Everything that went wrong on our hiking/camping adventures in Scotland and England went right in the High Tatras. The High Tatras is a mountain range that goes along the border of Slovakia and Poland. We arrived at the perfect time of the year. When we drove in, there was no snow on the mountains and when we woke up the next morning they were covered. And you have to have snow on the tops of mountains, right?! Below we will lay out each hike we did, where they started, highlights and pictures.
Day 1 - Morskie Oko. Park at Palnica Bialczanska (Price is 30 PLN). This is probably the most popular hike as we discovered on our last day when we drove by the carpark on a Saturday and they were turning cars away. It’s the most popular because the end destination is a gorgeous lake and it’s very easy to get to that beautiful lake. The whole path is paved. The most difficult thing is navigating the people and horses that take people directly to the lake. The hike takes about 3 hours/round trip so nothing too strenuous. The first hour is nothing to write home about because it’s just trees on both sides but the last stretch opens up a bit. Personally, we are glad we got to see the lake but the hike itself was probably our least favorite because of the number of people, boring paved path, and the lack of views for the majority of the hike.
Day 2 - Tatranska Lomnica. Park at Tatranska Lomnica carpark. It’s huge and free and is the starting point for ski lifts. We chose this location because it was the closest to our lodging in Huncovce. Our intention was to park at the bottom and take a ski lift to Skalnate Pleso where we would start our hike. Unfortunately, all the ski lifts were closed due to the high winds which still confuses us since we never encountered any of those, “high winds.” So we said, “screw it,” and just started hiking from the car park in the town of Tatranska Lomnica up to Skalnate Pleso (the intended starting point). This ended up being one of the hardest hikes we did because it was literally climbing a mountain and the last 45 minutes or so was climbing up loose rocks, so it was hard to get good footing. We reached Skalnate Pleso in about 3 hours and we were rewarded with some spectacular views of the city and also the surrounding peaks and lake. The largest peak is Lomnicky štít, which was the intended endpoint if we had gotten the ski lift. But unfortunately there wasn’t enough time (or energy) left in the day since we started from the bottom. However, still a gorgeous view.
Day 3 - Velki Hincovo Pleso. Park at/around Hotel Patria in Strbske Pleso. Cost 30 PLN. Every single day we woke up a little sore and would say, “Let’s do an easier hike today to loosen up the muscles,” but we would end up doing a long difficult one. Day 2’s hike was the most difficult as far as terrain (going uphill with loose rocks) but this day was the most difficult because of the weather. The trail starts at the car park listed above and for the first 1.5 hours it’s a pretty flat trail with a decent amount of people. The people aren’t too overwhelming because this path leads to a lot of others in the area. This first part ends at Popradske Pleso where we stopped for lunch overlooking another beautiful mountain lake, in a bowl surrounded by peaks. The 1.5 hours we hiked to Hincovo was much more secluded and a difficult climb in a couple spots. At the end we were treated to the largest lake on the Slovakian side of the Tatras range. However, this wasn’t the only treat because this is also when the snow arrived. For the first 30 minutes hiking down we were in whiteout conditions so that definitely made it… exciting. In all, the hike took around 5 1/2 hours round trip.
Day 4 - Czarny Staw Gasienicowa. Park in Zakopane-Kuznice. There will be parking lots everywhere and some people just offering their yards for parking. Cost 25 PLN. Our last two hikes were very similar, in the fact that they both start out in the woods. Also with both, as you slowly climb upwards and towards the end, it will start to open up to some incredible views. The end destination was yet again another mountain lake but the weather for this day was incredible (no snow). It took about 2 hours to get to the lake from Zakopane and we hung out awhile while we ate our lunch at Czarny Staw lake.
Day 5 - Sarnia Skała. Park in Zakopane-Kuznice. On our last day we wanted to go back to our fist destination to do the Dolina Pięciu Stawów (Valley of the 5 Lakes). Unfortunately it was Saturday and it was so busy they weren’t letting people drive into the parking area. So we went back to the town of Zakopane. We knew there would be parking there. From the town we made our way to the trail that leads to Sarnia Skala. It was a relatively easy hike that took about 4 hours round trip and offered some great lookouts over the surrounding towns and ranges. A perfect way to end our hiking trip.
This area is a hiker’s paradise and judging from all the lifts, it’s also a popular place for skiing. I think we spent a perfect amount of time here but there are countless hikes that could keep people entertained for multiple weeks. We stayed in Huncovce that was a little out of the way from hiking trails but it was no problem with a rental car.