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Szlak pieszy: W samym sercu Gorców

Hiking trail: In the heart of Gorce

Ludzie na szlaku wśród łąk.
Poręba Wielka Tourist region: Gorce i Beskid Wyspowy
The trail from Koninki to Turbacz is an absolute must-see. The route to the highest peak of Gorce leads through charming mountain pastures, which are a showcase of this mountain range. While hiking this trail, you’ll not only see one of the oldest preserved natural fragments of the Gorce forests, but you’ll also have a chance to stop for a picnic at the most picturesque Gorce glade, i.e. Hala Turbacz with its Szałasowy Ołtarz. Finally, dessert in the shelter, warm tea and admiration for the panorama of the Tatras peeking through the shelter windows. What else do you need?



Practical information

Pictogram showing the starting pointPoręba Wielka Koninki, car park at the Ostoja Koninki centre.

A pictogram of a car that illustrates access to the start of the trail National road no. 28 (from the east and west) or the S7 road and from Lubień road no. 968 (from the north) to Mszana Dolna. From here, take road no. 968 towards Zabrzeż, and at the roundabout, turn right into the local road to Niedźwiedź, Poręba Wielka. In the latter village, turn left towards the Ostoja Koninki ski station. At the end of the road (10 kilometres), there’s a large, convenient car park, payable at weekends and in high season. There are no free alternative.

The hike can be part of the Around Gorce car route. 

pictogram showing transition time. Approximately 6 hours

A pictogram showing the difficulty level of the trail is easy In the proposed direction, the trail is easy (especially if you use the cableway to Tobołów), although a part of the ascent to Obidowiec is quite steep.

Immediately after a snowfall, when the trail isn’t trampled or groomed, the trail is very tiring. On the descent to Koninki, snow lingers for a long time in the forest, and the present of ice is possible.

From 1 January 2022, entrance tickets for the entire area of the Gorce National Park are obligatory. Only a few trails running along the borders of the Park are excluded from the fees. Tickets can be purchased at the Gorce National Park sales point at the car park, via the eparki.pl website or via the mPay app.

Note: Internet access isn’t available at every location in the park. When buying a ticket on-line, it’s a good idea to download it to your device so that you can present it without hassle during inspection.

Through Tobołów to Obidowiec

We start our hike in the very heart of Gorce in a place called Hucisko, as years ago there was a glassworks (huta) here. Today, it’s home to the Ostoja Koninki leisure centre.

There are several ways to get to the Tobołów ridge. The most convenient is to reach it by cableway. The other option is to go back a little towards Poręba Wielka to a roadside chapel where the green trail starts. The ascent to the top cableway station takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes but is quite strenuous. We therefore suggest using the longer (by about 30 minutes) but much gentler ascent along the red walking trail. Follow it into the valley all the way straight ahead without deviating into a branch to the left. After about 40 minutes (2.5 kilometres), the road turns sharply to the right and climbs strenuously up the Tobołów slope. On the ridge, we’ll meet the green trail, turn left following its signs and, after a few minutes, reach the upper station of the cableway. We should arrive here about 2 hours after setting off from Hucisko.

In the summer season, those in good shape may be tempted to make a quick ascent to the ridge using the piste. However, the time saved may not be worth the while, as the considerable effort will later take its toll on the pace of walking and the enjoyment of the hike.

From the upper cableway station, we follow the green trail southwards, passing more ski infrastructure, the Starmaszka glade and the unremarkable summit of Suhora. On the left, we’re accompanied by views of the Turbacz massif. It’s worth looking back from time to time to see the changing views of Beskid Wyspowy and also to look at the astronomical observatory on Suhora, which we passed unnoticed along the way. It’s one of several such facilities in the Małopolska region.

From the place where the nature trail diverges to the right towards Stare Wierchy (30 minutes from the upper station of the cableway), a rather steep ascent to Obidowiec begins. Initially, we walk along a narrow path quickly overcoming a significant height difference. The terrain then flattens out, and quite unexpectedly, we find ourselves on a ridge where we meet the red trail.

From Koninki, it’s about 3 hours, while from the upper cableway station, about 50 minutes.

