Ojców is Poland's smallest National Park (Polish: Ojcowski Park Narodowy) near the city of Cracow, taking its name from the eponym village, itself named after the castle ruins of Ojców.
This area corresponds mostly to the Prądnik valley, famous for its curious and splendid limestone pinnacles and outcrops, almost like a canyon (the area is not situated at all in mountains).
Ojców is one castle but the most famous is Pieskowa Skała, near which is located also the most original limestone pillar, named "Hercule's mass".
Numerous bike trails run in the area. There is the one going along the bottom of the valley, near the road, but a couple of others run aside into the forests.
A fine area for a short ride, but into a very scenerical place...
There are many ways to visit the area. We can ride and come back the same way, or make a loop, but this involves a return by the roads across non-interesting areas.
If you come from Cracow, the best option is to park before the Ojców valley in the village of Czajowice, just after the road 94 that we left.
The black-marked trail, from the "centre", takes us to the next road south, cobbled, leading down into the Prądnik valley. The last lace unveils a splendid viewpoint near which a picnic table is located.
As we get down, the black trail slowly takes us along the thalweg of the valley.
As we join the road, we pass in front of a huge rocky gate on the laft, named "Krakowska Brama", the Cracow's gate. Unfortunately the trail leading into it is much less impressive than the entrance suggests, and not suitable by bicycle. Only a short look inside is enough.
We cycle down the valley, going north.
We reach the mouth of a secondary valley on the left, Dolina Sąspowska, into which we go.
First, we ride across narrow gorge, which later expands, and as we reach a boggy field where the stream spreads in wet meanders, there is a green trail on the right side elevating into the hills.
We follow this trail, crossing splendid beech forests. Soon we reach a small road, on the opposite of which is located a sort of hotel complex. We take the road right, following a green and black marked pedestrian trail located on the left side of the road, which get away from the road as we descent. This trail takes us right in front of the Ojców castle ruins. Unfortunaltely we cannot visit this castle, only watch the ruins from outside.
We can now decide to return the same way, or continue a bit further north along the main road. Unfortunately, there are no other alternatives than following this road to explore the rest of the valleys, which can be tricky in the high season, as many tourist cars tend to wild-park near the Pieskowa Skała castle.
This one, despite much further and out of the map below, justifies by itself the extra distance. Don't forget to have a glance at Hercule's mass.
To return from here, you can join back the road near Wola Kalinowska via a bicycle blue-marked trail, and eventually make your way back to Czajowice following unmarked forest trails along the road 94.
As mentionned before, Czajowice is the most convenient trailhead from Cracow. Those coming from the opposite direction, Katowice for example, may prefer doing the ride in the opposite sense. Parking near Pieskowa Skała is not the best option since quite crowded. The little village before can be a better choice.
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When to Bike
Spring, Summer, Autumn. The trails can be very muddy when wet !