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Spišská Magura loop

Spišská Magura loop

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Spišská Magura loop

Page Type: Trail

Location: Poland/Slovakia, Europe

Lat/Lon: 49.33228°N / 20.22652°E

Trail Type: Cross Country, Downhill, Mountain, Touring

County: Spisz

Technical Difficulty: Hard

Aerobic Difficulty: Hard

Layout: Loop

Route Quality: 
 - 2 Votes


Page By: Visentin

Created/Edited: Jul 7, 2009 / Sep 20, 2013

Object ID: 270984

Hits: 11084 

Page Score: 72.08%  - 2 Votes 

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Spišská Magura loop, starting near Kacwin in the early morning; the <a href= http://www.mbpost.com/area/268838/the-tatras.html >Tatras</a> in the distance
Panorama from Kacwin

Spišská Magura is a long and low mountainous range, a wild hilly area that separates the Pieniny and the Tatras.

Most of the mountain consists in a long ondulating ridge whose most parts can be cycled. However, this area is not very frequented, with a lot of obstacles on the way such as fallen trees, marsh with mud, and so on.

From the pure biking point of view, Spišská Magura is not really a place where the cycler will enjoy 100% piloting the bike. On the other hand, this loop provides an extraordinary taste of adventure in a wild part of the Carpathians, with stunning views to the Tatras all along the way, and crossing pretty out-of-time villages here and there.

Check also the description in SP (from the hiking point of view)

Trail Description

Spišská Magura loop, starting near Kacwin in the early morning; the <a href= http://www.mbpost.com/area/268838/the-tatras.html >Tatras</a> in the distance
Kacwin trail
Spišská Magura loop, crossing a river near Kacwin
Kacwinianka river
On the ridge of Spišská Magura
The cross
On the ridge of Spišská Magura
Yellow trail
On the ridge of Spišská Magura
On the main ridge
On the ridge of Spišská Magura
On the main ridge
On the ridge of Spišská Magura
On the main ridge
Spišská Magura loop, at the junction near Ždiarske sedlo
Rázcestie junction
Spišská Magura loop, the trail heading to Repisko
Repisko trail
Spišská Magura loop, going down north from Repisko, lokking back to the <a href= http://www.mbpost.com/area/268838/the-tatras.html >Tatras</a>
Repisko view
Spišská Magura loop, going down north from Repisko and reaching the village of Osturňa. The trail becomes  suddenly friendlier, oof !
Repisko descent
Spišská Magura loop, arriving in the village of Osturňa
Reaching Osturňa
During the ascent to reach the ridge of Spišská Magura
Repisko descent
When the trail becomes suddenly... the river !
River-trail !
Spišská Magura loop, arriving in the village of Osturňa
Osturňa house
Spišská Magura loop, reaching the upper end of the village Osturňa
upper Osturňa
Spišská Magura loop, meeting some other riders :)
Back to Poland !
Spišská Magura loop, at the pass Przełęcz nad Łapszanką where stands a famous memorial
Przełęcz nad Łapszanką
Spišská Magura loop, the village Wyżni Koniec on the pass Przełęcz nad Łapszanką
Wyżny Koniec
Spišská Magura loop, from Wyżni Koniec back to Kacwin
Back to Kacwin
Spišská Magura loop, meeting some other riders :)
Deers !
Spišská Magura loop, the village Wyżni Koniec on the pass Przełęcz nad Łapszanką
Back to Kacwin...

The aim of the circuit I imagined was to visit the globality of this half-circle-shaped ridge, with both the southern part with views to the Tatras, and the well known Polish pass Przełęcz nad Łapszanką, meantime via the unmarked and rarely visited area of Repisko, highest top of the range.

The loop as I did it is not perfect, and probably the drawing of the circuit can be improved; also I didn't cycle exactly what I drew, but here is what seems to be the best after summarizing my trip and the orientation mistakes and bad choices I did. But globlally, assuming that the Repisko area could be better maintained, I am convinced that such loop is more or less the best way to visit Spišská Magura all at once.
Spišská Magura loop, starting near Kacwin in the early morning; the Tatras in the distance
The Kacwin junction near the start

From Kacwin, cycle to the upper end of the village which becomes a red-marked track. Not far later, you come to a junction where you must take left (red marked). Then the red trail crosses the river Kacwinianka on a funny bridge. Kacwinianka is the river that collects all waters of the half-circle formed by Spišská Magura, and this point is somehow the "entrance gate" of the range. The border also, while, without noticing it (the trail is still red marked), we penetrate into Slovakia.

Soon later we arrive to an asphalt road (one of the few of this circuit) that takes us to the town of Veľká Franková (not a really picturesque one). Follow the road in the direction of Malá Franková, at the entrance sign of which is located a yellow-marked trail elevating to the heights of Spišská Magura. The very beginning has a bit of bike-and-hike, but later the slope decreases so we can cycle (but still hard, it's going up all the time...) We cross some beautiful meadows before reaching the level of mountain forests. At the level of a little cross the slope almost disappears and we ride a flat ridge for a while. Until reaching the southern ridge whose main trail is marked in blue. The map indicates to follow the yellow. We are very tempted to make a diversion via the left as we reach the small ski lifts (and multiple flattened pseudo-tracks), but indeed this is not a good idea, because finding the blue trail will turn to be harder. Better accept this little walk to the top of the peaklet.

