Backpacking in Tatra Mountains National Park

By Joanna Dabrowska

By Joanna
(Contact Me)

Mountain hiking May 24, 2016, 7:46 a.m. Poland Western Tatras Tatra Mountains 2016 Mountain hiking

We wanted to get away for the last time before our wedding as we might not have enough time for 3-day backpacking trip in June. So, off we went to the most beautiful place in Poland - Tatra mountains .

We enjoyed out time in the mountains a lot!

Babia Gora Poland

The weather was brilliant and, in general, it was a very interesting trip - we slept in mountain shelters.

However, there were some things which I would change if I could reverse the time. Despite having everything carefully planned, there were some drawbacks in our backpacking trip.

The idea was to sleep in mountain huts so that we wouldn't waste time on getting down and we'd hike up to high altitudes.

Well, we didn't.

There is a couple of reasons why:

1. The only available mountain huts where I could get beds in advance were located low (about 1100 metres).

2. Our backpacks were heavy and made us slower.

I know I'm not discovering America here but I really didn't expect our backpacks to be that heavy. 😮

Backpacking hike in Tatra Mountains National Park near Zakopane

Also, I was aware that mountain huts in Tatra National Park may be crowded from June until October but I didn't know that I'd need to book beds so well in advance in May.

This especially relates to Murowaniec and 5 Lakes Valley hostels - they're conveniently located in a beautiful area so everybody wants to stay there. These 2 mountain huts even offer online booking which is rather surprising to me. By the way, Murowaniec is the most expensive of them all.

I also considered sleeping in Slovak Tatra huts which are less popular than Polish ones but a lot of hiking trails in Slovak mountains is closed until 15 June.

So, the only available huts in Polish Tatras we were keen to sleep in were Hala Ornak and Polana Chochołowska hostels. I write about them in this post.

Here's a short schedule of our hiking route:


We left our car in Zakopane, Kiry (927 metres) and started hiking along green trail. At Cudakowa Polana (952 metres) we followed red trail leading to Chuda Przełączka (1850 metres).

We wanted to hike to Ornak hut along the green trail but it turned out that it was covered in iced snow. This trail's officially closed until 15 May but I guess it'll be accessible for tourists without crampons and ice-axe in June. In the middle of June, I reckon.

In the beginning, we were tempted to give it a try but after seeing one hiker sliding down the iced gully, we ditched this idea! To get to Ornak hut we had to get back to the valley and hike along the green trail.

We hiked 13.5 kilometres that day and did a lot of height difference. Because of a heavy backpack, my arms were aching more than my legs.


We started our hike from Ornak hut and followed the yellow trail leading to Starorobociańska Valley (1037 metres). It may look easy peasy on the map but there's Iwaniacka Pass (1459 metres) on the way which adds up some height difference.

Then, we headed along the green trail to the famous mountain shelter on Chochołowska Clearing. Dear Lord, the crowds! I left Bartosz there and quickly headed towards Grześ peak (1653 metres) following the yellow trail.

I like this mountain a lot. The trail leading there is nice and easy and the views are breathtaking - Grześ peak offers an amazing panorama of Western Tatra mountains. It's a perfect place to relax and contemplate Tatra National Park's nature - flat and spacious mountain top welcomes tired hikers and encourages to stay long.


Time to get back - we returned to Zakopane following the green trail in the valley.

It was pleasurable and relaxing walk in one of the most beautiful valleys in Poland. Getting from Chochołowska Clearing shelter to Kiry takes about 2.5 hour - it's perfect for families with children.

Chocholowska valley, Tatra mountains, Poland

By the way, I always use this website to plan my hikes. This online map's very convenient - shows the length, height difference and allows to flexibly plan the route.

I consider this trip quite enlightening and will definitely remember the below conclusions when planning my next backpacking hikes in Tatra mountains:

  • Take only stuff which is lightweight and takes very little space.
  • Book your beds/rooms in mountain hut well in advance.
  • Stay in one place so that you can leave your things there.
  • Don't take your sleeping bags unless it's very cold - there's bedding available without any additional charge, or for a couple of PLN.
  • Choose summer months when all the trails are open and less clothing is necessary.

All in all, I'm looking forward to our next backpacking hike in Tatra mountains. I already miss them a lot! It's kind of hard to be back now in a concrete town with thousands of cars...
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