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Szlak pieszy: Przez Wielki Kopieniec na Halę Gąsienicową

Hiking trail: Over Wielki Kopieniec to Hala Gąsienicowa

Hala Gąsienicowa
Zakopane Tourist region: Tatry i Podhale
How about a beautiful scenic route rich in spectacular Tatra panoramas and natural curiosities? During the hike, we’ll look to each side at Wielki Kopieniec – the peak located between the Olczyska Valley and the Chłabowska and Sucha Woda Valleys. We’ll look out the windows of the upper station of the cable car to Kasprowy Wierch, and we’ll see how interesting the mountain-symbol of Zakopane is: Giewont, which looks different from each side! It’ll be rewarded by a delicious dessert in the iconic shelter at Hala Gąsienicowa. Come on!


Practical information:

The starting point of the trail One of the car parks in the Toporowa Cyrhla housing estate in Zakopane, for example next to the ‘7 kotów’ restaurant or on one of the private properties.

Access to the starting point of the trail From the centre of Zakopane or from Bukowina Tatrzańska along the Oswald Balzer road, which runs along a section of the ‘Through Orawa and Podhale with a view of the Tatras' car route.

Time to complete the trail 6 hours 15 minutes

 Difficulty level of the trail Easy

Trail map


Note: entrance tickets are required in the Tatra National Park. The ticket office is a few minutes’ walk from the street. A good option is to purchase an on-line pass and download it to your phone.

When setting out in the mountains, always check the weather forecast, make sure you have the right clothing (including a rain jacket) and equipment (sandwiches, water/drinks) and plan your hike so that you can safely return to the valleys before nightfall. This should also be borne in mind during the proposed excursion, although the route doesn’t lead through the highest parts of the mountain. 

We’re moving on to Wielki Kopieniec

The first metres of the hike are done without signs, going down the road towards Zakopane. The entrance to the trail is on the left, where the shoulder is noticeably wider. Initially, we’re guided by green signs (to Wielki Kopieniec) and red signs (to Psia Trawka). We’re most interested in the green trail, which will take us to the Olczyska Glade.

We quickly pass the last buildings, enter between the trees, and after about a quarter of an hour walk, we reach the ticket office and enter the Tatra National Park, and after another 15 minutes, we reach the bifurcation of the trails. We then turn right to follow the green trail to Kopieniec. From here onwards, the ascent gets steeper but isn’t strenuous. After 20 minutes, we come to the edge of the Kopieniec glade with several historic shepherd’s huts.

Important information about the trail If the visibility is poor, you can skip the ascent to the summit and head straight up to the upper end of the clearing, which is about 10 minutes’ walk away.

We’re still about 20 minutes’ hike away from standing on the summit of Wielki Kopieniec. After 10 minutes, we reach the first vantage point with a panorama to the north, i.e. the Gorce Mountains (from the left), the characteristic rocks of Trzy Korony and Beskid Sądecki. Slightly further on, a view opens up of Zakopane lying below with the Gubałówka Range and Babia Góra visible behind it. The full experience will be provided by standing on the summit of Wielki Kopieniec, which offers a sweeping panorama in all directions. The view to the north is already familiar to us; besides this, we can admire the characteristic peak of Giewont (in the west), Czerwone Wierchy lying to the left of it, Kasprowy Wierch, Świnica, Orla Perć and up to the Slovak Tatra Mountains (in the east).

Thanks to convenient stairs, the descent to Kopieniec Glade takes only a few minutes. There’s a table with benches that will invite you to take another rest, but we suggest continuing the descent to the Olczyska Glade. It’ll take us just over half an hour: we initially walk through high forest, which gradually becomes lower and sparser.

Two passes ahead

The Olczyska Glade is a perfect place for a rest. You can choose a place in the shade or in the sun, and everywhere you’ll be accompanied by the sound of a stream.

