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Szlak pieszy: Po śladach olimpijczyków na Turbacz

Hiking trail: In the footsteps of Olympic athletes to the peak of Turbacz

Obidowa Tourist region: Gorce i Beskid Wyspowy
Turbacz is the highest peak in the Gorce Mountains. There are as many as seven mountain ridges leading off from its summit, making the shape look like some kind of crazy creation. Perhaps this is why the roots in its name are sought after in the Romanian word turbat, which means mad, or furious? Turbacz is one of the most popular destinations for mountain hikers. Relatively easy ascends and numerous panoramas attract many mountain-biking enthusiasts. The following route to Turbacz from Obidowa will lead you in the footsteps of the Olympic athletes who trained here before the Winter Olympics and who, with their stamina honed on the Gorce runs, set off to win medals for their country. Anyone who isn’t intimidated by a long walk, even though it runs uphill for more than two hours, will enjoy the proposed excursion.

Practical information


The starting point of the trail Obidowa,

Access to the starting point of the trail Along the S7 road, the popular ‘Zakopianka’, to the village of Klikuszowa, from where we head east to Obidowa.

parking You can leave your car at one of the private car parks at the end of Obidowa village (behind the bus turning place). Competition results in varying prices.

Time to complete the trail 5 hours 15 minutes

Difficulty level of the trail  Easy

Trail map 

Important information about the trailI Note! The route runs partly along the border of the Gorce National Park, but there’s no obligation to buy entrance tickets.

There are many trails leading to Turbacz, the highest peak in Gorce. For some, the most beautiful hikes are those leading from the south, from Nowy Targ or Łopuszna, whilst others prefer to hike from the north, from Koninki, or from the east, from Lubomierz Suche Rzeki through the valley of the Kamienica River, or from Ochotnica. There are also those who set out to conquer Turbacz from the west, i.e. from Obidowa. The trail starting here is very hiker-friendly, even for beginners or young children. Its advantages include not only the extensive panoramas but also the relatively small number of tourists on the initial section.

It’s worth knowing that three cross-country ski trails start in Obidowa leading to the Turbacz massif, where Polish Olympic athletes, including Justyna Kowalczyk, used to train, while amateur runners use them on a daily basis.

Bukowina has more than one name

From Obidowa, we’ll be guided by green signs. Looking from the direction from which we came, we turn right, walk a few dozen metres through a wide area acting as a car park and, after a while, enter the forest. The body may rebel a little at first as we immediately begin a rather strenuous ascent, but fortunately it’s short: 10-15 minutes. When the path crosses the brook and turns clearly to the left (east), we start hiking along the slope of Bukowina Obidowska, all the time uphill, though gently. On the left, we’re accompanied by a view of the Lepietnica Valley, along which run the initial sections of two cross-country ski trails to Turbacz.

After about 50 minutes of leisurely walking, we reach the ridge where we meet the black trail, the signs of which we’ll be looking for now. Turn left and hike for about half an hour over gently undulating terrain to a small clearing (at the end of which stands a small chapel), from the middle of which, between the trees on the right, you shall see the Tatras for the first time. Just beyond the clearing, a clearer ascent begins. After another quarter of an hour, you’ll pass a characteristic S-shaped spot (a right turn and, immediately afterwards, a left turn), after which you can once again see the Tatra Mountains.

After an hour of hiking along the black trail, you’ll find yourself at Wszołowa, where there’s a stone field altar erected by the Krokus Hunting Circle. Going 3 metres to the left from the signpost, you’ll stand in a place from where, between the trees, you can see the characteristic cone of Babia Góra, and on the left, over the road which the yellow trail leads to Nowy Targ, you’ll see a much wider panorama of the Tatra Mountains than before.

From then on, follow the signs of the yellow trail. After a few dozen metres, around a bend, a sweeping view of the Lepietnica Valley opens up with its closing slopes leading away from Turbacz. The route leads through extensive clearings on the northern slopes of the Bukowina Miejska, initially slightly downhill and then gently uphill. After three quarters of an hour of walking along the yellow trail, you’ll reach the Chapel of Our Lady of the Forest Queen of Gorce, also known as the Pope’s Chapel, located on the Rusnakowa Glade. On summer Sundays, services are held here, gathering large crowds of tourists.

A little after the chapel, the trail turns left, and we start a sharper ascent to Turbacz. Gradually, more and more extensive views of the eastern part of the Gorce Mountains, Lake Czorsztyn and the Pieniny Mountains and Beskid Sądecki and the Tatra Mountains open up. After a while, the green (from Nowy Targ) and blue (from Łopuszna) signs join our route, running through Bukowina Waksmundzka. After 10 minutes of walking, all trails deviate from the access road to the shelter and a steep, rocky path leads straight to the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society shelter named after Władysław Orkan on Turbacz. It’s almost always crowded and bustling, and in high season, especially on sunny weekends, expect to queue for the buffet.

