Last Updated on November 12, 2023 by Ellen
The Red Valley and Rose Valley hike in Cappadocia is worth it for older people like me and people who are fit enough for an easy-to-moderate hike. Red and Rose valleys are adjacent, and the loop is a popular trail near the town of Goreme.
The trail is rated as moderate because it’s steep enough to get winded, and there are a few really steep spots. I went up and down the equivalent of 52 floors and walked something like six miles in the valleys and on the ridges because I went off the main trail a couple of times. There are many trails but the main one is pretty easy to keep track of.
That I can do this at all is a miracle. I recovering alcoholic, I sometimes have vertigo issues when I look directly down great heights. Weirdly, it only happens when I’m on my feet (stairs, cliffs, trails with drop offs, etc.) while planes, hot air balloons, amusement rides, etc., are no problem at all.
With those issues in mind, and as an older woman (52) with a not-so-great right knee, I would rate this hike as truly moderate. In contrast, the Love Valley and Pigeon Valley trails are also rated as ‘moderate’ — but I would call those ‘easy’ with a few potentially tricky spots if you stay on the main trails.
My biggest aid: a slow pace. Only twice did I have to sit on my butt and scoot down steep rock faces covered with gravel and sand. (Hey – no shame to my game!)
A lot of the trail is sandy at the lower levels. My feet sank into the sand and the picture below looks way worse than it is. It only gets gravely on rocks closer to the ridges.
There are some cave churches on or right off the trail. For me a standout was the Hacli Church, or Cross Church. It’s right on the trail, and there is a rickety ladder to help you ascend into the small church.
It features painting that dates back 1,200 years! And it has an ornamental cross with fine detail still visible on the ceiling before the mural with Jesus.
Big time bonus: there’s a cafe right outside Cross Church. It’s like an oasis in the desert. I took my shoes and socks off, rested, enjoyed a large freshly-squeezed orange juice, and took in the view.
In the picture below, you can just make out the white umbrellas at the cafe. The ladder and the church entrance is right behind them.
Refreshed and rested — with dry feet — I pushed on. I did this hike in sneakers with balding bottoms. I would recommend shoes with good grip, like every single person I saw. Also, the few older people I saw had hiking poles. (It seemed like everyone on this trail was under 30!)
My safe way through was one step at a time, slowly slowly slowly.
My favorite pictures from my trek are of the rocks near the ridges overlooking the valleys. The views are other-worldly!
I went in October, and the sun was warm, but not strong. The weather was perfect, actually. There was a cool breeze on the ridges.
If you want to explore caves and old homes in ‘fairy towers’ then there are plenty of places to stop. I enjoyed a few where I rested (and got the sand out of my shoes) and contemplated life.
If you want to see stunning landscapes, ancient cave churches, and get a decent work out, without any super difficult maneuvers on the trail, give it a try. After all, life is now!