At the clearing, we say goodbye to the green waymarks, which lead to Jaszczurówka; we’ll continue along the yellow trail starting here. When moving uphill, it’s worth noting the size and dynamics of the stream. Why? The matter will become clear after about 5 minutes when you reach a place where the stream immediately flows out from under the rocks as a dynamic torrent. We pass a historic shepherd’s hut and continue gently uphill for another 5 minutes. The next 20 minutes are a leisurely stroll along a traverse slope, so we arrive at the Nosalowa Pass completely untired. Here, we turn left (the road goes straight ahead to Nosal), and for several minutes, we’ll follow the green signs. At the point where the trail crosses the stream, there’s an interesting view of Gubałówka, from behind which the peak of Babia Góra emerges. After entering the forest, we once again change the colour of the trail: from now on, we’ll follow the blue signs.

We have 2.5 hours of hiking behind us and head to the highest point on the route. Initially, it’s quite steep, but after a while, the ascent eases then gets steeper again, then gentler, and so on several times. We start walking on a level surface, then there are bumps. After half an hour of ascending, we come to a place with a distinctive rock where the trail turns left. The road leads uphill all the time, but after another dozen or so minutes of hiking, we’ll certainly forget about the fatigue when the panorama to the north-east appears with the peaks we already know from Wielki Kopieniec. The higher we go up through Skupniów Upłaz, the more expansive the view; you can perfectly see the road we took through Olczyska Glade, which is the route to Jaszczurówka. 

The view to the right is blocked by rocks, but there’s nothing to worry about, because ascending higher, you’ll cross the ridge and be able to look into Jaworzynka Valley, have a look at Giewont (on the right) and Kasprowy Wierch with the upper station of the cable car. At the bottom, the carriages move through the air, but at the top, you can see the ropes on which they are suspended.

Approximately 1.5 hour after ascending the blue trail (4 hours after setting off from the car park), we reach the Między Kopami Pass, a place sometimes called Karczmisko. From here you can look not only north but also south.

How long does it take to reach the pass? This depends largely on how long we admire the views before us, both to Wielki Kopieniec and hiking through Skupniów Upłaz.


To Murowaniec and then back home

We still have a quarter of an hour of uphill walking ahead of us. The ascent is slight, requiring no special effort; what’s more exhausting is the uneven surface, especially when there’s heavy traffic and you aren’t free to choose where to put your feet. The same is true on the descent to Hala Gąsienicowa, which lasts about 10 minutes. Although the gaze eagerly runs towards the peaks rising majestically above us, maximum concentration must be maintained to reach the destination safely. At Hala Gąsienicowa, you’ll have the opportunity to take photos.

Near Betlejemka, i.e. the Central Training Centre of the Polish Mountaineering Association, you need to decide on the route to the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society Murowaniec shelter. The simplest option is to head for the building visible below. Another option is to step over a little and then pass the Institute of Meteorology and Water Management station on the right.

 Tour optionWith enough strength and time to spare, you can follow the blue trail to the Czarny Gąsienicowy Pond. From Betlejemka, it’s about 40 minutes, and the descent is slightly shorter.

After a rest in the shelter, we set off on the return journey along the black trail. We have 2 hours of walking ahead of us, the vast majority of it downhill. For the first hour, we follow the access road to Murowaniec. The monotony of the hike can be varied by looking at boulders and windbreaks, which are gradually covered by nature with moss and other plants. At a place called Psia Trawka, we meet the red signs and follow them to reach Sucha Woda after less than 10 minutes. Here we say goodbye to the black signs and turn left. The steep ascent doesn’t look inviting, but it has to be overcome. The route continues uphill for almost a quarter of an hour, after which we cross the ridge and start the descent towards Toporowa Cyrhla. Soon we meet the green signs, which we used in the morning to get to Wielki Kopieniec, and along the familiar section of the trail, we leave the Tatra National Park, pass the first buildings, including a shepherd’s hut offering sheep’s milk products, and then we reach the street.

This is the end of the hike. A time to rest, to gain strength before the next excursion mapped out at your own discretion or with our recommendations. The route ‘Tatra Mountains for Everyone can really be walked by anyone, and it’s quite different from the route described above. Wandering along it, you can gaze close up to Giewont and visit several valleys.


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