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Szlak pieszy: Przez Pieniny i Beskid Sądecki

Hiking trail: Through Pieniny and Beskid Sądecki

Polanę na której pasą się owce. Obok drewniany szałas.
Szczawnica Tourist region: Beskid Sądecki i Niski
First, a beautiful rocky gorge with a mysterious legend, then the highest peak of the Pieniny Mountains and the extremely picturesque Rozdziela Pass, and finally a peaceful walk through the terrain of Beskid Sądecki, a region ending in another gorge. That, in a nutshell, is the plan for the proposed tour. A route for lovers of beautiful views, open spaces and centuries-old traditions. A weekend in one of the most beautiful parts of the Małopolska region? We wholeheartedly recommend it!


Practical information:

Pictogram with the starting point of the routeJaworki

Directions pictogram Road no. 969 from Nowy Targ (from the west) or from Nowy Sącz (from the north) to Krościenko nad Dunajcem (both routes are part of the Around Gorce car route) and from there through Szczawnica) and Szlachtowa.

Parking lot pictogramYou can leave your car at one of the car parks at the entrance to the Homole Gorge (all paid) or by the church (free). It takes less than 10 minutes to reach the trail entrance from the latter.

Pictogram showing transition time6 hours 45 minutes

Pictogram showing the degree of difficulty of the route: medium routeMedium

Most of us associate Pieniny with Trzy Korony and the characteristic rock of Sokolica and rafting down the Dunajec Gorge. Far fewer people are aware that there are also the Małe Pieniny stretching further to the east, with the Homole Gorge and the lofty Wysoka, the highest peak in the entire Pieniny. A visit to these sites isn’t only an opportunity to enjoy the picturesque views but also to learn about the distinct culture that has been shaped over the centuries in this remote corner. Ruś Szlachtowa, comprising the villages of Szlachtowa, Jaworki, Biała Woda and Czarna Woda, was inhabited by people of Ruthenian origin, who were separated from the dense Lemko areas by Beskid Sądecki and the Poprad Valley settled by Poles. On the other hand, from the west, the Szlachtowa Ruthenians were neighbours of the Szczawnica highlanders. As a result, they developed a distinct dialect, costume and customs, which you can learn about in the Pieniny Museum in Szlachtowa.

As mentioned, the trip can be started from one of the car parks at the entrance to the Homole Gorge or the one by the Church of St John the Baptist. Choosing the latter option saves money and also allows you to see one of the most interesting religious buildings in the Pieniny Mountains: a former Greek Catholic church in which a complete iconostasis has been preserved.

Between the rock walls

During the first part of the hike, we’ll be accompanied by green signs. We enter the trail near a characteristic sharp bend on the road from Szczawnica, followed by a steep descent. If you parked in the large car park on the right in front of the village centre, you have to walk about 200 metres towards it. If you leave your car or get off the bus closer to the centre of Jaworki, go back to the point mentioned.

Just a short while after leaving the road, we ascend between the rock walls of the Homole Gorge. For less than a kilometre, we hike in a canyon whose steep walls are up to 120 metres high. This is one of the most beautiful places in the Małe Pieniny, interesting in terms of geology, nature and history. Centuries ago, treasure hunting was carried out here, and there are traces of gold prospectors and lime kilns. The path winds along both sides of the stream, which provides the gorge with a specific microclimate. It’s almost always damp here, so you have to be careful when stepping on stones or metal steps.

Difficult ascent to Wysoka

After about 20 minutes, we reach the upper part of the gorge, from where we march for another 20 minutes along a stone footpath to the meeting point with a cross-country forest road. The signposting here isn’t the best, you just have to know to turn right and follow the wide forest track for about 10 minutes towards the tent base at the foot of Wysoka.

Here we begin the strenuous ascent to the highest peak of Pieniny: Wysoka. The route leads through open terrain, gaining more metres in altitude as a wider and wider view of the surrounding area opens up. The terraced terrain makes it easy to mark out further rest points to build up strength for the next section. These will be very useful when you reach the forest border and have to overcome a very steep section to where the blue trail appears (about 30 minutes from the camping site, 1 hour 30 minutes from leaving Jaworki).

Together with the blue signs, we ascend a few more metres, after which the terrain flattens out, and we soon reach the ridge and the state border, where we turn left towards the summit. We still have 15 minutes of strenuous climbing up rocks and steps to the rocky summit protruding above the surrounding woods. With good visibility at Wysoka (about 1 hour 45 minutes from the start of the hike), you can enjoy extensive views of Magura Spiska, the Tatras, Babia Góra, the Radziejowa Range in Beskid Sądecki and the Pieniny Mountains.

