Giewont and Kasprowy Wierch are two most characteristic peaks of Tatra mountains in Poland, and can be hiked together on the same trip. This classic hike takes you through some of the Tatra’s most iconic scenery. During the walk you’ll enjoy a woodland trail, high rocky peaks, panoramic views to Polish and Slovak mountains and a bit of scrambling – simply the classic Tatra ridge walk. Greatest peaks climbed on this hike are Giewont (1895 masl), Kopa Kondracka (2005 masl) and Kasprowy Wierch (1987 masl). The whole circular route takes about 8.5 hours to complete.
After many years we were finally back in Tatra mountains (in Polish: Tatry), and we were both very excited to hike again! The ‘Giewont to Kasprowy Wierch’ route was supposed to be only a warm up as we arrived to Zakopane (capital of Tatra mountains) quite late previous night. However, bear in mind that every time we plan to have a nice relaxing day, we end up having 8 hour hike or walking in a swamp etc, and it usually turns out to be anything but a ‘chill out walk’. This time was no exception to certain degree. Finally, to avoid exhausting ourselves completely on first day in the mountains, we decided to return from Kasprowy Wierch to Kuznice by cable car rather than hiking all the way down. Ha! Ok, lets start from the beginning…
Giewont and Kasprowy Wierch – hiking two most characteristic peaks of Tatra mountains fact sheet
- Height: Giewont 1985 masl, Kopa Kondracka 2005 masl, Kasprowy Wierch 1987 masl
- Total time: 8,5 hours (Kuznice via Giewont to Kasprowy Wierch) + optional descent from Kasprowy Wierch 2.5 – 3 hrs depending on route
- Total distance: 9 km (Kuznice via Giewont to Kasprowy Wierch) + optional descent from Kasprowy Wierch 4 – 5.5 km depending on route
- Parking: Zakopane (we recommend taking public transport to Kuznice)
- Level of difficulty: 3/5 -long hill walk, involves little scrambling (security chains provided)
- Kasprowy Wierch weather: weather forecast for Kasprowy Wierch
- Which map: Tatrzanski Park Narodowy (click to buy)
How to get to Kuznice from Zakopane
The easiest way to get to Kuznice is taking a mini-bus from Zakopane. Cost of such journey is 3 PLN (autumn 2018). Depending on the season, one should apply different strategy of catching a mini-bus. Don’t get me wrong, they do have an official schedule and run regularly, but in the summer they fill up with tourists and hikers already on their first stop, so catching one further along the way might be a challenge. This is not a problem in lower season, but in the summer we recommend catching mini-buses on their early stops, for example at Zakopane train station, Dolne Krupowki or Gorne Krupowki.
We definitely do not recommend driving to Kuznice as this actually is impossible – final 3 km of road to cable car station are classified as a private road, only public transport is allowed. One would have to leave their car on sparse and expensive public car parks and still take a mini-bus or walk to the trailhead.
Hiking from Kuznice to Giewont
Kuznice is a busy place as several trails start there and for a first time visitor it might be a bit confusing. So how to ensure that you hit the right path? It’s easy! Once you get of mini-bus or taxi face the cable car station. Walk about 40 metres to the left , until you see signposts. Please ensure to take BLUE trail to Kondratowa Polana (be careful not to take blue trail to Murowaniec as this is one of suggested return paths).
The trail begins as a wide, cobblestone track up the hill. After 15 minutes you’ll pass a Catholic Sanctuary of Brother Albert, continue ahead. Soon after the sanctuary you’ll be asked to pay admission fee to Tatra National Park (5 PLN per person, autumn 2018). After another 5 minutes, BLUE trail forks: one leg diverts to Polana Kalatowki, the other leg (lower trail on the left) continues directly to Polana Kondratowa. This point is marked, do not worry you won’t miss it, and if you do, it’s OK, you’ll still arrive to Polana Kondratowa, just a bit longer way. From the fork it’s about 1 hour walk to the hut on Polana Kondratowa. The path narrows down, climbs a bit but still continues through the forest while opening up from time to time – an easy and enjoyable walk.
A word of advice – skip Polana Kalatowki and walk directly to Schronisko na Hali Kondratowej (Hala Kondratowa mountain hut) located on Polana Kondratowa, as this is much nicer place for a break.
The ‘Schronisko na Hali Kondratowej’ mountain hut is the smallest in Polish Tatra. It was build in 1948 at 1333 meters above the sea level . It is a natural stop before further climb; you can rest inside or on several benches outside. As in all Tatra mountain huts, there is a small bar where one can get hot and cold drinks as well as homemade food. There also are toilets (charge applies) and rubbish bins available.
Although it was quite early when we arrived to the hut, there were already several people wandering around, enjoying aromatic coffee in the morning sun. We only stopped briefly, took few pictures and continued walking up. Please remember to keep following BLUE trail which is then signposted to Giewont summit.
The ‘Schronisko na Hali Kondratowej’ hut is located at the foot of Giewont so one can see their goal on the right hand side, high up.
Path to Giewont is constructed of rock slabs and feels like climbing steps. It is not technically difficult and only gets a bit steeper just before reaching Kondracka Przelecz at 1725 masl. On the way up, there are at least two points where you can fill your bottles with fresh, clean stream water. We are great enthusiasts of mountain stream water, no other drink is as refreshing as this icy cold gift of nature!
