OverviewDespite this name this appellation is less commonly met, What I titled "Eastern Beskids" in this page is the counterpart of the "Western Beskids": the Carpathian range would be too much for an area, and each massif itself owns too few trails. Each of these subregions is a part of my biker/hiker's existence" in Poland and were explored in different eras. All have a different "soul" and occupy a very special place deep in my heart despite their remoteness from the place I live.
The name "Eastern Beskids" aims to group :
- the Gorce range
- the Pieniny range
- the Beskid Sądecki range
- the Beskid Niski range
- the Beskid Wyspowy range
(currently, the last two not covered by any object)
Some may argue that the Bieszczady may also be included, but being covered by a national park with strict biking prohibition, it makes less sense. And geographically speaking, it belongs to another familly of mountains in the Carpathians.
The regions quoted above encapsulate places frequently described like amongst the most beautiful in Poland. Beaufiful undulating mountains with dense forests, meadows with genuine pastoral activity, genuine traditions apart from mass tourism, rich wildlife (definitely richer than the Western part of the Beskids), foretaste of Eastern Poland and confluence of several regligions, magnificent historical spas with thermal water, rivers flowing in the meanders of deep gorges, making the delight of watersports and fishing. Brace yourself !
With this article, I am introducing a new country on MBPost, Poland, and I hope this idea will inspire some others, since Central Europe, less known, owns many paradises for activities like Mountain-Biking.
In "mountain-bike", there is "mountain", which why I chose to introduce first this region, as one of the finest mountain-biking areas in Poland.
Let's speak about Polish Mountains. There are 2 main mountain ranges which make the South border of Poland: The Sudetes on the West (mostly with the border shared with Czech), and the Carpatians from the middle to the East (shared with Slovakia and Ukraine on the East end).
Gorce belongs to this part of Carpathians, called more precisely "Northern Carpathians", since they form almost a distinct part. The rest of the Carpathians, East and South, are located for most of them in Romania.
The higest mountains and best known mountains of this region of Europe are the Tatras, which lie on the border. Very sharp, they are almost only for the hiker.
But these are not the only mountains. They are bordered on the North and on the South with other secondary ranges. The northern one, which runs in almost all the arch of the Northern Carpatians, is called Beskidy.
As well as most of the rest of the Beskides, Gorce is formed of soft round-shaped mountains, with open and generous relief. Most of it is made of a complex network of valleys in which lie pittoresque villages, a huge amount of forests, most of it of conifers on the upper level, pastures and meadows on the flat parts of many wide ridges, with intense pastoral activity. Herds of sheep and cheese making is a common sight.
Gorce is perhaps the region of the Beskides which corresponds the most to this stereotype. This range, and especially its east side, is also hosting a huge amount of wild fauna such as lynxs, bears, eagles, deers, etc.
Most of the Beskidy are made of smooth mountains, but often to steep to be cycled until the top. On the other hand it is common to cycle these regions on small roads and forest tracks, in the "cyclotourist" style. In some other cases, like for Beskid Zywiecki, or Bieszczady, the national parks regulations do not allow cycling on the hiking trails.
The point on which Gorce distinguishes itself from the rest of the Beskidy is precisely Mountain-Biking.
Here, the relief is generous enough to go through the trails, and very often until summits, for the fittests. The trails are very often wide enough, and not too steep, the ridges regular enough in elevation with very few ups and down, for biking.
I have already etited in SummitPost a page about Gorce for the hiker, now it's time to introduce it for the cycler :)
If you travel from abroad, the best way if to fly to Krakow, or possibly (but less convenient) Katowice. From Krakow you can travel either by bus or by train, quickly and easily to Rabka.
If you fly you are probably looking for a place to rent bikes, it can be found in the city centre of Rabka.
By car, it looks the same: get to Krakow via the motorway, take the Zakopianka road (road in the direction of Zakopane), until Rabka.
Unless if you plan to set yourself in more remote parts of Gorce, which is the advantage of the car. Turn to Mszana Dolna if you plan to go to rather in East side of Gorce.
Let's also mention that in Rabka, again, is located a sport shop with good choice of products to repair bicycles, you can buy new chains, new pedals, new tyres, etc, for common maintainance which occurs when using a mountain bike several day in such place.
As we speak about Poland, new in MBPost, few details about paper stuff. If you are from the EU, you only need your IDCard to enter. For other countries, passport at least.
Poland and the neighbouring Slovakia are both in the Schengen space since 2008 so no control on the borders. The currency in Poland is the zloty (1E = about 3zl). From 2009 the neighbour Slovakia will switch to Euro (now 10SK = 1ZL), but Poland not before 2011 at least.
Finally, if you cycle, MIND TO ALWAYS CARRY YOUR PAPERS in your rucksack, and especially HEALH INSURANCE, if you fall and faint, or injure yourself far from the village you started.
Gorce is one of the National Parks in Poland, and a certain number of rules must be respected: no wild camping, no fire, no engine motors...
