The Crown of Małopolska Mountains or the peak of all peaks
Climb the highest peaks of the mountains in the Małopolska region? Why not? Try it. It does not require great preparation, great fitness, or titanic muscles. If you start from the lowest peak, the highest ones will no longer be a problem. However, we will first describe those that are as highest in the sky as possible.
2,499 m above sea level. Tatra Mountains. Rysy: On the roof of Poland
The Tatras, as you know, are altars of freedom. An incredible cultural phenomenon in the heart of every Pole. And at the same time, a place of challenges... Rysy is the highest peak in Poland, or rather in the course of its borders, because the neighbouring middle peak of Rysy, directly over the border in Slovakia, is 4 metres higher. Conquering Rysy seems to be the biggest challenge. But only seemingly. Of course, the approach from the Polish side is no mean feat. This is an expedition for the thoroughly prepared and well-seasoned. But from the Slovakian side, although the trail is longer, the ascent is quite gentle and manageable, even for beginners. However, do not underestimate either the Tatras or, even more so, Rysy. A sudden change in the weather can turn sunny weather into a hell where you have to fight for your life.
Rysy can be conquered:
- from Morskie Oko: red trail, 7–10 hours round trip,
- from Popradské Pleso: blue trail, then red trail, 5–7 hours round trip.
1,725 m above sea level. Babia Góra: Simply the Queen
The Holy Mountain, the Capricious Mountain, Mother of Bad Weather, the Mad Mountain, the Lonely Mountain – these are just a few of the names people use to describe Babia Góra (Old Wives’ or Old Witches’ Mountain), the highest elevation of Beskid Żywiecki, but given its isolation and dominance, it’s often treated as a separate massif. The name ‘the Queen’ is better. The sad women’s legends associated with the summit only reinforce this sobriquet. Therefore, just for the record: the highest of the three summit peaks is called Diablak (Devil’s Peak). But isn’t that the same thing? Domed and strewn with rocks, the Queen’s peak seems an easy climb, preceded by only a few hours of hiking. Again, be careful – Babia Góra is the second highest mountain in Poland. Most of the hike is through forest, with arduous climbs. However, there are variants (even with chains) that require some kind of fitness.
Babia Góra can be conquered:
- from the Krowiarka Pass, red trail, 5–6 hours round trip,
- from the Krowiarka Pass, blue and yellow trails, through the mountain hostel in Markowe Szczawiny, 7–8 hours round trip.
1,314 m above sea level. Gorce. Turbacz: Mountain of seven ridges
The Gorce Mountains are charming and quite low, with gentle slopes covered by wild forests and picturesque valleys with breathtaking views. Little frequented, but thanks to this they are an oasis of true relaxation. Turbacz is probably the least interesting mountain for those looking down from below. Inconspicuous, uninteresting, unexceptional. But getting to know it is like love – the closer to the heart, the greater the feelings. You will be charmed by the dense forests and, above all, by the beautiful, warm glades covered with hundreds of species of flowers. It was here that the legendary warlord ‘Ogień’ – Józef Kuraś – earned his fame. It was the home mountain of Fr. Józef Tischner. The only one of our peaks on which there is a hostel.
Turbacz can be conquered:
- from Rabka-Zdrój: red trail, 10 hours round trip,
- from Łopuszna: blue trail, 6 hours round trip,
- from Poręba Wielka: blue trail, 6 hours round trip,
- from Nowy Targ: green trail, 7–8 hours round trip,
- from Lubomierz: yellow trail, 10 hours round trip.
1,266 m above sea level. Beskid Sądecki. Radziejowa: The unexpected mountain
The Beskid Sądecki is one of the most attractive tourist regions in Poland. A land of health, famous for its healing waters, invigorating climate, and wonderful landscapes. Radziejowa is unexpected. If you walk along the ridge of Beskid Sądecki, you can pass it unnoticed if you’re not careful. Because it is neither beautiful, nor lofty, nor are the views from it delightful (forest around). Instead, we have an observation tower. And it is fantastic, because Radziejowa is situated in a beautiful place – between the valleys of the eastern part of the Pieniny Mountains and the deeply cut valleys leading to the Poprad River. Our Radziejowa has also some fantastic surprises – a small lake here, a large cave there.
Radziejowa can be conquered:
- from Rytro: blue and yellow trails, 8–9 hours round trip,
- from Szczawnica: yellow and red trails, 8 hours round trip.
