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Szlak pieszy: Po wygasłym wulkanie

Hiking trail: Along an extinct volcano

Za metalowym, ozdobnym, z białymi murkami ogrodzeniem, fontanna w ogrodzie i po lewej szopa pokryta blachą. Dalej na wprost stoi biały, długi budynek z dwiema wieżami po bokach oraz z dodatkową wieżyczką z lewej, z okrągłym małym okienkiem. Ścianę budynku do połowy zakrywa żywopłot. Na dachu trzy jaskółki, pośrodku największa. Budynek przykryty jest blachą. Na parterze okna  z łukiem, na piętrze prostokątne. Za budynkiem w tle rosną wysokie drzewa, zza których wyłania się kolejny budynek pokryty czerwonym dachem. Po prawej widać część budynku.
Szczawnica Tourist region: Pieniny i Spisz
Hiking the slopes of an extinct volcano? Yes, such things are possible in the Małopolska region! We’re taking you on a long but not exceptionally strenuous excursion which will allow you to get to know the picturesque edges of the western Beskid Sądecki and, above all, will give you the opportunity to see for yourself what volcanic forces used to lie dormant within the interior of the Małopolska region. On the way back, we encourage you to relax in the Upper Health Resort Park in Szczawnica, as well as to taste the Szczawnica healing waters.

Practical information


Pictogram with the starting point of the trailSzczawnica

Pictogram with access to the starting point of the trail  Route no. 969 from Nowy Targ (from the west) or from Nowy Sącz (from the north) to Krościenko nad Dunajcem (the route partly coincides with the car route Around Gorce) and from there to Szczawnica.

Parking pictogram You can leave your car at one of the paid car parks, e.g. at the foot of the Palenica ski station (a few dozen metres behind the bus station, at the level of the park, you have to go right down); there are no free alternatives.

Pictogram with the trail time 7.5 hours

Pictogram medium level of difficultyMedium (due to hiking time)

Pictogram with information about the route map

The proposed route leads along the western edge of Beskid Sądecki, and its greatest attraction is a hike along the slopes of an extinct volcano. Few people realise that it was volcanic processes that caused the natural springs of acidic water, the so-called sorrels (szczawy), from which Szczawnica derives its name. There are many processes of this type in Małopolska, so the region can be called the land of sleeping volcanoes. We’ll hear about another volcanic remnant towards the end of the trek.

Through the health resorts to Bryjarka

The hike starts at the junction of Główna Street and Zdrojowa Street. To get to the site from the aforementioned car park, simply follow the yellow signs up Główna Street from the eastern end of the car park, then turn right and walk about 150 metres.

We set off along Zdrojowa Street, passing the mineral water pump room on the way, which we’ll visit on the way back. After about 10 minutes, we arrive at Józefa Dietla Square, the heart of the health resort town, where an obelisk bearing the figure of patron stands. Dietl was privately a friend of Józef Szalay, the owner of the locality, and often visited Szczawnica. It was he who created a new field of medicine, known as balneology, dealing with the effects of groundwater on the body, and contributed to the establishment of Polish health resorts.

The central part of Józef Dietl Square is occupied by a fountain with a bronze sculpture of a woman with a jug, and around it stand historic buildings in the Alpine style from the times of the health resort’s greatest splendour. Dom nad ZdrojamiStara KancelariaWilla Holenderka or Willa Szwajcarka make you feel as if you have been transported back in time to experience the atmosphere of the health resort many years ago.

At the upper end of the square stands Willa Pałac, which houses the Health Resort Museum. Continue following the yellow signs, heading left diagonally before entering Języki Street. The ascent quickly becomes very steep, and the body may find it difficult to switch from a pleasant walk to a significant effort. At number 23, turn left following the signpost ‘Do krzyża’, i.e. ‘To the cross’ (unfortunately, the trail markings here are very imprecise). We enter the path which rounds the slopes of Bryjarka. It runs uphill, but much gentler, so you can breathe more freely. When we find ourselves on the western side of the hill (about 45 minutes from the Dietla Square), we’ll meet another signpost directing us to the cross standing on the slopes of Bryjarka, which offers an interesting view of the entire health resort.

The present metal cross, in place of the destroyed wooden one, was erected in 1902 by Józef Górecki’s company, the same company who made the cross installed on the peak of Giewont.

Among the ancient orchards to Bereśnik

The journey continues among ancient orchards, passing several old houses with apple, pear and plum trees which, in autumn, are almost within reach. As we ascend higher and higher, the view to the south becomes more and more extensive; at first, just the Dunajec Valley, where the Dunajec Gorge rafting trip ends, and later, also the Tatra Mountains. When you reach the crossroads of paths, at which there’s a wooden fence surrounding a small area, it’s worth turning around to admire the vast panorama: from the left, you can see the Małe Pieniny, in front, you have the Pieniny and Tatra Mountains, while on the right, you can see a fragment of Lake Czorsztyn.

From this point, it’s still about a 5-minute walk to the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society shepherd’s hut Pod Bereśnikiem, under the patronage of Edward Moskała, author of mountain guides, one of the first to mark the tourist trails and initiator of the construction of small shelters, the so-called ‘shepherd’s huts’. We arrive at the shelter, famous for its excellent cuisine, about an hour and 10 minutes after leaving the trail. Next to the building, not only a beautiful view awaits us, but also a collection of very original flowerpots made of... different models of shoes.

Next destination: shelter at Przehyba

After getting to know the local attractions, it’s time to move on. First, following the signs of the black trail, we go deep into the farm surrounding the shepherd’s hut before turning left and entering the forest. Black signs will accompany us for a quarter of an hour. If you change your plans, you can use them to descend in about 40 minutes to the blue trail to return to Szczawnica.

