Hiking to Dolina Pieciu Stawow Polskich via Przelecz Zawrat is a great introduction to walking in Polish High Tatra mountains. Along this trail you’ll encounter some of the most iconic locations in Tatra: Dolina Gasienicowa with Murowaniec mountain hut and Czarny Staw Gasienicowy (‘Black Pond’), Przelecz Zawrat and Dolina Pieciu Stawow Polskich (Valley of 5 Ponds). You will also enjoy views to famous Orla Perc mountain ridge, Slovak side of Tatra as well as overview to all 5 ponds in Dolina Pieciu Stawow. Hiking trail to Przelecz Zawrat starts in Kuznice.
How to hike Zawrat in High Tatra mountains, Poland
- Height: Zawrat 2159 masl
- Total time: 9 hours
- Total distance: 21 km
- Total ascent: 1399 metres
- Total descent: 1440 metres
- Parking: Zakopane (we recommend taking public transport to Kuznice)
- Level of difficulty: 4/5– long hill walk, scrambling involved (security chains)
- Przelecz Zawrat weather: weather forecast for Kozi 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 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 trail head.
Hiking from Kuznice to Murowaniec hut
After getting off the minibus in Kuznice, face the lift to Kasprowy Wierch and walk to the left, towards highland style buildings. That’s a starting point of many hikes, but you should look out for either BLUE trail or YELLOW trail – both signposted to Hala Gasienicowa and schronisko Murowaniec (1508 masl).
YELLOW starts directly opposite the highland style buildings, and goes through Jaworzynka Valley. It’s pretty much flat at the beginning, but then, when reaching end of the valley, it turns into a steep climb to Przelecz Medzy Kopami – a saddle where a BLUE and YELLOW trails marge.
BLUE trail starts a bit further from mini-bus station (pass the highland style buildings). Walk towards spruce forest and look out for a signpost to Dolina Gasienicowa & Murowaniec mountain hut. The trail first runs thru the forest, and is a steep path, made of cobblestones. It soon opens up and follows a gentle ridge of Boczan, before merging with yellow trail.
Both trails then continue to Dolina Gasienicowa and Murowaniec mountain hut.
Which trail to Dolina Gasienicowa should you choose?
Having the choice between Yellow and Blue trail to Dolina Gasienicowa, you’ll probably wonder which one to pick. Based on our personal experience we recommend taking BLUE trail – we just feel it’s nicer and have better views. We also like the fact that it begins with the steepest section; you’ll do the hard part first and then enjoy an easy walk to Dolina Gasienicowa, with views in all directions.
However, if you plan hiking to Dolina Gasienicowa more than once during your visit in Zakopane, why not try both trails?! You will then be able to make your own opinion on the two paths, and share with us – we’re curious to hear your thoughts!
Both trails are signposted as approximately 90 minutes walk from Kuznice to Dolina Gasienicowa & Murowaniec.
We started the hike to Przelecz Zawrat early in the morning, it was a very warm and sunny day. Very promising!
Hiking along BLUE trail we warmed up quickly and after 1 hour already we reached Przelecz Miedzy Kopami. We continued further on a relatively flat, wide and well defined path. Soon we reached Hala Gasienicowa, an open meadow with wooden shelters (used by climbers) and views to the most beautiful alps in Tatra mountains.
Hala Gasienicowa is definitely one of our favourite locations in Polish Tatra; it provides breath taking views towards the high, rouged mountains of Orla Perc, spike of mighty Koscielec and Kasprowy Wierch.
We reached Murowaniec mountain hut exactly at 9.00, there was only a handful of people wondering around. Hut’s kitchen was already open therefore we quickly scanned the menu and decided to have pancakes with apple and chocolate for breakfast. Oh, they were yummy!
20 minutes later we gathered our stuff to leave, but just at the door we saw a note that the path to Swinica is CLOSED.
A word of explanation: originally we planned to hike to Zawrat and continue to Swinica (one of the classic peaks on Orla Perc), but only at Murowaniec we found out that the trail from Zawrat to Swinica is CLOSED till further notice, due to a rockfall. The rockfall was still active therefore new path couldn’t have been constructed yet. Management of the national park asked hikers to avoid this dangerous section (December 2018). Hence, before planning your hike to Swinica check the trail situation with tourist information or staff at mountain huts.
If section of trail between Zawrat and Swinica is open again, consider hiking from Zawrat to Swinica, and further to Kasprowy Wierch. That would be a fine day out in Tatra! To conquer Swinica, take BLACK trail from Murowaniec to Swinicka Przelecz (Swinicka Pass) and then RED trail to Swinica (around 2 hours). To return, you can either retrace your steps or continue along the ridge to Kasprowy Wierch. Both options finish in Kuznice.
Please keep in mind that trail to Swinica is more difficult and exposed than the chain-secured section along the way to Zawrat and required some experience with scrambling in rocky terrain!
We didn’t let the news about rockfall at Swinica discourage us from having a good day in the mountains! Hence we decided to change plans slightly, and hike via Zawrat to Dolina Pieciu Stawow instead.
