Although less appealing than the Lənkəran–Lerik route, the Masallı–Yardımlı road offers an alternative gateway to the Talysh Mountains. Local weekenders head for the popular picnic site overlooking Vilaş Lake, whose woodlands are now increasingly crammed with cafes and mini-resorts. Further towards Yardımlı, Yanardağ is a more isolated rest zone with a wooden dining platform that bridges the river. On the far side the river water ‘catches fire’ due to all the dissolved methane, though disappointingly the most flammable waters have recently been diverted into a decorative pool and a series of medicinal bathing booths. If you climb five minutes up the steep stairway to the right, you’ll reach a small bald area of hillside where local tourists scrabble to reignite three minuscule gas vent-holes.
Further towards Yardımlı you’ll pass a seasonal, two-level waterfall (şələlə; Km 27) that’s one of Azerbaijan’s more impressive. And there are several rough tracks leading into forgotten highland villages. With a guide it is possible to hike across eventually to Lerik, but driving this without a 6WD you’ll probably get stuck in the mud. Little Yardımlı (Km 50) has a carpet factory and mini-hotel and the pleasant backdrop of grassy hills is split by a picturesque chasm.