• Danik Bates

Slovakia: Hiking in the Lower Tatra's

Updated: May 7

Slovakia is one of those countries in Europe which is mostly fields and trees with a few cities but right in the north of the country it is very mountainous with two mountain ranges. There is the Higher Tatra’s mountain range which shares a border with Poland and the Lower Tatras mountain range which is a bit closer to the centre of the country. It is here where there are plenty of hiking trails to check out and I chose to do two, one on Chopok (later on in this post) and the other one was in the Slovak Paradise National Park (Slovensky Raj). The one particular hike I chose was the Sucha Bela gorge walk as I was told it was an easy and beautiful hike to do.

Starting off at a parking lot near the village of Hrabušice, the hike heads south into the gorge and steadily goes uphill along the stream. The ground is not smooth as going up the gorge is kinda rocky and slippery and it was soon clear that this hike is not for the beginner, young children and the less able. Walking up the gorge there are plenty of ladders to encounter which zig-zags across the stream which requires some balancing act. My advice here is to keep focusing. On the way there are plenty of green trees to check out and only the sound of the water can be heard.

The hike eventually comes to a set of waterfalls which are totally worth checking out (and if hiking in the summer, it is really refreshing to wash the sweat of faces), but in this section, there are ladders to climb up (and only up as it is really hard to turn around and go back the way I came). The route goes up a few hundred meters in hike but after all the waterfalls, the ground does get smoother but high trees still surround the route, so the view from down below doesn’t come until the summit. Just remember to keep following the green and white markers. At the summit there is a picnic area to chill out before following the long gravel path back down the mountain (following the signs for Pod Vitacim Hrbom which also has a yellow and white marker). The walk down is a pleasant and easy one and takes about thirty minutes (non stop).

The hike is one of my favourites in Slovakia and would recommend anyone who is able, fit and don’t mind a bit of water to do this. The waterfalls are worth checking out and climbing the ladders are pretty fun.


TIPS:

  1. Allow around four hours for the hike which includes rest stops

  2. Have waterproof boots/shoes as it can be wet in places.

  3. Make sure you take food with you (and other equipment like first aid etc). There is a shop at the start of the route to buy snacks if needed.

  4. A map isn’t really necessary, just follow the markers and signs. It’s a pretty straightforward route.

Hiking Chopok to Mt Ďumbier


One of the easiest hikes I did whilst staying in the Tatra region of Slovakia was along the ridge of a mountain range from Chopok to Mt Ďumbier. I decided to do this hike as I haven’t done any mountain hiking for over a year and I wanted to do something I could enjoy whilst easing back into it, take in the views and sample the Autumn alpine fresh air. This is how I did my day hike plus a few extra things I did.

Arriving


As I hired a car and was staying in Zakopane (Southern Poland) I drove to Jasná Nízke which is one of the mountains on the northern side of the mountain range. Here I got the chair-lift then cable car to the summit of Mt. Chopok (2004m above sea level).

The Hike


This is a fairly easy hike to do. Exiting the cable car station follow signs for Ďumbier. It is not that hard. Before walking down the mountain, right next to the station is a small hill. Climb that (which is very rocky in places) and the summit of Chopok is reached. I done this in less than ten minutes to get to the summit and the views to the north are pretty amazing.

The ridge is nice and flat in places and not that difficult to master. There can be lots of rocks in places but I would say 80% of the hiking trail is gravel. Whilst walking along, the views to the south are simply perfect and peaceful. I hiked this trail in late September and there were not many people hiking but I think during the summer months this area will be packed with day-trippers and hikers from all over Europe. (In the winter months, the mountains around here are a very popular skiing destination).

I reached Ďumbier at the other side of the ridge and was very happy to have a rest to check out the amazing views (to which most of them I have already seen from hiking the ridge but I just couldn’t get enough of them!) before heading back along the ridge to the cable car to go back down towards Jasná Nízke. The distance of this hike is 8.8km (about 5.5 miles) and I took about three hours doing this but information signs say about four hours to allow for this hike. With all the photographing and videoing I did, I was surprised I did it in around three hours. The signs to look for on the route are the RED markers with Ďumbier written on them (and of course Chopok on the way back). Also to point out Ďumbier is the highest peak in the Lower Tatras at 2043m.

Jasná Nízke


Before going back to the car and driving back towards Poland, I found a hidden secret. Well, it’s not really a secret but I like to say it is. Behind the Hotel Grand in Jasná Nízke there is a very short hiking trail which should take around twenty minutes to complete (longer if taking photos) around Vrbické pleso (lake) which is 1113m above sea level. Vrbické pleso is a glacier mountain lake and is the largest natural lake in the Lower Tatras. On a good day, the reflection of the trees overlooking the lake is stunning and I was lucky to see this. The lake route is highly recommended before heading away from the area.

TIPS:

  1. Allow around four hours for the hike which includes rest stops

  2. Have waterproof boots/shoes as it can be wet in places (especially after it has rained or if there is low cloud).

  3. Make sure you take food with you (and other equipment like first aid etc). There is a shop at the cable car station at the start of the route to buy snacks if needed.

  4. A map isn’t really necessary, just follow the markers and signs. It’s a pretty straightforward route.

  5. Make sure you have waterproof clothing as well.

Some other photos which I took in the local area, such a beautiful part of the world!

Check out my blog post on hiking in the Zakopane (Poland) area of the Tatra's


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