From Kondracka Przelecz, the walk is in the open, the view gets better with every step, and the terrain gets rockier, which is more fun.
As Giewont is an extremely popular hiking destination there will definitely be crowd of people on the path or even queuing to the summit. One way to avoid it is hiking up very early in the morning.
Final climb is secured with chains, and is a one way trail. It is well marked, if however you miss it, please remember to keep right on the ascent. Descending from the summit, ensure to locate the right path down.
The biggest challenge of summit section, are slippery rocks. They are extremely worn due to the amount of people walking on them, and therefore very slippery any time of the year. They present danger when wet. The summit section is not difficult for experienced person, it may however, be of some discomfort for a complete novice. My few words of advice would be – take your time and be careful, also, try to hike Giewont when weather is dry.
Final note to take into consideration: Giewont summit is a bit rocky and there is not enough space for big crowds, so if you want to rest or have a break for snacks you should plan to do so below the summit. You will see why I am saying this once you are there!
OK, so you have made it to the top of Giewont (1895 masl) and have a picture of the summit cross (with many other hikers)! Yay, well done!
If you feel that you have had enough and don’t want to extend the walk then good news is – you can now make your way down to Zakopane through Dolina Grzybowiecka and Strazyska or alternatively retrace your footsteps and walk down to Kuznice.
However, I doubt you’d fancy that! Keep reading then!
Once you are back down to Wyzna Kondracka Przelecz watch out for YELLOW trail, which follows wide ridge to the next mountain of the day – Kopa Kondracka (2005 masl). This is a nice and clear, man made path and there are no difficulties with reaching the top.
From Kopa Kondracka the trail continues along the ridge to Kasprowy Wierch. All the way it follows the border with Slovakia, look out for red and white trig points.
This section is a classic ridge walk, and in our opinion this is the best part of the hike. The summits of Western Tatra mountains are behind your back and High Tatra ahead, with mighty Swinica towering proud over other rocky peaks. The trail is rugged and rocky, especially near Gorczykowa Czuba, but this makes for even more fun rather than creating difficulties.
We stopped a couple of times on the way to enjoy the views and have lunch. We really were in no rush since we decided to take it easy and use cable car from Kasprowy Wierch instead of walking down. Being in Tatra mountains in the autumn sun was just an uplifting experience, we wanted it to last forever.
As it happened, we felt that the ridge walk was all too short. It was such a pleasure to walk that we both felt a bit disappointed when we already reached Kasprowy Wierch, all too soon!
Kasprowy Wierch can be very crowded because of the large restaurant on its top; also many people take a cable car up and just wander around the summit and take pictures, rarely explore further areas. Therefore we didn’t really stay long at Kasprowy Wierch and after short break we got a one way ticket down to Kuznice. It was an easy option but we thought that walking down would make a much longer day, and we didn’t really want that… it was supposed to be only a warm up hike after all!
Walking from Kasprowy Wierch down to Kuznice
As you know, we skipped that part! I am aware, however, that walkers often ask which trail is the best to descent from Kasprowy Wierch back to Kuznice. We have tried all descent options in the past and can advise on them.
Green, direct trail from Kasprowy Wierch to Kuznice is the shortest and the steepest option. All the way down it roughly follows the cable car poles; most of the way you walk thru evergreen alpine forest. Hiking down this trail takes roughly 1 hr 45 mins.
Another option, my favourite, is taking yellow trail from Kasprowy Wierch to Murowaniec mountain hut (approx 70 mins) and then from Murowaniec blue trail to Kuznice (approx 90 mins). This obviously is a longer option, but so much nicer! I recommend taking this route as most of the time this trail is in the open space, meaning having magnificent views. Who wouldn’t like that?! This route, also, is much gentler for the knees.
Another selling point of taking this longer route is passing Dolina Gasiennicowa (Gasiennicowa Valley) where Schronisko Murowaniec (Murowaniec mountain hut) is located. This valley is one of the most beautiful in whole of Tatra mountains. To the east it’s walled by high rocky ridge of Orla Perc (known to be the most challenging and dangerous ridge walk in Tatra). It’s just a jaw-dropping view, one should not omit visiting Dolina Gasienicowa while in Tatra!
Hiking to Giewont and Kasprowy Wierch from Kuznice map
Wild camping in Tatra and mountain huts information
Sadly, wild camping is forbidden in Tatra National Park; in fact, it’s banned in Poland by law. Hikers who wish to stay overnight in Tatra, should use mountain huts. There are many huts available, located in every corner of the national park. Booking a room is essential in summertime, advisable in all other seasons. By law, any hut is obliged to take hikers in for the night if they turn up after 10 pm, even when hut is fully booked. In this case extra guests will be accommodated on the floor in corridors or canteen, but charged a full room rate.
What we loved about hiking Giewont and Kasprowy Wierch – two most characteristic peaks of Tatra mountains
This classic Tatra hike can be a bit of a challenge, as it’s a long walk over high mountains. All efforts are well rewarded thou, with mind blowing views in all directions, all of the way! It’s a fantastic adventure for a keen hiker, its intensity and length can be easily adjusted by taking optional return trails from Giewont, as well as Kasprowy Wierch.
*Level of difficulty explained: 1– easy walk, mostly flat 2-easy hillwalk, good path 3-moderate, possible some steep sections 4-long hillwalk, possibly some scrambling involved, possibly pathless 5-difficult, possibly pathless, long, requires technical skills