If you're looking for great trails for hiking near Kraków, you might consider Babia Góra National Park. Here's why:
📌 Babia Góra trails are suitable for every kind of hiker, including beginners.
📌 It's one of the most beautiful National Parks in Poland (right after the Tatra National Park).
📌 Babia Góra National Park is far less crowded than the Tatra Mountains and also cheaper to stay in than Zakopane.
📌 It's part of the UNESCO List of Biosphere Reserves - Babia Góra National Park is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species.
Let's go then!
Babia Góra trails
Mountains in Poland - a quick overview
All the mountain ranges in Poland are located in the south- they run along the border with Czechia, Slovakia and Ukraine.
There are three mountain chains, each of which is divided into many ranges:
1. Świętokrzyskie Mountains
This mountain chain is the lowest in Poland - the highest peak is Łysica mountain and it reaches barely 613 metres.
There are so many small mountain ranges within the Świętokrzyskie chain that I'll skip mentioning them all.
What's important is the fact that within these mountains there is Swietokrzyski National Park - a beautiful nature reserve, a perfect getaway if you wish to discover some off-the-beaten-path places in Poland or relax after visiting crowded Krakow or Zakopane.
2. Carpathian Mountains
Every mountain range in the Polish Carpathian mountains is a good option for hiking near Krakow. The closest are Pieniny Mountains, Gorce Mountains and Beskidy Wyspowy Mountains - they are within a 1-2 hour drive from Krakow.
Mountain ranges:Pieniny - some consider this mountain range even more beautiful than Tatras. Hiking in Pieniny National Park is a feast for the eyes.
⛰️ Silesian Beskidy - we live nearby and go there for hiking trips quite often 💚
⛰️ Little Beskidy
⛰️ Makowski Beskidy
⛰️ Żywiecki Beskidy - the most beautiful of all Beskidy Mountains in Poland. Babia Góra National Park belongs to Żywiec Beskidy Mountains.
⛰️ Wyspowy Beskidy - another fantastic option for hiking near Kraków. Beskid Wyspowy isn't a high mountain range, hiking trails are easy and suitable for all types of hikers. It's also one of the least popular mountain ranges in Poland - there are few hikers on the trails.
⛰️ Gorce Mountains - a great option for a day trip from Krakow and another beautiful Polish National Park - Gorce National Park.
⛰️ Sądecki Beskidy
⛰️ Low Beskidy
⛰️ Bieszczady - considered the wildest mountains in Poland. Located on the border with Ukraine.
⛰️ Sanocko-Turczańskie Mountains - I think there are not many people (even in Poland) who heard about this mountain range 😉
3. Sudety Mountains
Located in southwest Poland - part of Sudetes belong to Czechia. Sudetes are a great option if you visit Wrocław.
There are many mountain ranges within Sudety so I chose the most beautiful ones:⛰️ Karkonosze
⛰️ Izerskie Mountains
⛰️ Sowie Mountains (The Owl Mountains)
⛰️ Góry Stołowe (The Table Mountains)
⛰️ Śnieżnik massif
Babia Góra National Park - a few facts
✅ It's one of 23 National Parks in Poland.
✅ Babia Góra reaches 1725 metres and is the highest mountain in Poland outside Tatra National Park.
✅ Entry to Babia Góra National Park is paid. You can either buy the ticket in the ticket booth at the trailheads or online here.
✅ In this picturesque area runs the borderline with Slovakia - a few more hiking trails to explore abroad. 😉
✅ Babia Gora National Park was created in 1954, and in 1977 it was added to the UNESCO List of Biosphere Reserves.
✅ Beskidy mountains are 600 kilometres long! They start in the west in Czechia and end in the east in Ukraine.
✅ Beskidy mountains are rather unknown to international travellers as they usually visit Polish cities or the famous High Tatras. But Beskidy are a true paradise for all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts - hikers, mountain bikers, paragliders, trail runners and skiers.
✅ In Babia Góra National Park (when the weather permits) you get to admire an amazing view of Tatra mountains. And you don't even have to get to the highest point to admire the majestic snowy peaks - Tatras may be visible when you get over 1500 metres. Polish mountains are magnificent!
Babia Góra trails
“The mountain has left me feeling renewed, more content and positive than I’ve been for weeks, as if something has been given back after a long absence, as if my eyes have opened once again. ”
― Richard Nelson, The Island Within
Babia Góra is known as the Queen of the "Beskidy Mountains". Some also call it the "Mother of Bad Weather" or "Devil's Peak". Having so many names means there's a lot of fun 😉
There are several trails leading to the Babia Góra peak and I'd like to describe them all. I will also be adding other hiking routes in the area so that this article is as helpful as possible.