As you descend to the familiar junction of the blue and green trails, you need to be extra careful; especially after rain when the stones on the descent to the ridge are slippery and the soft earth on the slope above the trail bifurcation is conducive to uncontrolled descents. When you reach the junction of the trails, continue along the blue trail, which traverses the slope along a narrow path.

On the way to Rozdziela Pass and Obidza

Now we’re starting about 1 hour 30 minutes of pleasant hiking on the slopes of Małe Pieniny. To a large extent, the route leads through clearings from which we can look down on Jaworki, spread out below. We’re often accompanied by boundary posts that add variety to the march, as do the sweeping views that appear from time to time. Particularly interesting is the one that will appear to our eyes on the mountain pasture, which we reach after about an hour’s hike. In front of us is the characteristic massif of Jarmuta with a TV transmitter, and in the distance, we also see Lubań, and on the right: Przehyba.

After overcoming a few minor ascents, we begin a determined descent to the Rozdziela Pass, where we leave Pieniny and enter the territory of Beskid Sądecki. There are sheep grazing in the summer, and you can ask about sheep milk products. This is a good place to mention the culture of the Wallachians, a pastoral people who arrived in Poland in the 15th century, bringing with them the skills of grazing sheep in difficult mountainous terrain and a variety of traditions and customs.

At the pass, we’ll meet the yellow trail (3 hours 30 minutes from the start of the hike), which diverges to the right to the Slovak Litmanova. We, however, hike straight on. After a few minutes of walking with the two-colour signs, the yellow trail diverges left towards Jaworki (it takes about an hour to descend to the village via the Biała Woda Reserve), while we continue following the blue signs. We’re now facing a rather gentle ascent to Szczob, which will take us about 20 minutes; the hardships of it are made all the more pleasant by the views of Pieniny, Gorce and Beskid Sądecki spreading out to the left. After ascending out onto the ridge, we march for about 45 minutes over gently undulating terrain to Obidza. The hike is somewhat monotonous, and we won’t encounter extensive views or places of difficult orientation.

Having reached Obidza (about 4 hours 30 minutes from Jaworki, a little over an hour from the Rozdziela Pass), you can immediately head left, or turn right to reach the car park, where there’s a refreshment kiosk in high season, and a little further down the slope, there’s a view of the Poprad Valley and the eastern part of Beskid Sądecki.

Back to Jaworki

From Obidza, we follow the blue signs, but we can get used to the red trail already accompanying us, as it’s the one that will take us to the starting point. We leave the blue trail in Litawcowa about 20 minutes after setting off from Obidza. For about a quarter of an hour, the road leads slightly uphill, after which we begin the descent.

After 40 minutes or so of walking, we emerge into a vast pasture where it’s difficult to see the path. Head towards the single tree in the middle of the site, and when you reach it, turn left at an angle of about 45 degrees onto a slightly visible road. Another difficult orientation point will be encountered when you reach a wide forest road (1 hour 15 minutes from Obidza). You need to cross it and head right on a slant by the edge of the forest. In front of us is a beautiful view of the valley, the ridge of Bazaltowa Skałka and Wysoka rising above it.

After a few minutes’ walk, we pass another shepherd’s hut, so there’s another opportunity to stock up on sheep’s milk specialities. Once past it, you need to increase your vigilance so as not to miss the point where the stony road along the trail turns sharply left between the trees (going straight will lead you astray). The red trail signs along this section are spaced irregularly, but the leaf-shaped walking path markings are helpful for orientation.

After descending into the valley, we’ll still have about half an hour’s walk between the buildings to the centre of Jaworki, from where we set off in the morning.

Trip option pictogram

A trip to the reserve

If the weather is favourable, and we’re not on the verge of exhaustion, it’s worth turning left when we reach the valley and, following the signs of the yellow trail (the same one we met on Rozdziela Pass), enter the Biała Woda Reserve. The minimum option is a walk of a few minutes along Bazaltowe Skałki (to the rest point at the second bridge). Going deeper into the valley, you’ll reach Gazdówka, where there’s a refreshment kiosk, and you’ll pass two interesting wayside crosses, another shepherd’s hut, a waterfall and then reach a timber yard (on the left), near which there’s another shepherd’s hut. It takes less than a quarter of an hour to reach the site from the entrance to the reserve.

We take the same route back to where we left the red trail.

Following the red signs through the grounds of the former village of Biała Woda, we’ll pass (on the right) an Orthodox chapel, which is the only trace of the former inhabitants of the area. Along the way, we’ll also see a number of contemporary buildings whose architecture draws on local traditions and whose owners strive to preserve the atmosphere of the area.

Having reached the ‘market square’ in Jaworki, turn slightly left following the green trail starting here towards the paid car parks, or turn right and then left by the volunteer fire station to reach the free car park by the church. This is the end of a beautiful trip on the border of Pieniny and Beskid Sądecki.

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