Hiking Zawrat is definitely one of the most scenic trails in Tatra Mountains. Once you get above the clouds you would be astonished by the beauty of the rocky, dark Tatra landcape. The loop I chose for this trail requires climbing skills, so it’s not for unexperienced hikers, and may not be safe in autumn or winter. But before you decide let me give you a detailed description of the whole trail so you know what to expect.
Tatra mountans are located in Carpathian Mountains, which are second longest mountain range in Europe. These mountains are very tough to climb for many reasons – avalanches /huge danger in Tatra mountains/, unpredictable weather, narrow paths and steep slopes. Some trails between the peaks are ony one-way, because it is so narrow, so you always need to have a mountain map to check if you can use specific trail. But there are plenty of safe and pleasant hiking trails in Tatra Mountains, which lead you to magnificent views in this mountain land.
Tatra Mountains are very popular and you might get crowds on most popular trails. Zakopane is the most well-know city in the mountain area and it’s a gateaway to Tatra Mountains. It’s very convenient to saty there as most of the mini buses run from it’s city centre, taking you to many starting points of the trails.
If you are to go up in the mountains first thing you should do after arriving to Zakopane is going to TPN Touristic Information Office /TPN – Tatra National Park/. This is situated on the way to Kuznice /near round about at Jana Pawla Street /John Paul round about/. Take a mini bus from Zakopane bus station to Kuznice and get off at the round about. The small wooden house is a touristic information office. You should always ask for three things:
- Tatra Mountains Map – it’s FREE – you’ll get a map with times and colours for different routes. There are standing signs up in the mountains, so you won;t get lost. Most of the trails are clear and maintained, although in winter snow might quickly cover some of them. There is lots of Tatra Mountains trekking routes, which are safe and brings you to places with incredible views!
- Advise – ask which trails are and are not accesible /because of the snow or ice/. During snowfalls tracks made by walkers disappear within minutes and cannot be traced.
- Level of avalanches danger /this is a huge danger in Tatra Mountains and often is catastrophical/.
Before you enter Tatra National Park – you need a ticket/pass and an insurance!
Before you enter Tatra National Park you need to buy a ticket – you can do it in the ticket office at the entrance to the Park /there are entry points on the begining of the trails/ or online – if you are planning to spend few days in mountains you can buy 7-day pass to TPN which costs 35 PLN /9 euro/.
Additionally you should buy an insurance – you should never go hiking Tatra mountains without medical insurance. The rescue team in a helicopter is busy every day with number of accidents across the whole national park. If you twist your ankle you won’t be able to descent the mountain on your own as the trails are steep and rocky.
I should probably mention that the colours of the trails on the map are not related to a difficulty level. It is not like with the colour for ski slopes, where black means highly difficult, red – moderate and green – easy. Tatra trails are marked with different colours between major spots, to help you recognize where you are located and on which trail you are standing.
How to hike Zawrat?
My trail to Zawrat was leading through the following peaks and took me 9 hours:
- Palenica Bialczanska – get a bus from Zakopane to Palenica Bilaczanska /this is the last bus stop just after Lysa Polana/ – there is a huge parking place and an entrance to TPN /Tatra National Park/. Buses run every 20 minutes from Zakopane Bus Station stage 1, which is located next to PKP Station/Train station. The bus will run toward Morskie Oko – Sea Eye.
- Wodogrzmoty Mickiewicza /red trail/: 50 minutes. I started in a pretty cold morning with a bit of a snow and dense fog but this all gave the trail a mystic look and atmosphere. On higher sections it was so bright and sunny that it is almost hard to believe it was the same day.
- Dolina Pieciu Stawow Polskich/the Valley of 5 Polish Ponds /green trail/ – this is absolutely amazing scenery with a mountain shelter, where you can eat your breakfast. Till now this is a very pleasant walk, dable with kids. From there to Zawrat summit the path is still safe but gets quite steep. 2.5hours.
- Zawrat 2159 metres /blue trail/. The view from Zawrat peak is breathtaking – you can see all caldera of Polish and Slovakian Mountains. Around Zawrat peak is often very windy – be prepared for that and also the wind is often causes many accidents, as people are literally blown away from the trail. 1h 40min.
- Descent from Zawrat toward Czarny Staw Gasienicowy – Gasienicowy Black Pond /blue trail/ – depending on how quickly you descent the vertical mountain. 1-1.5hours. This is a very hard descent from a vertical rocky mountain along the security chains! Zawrat has claimed many lives over the years! Don’t do it if you are unexperienced hiker, if you don’t have any climbing experience and if you are afraid of hights! There is no space for a single mistake on this trail. If you fall – game over! It crosses the most difficult passing in Tatra Mountains – Orla Perc mountain ridge – which is said to be an Apine level of difficulty. Now, I did it alone while the mountains was covered with ice in many sections, which made the descent extremely difficult. I didn’t have any ropes neither a helmet – and this is where you should be fully equiped, even if you’re not going to use it it’s better to have it just in case you feel unsure. I captured two people coming down this mountain and it’s visible how tough it is.
- Dolina Gasienicowa/Gasienicowa Valley/ – leading along Gasienicowy Czarny Staw – Gasienicowy Black Pond. This crystal clear lake is surrounded by very high mountains and the view is absolutely stunning. At this stage the trail is easy and pleasant. Be careful as the stones might get wet or slippy, because of the microclimate around the lake – /blue trail/ 30 minutes.
- Murowaniec – Kuznice /blue trail/ at least 1.5hour. Very pleasant hike through the forest. From Kuznice there are plenty mini buses to Zakopane – cost 5 PLN/1 Euro. The buses are located just at the end of the hiking trail next to the restaurants.
Please note that if you wish to continue from Zawrat summit to Swinica peak – this is even more difficult hike/climb than the one from Zawrat down to Czarny Staw Gasienicowy/Gasienicowy Black Pond.
Read also: Hiking Kasprowy Wierch in Tatra Mountains.
Hiking Zawrat summary:
Height: 2159m Zawrat
Total lenght of the trail: 22 km
Total time: 9 hours
Total ascent and total descent similar, approx. 1400 metres.
Level of difficulty of this trail: Difficult