These ones are actually the newest scourge of the area. Incerasing purchasing power of polish people and explosion of the leisure marked, result sometimes in such abuses. Gorce is not the most frequented, hence not either the best controlled park, so you might find often yourself surrounded with sudden killing-eardrums noises of motorbikes or quads, while you were enjoying the quietness...
As I wrote, Gorce is not the mountainous Park in Poland with the most restrictuve rules, so offtrails is not forbidden like in the Tatras for example, or Babia Góra in the Beskides.
Cycling is allowed, as mentionned before, which also makes all the difference.
You can also pick up full buckets of bilberries without any fear to be fined for flora destruction...
In the East part of Gorce it was sometimes mentionned about dangerous dogs who behave agressive with hikers. East of Gorce is the side where live the most predators (including bear), so sherperds use such dogs to keep them far. If a dog starts barking ferously at you, ignore him, and continue slowly. In the worse case, shout and lift the arms.
I renamed this section from "Camping" to "Accomodation", since according to the "Gorczański Park Narodowy" rules, wild camping is forbidden.
As for official campsites, there are 3 places you can stay. 2 Campsites are on the North of the range in the villages of Rzeki and Koninki. Another one can be found in Krościenko.
But there is a fair amount of possibilities of accomodation outside and amongst the massif.
First, all surrounding villages are packed with accomodations, often room at the inhabitant. Pleinty of these places can be found on the web. Type in Google a place name together with "noclegi" (accomodation), you'll get a handfull of results.
Gorce has also several mountain huts located right in the heart of the range. These huts are commonly used by the hikers, but if you come with a bike, for sure it will be possible to negociate to leave it safe somewhere. Just in case, bring a locker.
The dispersion of these huts is not very equal since most of them are concentrated on the West. But, here you are :
* Bacówka PTTK "Maciejowa", tel. +48 18 4475729, probably one of the most beautiful mountain-huts in Polish mountains :
* Schronisko PTTK "Stare Wierchy", tel. +48 18 2675297, further on the main ridge of Gorce, another nice place :
* Schronisko PTTK na Turbaczu, tel. +48 18 2667780, near Gorce's highest top. A bit crowded :
* Stacja Turystika "Studzionki", tel. +48 18 2624154, on the way to Lubań. It is not a PTTK hut, but an "agroturystyka" B&B place, in fairy-like location :
* Baza namiotowa na Lubaniu, tel. +48 501 975 330, an original place to stay on Lubań. It is a settlement of tents (no need to bring your own), open during holidays. Nice place, but I would be scared of thunderlights :
* Schroniska PTTK na Luboniu Wielkim, tel. +48 12 2748995, on Luboń Wielki (unfortunately near the ugly antenna) :
* Agroturystyka "Czupta", tel. +48 18 2685448, An "agroturystyka" B&B which I recommend very much in the peaceful village of Ponice, ideal base for biking :
* Kudłacze (+48 12 2748995) is not exactly located in Gorce but not far (in small mountains), but is also often mentioned in Poland most friendly mountain-huts :
MapsHere is a shematic map of Gorce trails in the website of the map editor mapytatr.net :
Not all of these trails can be cycled. Let's say that the red, which runs on the whole ridge of the range, can be cycled almost everywhere (except from Maciejowa to Stary Wierch). The green, yellow, and the blues near Rabka can also be cycled.
For more informations, buy a local map made of paper to see which trails are cyclable (short dashed lines). But some routes which are not marked for cycling CAN be cycled too ... :)
Some other circuits are available in my album of cycling maps in Gorce. THese are only circuits which I did during my holidays of July 2008, but it can serve you as inspiration for making other circuits. 3 of these circtuits are summits described below, and the 2 others some loops (Swińska Góra & Maciejowa and Poręba Górna)
Main summits of Gorce
The main CYCLABLE summits of Gorce are :
* Jaworzyna Kamienicka – 1288 m n.p.m. Not very far further east, opens wide views to the North-East side of the range. A small white chapel stands here.
* Kiczora – 1282 m n.p.m. Very close to Jaworzyna Kamienicka, opens the view to the South. By nice weather you get splendid views to the Tatras.
* Lubań – 1211 m n.p.m., excentred on the South-Est end, and easily accessible from the road pass Knorowska.
* Luboń Wielki – 1022 m n.p.m., excentred on the North-West end, and easily accessible from the village Lubon Maly.
* Turbacz – 1311 m n.p.m. Highest point of Gorce, but entierely covered with forests. It is not accessible exactly until the top, but you will reach without problem the mountain-hut near its top.
Some other summits of Gorce on which you cannot go by bike (well, you can, but you will push the bike often...) :
* Kudłoń – 1276 m n.p.m. A wild summit on the East part of Gorce, which you can do only on foot.
* Gorc – 1228 m n.p.m. Another wild summin in the East of Gorce
* Mostownica – 1251 m n.p.m., in the same area
The official web-site of the "Gorczański Park Narodowy"
The page of Wikipedia Poland about Gorce :
My Page about Turbacz, the highest top in Gorce. Soon in my site will be other pages of places in Gorce.