This page describes the second of the four parts of the long-distance trail which circumvents the range of the Tatras. It covers the Spiš region, which lies approximately around all Slovak High Tatras (east half). It runs from Lysa Polana to Podbanské.
Unfortunately, this section, which is the longest and which circumvents the highest parts of the Tatras, lies almost only on main roads, with a lot of traffic...
The good point is that there are some interesting spots along the way and some interesting cyclable valleys whose start are located along.
Before starting the description of the main road, let's mention that at the very location of the border is located the entrance to one of the most gorgeous valleys, Dolina Bielovodska, whose beginning you are allowed to cycle for a little while until the forest lodge "Horaren".
Back to the Polish border of Lysa Polana, the road starts to climb gently and then steeply, until a little pass where on the left is located a huge luxuous hotel, Hotel Kolowrat, and on the right a little meadow which makes a fine break with stunning panorama to a wide part of the High Tatras.
A steep descent follows to the picturesque village of Javorina, where are few accomodations, and a very beautiful wooden church. This church is a jewel of wooden architecture, you MUST make a stop to see it. In Javorina is also located the start of another very gorgeous valley, Dolina Javorova, whose beginning you can also cycle for a short distance.
Passing Javorina, after a long straight line, you reach Podspady, where is located a junction with another road coming from Poland (just for your information, a very picturesque section until Jurgow).
After Podspady starts a long ascent to the pass Ždiarske Sedlo, which marks the former Polish/Slovak border. Here is located the start to a cyclable path along the hilly range of Spišská Magura
After the descent of this pass, you reach the entrance of the village of Ždiar. The upper part of this "long" village is not the most interesting. Instead, I propose another diversion in order to get rid of the main road for a while. Turn right and follow the green track along Dolina Bielej, which comes back to the main road some 5-6 km later at the low end of the village of Ždiar. Of course don't take the green juntion which climbs into the Tatras, keep on the track mentioned. It is not explicitely allowed for bikes but I've seen land rovers venturing on it so I think it's OK. Accomodations near Monkova Polana, including the gorgeous and surprisingly cheap Pension Liptak (+421 905 317 389 / +421 905 851 119).
Back to Ždiar, have a little look at the low end of the village, crossing the main road and taking the street to the museum (and the only cash machine). Then cycle down until the main road, in this part of Ždiar are the oldest and the most beautiful wooden houses.
Continue on the main road, passing the juctions to the valleys Blascatska and Blacherova Dolina (ski resort), located on the left. Then the main road seems to change the cape, taking straight south, through what is a little gorge via the White Tatras (easternmost portion made of limestone).
After few kilometers you reach Tatranska Kotlina, a touristic resort. From there you can choose either to take the main road until the big juntion with road 537, the start of the south side of the Tatras. But there is anoter option which might be more exciting. From Tatranska Kotlina starts a trail marked in blue and green. If you follow the blue (not the green which later climbs inside the Tatras), you get back to road 537 some 5-6 km later, at Kezmarske Zlaby, avoiding a considerable portion of road and high traffic. This trail is not explicitely allowed for bikes, but having walked it I can certify it is made of a forestry large track and can perfectly be cycled with a mountain bike. Just don't get caught, do it preferably during a week day and preferably in the early morning :)
After that, the traffic on the road 537 gets worse and worse as you get nearer the big resorts of Tatranska Matliare, Tatranska Lomnica, Tatranska Lesna, and Stary Smokovec.
In Tatranska Lomnica is located a little cycle asphalted road forbidden to cars climbing until the top of the ski tracks some 150m higher.
In Stary Smokovec is located another similar road reaching Hrebienok, where is a mountain hotel.
You might be shocked by the lanscapes in the area: destroyed forests. This is due to a huge windstorm which ravaged the Tatras forest in 2004. It looks like after a nuclear explosion, and landscapes around here are kind of gloomy.. Later on the road you reach another resort (again !), Stara Polianka, where is located the start of the cyclable valley Dolina Velicka.
Pass Nova Polianka, Vysne Hagy, until Strbske Pleso, anoter huge resort. There are interesting things around here, the forest looks nice again, there is a little lake around which you can also cycle, and also the start to another major Tatras valley to cycle, Dolina Mengusovska.
From Strbske Pleso, until Posbanske, starts a very long section with no more major touristic resort, only mountain forests and mountain forests. There is a little shop a bit after Tri Studnicky if you need to buy some food.
As you get closer to Podbanske, you get breathtaking views to the High Tatras and the gorgeous mountain Krivan, emblem of Slovakia, and future icon on the slovak Euro coins.
This section ends in Podbanské, where are the start of 2 last very interesting cyclable valleys, Koprova Dolina and Ticha Dolina, Tatra's longest cyclable valley.
To be continued in the next part, Liptov region...
Getting ThereIf you plan to reach Lysa Polana, better avoid Zakopane (frequent traffic jams during week ends and holidays); From Nowy Tag, take the direction of Jurgow, cross the border at Podspady and then back to Lysa Polana.
If you plan to reach Podbanské, you can either come from Poland and continue south after Lysa Polana, or arrive from Slovakia via Poprad (airport) or Liptovsky Mikulas.
When to BikeSpring, Summer, Autumn.
Not Winter ! :)
In the Spring, you will enjoy the views to the snowy tops while the lower parts of the mountains are green. The ideal moment is end of May. it can be still quiet cold in the mornings and evenings.
In the summer, it will be warm, but there will be a lot of tourist cars on the roads.
The Autumn is perhaps the best season, with stable weather, colours turning red-yellow, perhaps some sign of snows on the tops, and again less people. The ideal moment is end of September to mid-october.
Cycle preferably at least 2 or 3 days after rainy weather, in order not to dirty you too much in the mud in parts located on cycling tracks.