1. Babia Góra peak from Przełęcz Krowiarki
The below map presents the shortest and easiest route which starts at Krowiarki Pass (1012 m) near 957 road.
It's also the most beautiful trail in Babia Góra National Park - the forest ends relatively quickly and instantly you get to admire amazing mountain panoramas (if the weather permits).
The trail is very pleasant to hike and technically easy but it gets a bit steep at some points.
Route: Przełęcz Krowiarki → Sokolica → Babia Góra (Diablak) → Przełęcz Brona → Markowe Szczawiny mountain hut → Skręt Ratowników → Szkolnikowe Rozstaje → Przełęcz Krowiarki
Length: 13.9 km
Time: 5:30 hours
Height difference: 867 m
Trails' colors: red, blue
Trailhead: Przełęcz Krowiarki. There's paid parking at the trailhead. You can check it on Google Maps here.
The best way to get to the trailhead is by car. There's a spacious paid parking right next to the trailhead. You buy the ticket and enter the forest following the red trail.
Hiking from Krowiarki Pass to Babia Góra peak takes about 2.5 hours (4.6 km).
The first 2 km of the trail leads through the forest - it's a steep part but there are steps of stairs which make the hike easier.
You reach the first of several ridge peaks which form Babia Góra massif - Sokolica (1367 m). The views are getting better there.
After Sokolica peak there's one last steep part to hike but it's short. You reach another ridge peak - Kępa (1521 m).
Then you enter the dwarf mountain pine level. The trail leads among bushes and is definitely more pleasant to hike. If it's not foggy, you get rewarded with beautiful panoramic views.
The views from Babia Góra are wonderful! But it's important to note it's windy there. When we reached the summit strong gusts of wind were smacking our faces and made us leave in a hurry.
You may get down the same way which would be the fastest option but I strongly recommend hiking a loop, as per the map above.
From Babia Góra peak you follow the red trail towards Przełęcz Brona (1408 m). There's a more pleasant place to take a break. Follow the red trail leading to Markowe Szczawiny mountain hut. Food served in Polish mountain huts is delicious and it'd be a waste not to try it 🙂
The blue trail leading from the mountain hut to Krowiarki Pass is a nice and easy forest path which can be hiked even with a baby pram.
The whole hike is about 15 kilometres long - not that little, but the height difference isn't big. It took us about 7 hours, including a break for horizontal sky contemplation at Brona Pass and lunch at Markowe Szczawiny mountain hut 😉
In general, the route is nice and easy and we liked it a lot. It's a perfect idea if you're looking for a scenic day hike in the Polish mountains. The only difficult spot is the stone run on the west side (red trail towards Brona Pass) but I saw children who hiked it much faster than us.
2. Babia Góra peak from Zawoja Markowa
This route includes a unique (for Beskidy Mountains) trail. The yellow trail is outstanding because:
- It's closed in winter because of avalanche risk.
- There are exposure points and chains.
- It's a one-way trail (look closely at the map and you'll see the arrows pointing in the direction).
There's no other trail in Beskidy Mountains which would have the above characteristics.
You can make the route shorter and easier if you skip the yellow trail and hike down the same way:
However, I recommend choosing the below, more interesting route:
Route: Zawoja Markowa village → Skansen im. Józefa Żaka → Kolista Polana → Markowe Szczawiny mountain hut → Skręt Ratowników → Babia Góra (Diablak) → Przełęcz Brona → Markowe Szczawiny mountain hut → Kolista Polana → Sulowa Cyrhla → Las Ryzowane → Zawoja Markowa village
Length: 13.7 km
Time: 5:46 hours
Height difference: 1047 m
Trails' colors: blue, red, green, yellow, red, black, blue
Trailhead: Zawoja Markowa village. There's paid parking at the trailhead. You can check it on Google Maps here.
The trailhead is well-marked but again, the best way to get there is by car.
Hike from Zawoja Markowe to Babia Góra mountain takes about 3.5 hours (5.9 km).
The first part of the route leads along the educational path. Close to the trailhead, there's an open-air Józefa Żaka museum.
The green trail leads through the forest. There are steep parts but it's technically easy. You'll get to the mountain hut in about 1.5 - 2 hours.
At Markowe Szczawiny mountain hut (1188 m) you have the last chance to decide which option to choose - yellow trail (exciting but more difficult) or red trail (easy, suitable for all kinds of hikers).