Along the Main Beskid Trail

From the shelter on Turbacz all the way up to Stare Wierchy, we’ll be guided by red signs, a section of the Main Beskid Trail eading from Ustroń in Beskid Śląski to Wołosate in Bieszczady. The idea of marking its western section (to Krynica) was launched in 1923 by Kazimierz Sosnowski, a Niepołomice-born activist of the Polish Tatra Society. A year later, a section from Prehyba to Hala Łabowska in Beskid Sądecki was marked. In 1929, the last section was traced: from Ustroń through Równica, Polana to Czantoria. The eastern part, designed by Mieczysław Orłowicz, was arranged between 1925 and 1935.

We have about two hours of hiking ahead. We’ll begin with reaching the summit of Turbacz. It sounds intimidating, but the task is very easy, it’s basically a 10-minute walk slightly uphill to stand at the stone pedestal, an obligatory element of any photo documenting the conquest of the highest peak in the Gorce Mountains (1,310 metres amsl).

The origin of the name Turbacz is unknown. Władysław Orkan, eulogist of the beauty of the Gorce Mountains, wondered in his novel W Roztokach whether it was connected to the mists that envelop the summit like a turban. It’s probably more appropriate to derive the name of the peak from the traditions of the Wallachian shepherds who inhabited the Carpathian Mountains centuries ago, for whom trubacz means trumpeter, and thus it could have been about communicating by means of trombits.

From Turbacz, our route will lead all the way down. First, for 10 minutes, we’ll follow a path winding between the surrounding vegetation, followed by a short traverse hike, and then we’ll stand at a junction where we turn left.

tour option

Those who have never been in the area and have not seen the Szałasowy Ołtarz (Chalet Altar) on Hala Turbacz should head to the right (without signs) to reach it after about 10 minutes’ walk. This is a recreated wall of a shepherd’s hut, in the doorway of which, Karol Wojtyła, the future Pope John Paul II, celebrated Mass in 1953. The young priest celebrated the Holy Sacrifice facing the faithful, a practice that didn’t become the norm until 10 years later, after the Second Vatican Council. We’ll return via the same route.

We continue along the red trail. The wide, comfortable road leads gently downhill. It’s easy to get carried away and not notice that after about 40 minutes from the exit from the shelter, in a place called Rozdziele (where the ridges bounding the valleys of the Lepietnica and Obidowiec streams meet), the trail turns right.

If we see signs warning us to enter the cross-country ski trails, this means we have missed a turn. All you have to do then is turn right onto the road next to it, and after a few dozen metres, you’re back on the trail.

On this section, the hike is enhanced by extensive panoramas to the north, of Beskid Wyspowy with the characteristic massif of Luboń Wielki, on top of which there’s a TV transmitter, and Szczebel, located slightly to the right, visible in the foreground.

After half an hour from the Rozdziele, you’ll pass a cross with a propeller, which commemorates the May 1973 crash in which the pilot of a small sports plane, Anna Skalińska, died. A quarter of an hour later, you’ll reach the junction with the green trail from Poręba Wielka Koninek, passing a little earlier a large clearing with an information board about the surrounding nature.

The route leads monotonously and gently all the way down. After a few minutes, you’ll see the signs of the nature trail, which state that it’s still about 20 minutes’ walk from the shelter. In reality, it takes much less time. How many minutes it takes to stand by the building depends in part on how long it takes to admire the view of the Tatra Mountains, which opens up on the left after we leave the forest.

The shelter on Stare Wierchy bearing the name of Czesław Trybowski is surrounded by a large area with many tables and a place for a bonfire and barbecue, where you can relax and rest after the hardships of a hike. There’s no need to stress about the road ahead, as we still only have about 25 minutes to go down a steep forest road to the place we set off from in the morning. The green signs that we have been hiking with for the last half hour will lead us there.

Some advice

If you want to be fully in tune with the name of the route, then, after descending to Obidowa, turn left to enter one of the routes for cross-country skiing enthusiasts. The first option is to go straight over the bridge and follow the Obidowiec stream uphill. The first is about 200 metres along tarmac and, after crossing a wooden bridge, along a simple dirt road through a picturesque valley. The second option is to enter the valley of another stream, Lepietnica, and walk along the road which the main cross-country route In the footsteps of the Olympic athletes runs. After walking just a few minutes, we’ll be entitled to proudly and truthfully say that we’ve indeed wandered the paths used by Olympic athletes.

When we reach the ‘Zakopianka’ road, an impressive panorama of the Tatra Mountains appears in front of the church in Klikuszowa. It’s another reward for the hike and an incentive to come back here again and explore this corner of the Gorce Mountains in a different season. It’s particularly beautiful here in spring (April, early May), when the glades are covered with fields of crocuses, blue at the beginning and violet on the way back, with some white crocuses appearing like pearls. This view remains in one’s memory for a long time. Welcome to the Gorce trails.

We would like to add that the day before or the day after the hike can be spent discovering the Gorce villages. A description of the car route Around Gorce will be helpful with this; the route includes several wooden churches, towns with interesting history and places associated with poets – Fr. Józef Tischner and Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer – as well as local robbers.

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