Encompassing a 226-sq-km swathe of the Western Carpathian Mountains, Malá Fatra National Park feels peaceful and perilous at the same time. Threaded by the Váh River, the 12km Strečno Pass forms a jagged cleft among these crystalline mountains. Rising highest is Velký Kriváň (1709m), which subsides into wildflower meadows and forests of beech and spruce. Heightening the region's mystique is its association with Slovakia’s Robin Hood, the righteous outlaw Juraj Jánošík, who is said to have prowled these hills and gorges.
Hiking trails reflect the landscape's contrasts, with level pathways veering abruptly into steep waterfall ascents by ladder. Trails are tantalisingly easy to access from straggling gateway town Terchová, with chair lifts and cable cars propelling walkers (and, in winter, skiers) onto the mountain flanks.
The park is very popular with locals but doesn’t draw anything close to the visitor numbers of the High Tatras further east.