If you decide to hike the yellow trail, you will get to the Skręt Ratowników trail fork (1215 m) in about 15 minutes. What I like about this part is the beautiful and lush flora surrounding the path. For me, it's the most beautiful part of Babia Góra trails. I had the feeling as if I was hiking in the jungle rather than Polish mountains.
I love Polish nature!
Soon you enter the so-called "Perć Akademików". It's a 2-kilometre long and one-way part of the yellow trail. It's located on the steep north slope of Babia Góra mountain and it's the most difficult trail in the whole Beskidy Mountains.
It's worth noting that, still, it's much easier than some trails in High Tatras or easy via ferrata routes. The most exciting parts are short and add some fun to the hike. You don't need climbing skills or high mountain experience to finish it.
To climb down choose the red trail leading towards Przełęcz Brona and Markowe Szczawiny Mountain hut.
I recommend climbing down from the mountain hut on the black trail - it's more interesting and there are lovely views on the way.
Getting down from the peak to the trailhead takes about 2.5 hours or longer, depending on your breaks (it's 7.9 km).
3. Mosorny Groń & Mosorny Potok Waterfall
This trail doesn't belong to Babia Góra National Park but it's so close to it that I couldn't resist mentioning it.
It's an easy and very interesting hike. It includes the Mosorny Groń mountain with observation tower and Mosorny Potok Waterfall.
It can be easily adjusted if you have little time or the weather doesn't encourage longer hikes - there's a chairlift taking travellers to Mosorny Groń (in winter it's a great ski destination).
Here's the shorter option:
Route: Zawoja Mosorne → Wodospad Na Mosornym Potoku (waterfall) → Pod Mosornym Groniem → Mosorny Groń observation tower → Pod Mosornym Groniem → Zawoja Mosorne
Length: 5.5 km
Time: 2:03 hours
Height difference: 399 m
Trails' colors: blue, yellow
Trailhead: Zawoja Mosorne. There's a parking at the end of an asphalt road. You can check it on Google Maps here.
Here's the longer option which I recommend:
Route: Zawoja village center → Pod Halą Śmietanową → Hala Śmietanowa → Pod Mosornym Groniem → Mosorny Groń observation tower → Pod Mosornym Groniem → Wodospad Na Mosornym Potoku (waterfall → Zawoja Mosorne → Zawoja village center
Length: 12.9 km
Time: 4:16 hours
Height difference: 606 m
Trails' colors: green, yellow, blue
Trailhead: Zawoja center. There are lots of parkings in Zwoja village center. Here's a link to Google Maps showing the closest parking.
Enter the green trail - you'll see the sign on the fence of a wooden church in Zawoja center. The first part of the trail leads on an asphalt road but soon it changes into stone plates. Be careful not to follow the asphalt road for too long.
For several minutes you'll hike through a picturesque meadow and then you'll enter the forest. On your way, you'll pass some more lovely meadows. The hike is nice and easy.
At the Pod Halą Śmietanową trail fork (1074 m) choose the blue trail. After about 15 minutes you'll get to Hala Śmietanowa (1074 m). Continue hiking on the blue trail - it's a nice forest path, very pleasant to walk.
Soon you'll see the Mosorny Groń observation tower. It's one of the highest mountain towers in Poland - it reaches 24.5 m. Entry is free of charge.
On Mosorny Groń mountain you'll find a restaurant, benches and a chairlift. It's a popular spot among mountain bikers - there are interesting MTB trails in the area. Mosorny Groń is also a fine destination for skiing.
After enjoying scenic views of Beskidy Mountains it's time to climb down towards Mosorny Potok Waterfall and Zawoja village.
If you would like to use the Mosorny Groń chair lift, you may buy the tickets on-site or online here. Note that the lower station is in Zawoja Policzne - it's 7 km from Zawoja village center.
If you prefer hiking, you get back to the blue trail which is about 300 m from the observation tower. Hiking to the waterfall takes about half an hour (1.6 km). The trail leads among trees occasionally showing mountain views.
Mosorny Potok Waterfall is one of the highest waterfalls in the Beskidy Mountains. It's about 8 m high. There's a short path leading to it which forks from the main blue trail.
Hiking in Poland is a beautiful experience, isn't it?
After getting back from the waterfall to the main blue trail you'll hike down on a forest path which will soon change into an asphalt road. After getting down to the main road in Zawoja, you may turn right towards the center if you left the car there.
Walking to Zawoja village center will take you about half an hour (2.3 km). It's a walk on a pavement but the road isn't busy, it's quite a pleasurable walk.
Best places to stay
If you would like to spend a few days in the area of Babia Góra National Park, then the best idea is to choose Zawoja village. It's a picturesque getaway, one of the most beautiful villages in Poland. Peaceful and quiet, budget-friendly and perfect if you wish to discover Poland nature.
