At 3957 feet above sea level, Lake Golcuk's shores are cooler on hot summer days than the city below. In winter, snow frosts the surrounding pines and occasionally forms ice across the surface of the lake. Lake Golcuk is beautiful year-round and in demand as a spot for weddings, picnics and photography.
Declared a Nature Park in 1991, 16,516 acres surrounding Lake Golcuk protect a unique environment replete with numerous birds, animals and varied plants. Trees surrounding the lakeshore include black pine, white oak, spruce, acacia, cedar and cluster oak. Fox, badger, quail, partridge, pigeon and rabbit are often seen among the trees, while frogs enjoy the wetter areas near the lakeshore. To make walking easy along the mile of shoreline, a paved walking path meanders along the lakefront with numerous vantage points to look out over a particularly scenic vista. The most leisurely stroll can be completed in less than two hours, but those who prefer to ride can take the rubber-tired 'train' with its excursion cars along the road circling the lake. Pedal boats are rented here, so visitors can travel via water to explore the lake. Lake Golcuk holds several varieties of carp, mullet and other species. Lake Abant trout have recently been stocked here. It isn't clear if fishing is allowed, but a call to the Department of Nature Conservation and National Parks could provide that information.
A picnic area with tables is provided but grills are not. Most people pack a small portable grill with them for the day. Charcoal, charcoal lighter and all types of picnic supplies, including sausages for grilling, can be purchased at the little convenience store at the park. Those who don't pack a lunch can easily stop at one of the two small restaurants located near the shoreline. The restaurants serve fresh fish and the famous mezes or Turkish ravioli. All visitors to the park should be prepared to do a bit of walking as cars are not permitted past the parking area. Non-walkers should plan to take the sight-seeing train.
The best times for visiting Lake Golcuk are from April to October. Green gives way to reds, golds and yellows in the fall when the surrounding trees turn color. The lake is beautiful in winter, and those with cross-country skis may find this their favorite time for a Lake Golcuk visit. Due to the park's closeness to the City of Bolu, summer weekends are busy with many visitors. Weekday visits will provide more solitude.
The City of Bolu is cosmopolitan and growing. Many new apartment blocks and condos are being built to accommodate a growing population, including a large ex-pat community. Midway between Ankara and Istanbul, Bolu is blessed with good roads, great shopping and plenty of restaurants noted for fine cuisine. Free admission at the Bolu Museum offers the opportunity to view a wide array of artifacts from past civilizations and ethnic groups that inhabited the region in the past. Particularly well represented are the artifacts left by the Romans starting around the second century AD.
In addition to scenic Lake Golcuk, nature lovers can find plenty of opportunity to explore the varied climate and topography of this region of Turkey. The scenic Seven Lakes of Yedigollar National Park are only a short distance away. Beautiful Lake Abant is a must-see attraction featuring numerous hotels and spas around the shoreline of a lovely, scenic lake. Visitors can rent a car, but finding many of the hidden treasures and out-of-the-way marvels requires a driver well-versed in local history and lore. Numerous ancient mosques and churches, ruins of fortresses and ancient villages are hidden among the farms, hills, valleys and forests. Many visitors find they must return again and again to explore some feature that haunts their dreams upon returning home. Turkey is a study in contrasts, with thoroughly modern facilities offering conveniences and numerous ancient edifices highlighting its long history as a world-changing frontier.
Luckily, the area around Lake Golcuk is easy to reach by car from either Ankara or Istanbul. Bus service from Bolu is available on regular schedules. The lovely mansion shown in so many pictures of Lake Golcuk is not publicly available to guests, but there are others within a mile or so of the shore. Other lodgings exist in the area, many open year-round as the Kartalkaya ski area is only about 20 miles away. A variety of lodgings can be found in the vicinity, including modern hotels in Bolu, spa resorts in the city, guest houses in the countryside, and even resort-style hotels near Lake Abant. Many in the upland regions are open year-round to serve visiting skiers. And for those quiet strolls among forested hills, Lake Golcuk is always inviting.
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