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The Tatra Mountains: Level Hardcore

Updated on September 2, 2016
Virginia Matteo profile image

Viriginia is an experienced hiker. She goes to the Tatra Mountains in Poland every summer.

Source

This is a comprehensive guide to the Polish routes in the Tatra Mountains for the most experienced hikers. The names are left in the original, as the signs on the trails read only in Polish.

Świnica From Zawrat

Trail
red
Time
50 min
Distance
1.5 km
Highest point
Świnica, 2301 m
Altitude
142 m
Start and finish
Zawrat – Świnica

This is the most demanding trail leading to Świnica. Significant exposure and challenging rock formations make it a route suitable only for experienced hikers. The path often leads through narrow rock shelves over the abyss. You will be accompanied by hiking aids such as chains and metal rungs almost all the way.

From Zawrat follow the red trail leading to Świnica.

Swinica
Swinica | Source

Zawrat From Hala Gąsienicowa

Trail
blue
Time
2h 25 min
Distance
4.5 km
Highest point
Zawrat, 2159 m
Altitude
659 m
Start and finish
Hala Gąsienicowa – Zawrat

The route to Zawrat at first doesn’t seem too difficult. Things change at Zmarzły Staw; from there, chains and metal rungs abound almost all the way up to Zawrat. The trail is challenging both physically and psychologically if you’re not used to exposure.

From Hala Gąsienicowa follow the blue trail to Zawrat. From Zawrat you can go to Orla Perć (more about this in a moment), reach Świnica or go down to Dolina Pięciu Stawów (this trail is a very easy one).

Kościelec Through Zielona Dolina Gąsienicowa

Trail
black, blue, black
Time
1h 45 min
Distance
4.5 km
Highest point
Kościelec, 2155 m
Altitude
655 m
Start and finish
Hala Gąsienicowa – Kościelec

Kościelec is a very popular destination. Despite being difficult (some climbing elements), there are no hiking aids. Many people see it as an opportunity to tackle a demanding mountain in its pristine form. Others think it’s irresponsible. Because of the lack of any artificial support the hike becomes extremely difficult during bad weather conditions – one slip could result in death.

From Hala Gąsienicowa follow the black trail up to Zielony Staw Gąsienicowy. Then the blue trail to Karb (the mountain pass before Kościelec) and the black one again to the top.

Kościelec Through Czarna Dolina Gąsienicowa

Trail
blue, black
Time
1h 50 min
Distance
4.5 km
Highest point
Kościelec 2155 m
Altitude
655 m
Start and finish
Hala Gąsienicowa – Kościelec

This variant to Karb is more steep and, therefore, more exhausting than the previous one. The route from Karb to Kościelec is exactly the same.

From Hala Gąsienicowa follow the blue trail to Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy. From there choose the black trail leading to Kościelec through Karb.

Koscielec
Koscielec | Source

Kozia Przełęcz From Hala Gąsienicowa

Trail
blue, yellow
Time
2h 10 min
Distance
4.7 km
Highest point
Kozia Przełęcz, 2137 m
Altitude
637 m
Start and finish
Hala Gąsienicowa – Kozia Przełęcz

A difficult route mainly due to the fact that the path may be slippery. A lot of technically challenging rock formations that are equipped with chains to aid climbing. Kozia Przełęcz is part of Orla Perć, so once you’ve reached it, you can continue your journey in the direction of Kozi Wierch or go down to Dolina Pięciu Stawów.

From Hala Gąsienicowa follow the blue trail up to Zmarzły Staw pod Zawratem, then choose the yellow trail to Kozia Przełęcz.

Kozia Przełęcz From Dolina Pięciu Stawów

Trail
yellow
Time
1h 35 min
Distance
4 km
Highest point
Kozia Przełęcz, 2137 m
Altitude
469 m
Start and finish
Dolina Pięciu Stawów – Kozia Przełęcz

The second trail leading to Kozia Przełęcz. It is at times extremely steep and exposed. Beware of wet rocks as well. There are two difficult walls to scale that are almost vertical. Tackling them is possible only thanks to metal rungs that are installed there.

From Dolina Pięciu Stawów follow the yellow trail up to Kozia Przełęcz.

Żleb Kulczyńskiego

Trail
blue, yellow, green, black
Time
2h 45 min
Distance
4.8 km
Highest point
Żleb Kulczyńskiego, about 2230 m
Altitude
730 m
Start and finish
Hala Gąsienicowa – Żleb Kulczyńskiego

Żleb Kulczyńskiego leads to Orla Perć. It is extremely difficult and less popular than Zawrat for instance. The trail has all kinds of hiking aids such as chains and metal rungs. The route may be slippery at times because of a nearby brook.

From Dolina Gąsienicowa follow the blue trail up to Zmarzły Staw. Then the yellow one for a bit that goes to Kozia Przełęcz but turn left to the green one as soon as you see it. Then choose the black trail leading to Żleb Kulczyńskiego.

Mięguszowiecka Przełęcz pod Chłopkiem

Trail
green
Time
2h 10 min
Distance
4 km
Highest point
Mięguszowiecka Przełęcz pod Chłopkiem, 2307 m
Altitude
727 m
Start and finish
Morskie Oko – Mięguszowiecka Przełęcz pod Chłopkiem

This trail is considered second only to Orla Perć when it comes to the level of difficulty. Despite the exposure and many climbing elements, there are not many hiking aids, just a couple of metal rungs in the most dangerous spots. The trail is covered in gravel in higher parts, so be extra careful there, especially when descending – one slip and you could fall into the abyss below.

From Morskie Oko follow the red trail up to Czarny Staw pod Rysami. Then choose the green trail to Mięguszowiecka Przełęcz pod Chłopkiem.

Orla Perć

Trail
red
Time
5h
Distance
3.9 km
Highest point
Kozi Wierch, 2291 m
Altitude
46 m
Start and finish
Zawrat – Przełęcz Krzyżne

The most difficult trail in the Polish Tatras. The highlights include an 8-metre ladder installed on a vertical rock wall over the abyss, extremely narrow and exposed rock shelves, and exciting ridge paths. The trail leads from Zawrat to Przełęcz Krzyżne through Kozia Przełęcz, Kozi Wierch, Zadni Granat and Skrajny Granat. But you don’t have to go through the whole Orla Perć at once – there are many routes leading to it. The important thing to remember that the bit from Zawrat to Kozi Wierch is a one-way trail, and also arguably the most difficult part of the whole route. Only the most experienced hikers should attempt this trail. Since its opening in 1906 140 people have died there.

From Zawrat choose the red route leading to Przełęcz Krzyżne.

Part of Orla Perc
Part of Orla Perc | Source

Not what you were looking for?

Too difficult? Don't worry, here you can find easier trails.

Still not quite your level of skills? Click here for intermediate routes.

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