This itinerary is a summer day walk from Zakopane. The route starts and finishes on the streets of Zakopane, heading out through the forest and then walking up the exposed side of a high peak.
This is a day walk, with part of the route is sheltered forest and an elevated section on exposed mountains. The route is relatively straight forward in summer, but would be more serious trek in winter. The track is popular and busy on holidays.
The route climbs to 1,728 m (5,669 ft), with an optional detour to the summit of Giewont at 1,895 m (6,217 ft). Giewont is the highest peak fully within Poland - Rysy is higher, but is on the border with Slovakia.
A map and a compass should be used, not just this rough outline! You will have to pay a small entrance fee (August 2018: 5 zł).
See Zakopane for details of how to get to this major mountain resort, which is served by buses and trains from Krakow.
A suggested route, straight from town, heads south along a road away from Zakopane, to the 1 north end of the Strążyska Dolina valley (898m). To save time it may be possible to get a bus from Zakopane to Dolina Strążyska road end (where there is a cafe).
A wide, clear footpath leads from Dolina Strążyska to the 2 Strążyska Polana clearing and then 3 Polana Mlyniska clearing (1042m). This part of the route is through Carpathian beech forest along the Strążyski Potok river.
Follow a path west along Grzybowiecka Dolina valley, then up a dogleg to 4 Mały Giewont peak (note the "Dangerous Places" symbol on the map - ignore it). Head through the pass between Kondracka Przełęcz pass and Giewont peak, and out of the pine woods at Przełęcz Bacuch pass (1700m).
5 Wielki Giewont, the highest peak on this route at 1895m, is a short detour away. The paths often stretch over smooth sloped sheets of rock and are treacherously slippery. However, on most of these a handy chain has been bolted to the rock, making it easy. (If it's very cold though the chain freezes your hands.)
Once the cloud cover has been admired at the top (or the view if you're lucky!), and you've looked at the 20 ft. high cross, it's time to come back down. The cross, according to legend, was made by one man, who carried all the pieces up separately, and constructed it himself.
There is a mountain rescue-cum-cafe refuge in 6 Kondratowa Dolina valley (1333m) on the way toward Kuźnice. They serve hot food and drinks (hotdogs and tea.) This little hut is a wonderful reprieve after the freezing weather you may encounter. Follow the original path downwards towards 7 Kuźnice.
The route takes you down, through Kuźnice (back onto tarmac for a bit), and finally into Zakopane. Kuźnice has places to eat, a park and a couple of galleries to see.
If you are feeling lazy, you can take a marshrutka, they run from Kuznice to Zakopane frequently in the summer and cost 1-2 zloty.
Whichever route you plan to take, it is advised you dress warmly and bring spare waterproof clothes and water. Put the clothes in a plastic bag in your backpack to keep them dry in case of a rain. Even midsummer it can hail for a whole day in the mountains! Remember you are already at 1000 m., although it doesn't feel like it.
Although this is usually done as a day walk, there are a couple of places to sleep on the route.
- 1 Shelter Hala Kondratowa (Schronisko Hala Kondratowa), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Shelter with two rooms for 6 and one big room for 8 people. 37 zł per person.
- 2 Shelter Kalatówki (Schronisko Kalatówki), ☏ , email@example.com. 55-125 zł per person depending on room size and period of traveling.