To the top of Turbacz

We turn left and henceforth follow a section of the Main Beskid Trail running from Ustroń in Beskid Śląski to Wołosate in Bieszczady. The originator of the designation of its western section (to Krynica) was Kazimierz Sosnowski, a Niepołomice-born activist of the Polish Tatra Society. The idea was launched in 1923, and a year later, the first section of the trail was marked out, from Prehyba to Hala Łabowska in Beskid Sądecki. The work was completed in 1929, when the last section was marked: from Ustroń through Równica, Polana to Czantoria. The eastern part, based on an idea by Mieczysław Orłowicz, was designated between 1925 and 1935.

The trail runs along the south-western border of the Gorce National Park leading through small clearings and unexpectedly up a rocky ridge. On this section of the trail, there’s a cross with an aeroplane propeller, which commemorates the May 1973 crash in which Anna Skalińska, the pilot of a small sports plane, died.

Alternating between clearings and forest, we continually ascend higher and higher. We pass the Kocurki glade, and gradually more extensive panoramas of Beskid Wyspowy open up to us, until we finally reach the scenic spot below the Rozdziela peak (1,198 metres amsl, about 1 hour from Obidowiec). After about half an hour of further walking, over largely exposed terrain, we reach the highest peak in the Gorce: Turbacz (1,310 metres amsl). The stone pedestal located here is a distinctive feature of the peak, an obligatory element of every photography documenting the ascent of Turbacz.

Władysław Orkan, eulogist of the beauty of the Gorce Mountains, wrote in his novel W Roztokach that it’s not known who gave the name to the peak and where it came from and wondered if it was related to the fact that a turban of fog wraps his bald head before the rain or rather that he was always seen in a perpetual fluster (turbacja). 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.

Seweryn Goszczyński, who lived in the Tetmajers’ manor house in Łopuszna and made an excursion to this peak on 10 August 1832, named it Kluczki. The current name only became widespread in the 20th century.

From the summit, we descend gently through the forest to the PTTK shelter at Turbacz, about 10 minutes away. Next to the shelter, there’s the PTTK Mountain Tourism Culture Centre.

There are many hiking and cycling trails leading to the shelter, as well as a cross-country ski trail from Obidowa. The latter is called In the Footsteps of the Olympic Athletes, as it was repeatedly traversed by our great cross-country skier Justyna Kowalczyk.

A magnificent panorama of the Tatras can be seen from the shelter, and it’s worth having a meal here while feasting your eyes on the view.

Now it’s just downhill

From the shelter to Koninki, we’ll hike along the blue trail, and it’ll take us about 1 hour 30 minutes. Walking time depends on the conditions on the trail (mud, snow) and the desire to enjoy the views on the numerous glades.

Heading north along the yellow and green trails, we enter the forest and take a wide road that skirts the slopes where the Kamienica stream begins its course. After about 15 minutes, we reach Hala Turbacz. It’s well worth visiting in spring when it’s draped in a carpet of beautifully blooming crocuses.

In the pasture, there’s 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 at the Szałasowy Ołtarz (Hut Altar), i.e. a hut altar, facing the faithful, which only became the norm 10 years later after the Second Vatican Council.

It’ll take us another 15 minutes to reach the hill visible on the left, called Czoło Turbacza, where we’ll start the descent to Koninki.

On the way, there’s a spacious yet narrow glade called Szyja, and much lower, a glade called Średnie, from which there are views of Tobołów and the whole massif of Luboń Mały and Luboń Wielki (with a TV transmitter) visible in the distance.

In many sections, the trail is steep, with the lower part running in curves. In early spring, watch out for patches of frozen snow that form an ice trough (you can slip down several dozens of metres).

Pictogram showing a route option.

An interesting alternative, rarely used, is to leave the blue trail after about 5 minutes from the Turbacz peak and follow the green signs to Niedźwiedź. After about 70 minutes of walking, you’ll reach the top of Turbaczyk, from where there’s a beautiful panorama to the south, west and north. Continuing on the green trail, which is also accompanied by green signs of a walking path, we enter the forest, walk along a rocky path and, after about half an hour, meet a cycle trail running perpendicular to the trail. At this point, we turn left and descend further following the signs of the walking path (hence the entire descent is marked in green on the map) and the cycle path (about 2.5 kilometres) comfortably into the valley.

Taking this option extends the descent by about an hour.

The two options of the route link up with each other near the Oberówka camping site. A few hundred metres further on, we pass the Hucisko forester’s lodge, we turn right, and after a few minutes on the tarmac road, we reach the car park where we started our hike.

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