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Kriváň - icon of Slovakia for tough cookies

View onto Krivan mountain in High Tatras
By Joanna Dabrowska

By Joanna
(Contact Me)

Mountain hiking Sept. 7, 2019 Slovakia Tatra Mountains Gerlachov Bešeňová Štrbské Pleso Tri studničky Popradské pleso 2019 Mountain hiking

Kriváň mount, which reaches 2495 metres, has also been a major symbol in Slovak ethnic and national activism. A country-wide vote in 2005 selected it to be one of the images on Slovakia's euro coins.

It's said that every Slovak has to climb Kriváň at least once in his lifetime.

Well, we're not Slovaks but this mountain has always been on our "to-hike" list. And we did it! 🙂

hikers on the way to krivan

Kriváň is part of High Tatra mountains and, because of its significant height, it may be a bit too much for hikers who have just started their adventure with mountains. It's great option if you want to go level up and quit the valleys.

Here's the best hiking route:

Route overview: Krivan
Map of the route to Krivan
Avatar Length: (only one-way) 9.32mi (15km)
Avatar Elevation: (only one-way) 4659ft (1420m)
Avatar Time: (only one-way) 8:30
Avatar Remoteness: Average
Avatar Risks: Average
Avatar Beauty: 9 / 10
Avatar Difficulty: 7 / 10

We got up very early on Friday morning. It was still dark by then - we started our day at 3.30 AM to avoid heat and crowds on the trail. Kriváň is a very popular tourist destination and, in addition, it was August 15th - Assumption of Mary which is a bank holiday in many European countries.

early morning view from route to krivan

We decided to "attack" the mount from the west, going along the green trail which starts at Tri studničky (Three Springs) on 1140 metres, near the main road no 537. We chose that one because there's definitely much fewer people than on the red trail leading from Štrbské Pleso.

The views were fantastic - the sun was slowly rising over the morning fog which was forming a white dense carpet as we were climbing up. We were so happy about that - we took a much-needed break to take some photos (the trail was rather steep).

The atmospheric conditions were so specific at that time that one of our friends saw a phenomenon called The Brocken Spectre . It's actually your own shadow, cast on mists below you, when you are mountain climbing. The shadow may appear enormous and has a ring around it.

Krivan route

Some people believe that when you see the Brocken spectre you will die soon. Our friend is, of course, still alive and enjoys life to the fullest. 🙂

While climbing up, we saw a group of chamois and a very fat marmot . Mountain animals are 10 times better to admire than those in the zoos.

This day was very sunny. We recommend getting equipped with good sun protection sunglasses as well as hat protecting against sunstrokes and water easy to carry water supply container for your backpack.

We passed by a place called Grúnik - a memorial which witnessed some bitter fighting between the partizans and the Nazi troops at the end of the Second World War. There's a reconstructed bunker but, unfortunately, we didn't see it from the trail (were we too sleepy?).

Hiking Krivan

In Tatra mountains, the levels of vegetation are very distinct. It's called altitudinal zonation, but I just prefer to call it layers of vegetation. 😉 What's worth to mention is that Tatra mountains , the especially High Tatras, are of alpine characteristics. Weather can change in the blink of an eye, so it's necessary to take additional windproof and waterproof clothing.

In general, our ascent was very long but enjoyable hike , the air was cool and humid. Only when we got closer to the peak it was getting hot and we could see in the distance big groups of people approaching the summit.

At the final phase of our walk, the trail got very rocky - it was stone run, a bit tricky to hike at some points.

Rocks on the Krivan route

We were climbing rather slowly as the ascent was quite demanding - I'd definitely not recommend it for inexperienced hikers.

On the summit there was, fortunately, only a few people and we could enjoy breathtaking view of High Tatras in peace. We had a quick snack and decided to climb down as the sun already started burning our skin.

Hiking to Krivan in Slovak Tatra mountains

On our way back we met many people and were really happy that we managed to wake up so early and had a chance to contemplate the magic of Tatra mountains in peace.

However, after about an hour or two, our happiness got replaced with tiredness and pain. My knees and feet were hurting a lot and all I was thinking of was getting back to the car. I must admit that it was demanding trip , no nice and easy few-hour-long walk in low mountains.

