Five good reasons for visiting the Gorce Mountains!

A crocus-filled glade in Gorce and tourists on the trail
First and foremost: you are not going to meet too many tourists on the trail. Second: you will enjoy great views of other mountain ranges. Third: you will quickly reach your starting point from Krakow. Fourth: you will have a wonderful one-day mountain trip. Fifth: even as an inexperienced hiker, you will cope with most trails, and Gorce offers a whole lot of them! It is worth adding that the area is home to the Gorczański National Park.

If you are looking for scenic views, we suggest a walk to one of the three lookout towers.

1. Lubań lookout tower 

Lubań: 1211 metres above sea level.
Accommodation: PTTK tent base in Lubań (you can stay here all year round with your own tent)
Trail colour: blue

Climbing time: about 2 h 30 min.

From Krakow, you have to get to the Snozka Pass (from Nowy Targ, behind Kluszkowce). Your hiking route along the blue trail starts here. On the pass stands a monument by Władysław Hasior, the ‘Organ’. Hasior was one of the most intriguing and recognisable 20th-century Polish artists. The route to the top takes about 2h 30 min. There is a campsite on Lubań. If you carry your own tent, you can stay in this place at any time of the year. The tower in Lubań, built in 2015, offers a beautiful view of Lake Czorsztyn,  Pieniny (and of course the Tatra Mountains).
Besides mountain hiking, the region offers many tourist attractions.
Nearby are the ruins of the Czorsztyn Castle, the Niedzica Castle, the Niedzica Dam, the spa town of Szczawnica and the charming Krościenko. Nearby, in Sromowce Kąty or Sromowce Niżne, there is also a rafting harbour from where you can start rafting down the Dunajec Gorge on traditional bargemen’s rafts.

2. Gorc Lookout Tower

Gorc: 1228 metres above sea level
Accommodation: PTTK Gorc tent base
Trail colour: blue
Climbing time: about 2 h 10 min.

In Lubomierz, after a ride of about 1 km from the Przysłop Pass towards Szczawa, on the right-hand side there is a car park. From here, you can start your ascent to Gorc following the blue trail. It is worth adding that the route is quite steep in some sections. One of the stages of the hike is reaching the Nowa Polana glade overlooking the Beskid Wyspowy range. The next stage of the trip is to the Świnkówka glade with a view of the Tatra Mountains. The final stage consists in reaching the summit. In 2015, a lookout tower was built here; it enables you now to admire the Beskidy, Pieniny and Tatra Mountains from Gorc. Below the summit, after leaving the blue trail and walking a short leg of the green trail, you will find the PTTK Gorc tent base. This place is a good starting point for a hike to Turbacz. From here, we will reach the highest peak of Gorce (1278 above sea level) in about three hours, with a possibility to stay the night at the PTTK shelter on Turbacz, the PTTK shelter in Stare Wierchy  or at the Bacówka in Maciejowa. In this way, we will traverse the entire Gorce range.

3. Magurki Lookout Tower (description of the Magurki lookout tower)

Magurki: 1108 m
Accommodation: Ochotnica Górna
Trail colour: none
Mounting time: about 1 hour.

You can get to Magurki by two routes. One leads from the Forendówki settlement in Ochotnica Górna along the Wallachian Culture Trail, the other from the Jaszcze settlement, along the green educational trail called Dolina Potoku Jaszcze (Jaszcze Brook Valley). Following the first of the trails mentioned, next to a highlander figure carved out of wood, turn right into the forest (the trail is marked with plates). On the way, we pass by the Kurnytowa Koliba summer wooden house, built in 1839. During World War II, it served as a partisan base. The surviving crewmembers of ‘California Rocket’, an American four-engine B-24 Liberator bomber, crippled by German anti-aircraft fire on a mission to bomb the synthetic fuel plant at Auschwitz-Monowitz, hid out here, protected by local soldiers of the Home Army.  Quite a steep uphill climb begins from this point. After reaching the top and climbing the lookout tower, we can expect beautiful views not only of the peaks of Gorce, but also of Beskid Sądecki and Wyspowy as well as the entire Tatra Mountains.

It is worth adding that, about 1.5 kilometres from the tower, walking along the aforementioned Dolina Potoku Jaszcze educational path, you can find the crash site where ‘California Rocket’ came down on 18 December 1944.

‘Classic’ trails

The Gorce Mountains are honeycombed by a great number of hiking trails. Those have become quite popular since the construction of lookout towers on the Lubań, Gorc and Magurka peaks in 2015. However, the most classic and frequently visited routes, with stunning views of the Gorce glades and the neighbouring mountain ranges, are located at the level of the towns of Poręba Wielka, Rabka Zdrój and Nowy Targ.

Turbacz (PTTK shelter on Turbacz), the highest peak of the Gorce Mountains, can be reached by several trails:

from Rabka Zdrój  – along the red trail through Maciejowa (Bacówka on Maciejowa) Stare Wierchy (PTTK shelter on Stare Wierchy). Hike time: approx. 5 h 15 min;

from Poręba Wielka Koninki – up the blue trail. Hike time: approx. 2 h 30 min;

from Kulakowy Wierch – up the blue trail, and then from Stare Wierchy up the red trail. Hike time: approx. 4 h 30 min;

from Nowy Targ – up the yellow trail. The short last section: along the red trail up to the top. Hike time: approx. 3 h;

from Nowy Targ  – up the green trail, and then, a short section up the red trail to the top. Hike time: approx. 3 h.

Did you know…?

In the vicinity of Turbacz there is a pasturage for local livestock, where we will find the Hut Altar (Szałasowy Ołtarz), erected as a commemoration of a field mass celebrated here by the future Pope, Karol Wojtyła.

Arriving in Poręba Wielka, we will find the seat of the Gorce National Park Education Centre.


For real wanderers

To those who want to hole up in the mountains for a few days, we offer a two-, three-, or four-day route:

Day 1: from Rabka Zdrój, up the red trail through Maciejowa, Stare Wierchy to Turbacz (possible accommodation at the PTTK shelter on the Turbacz mountain. Hike time: approx. 6 h).

Day 2: from the shelter on Turbacz, a short leg along the red trail towards the east, then at the intersection of the red and green trails, we continue our journey following the green trail all the way to the PTTK Gorc tent base (hike time approx. 4 h). Reaching the Gorc peak (route end option: descent from the Gorce peak down the blue trail towards Lubomierz. Hike time: approx. 2 h).

Day 3: from the PTTK tent base along the green route to Ochotnica Dolna (hike time 6 h 35 minutes). Here, we can finish our hike or stop for the night. The town offers many possibilities of accommodation.
Day 4: if we still have time, we can continue along the green trail to the intersection with the red trail. Then we follow the red trail towards the Lubań peak (hike time approx. 4 h). From here, we have a choice of three descent routes: down the blue trail to Snozka Pass (hike time approx. 2 h 30 min), the green trail to Grywałd (hike time approx. 2 h) or the red one to Krościenko (hike time approx. 2 h 30 min). From each of these places, we can take a bus to Krakow.


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