Kurils/Kunashir: Stolbovskaya Eco Trail
Stolbovskaya Eco Trail is a hike that starts on the ridge of Mendeleev Volcano and descends down to the beach at the Sea of Okhotsk, covering pretty much all the island’s habitats – mountains, forest, marsh, beach. Along the trail – there are informative signs identifying all the rare Kunashir Island flora (like who would think that magnolia trees grow here!). The trail then arrives at the Stolbovskiye Hot Springs where you can bathe in smoldering hot but somehow silty water. As you hike toward the beach along a small stream – it’s packed with salmon trying to make it upstream. In fact, I just grabbed one with my bare hands! Finally, you arrive at a beautiful beach with seastacks just offshore and a crescent of grey sand and pebbles (and more salmon encounters at the steam’s mouth).