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Dyskretnie spoglądając na Królową Beskidów

Looking discreetly at the Queen of the Beskids

Drewniana dzwonnica  w muzeum orawskiego parku etnograficznego w Zubrzycy Górnej. Na niskiej podmurówce, ze ścianami z desek zbiegającymi się skośnie ku górze, z nadbudową o prześwitowych okienkach. Pokryta gontem. Za dzwonnicą widać chałupy i rosnące wysokie drzewa. Po lewej płot z gałęzi.
Zubrzyca Górna Tourist region: Beskid Żywiecki i Orawa
Probably everyone who has set eyes on the Queen of the Beskid Mountains at least once has been enthralled by her majesty, her distinctive shape that catches the eye from afar. We suggest getting a bit closer tothe Queen to better admire her charm. The full-day tour will allow you to look at this majestic mountain from three sides.


The characteristic massif of Mt Babia, known as the Queen of the Beskids (due to the fact that it is the Beskids' highest peak – 1,725 metres above sea level). Worth mentioning is Diablak, is visible from many places in Kraków, from the popular "Zakopianka" highway leading from Podwawelskie Grodno southwards, as well as from various points in Małopolska. Reaching the summit is always tempting, but why not get a closer look at this majestic mountain without climbing it? An excellent opportunity to do this is to hike from Zubrzyca Górna to the Polica Range and return to the starting point via Krowiarki Pass.

Practical information

Pictogram of the trail starting pointcar park at the Orava Ethnographic Park in Zubrzyca Górna

Pictogram with access to the trail starting point Road No. 957 connecting the National Road No. 28 Białka and Jabłonka, located on Road No. 7.

Pictogram with trail walking timeapproximately 7 ½ hours.

Medium  difficulty levelmedium, mainly because of the hiking time.

Pictogram with route map information  

Additional information: the suggested route may be an idea for a one-day trip during a longer stay in Zawoja. If you do not have your own means of transport, you can take a bus to Krowiarki Pass. The hike will then start with a descent to Zubrzyca Górna (the final section of this description) and continue as indicated below. Being on Cyl Hali Śmietanowej, where the yellow trail starts, you can start the descent to Zawoja (details below).

A few words about Orava

When setting out on the trail, it is worth realising that we are in the Orava region, a little-known part of Małopolska with a tradition and art distinct from that of Podhale. The region’s nationality was fiercely disputed after the First World War. Today, Upper Orava belongs to Poland and Lower Orava belongs to Slovakia.

Opening hours of the Orava Ethnographic Park are not very conducive to combiningsightseeing with hiking; in fact, this is only possible during holidays, when there is enough time after visiting the Park to return quietly before dark. At other times, it remains to look at historic buildings over the fence. Some of these are visible at the beginning of the route, others at the end.

From the car park, we set off slightly uphill, and after passing a fence, we will see green signs, at which point we cross the road and turn right onto a dirt road. We march eastwards on flat ground for the first quarter of an hour. All you have to do is look for the fork near the small house to turn left according to the signpost set up in a field, walk onto a slightly sloping road, and then making a small jump to the other side of the stream. From the surroundings of the following buildings there is a view of the Tatra Mountains and the Mt Babia massif (at the back).

Approximately 25 minutes after setting off, we reach the road leading from Zubrzyca to Sidzina, take this road for a few minutes, then turn right and begin a slight ascent to the next hamlet. Then the terrain becomes flat again and we wander calmly to the Pass over the Gorge, where we will meet the blue trail going from the Gorce mountain hostel on Stare Wierchy through Bory (Spytkowicka) Pass. The signs indicating the distances are slightly to the right of the arrival point for tourists following the main road.

According to the signs in the field, it should take about 45 minutes to get here from the car park. The time given on the attached mapreflects a slight overestimation of the actual time required.

Higher and higher

Blue signs will take us to Mt Polica. Soon after setting off on this section, we encounter a vast spillway blocking the passage practically all year round. You will need to go around it,about 150 metres through the trees (preferably keeping to the left), sometimes within a dozen metres of the road. Muddy passages can also be encountered a little further on, but once you reach the edge of the fields, the going is easy. Your spirits will rise as Mt Babia comes into view, nowfrom a slightly different perspective.

A fairly steep climb begins about 40 minutes after setting off on this section, for the first time forcing you to make a somewhatsignificant effort.. The reward for the effort is a beautiful panorama of the Tatra Mountains stretching from the area by the lone farmhouse. Slightly higher, at the old wooden cross, the trail turns left, and after a while, there is an opportunity for another look at the far-away Queen of the Beskid Mountains, which at this distance looks like a small hill.

After a rigorous hour of trekking along the blue trail, you'll reach the pinnacle of this section, denoted by a small sign with the barely visible inscription 'Kieczura 924 m'. Brace yourself for a steep descent to Zubrzycka Pass, which is traversed by the road from Zubrzyca Górna to Sidzina, a path you'll follow for a while.

It is good to sit down and rest here, not on the pass itself but about 200 metres further on, where the asphalt ends and from where there is another panorama of the Tatras. A long and tiring ascent to Mt Polica lies ahead.

Pictogram – tour option Tour option

If anyone cares to visit the mountain hostel on Hala Krupowa, a better idea than hiking to it from Mt Polica and coming back the same way might be to take the black trail. To do this, you need to descend from the pass along the road to the north, towards Sidzina (about 2 km), and in the valley, find the black signs leading to Hala Kucałowa and the nearby mountain hostel, going off to the left. Choosing this option will increase the hiking time by about an hour.