From Murowaniec hut follow BLUE trail to continue to Zawrat. The well-made path is almost flat at first, before reaching Czarny Staw Gasienicowy (Black Pond). Enjoy the stunning scenery around you – it’s a promise of a grand day. Crystal clear water of Czarny Staw mirrors the beautiful high and rugged peaks around – spiky peak of Koscielec, as well as Orla Perc ridge with Kozi Wierch being the highest of all.
Having taken several pictures we followed eastern shores of Black Pond and suddenly heard the approaching helicopter!
It turned out that TOPR (Tatra mountain rescue team) was training that day; they were flying over our heads back and forth in a helicopter, practising rescue operations. At one point we noticed that two members of TOPR were left on the rock ledge. The helicopter picked them up about an hour later – lucky for them it was nice and sunny day so they could sunbath with a fantastic view while being on duty. What a life!!!
After 15 minutes of walking along the pond, the trail forked first time (YELLOW path to Granaty), we continued along BLUE trail to Zawrat. From the fork onwards the trail became steeper, before dividing again below small Zmarzly Staw (Frozen Pond), but again we followed BLUE trail.
After further 30 minutes, the path turned into a steep, rocky climb in a gully. This is our favourite section when hiking to Zawrat – it involves a lot of scrambling and ‘hand on rock’. Very exciting indeed!
Final ascent to Zawrat is the most difficult part of the trail; you’ll be surrounded by vertical rock walls, but the trail is only semi-exposed. Moreover, it’s also secured with chains, which makes the climb much easier and safer. You should not feel overwhelmed at this point, even if you do not have much experience with such terrain, just stay focused and hold to the chains provided, climb up slowly and carefully.
Take my word for it, you’ll enjoy yourselves so much while climbing the ‘chain section’, you won’t even realise how quickly you gain height! All too soon, you’ll find yourselves at the Zawrat saddle.
Przelecz Zawrat is often very windy; it was no exception during our hike. The wind was so strong, that we actually struggled to stand still! After taking few photographs and brief chat with fellow walkers we started descending to Dolina Pieciu Stawow – the finest valley in Polish Tatra mountains.
Reaching the hut at Dolina Pieciu Stawow is a relatively long, but gentle descent, I guarantee you will like it till the very end. The whole way down you will able to admire beautiful scenery: picturesque emerald water ponds walled by rugged mountains.
Descending from Zawrat, you’ll pass all five ponds in the valley. Starting from the top, they are: Zadni Staw Polski (Rear Pond), Czarny Staw Polski (Black Pond), Wielki Staw Polski (Great Pond), Maly Staw Polski (Small Pond) and Przedni Staw Polski (Front Pond).
While in Dolina Pieciu Stawow Polskich, you can visit one of the most beautifully located mountain huts in Tatra – Schronisko Gorskie w Dolinie Pieciu Stawow. The hut offers hot and cold drinks, cheap but hearty dinners and deserts. We especially recommend pork chops with cooked cabbage and boiled potatoes – this mountain dinner classic never disappoints. Neither does another Tatra classic, apple pie (Polish: szarlotka) – optionally served with cream or custard. What a delight!
From Schronisko Gorskie at Dolina Pieciu Stawow Polskich you can walk down to Palenica Bialczanska either via BLACK or GREEN trail. Both are equally nice and will eventually merge, but if it is your first time in the area we recommend taking GREEN trail.
Leave the hut and return to the small wooden bridge (10 minutes), where the GREEN trail begins (it is signposted to Roztoka and Wodogrzmoty Mickiewicza). Along the way you will pass the highest waterfall in Polish Tatra, called Siklawa.
Although descent along Dolina Roztoki is rather long (around 4.5 km), it’s a nice trail along a stream thru woodland, and ends up at another waterfall – Wodogrzmoty Mickiewicza.
Unfortunately, the last leg of the walk (from Wodogrzmoty Mickiewicza) is rather boring – you’ll walk along paved road with hundreds other people coming back from Morkie Oko. However, that last section of your hike should take no more than 40 minutes. We were not fond of this section, however, we appreciate that at the end of long day hiking it’s good to just ‘walk on autopilot’, on easy, paved trail.
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.
Hiking to Dolina Pieciu Stawow Polskich via Zawrat – hiking map
What we loved about hiking to Zawrat in High Tatra, Poland
It’s a long and challenging route; although we have hiked it many times -it’s always a pleasure. We especially enjoy the climb to Zawrat, with its chains and views to rocky summits of Orla Perc ridge. Also, Dolina Pieciu Stawow Polskich is one of the most picturesque valleys in Polish Tatra. Scrambling and the views make this trail worthwhile. We can’t recommend it enough!
LOOKING FOR OTHER AMAZING HIKES IN TATRA MOUNTAINS? CHECK OUT THESE TRAILS!
If you’re looking for other hiking ideas in Polish Tatra mountains, from Zakopane, check out these amazing walks! All include detailed route descriptions and hiking maps:
CZERWONE WIERCHY – iconic ridge walk in Western Tatra over the ‘Red Peaks’, includes visiting Dolina Koscieliska (Koscieliska valley) for the best Tatran szarlotka (apple pie)
GIEWONT AND KASPROWY WIERCH – amazing day hike to two most iconic peaks in Western Tatra
FROM MORSKIE OKO TO DOLINA 5 STAWOW VIA SZPIGLASOWA PRZELECZ – a long and challenging hike thru some of most spectacular scenery in High Tatra range
*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