Here’s the time line of our hike to the Krivan for summary

Tri studničky (Three Springs)

We parked car near the main road no 537. From this road you can enter the trail. Follow green walking route towards north

Distance: 0

Time: 0:00

Altitude: 3740ft (1140m)

Coordinates: 49.139930, 19.966214

Krivánsky žľab (Krivan trough)

After long walk on green path now we are quite close to the peak. We take blue trail that leads uphill.

Distance: 3mi (4.8km)

Time: 2:30

Altitude: 7020ft (2140m)

Coordinates: 49.157471, 19.997692

The Krivan Peak

After very steep uphill hike we reach the peak. We will head back same path we came.

Distance: 3.6mi (5.8km)

Time: 3:45

Altitude: 8185ft (2495m)

Coordinates: 49.162723, 19.999752

Krivánsky žľab (Krivan trough)

We return to the crossing with green path we were before but this time we follow blue trail toward south heading downhill.

Distance: 4.2mi (6.8km)

Time: 4:35

Altitude: 7020ft (2140m)

Coordinates: 49.157471, 19.997692

Jamské pleso

After long decent on blue route we arrive at the Jamske lake. Here we change route to the red one towards south and later west.

Distance: 6.5mi (10.5km)

Time: 6:05

Altitude: 4750ft (1448m)

Coordinates: 49.134209, 20.012594

Bývalá Važecká chata

Now we are very close our starting point. We head green route towards north to reach it.

Distance: 8.9mi (14.4km)

Time: 7:25

Altitude: 3877ft (1182m)

Coordinates: 49.134989, 19.970124

Tri studničky (Three Springs)

We are back in our starting point

Distance: 9.3mi (15km)

Time: 7:35

Altitude: 3740ft (1140m)

Coordinates: 49.139930, 19.966214

Next day, we wanted to go for a shorter walk as our knees were still aching after long climbing down from Kriváň. We decided to visit a symbolic cemetery in Popradské Pleso (Poprad Pond) located on 1525 metres.

symbolic cemetery in Popradske pleso in Slovak Tatra mountains

This symbolic cemetery was built as a memorial dedicated to people who worked and tragically died in High Tatras.

We left our car on parking right next to Štrbské Pleso lake . This name's used both for the large glacial mountain lake and very popular tourist resort.

All parking lots near the lake are paid - the higher the parking is located, the more expensive it gets.

We bought 2-hour tickets for Tatranská elektrická železnica - mountain tram which runs at the foot of High Tatra mountains in Slovakia.

Elektricka tram station, Strbske Pleso lake, Tatra mountains in Slovakia

The tram station is located right next to the parking lot at the entrance to Štrbské Pleso. You can check the tram's timetable here .

We traveled to the point where trail to Popradské Pleso starts - it's just one stop down from Štrbské Pleso.

At first the trail is just an asphalt road, but a bit higher close to the forest it changes into proper dirt trail.

Popradské Pleso lake is an awe-inspiring place - I do recommend to hike there.

Popradske pleso lake, Slovak Tatra mountains

In general the walk wasn't very demanding - the trail is pleasant, nice and wide. It's great option for families with children (or tired hikers 😉 ).

OK, there's one more thing besides Tatra mountains that Slovakia is famous for - waterparks! When you're in Slovakia, you need to visit at least one of those amazing aquaparks .

On the last day of our trip we decided to go to Gino Paradise - thermal park in Bešeňová . You can check the location here . It was fun - there are many water slides, indoor and outdoor pools with hot mineral water, jacuzzis, restaurants, etc. The most interesting area's adrenaline zone - there's climbing wall from which you can jump into pool with high waves.

If you would like to stay close to this water park, you can check available hotels here:

There are two accommodations in the area which we can recommend:

  • Panoramic Mountain Residence .
    Located in Horný Smokovec , part of Vysoké Tatry town. This option is great if you want some comfortable luxury. It's a beautiful place offers spacious apartments with mountain view. Close to hiking trails. There's no restaurant in this place.
    If it seems like a good option for you, you can book your stay here:

Hotel Gul'a 
Located in Batizovce village . This place is a budget option, but we liked it. Room was nice and clean. Toilets and bathrooms are shared, but they were also clean. Actually, it looked like the rooms and bathrooms were newly refurbished. Big advantage of this place is restaurant on the ground floor - breakfast costs only 5 EUR, but it's ample and tasty. 

You can book you stay here: 

How about you, have you ever climbed any 'national' mountain?
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