For about half an hour after parting with the black trail, we hike in a rather monotonous manner over slightly undulating terrain, after which a strenuous ascent to the Pod Dzwonkówką trail junction begins (2.5 hours from Szczawnica, about 1 hour 15 minutes from the Pod Bereśnikiem shepherd’s hut). We leave the yellow signs here, and henceforth we’ll be hiking a fragment of the Main Beskid Route leading from Ustroń in Beskid Śląski to Wołosate in Bieszczady.

We turn right (east) and start a steep, unpleasant descent following the red signs to Przysłop, which will take us about 15 minutes. There are interesting views to the south and north from the pass. The former, overlooking the Pieniny Mountains, is best admired as soon as you leave the forest, while the latter, overlooking the Koziarz massif with its characteristic viewing tower, is best admired after walking up the opposite slope.

At the lowest point, there’s a memorial to partisans, and the blue trail begins there as well, which will accompany us for several minutes. After about half an hour of walking from Przysłop over undulating terrain, we’ll find ourselves on the next pass, and we’ll see in front of us an extremely dangerous-looking road leading very steeply upwards. Fortunately, we don’t have to face this challenge, as the trail leads gently to the right, traversing another slope. Soon, however, a steeper ascent begins, and we laboriously gain altitude. The more difficult passages alternate with gentler ones; when you pass the rocky staircase, it’ll mean that the worst is behind us; a little more uphill and about 1.5 hours after passing Przysłop, we’ll find ourselves on a ridge where we’ll march steadily onwards.

Soon, the Przehyba transmission tower will appear to us, but before we reach it, we have to keep an eye on the trail, because it turns left unexpectedly to lead us to Skałka (1,168 metres amsl), which is one of the peaks in the Crown of Beskid Sądecki.

From here, it’s really close to the shelter. First we reach the crossroads where the green trail signs join (about 20 minutes from Skałka), and after a few minutes’ walk, we find ourselves at the next junction of trails near the aforementioned tower, i.e. a radio and television broadcasting centre (the range of the signal emitted from here reaches 100 kilometres, but due to the specific shape of the terrain, problems with reception may appear in places located much closer, even in Szczawnica). Directional signs at both sites give highly exaggerated transition times. From the first point, it’s about 10 minutes (not 20) to the end of this stage, and from the second point, you’ll reach your destination in
about 2 minutes (not 5).

After reaching the Polish Tourist Society and Sightseeing shelter on Przehyba (3 hours 45 minutes from the Pod Bereśnikiem shepherd’s hut, 2.5 hours from the Pod Dzwonkówką trail junction), it’s time for a longer rest, a hearty meal and to enjoy the thought that from now on, it’ll only be downhill (well, almost).

Let’s go to Szczawnica

It’ll take about 2.5 hours to reach the starting point, with the actual hiking time depending on how much time you spend in the health resort park in Szczawnica admiring its charms or tasting the Szczawnica waters. But one step at a time.

On the way back, we keep to the blue signs. Following them, we set off to the familiar crossroads by the relay tower, where we turn left and march slightly down a wide, comfortable road. After a quarter of an hour, the terrain starts to rise a little, at times more decisively, and after another 15 minutes, you’ll stand on the top of Czeremcha, from where the route really will only go downhill. After a while, you’ll pass the start of the green trail, which also leads to the place from where we started our hike, but its end is much less interesting, as it follows the main road, skipping the health resort part of the town.

The descent along the blue trail is quite steep at times, the route crosses many paths and tracks, and you need to pay close attention to the signs so as not to get lost in this tangle. A little over an hour after leaving the shelter, we enter a comfortable forest road, and after another 20 minutes or so, we pass a forester’s lodge and turn left, and from now on, we’ll be marching on the tarmac surface. First you’ll pass the Sewerynówka water intake, after a while (on the left), the place where the black trail met Pod Bereśnikiem descends, then the Czarda inn and the Zaskalnik waterfall, behind which the compact buildings begin. After about 20 minutes of walking along the tarmac, we’ll see a high wall on your right, at the end of which is a restaurant. This is a sign that we soon have to turn right to follow Świętego Krzyża Street traversing the slope towards the centre of the town.

On the left, we’re accompanied by a view of Małe Pieniny with Jarmuta (with a relay mast) clearly visible in the foreground; this is another peak consisting of volcanic rocks. We pass through the Połoniny housing estate and, after about a quarter of an hour, turn right at a right angle onto the promenade, which will take us to the old part of the town. The first historic villas will soon appear, and then, walking between them, you’ll reach the Upper Health Resort Park named after Count Adam Stadnicki.

Being already close to the point from which we started our hike in the morning, you can take a leisurely stroll along its alleys, pay attention to the health resort chapel located right next to the already well-known Willa Szwajcarka and take a look at the bust of Józef Szalay, the founder of the health resort. Our attention is also drawn by the Inhalatorium sanatorium, one of the oldest health resort houses in Poland. Be sure to try one of the six local mineral waters, and as a reward for your day’s efforts, you can enjoy something delicious in one of the many cafés or restaurants.

Going down Zdrojowa Street to the starting point, it’s worth turning left to enter the church of St Adalbert the Bishop and Martyr, built in the 19th century, to see its neo-Gothic decoration and beautiful paintings.

After returning to the starting point, we encourage you to go to the right and, after walking about 300 metres, take a look at the Lower Park, which features the historic Chapel of Our Lady of Częstochowa, a viewing gazebo and a small pond. It’s a perfect place for another rest after the hardships of the hike.

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