1,171 m above sea level. Island Beskids. Mogielica: an island in an ocean of fog
Island Beskids: Mountains friendly to people. The peaks, barely exceeding 1,000 m above sea level, resemble islands submerged in an ocean of tranquillity. The ocean, on the other hand, hides charming villages offering uninterrupted relaxation. Mogielica: Mogielica... Its story goes like this. Folks around these parts say, if you can see Mogielica, it will rain, if you can’t see it, it’s already raining. But seriously... It is an elevated mountain, situated in a large forest complex hiding a real natural paradise (more than 100 species of birds!!!), which ends in large clearings. The most beautiful of these, Stumorgi, is a fantastic plateau that looks completely different each season. Above the plateau – Mogielica. And above Mogielica there is a 20-metre-high observation tower. Only for the brave. So, the record can still be improved.
Mogielica can be conquered:
Mogielica can be conquered:
- from the Rydz-Śmigły Pass: green trail, 6–7 hours round trip,
- from Jurków: blue trail, 9 hours round trip.
1,050 m above sea level. Pieniny. Wysoka: The surprise of all surprises
Pieniny – a bit of the Alps and a bit of Bieszczady. A bit of the metropolis and a bit of the wilderness. After the Tatra Mountains, the most interesting piece of the mountains of Małopolska. However, if you expect the highest peak of the Pieniny Mountains to be the Three Crowns, you will be disappointed... That’s why it’s a surprise. The highest mountain of the Pieniny range is Wysoka (High Mountain – the name obliges!), located some dozen or so kilometres east of the Three Crowns, among the gentle, partly non-forested hills of Małe Pieniny (more surprises). The dome of Wysoka is hidden in dense forest, which conceals its rocky character. The summit falls down a 20-metre cliff to the south-east, while large pastures where sheep used to graze stretch to the north. Access is difficult (a tiring climb), but through one of the most beautiful rock gorges in Poland – Homole – offering fantastic views.
Wysoka can be conquered:
- from Jaworek: green trail, 4 hours round trip
997 m above sea level. Low Beskids. Lackowa: Pulaski’s Flag
Low Beskids: the Mona Lisa of Polish mountains. A land of great history and great wars, tainted by the crime of hatred and oblivion. A place for true relaxation and reflection on the fate of the world. It is called the Flag because during the Bar Confederation, a unit commanded by Casimir Pulaski was stationed here, and Lackowa was a place from where flag signals were broadcast for other confederate groups. Lackowa is strongly elevated above the surroundings, but the peak itself, like the trail running along the ridge of the Low Beskids, is overgrown with forest. Lackowa itself is located in complete wilderness, so we go on the excursion with adequate supplies.
Lackowa can be conquered:
- from Izby: no trail, 4–5 hours round trip
922 m above sea level Little Beskids. Leskowiec: twisted beeches
The Little Beskids are pocket mountains – to be crossed in one day. So Leskowiec does not require any effort, either. For the sake of fairness, it should be added that this is only the highest peak of this range in Małopolska, because the highest point of the whole Little Beskids is Czupel, situated in Silesia. Leskowiec – not a high mountain, but still nice and with beautiful views. There is a nearby hostel. A curiosity is the characteristic beech trees, dwarfed and twisted like overcooked noodles.
Leskowiec can be conquered:
- from Krzeszów: yellow trail, 4–5 hours round trip.
904 m above sea level. Maków Beskids. Lubomir: the darkest sky in Poland
This is a bit of a problem, because Lubomir is sometimes classified as both Maków Beskids and Island Beskids. The latter is academically correct, but in the game called the Crown of the Polish Mountains, Lubomir is the crown of the Maków Beskids. Despite these disputes, this is a land of gentleness – gentle hills, gentle approaches, gentle landscapes. A paradise of weekend excursions. The darkest sky in Poland. This is why the highest number of astronomical observatories per square kilometre is concentrated in this part of Małopolska. All because of the lack of large agglomerations that pollute the night sky with the lights of civilisation. One of the observatories is located on Lubomir, a forested mountain between Myślenice and Mszana Dolna. The path to the summit is easy (there is even a road), all is tranquil, serene, and occasionally the observatory even lets hikers come in for a visit.
Lubomir can be conquered:
- from Wierzbanowa: green trail, 4–5 hours round trip.
The Małopolska region is the most diverse voivodeship in Poland in terms of topography. The lowest point is in the Vistula Valley in the north-east (158 m), and the highest is Rysy, with which we are already familiar.