From now the blue trail runs comfortably to the West, in average quite horizontally, despite it is made indeed of small variations of height. First Slodicovsky Vrch (junction with the green trail on the left, then Magurka, overlooking the village of Ždiar, the tallest of them, where we cross the red trail. Later Priehrštie, on top of the Strednica ski lifts of Ždiar, with a fine panorama to the Tatras.
And, as we get closer to the end of the blue trail at Ždiarské Sedlo, we reach a wide junction where stands a big sign, titled "Rázcestie pri tablici" ("Crossroads under the sign", as simple as that !)
Spišská Magura loop, Panorama from the top of the Strachan ski lift to the <a href= http://www.mbpost.com/area/268838/the-tatras.html >Tatras</a>
Panorama to the Tatras from Priehrštie

Now the adventure begins as we must follow an unmarked trail, which we see and which goes slightly behind the continuation of the blue trail. Some maps show that it is a skitouring track, but its state let us think that it was not used since long ago. The beginning is fine, but as we get under Repisko, we cross first a wide ravaged area were obviously a forest fire occured, and then a very burdensome part of the track with fallen trees every 50m from each other, which we must jump on foot. Undoubtely these are the remains of the 2004 big storm that haven't been cleaned yet. Let's hope this area will be improved in the future.
The way down from Repisko is also very arduous, but it gets better and better as we go down. According to the map there should have been junctions on the left to arrive in the upper end of the village of Osturňa, but I haven't seen any.
Spišská Magura loop, crossing some clearing under Repisko. There was a fire there, all trees are lying destroyed. Difficult spot !
The area ravaegd by a forest fire

Getting nearer Osturňa, the trail becomes a real pleasure, a fine singletrack. In the end, however, it becomes both the local river and a land rover trail. I have seen many river-tracks of this kind in rural areas of Slovakia, this is one... The river is not very deep, and the rocks quite gripping, so it's possible to "ride down" the river, in a big water-sheaf that cleans perfectly the bike and the biker. A good fun !

We reach now Osturňa, a very remote and lone village, with very well conserved local traditionnal architecture. Watch the chalets and farms made of beams, the vivid paintings, the ornaments around the windows ! The village seems to be stuck in the time, like 50 years ago.

As I watched some other maps eventually at home, I found out that few of them mention a yellow trail elevating North from the middle of the village, but I never saw it. I cycled up to the very end of the village, where is a wide meadow, until I could find the Polish border the best way I could. This is the part that required the most flair, havig only a vague 1/1000000 map with me for this very area uncovered by any other map... However somehow I found a sharp trail on the right end of the meadow, elevating to grassy slopes where sheep were grazing.
No trail at all further, but the meadow is flat enough to be ridden. From a bump I saw the farms in the pass Przełęcz nad Łapszanką, and made my way though the clearings with my flair, turning back from time to time as few of them turned out to be cul-de-sac. With a more accurate map, I am sure this can be improved.
Finally, I reached a track where by chance I met a tractor. With Polish peasants, which meant I finally managed to get back to Poland ! I asked them the direction and followed the path going East, first going down (from which were my doubts), but getting back to the spot.

Przełęcz nad Łapszanką is a pass with a gorgeous panorama to the Tatras, on which stands a little chapel with a memorial. Below is a group of beautiful farms that belong to the village Wyżny Koniec.
Spišská Magura loop, once on the meadows of the ridge, superb views to the <a href= http://www.mbpost.com/area/268838/the-tatras.html >Tatras</a>
Panorama from Przełęcz nad Łapszanką

From now, the trail is marked again in Blue (the blue comes from another direction so we couldn't follow it before). It follows the crest of the range for a while, and eventually leaves it, going down on the North side through the forests, with a very long and entertaining descent to ride. We finally reach fields, and get back to Kacwin via a track that becomes a street leading to the church and the car park.
map of Spišská Magura loop
Map of Spišská Magura, our trail in pink

Interactive maps

Route 357 950 - powered by www.bikemap.net

Getting There

Spišská Magura loop, the village Wyżni Koniec on the pass Przełęcz nad Łapszanką
Wyżny Koniec

Spišská Magura loop, a little chapel on the way
Chapel on the Slovak border
Spišská Magura loop, at the junction near Ždiarske sedlo
Rázcestie pri tablici

Considering the shape of this loop, the most logical is to start in Kacwin, the only (and small) part located in Poland, since this trip lies mostly in Slovakia.
Kacwin (from the German "Katzewinkel", "Cat's corner"), is a small quiet peaceful village. The most convenient is to park in the car park of the church, both for the space and the car security, although this rural area is not unsafe at all.
Kacwin is best reached from Cracow, following the direction of Nowy Targ. Then, taking the direction of Białka Tatrzańska, but leaving this road near Trybsz, to reach Kacwin via Łapsze Wyżne and Łapsze Niżne.

However, for those willing to start the loop from Slovakia, the best would be to reach Ždiar from Poprad (ideally the pass Ždiarské Sedlo)

Agrandir le plan

When to Bike

Spring, Summer, Autumn.. not Winter !
Spišská Magura loop, the <a href= http://www.mbpost.com/area/268838/the-tatras.html >Tatras</a> a last time while reaching back Kacwin
Panorama from the road near Kacwin