The first places to enter the trails are in Kraków itself, where, for example, from the Monastery of the Norbertine Sisters in Salwator, you can go to the Kosciuszko mound and then to the Wolski Forest. The real kingdom of nature, however, begins in the valleys near Kraków, where there are trails perfect for a short, two-hour trip. Surrounded by Jurassic rocks, caves and streams, you can come across one of the medieval castles of the Eagles' Nests Trail. The valley of the Prądnik river in Ojców, where you can go for a walk up to the scenic Okopy Mountain, through the Krakówska Gate towards the Łokietka cave or along the secluded side of the Sąspowska Valley. Another nice idea for a short trip from Kraków is the Kajasówka wildlife reserve protecting the old tectonic framework covered with thermophilic vegetation.
The first mountain range south of Kraków is the picturesque Beskid Wyspowy whose peaks isolated like islands (hence the name) are an excellent destination for day trips. Most of the slopes and mountain tops are covered with forests, but on some peaks, e.g. Ćwilin you can come across beautiful glades. It is in these parts where the closest to Kraków shelter in the Kudłacze Clearing is located. An unforgettable reward for your efforts are the lookout towers, erected in recent years, on the tops of the mountains: Mogielica, Gorc, Lubań, Koziarz, Eliaszówka or Radziejów. The panorama of the charming Poprad valley can, in turn, be admired from the Ślimak viewing platform in Wola Krogulecka which is accessible for people with disabilities.
Vast forest complexes of the Gorce, the Beskid Sądecki and the Beskid Mały will be perfect for a longer trip combined with an overnight stay in one of the numerous shelters available all year round. The ascents are not demanding, the extensive system of trails allows you to avoid returning the same route, and there are definitely fewer tourists there than in the Tatra Mountains or the Pieniny. Various "loops" can be planned by choosing the ascent on the Turbacz from Obidowa, Koninki or Ochotnica Górna, on the Potrójna from the Kocierz Pass or to the shelter on the Przehybie and the Radziejowa from Szczawnica-Zdrój.
The tiny and not high range, but with a beautiful landscape Pieniny is most often visited from a raft flowing down the Dunajec gorge but a short hike to the sheer peaks of Three Crowns and Sokolica or a more leisurely hike on the Małe Pieniny from the Hostel near Durbaszka towards Palenica are first-class suggestions for a wonderful day in the mountains. Recently, there has been a real hype on the night trips to windswept Babia Góra. Despite the capricious weather, the view of the sunrise from the highest peak of the Beskids makes up for any difficulties. This mountain, alive in local legends, requires more solid equipment - a good windproof jacket is a must.
The Mecca for Polish mountain hikers - and for a reason - are the Tatra Mountains. From the very beginning of the human fascination with the mountains, which dates back to the nineteenth century, the rocky peaks above Zakopane seduce adventurous tourists, but also teach humility to reckless daredevils. It is worth remembering that the Polish Tatra Mountains are not just abount the trails to the Morskie Oko and to Giewont, instead unforgettable moments can happen in the most unexpected places. The difficulty of the trails should be chosen based on experience. A good way to warm up is a trip to a low mountain of Kopieniec Wielki with a panoramic view, where on the way you can visit a gem of highlander architecture - the chapel on Jaszczurówka. Remarkable places await hikers on relatively gentle and easily accessible peaks of the Western Tatra Mountains including the group of the Czerwone Wierchy or the area of Wołowiec and Konczysty Wierch, where the trip can be combined with stays in hostels on the Hala Ornak or in the Chochołowska Valley. After such successes, you can boldly go for more demanding peaks of the High Tatra Mountains, from Szpiglasowy Wierch and Świnica to challenges for the most seasoned hikers such as Rysy or requiring specialized equipment (and high mountaineering skills) Orla Perć.
It is a nice habit in the mountains to collect entries in the PTTK booklet, the appropriate number of which allows the award of the Mountain Tourist Label in three categories. It's even nicer to take your booklet, stamped with the shelter's stamp, back to the city. But hiking does not have to become a sport or ticking peaks off the list. It works just as well as a moment to contemplate the beauty of nature without imposing any goals on yourself. One thing is certain - the Małopolska region trails have something to offer to everyone!