Swińska Góra & Maciejowa
The Maciejowa wooden hut is said to be amongst the coolests in the mountains of Poland. This is a little circuit climbing no major top of Gorce, but going to nice surroundings of Ponice and Rabka, included the famous wooden church Św. Krzyża in Rdzawka (near the road to Zakopane) and the mountain hut Maciejowa.
The circuit is best made clock-wise. 3h required.
This circuit can be started either from Rabka, Gorce's main resort, or from Ponice (guesthouse. I did it from Ponice but I will describe it from Rabka, in 2 halfs.
* 1st Part : From Rabka, cross the park and catch the red trail going up the hill of Słone. You pass the last houses and cross wide meadows. Soon, the slope starts getting steeper and steeper. But only a short section, just under the ski-lift, really requires to push the bike, for some 50m.
Later, the trail follows the crest in the forest for 2km. When it goes out on a big clearing, appears the mountain hut Maciejowa (said to be one of Poland's finests). You can have there a coffee, a beer, a dinner, or even sleep if there is space.
After Maciejowa, follow the green trail, which first seems to continue through the forest, but in fact suddenly turn right to plunge on the west side of the crest in the forest. In case you planned to continue on the red, you must know that this section of the red between Maciejowa and Stare Wierchy (see this circuit) is not suitable at all by bike.
The green trail first go down gently and then more and more sharply, with some tricky parts to negociate. In one or two places, the green signs show some shortcuts between the zigzags of the track, but better stay on the track.
At a big junction, you notice that there is also a yellow marking for bikes. From now, forget the green (not suitable by bike) and follow this one.
It arrives to a wide meadow where it continues steadily for a while, and then to a viewpoint over Ponice, to which it goes down straight, via a large track through the fields, and until the "city centre" (where the church is located).
* 2nd Part : Cycle up the main road in Ponice until you catch back the green pedestrian marks, going right towards few houses, where a "196" red and yellow pannel indicates the guesthouse. Pass the houses until the end of the asphalt (at the guesthouse) and continue on the track. Here you'll probably need to put your feets on the ground and push for a while, as the slope is made of beton big cobbles, in order to prevent tractors slipping on it.
Nearer the end of the slope, you can cycle again. Once on the crest, there is a hedge of trees, which you need to follow on the right (the green marks are absent here, but this is the green trail). Cycle along this beautiful crest until you go down slowly to the village of Rdzawka.
In Rdzawka, cycle down few hundred meters, passing the church, and turn left, still following the green marks, and going up again a new hill, again with beton cobbles, but more gentle than the previous one so you don't need to step down.
At the end, you catch the side of the big national road to Zakopane. Don't go on the main road, use the small one going along it, until the yellow marks. If you wish to visit the wooden church of Św. Krzyża, located here, you need to cross the road at this place only.
Back on the yellow marks, you cross some meadows before going down fast into the forest. This is a very fine descent, well marked so you won't miss any junction. From Krzywon, the path becomes asphalted and you progressively return to Rabka. Take immediately the opposite bank of the river, where a trail is located, to avoid cycling this busy road, and get back straight to the park in Rabka.
Ponice is located South from Rabka (see this map on the left).
Rabka is some 50km south from Crakow (Poland's second main city), half-way in the direction of Zakopane.