- Riding style(s): Cycle touring, bikepacking
- Length: 92 km / 57 miles
- Elevation gain/loss: 1,304m / 4,278ft
- Suggested duration: 1 day
- Road conditions: Mostly paved, with one major section of broken asphalt
- Terrain: Rolling meadows and deep gorges, with one major climb and one major descent
Lori province is characterised by its deep gorges – and what better way to see them than by bicycle? This mostly paved loop with a couple of short unpaved sections takes in both the various heritage sites within the gorges and the stunning vistas from above the clifftops. Though the route could be begun at several points on the loop, we will describe it beginning and ending in Alaverdi.
Head south on the main road from Alaverdi and turn sharply right for Odzun after a few kilometres. The road climbs to the top of the cliffs to Odzun, which sports a significant 5th–7th-century church with refreshments nearby. Continue south along the quiet plateau past Aygehat, after which the route bears west through rolling hills north of the Dzoraget canyon, passing through several of Armenia’s last remaining ethnic Greek settlements. From Lori Berd village it is possible to take a short detour on a broken asphalt road to the fortress of the same name in a stunning promontory setting at the intersection of the Urut and Dzoraget gorges. Continuing west brings you to Stepanavan whose cafe-restaurants provide a perfect lunch break.
Continuing from Stepanavan on the south side of the gorge, head east, stopping to see the ruined Russian Orthodox church of St Nicholas the Wonder-Worker in Amrakits village. Turn left in Gyulagarak and continue along a very quiet road to Kurtan, where turning right at the entrance to the village brings you to the little-visited Hnevank monastery on a broken asphalt road. Some rough sections of road follow but are worth enduring for the spectacular switchback descent into the Debed canyon. Eventually you’ll reach the main road once more, from where you can return to Alaverdi, perhaps stopping to make the 15-minute hike up to Kobayr monastery before the end of the day.