Pictogram with route map information 

Further hiking along the blue trail is a steady gain in altitude. There isn't much that's terribly interesting on the route; it's a typical 'you have to walk it' section. Whenever in doubt about which way to go when you reach afork in the trail, choose take the smoothest path and hike at a pace suited to our own ability. The only variety is in the view of the Tatras, which will emerge behind you, above the tree tops, after about half an hour of hiking. After another 30 minutes, we move to the northern slope and start the descent to the pass at the foot of the central massif of the Polica Range.  Frozen snow can still be found in places here and there in April and even May. Crampons or Nordic walking poles will be helpful, but even with this equipment, extreme caution is required to avoid falling in the mud or slipping and sliding uncontrollably for a few metres.

After passing the 'saddle' and emerging from the high forest on the left, Mt Diablak comes into view again. And before we know it, we're standing atop Mt Polica, the highest point on our tour, a staggering 1369 metres above sea level.

To Krowiarki Pass

Following the red signs, the next stage is a fragment of the Main Beskid Trail running from Ustroń in the Beskid Śląski to Wołosate in the Bieszczady. So we set off towards Krowiarki Pass, from which we are about 2 hours' walk.

After a while, you will pass a plaque and a memorial in the form of a part of an aeroplane commemorating a 1969 plane crash. As you continue your journey, you will come across a poignant sight-a plaque and a memorial, a piece of an aeroplane, that stand as a solemn tribute to a 1969 plane crash. This tragic event claimed the lives of many, including the esteemed Jagiellonian University professor Zenon Klemensiewicz. His memory lives on in the Polica nature reserve, a testament to his legacy, established in 1972.

The trail continues gently downhill, but after about 30 minutes of walking, a slight ascent begins, after which the signs take us to the left. It is worth walking a few dozen metres to the edge of the clearing to get a completely different perspective on Mt Babia and the peaks of the Beskid Żywiecki (left) and the Beskid Mały (right) looming in the distance.

Pictogram – tour option Tour option – descent to Zawoja

At the edge of the clearing, the aforementioned yellow trail starts, which can be used to start the descent to Zawoja. The route depends on the accommodation. Here are the possible options after following the initial section past the yellow signs:

  • continuing along the yellow trail means descending to Zawoja Lajkonik, from where, without signs, you will descend to Zawoja Widły,
  • crossing to the blue signs which lead to Zawoja Mosorne,
  • use the blue trail and then the green one to reach the centre of Zawoja.

A further hike towards Krowiarki Pass leads through slightly undulating terrain – descents alternate with small ascents so the route is is varied. This section primarily leads along the border of the Babia Góra National Park, which is indicated by the letters BgPN inscribed on several trees.

About 90 minutes after setting off from Mt Polica, we reach a point where an unexpectedly steep climb begins. The slope gradient is really significant, requiring a lot of effort; suffice it to say that the trail runs in curves at one point. The strenuous ascent of the peak named Syhlec takes several minutes, after which the descent to  Krowiarki Pass begins, from where the gentlest trail to the summit of Mt Babia leads. There is a car park,a Babia Góra National Park ticket office, and a spot where sellers of souvenir and local foodstuffsset up their stalls.

On the way back to Zubrzyca

Green signs will show us the way. The trail starts at the end of the car park, at the entrance to the Park. It takes about 1 ¾ hours to descend to the starting point. A few points along the route can cause problems such that it might take us a little longer to complete the hike.

The initial few hundred metres are a pleasant walkalongside a vast foreston a road that gradually narrows to a typical forest track. The first 'dangerous' spot is about a 25-minute walk away – after coming out into a small clearing where a wooden shelter stands, you have to turn right, slightly uphill, instead of goingstraight ahead, downhill, as you might otherwise naturally do

After a slight climb, you will find yourself at the edge of the pasture, this is the second place that might present a problem. Here you must turn left at a right angle (the signs are not clear and they can be read as telling you to go slightly left, upwards) onto a road descending towards the single trees in the middle of the pasture. Visible signs reassure you that you are on the trail,  and the shade invites you to rest and enjoy the panorama of the Tatra Mountains.

We continue downhill to the tarmac road visible in the distance. After crossing it (about 50 minutes from Krowiarki Pass), we bypass the water intake and enter the forest. Nearby is another problematic spot - a fairly wide stream without a footbridge and with no big stones to step on to cross to the other bank. You have to be guided by intuition, by the current state of the water.

After finding a way across the stream, we arrive at a local road with two houses. After a short while, we turn left and make another slight ascent (about 20 minutes) and then start the descent towards Zubrzyca Górna. As you ascend to the clearing, enjoy the sweeping panorama of the area. However, beware of the trail's course. At one point, it enters the forest and then begins a rather steep descent into the village.

Just cross the wooden bridge and you can  see the buildings in the Orava Ethnographic Park. After crossing another stream without a footbridge (there is no choice of a route here; you must walk on the concrete slabs that form the bottom of the stream), you will come to a road that runs between the fences of both parts of the ethnographic park. As you walk along it to the main road, you can gaze at the buildings that have been moved from various villages in Orava.

At the point where the signs turn left, we head right to reach the car park from where we started our hike in the morning. Time to rest. The  satisfaction of completing the route is totally justified, as it is not one of the easiest.

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