I've reviewed accommodations in Zawoja village on Booking.com and chose the highest-rated places with the best facilities and favourable reviews.
Hotel&SPA Jawor - cozy hotel located close to hiking trails. Besides the location, guests are happy with friendly staff, comfortable rooms and modern SPA facilities. A tasty breakfast is included in the price.
Agroturystyka Yvonne - a great option if you prefer to stay in an apartment. Close to trails and ski lifts. Guests appreciate spacious and clean apartments, beautiful views from the windows and peaceful location.
Kraina Szczęśliwości - budget-friendly option in a beautiful wooden guesthouse. Guests are happy with the quiet location, fully-equipped kitchen and nicely landscaped garden.
It's a pretty good idea to stay in one of the most beautiful cities in Poland and go for a day trip to Babia Góra National Park.
Here are some of the highest-rated hotels in Kraków:
K4 APARTHOTEL KRAKÓW - comfortable apartments located in Kraków Old Town. Guests appreciate reasonable pricing, spacious apartments, tasty breakfast and friendly staff.
MEININGER Kraków Centrum - new hotel located a 15-minute walk from Kraków Old Town. Guests are happy with reasonable prices, delicious breakfast, cleanliness and helpful staff.
Evergreen Hostel Krakow - a cozy and budget hostel located in the Kraków Old Town. Besides location guests are delighted with the cleanliness and friendly staff. There are two female-only rooms.
If you would like to stay in Kraków Jewish District, check out this travel guide
Babia Góra trails - paper map
Paper maps are reliable - they don't rely on batteries or technology. They won't run out of power or lose signal, ensuring that you always have access to crucial information.
Many experienced hikers and outdoor enthusiasts prefer to carry both digital and paper maps to enjoy the benefits of both. When we go hiking (especially in the mountains abroad) we often use paper maps.
You may purchase a paper map with the hiking trails in Babia Góra National Park here.
Babia Góra mountain is infamous for difficult weather conditions, not only in the winter. Weather on Babia Gora is very unpredictable and it tends to change quite rapidly. Here are the main difficulties:
- The peak is exposed and it's usually windy there.
- The perceived temperature is low.
- In the springtime, there might still be snow and ice on the trail.
Check the weather before you hit the trail (I recommend Mountain Forecast) and have warm and waterproof clothes even if it's a warm summer day down in the valley.
You can check what's important to take into the mountains in this post.
In case of rapid weather change don't hesitate to turn back.
How to get there?
If you're planning to travel by plane, the closest airports in Poland will be:
✈️ Kraków Airport (full name: John Paul II International Airport Kraków-Balice) - located 75 km from Babia Góra National Park, it takes about 1.5 hours to travel.
✈️ Katowice Wojciech Korfanty Airport - located 136 km away, it takes about 2.5 hours to get there.
Booking.com offers cheap flight booking services - you may compare flights from 500+ airlines to destinations around the world.
You can check deals on flights here:
If you wish to explore nature places in Poland, the most convenient and fast way to travel is to rent a car. When we need to rent a car we always use Rentalcars.com and are happy with them, never had any issues with this company.
You may check deals on car rentals in Poland here:
There are no trains going to Zawoja village. Trains in Poland are good for traveling between cities. If you'd like to discover Polish nature, trains won't be useful.
Buses from Kraków to Zawoja
You can get a direct bus from Kraków Central Bus Station to Zawoja village. Buses shuttle every hour - you can check the timetable and prices here.
It's definitely easier to travel Poland from Kraków City rather than Kraków Airport. Loads of buses depart from the Central Bus Station in Kraków located on Bosacka 18 Street, right next to the main train station. Here's a Google Maps link to Krakow Central Bus Station.
I haven't found any buses which go from Kraków Airport to Zawoja.
Other great hikes in Poland
Here's a handful of posts which may interest you if you want to go hiking in Poland:
Safety in the Polish mountains
There is one more thing which has to be said about hiking in Babia Gora National Park. It's safety.
The trails are well-marked, the majority of the hiking routes aren't very demanding but still, it's the mountains.
Proper mountain gear is necessary, especially if you plan to hike Babia Góra trails in winter or spring.
Let's have a look at the below posts which will help to make your hike in Polish mountains safe:
- practical info on hiking in Poland
- choose proper map
- stay safe during winter hikes
- choose the right backpack
- take all necessary hiking gear
- avoid these common mistakes in the mountains
- rules in National Parks
I wish you many happy hikes in Poland! 💚