Tatras: Kosceiliska horseshoe

With low winds and amazing sunshine forecast I decided a traverse of the Tatras was in order. I’d originally planned to do this route in reverse but having not worked out the bus times to get to Kiry I opted to walk from Kuznice which is simpler and worry about how to get back on the bus later.

I’ve called this route the Koscieliska horsehorse but its a bit of a misnomer as while it is a horseshoe shape, the route traverses the 2000m mountains along the main ridge from the centre of the national park to descend into the Koscieliska valley. Nevertheless its a great route, with outstanding views.

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Gubalowka Ridge from Zakopane to Chocholow

I wanted to visit the poplar thermal baths at Chocholow and decided to run the red route across the Gubalowka ridge to get there. Whilst it was dry it was very windy so not ideal for being in the mountains so this made a great alternative.

North of Zakopane and out of the Tatras, this hill is mostly farmland and gentle rolling hills. If you’re not in the area for long it wouldn’t be on your list to do, but if you have time it’s a nice alternative to the mountains.

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Morskie Oko and over the Krzyzne pass

Everyone who heads to the Polish Tatras visits Morskie Oko as it’s a popular beauty spot. Whilst I usually look to get off the beaten track I had decided a bus ride around there would provide a great opportunity to walk back to Zakopane over the mountains.

To Morskie Oko

The walk into the Morskie Oko hut from the bus stop is a very boring 8km walk along a tarmac road. There are horse carriages but I’d opted to walk and save money, and as I was staying at the hut that night I didn’t have anything else to do that day.

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A short run up to Sarnia Skala

With low cloud in the sky and constant drizzle threatening to turn to rain I wanted to get out for a walk but not a big mountain day.

While only a quarter of the Tatras National Park sits in Poland there’s still a wealth of shorter walks for wet days.

Sarnia Skala 10km 660m ascent

Sarnia Skala is a small rocky outcrop sitting on the edge of the national park and easily accessed from Zakopane by the black route which runs along the edge of the park from the snowland ski slopes.

The black route is popular with runners, being relatively flat. It is however, as I discovered as I set off in my running kit, quite slippy in places when it is wet.

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Tatras: The quieter route up Kasprowy Wierch

I knew that travelling to the Tatras National Park in November for hiking meant one of two things – either there would be quiet trails or terrible weather and I’d have to find a plan B. I also knew I needed to be prepared for hiking in the snow and so was armed with crampons, axe and loads of experience.

As it was, I was blessed with really good weather for most of the week I was staying in Zakopane, so managed to get out every day to hike or run in the mountains.

It had rained solid the day I arrived in Zakopane and knowing the day after would be cold I anticipated some snow on the mountains. I wasn’t disappointed!

Kasprowy Wierch west ridge – 16.6km 1400m ascent

Having caught the bus to Kuznice and arrived before 7am I took the long walk up the blue trail to Schronisko Hala Kondratowa hut. I should add that if like me you like early starts, this means you arrive before the National Park is officially open – meaning free entry (not the 7 zloty is expensive).

Its not a steep walk to the hut, so I got there much quicker than the suggested travel time of the signs. Most guides books tell you to take the yellow or green path to the summit of Kasprowy Wierch which are the more direct route, but by that account are also the busiest. If you want a quieter alternative the blue route to Hala Kondratowa Hut is much better.

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