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Travel

Oct 26, 2019

The Undeniable Beauty of Poland’s Gory Stolowe National Park

Visitors will find a rare-looking, 70 million year-old untouched land with rock formations and wildlife in this anomalous European landscape.

WRITTEN BY

Jonatar Evaristo

Despite being a fascinating town, Karłów isn’t really top of the must-see list for most people visiting Poland. Of course, it’s not easy to compete with charming cities such as Warsaw and Krakow, but Karłów is also a stunning and interesting destination.

And the most surprising place I’ve visited in Karłów was, undoubtedly, Gory Stolowe National Park, also known as “Table Mountains.” For hiking enthusiasts like myself, it’s a place you must visit again and again. Located in South-West Poland and sharing territory with the Czech Republic, its 63 square kilometer mountain range offers a plethora of unique activities for its visitors.

The park area is a huge patchwork of hiking trails with over 100 km of traced paths. The reserve’s highest point is Szczeliniec Wielki, reaching 919 meters; and, along with Mały Szczeliniec, which reaches 896 meters, they create a massive and wide landscape scenario, with numerous cracks and deep canyons.

The Devil’s Kitchen is justifiably famous as a path, although hard on the knees, it is a spectacular descent.

Hiking to the top takes around one hour for seasoned hikers and the trail is not too challenging. However, to reach the summit, you must conquer the 665 steps carved into stone in the late 18th century by Karlów’s mayor, Franz Pabel.

What really sets the park landscape apart — among stone mazes and groves, also impossible to ignore — are the rock formations shaped like animals and humans, sculpted by Nature thousands of years ago. You can find an “Elephant,” a “Monkey,” and a “Mammoth,” among many others.

Rock formation of Szczeliniec Wielki.

When you finally reach the summit of Szczeliniec Wielki, however, you will find yourself in a completely different world. At the top, there is the unique B&B “Na Szczelińcu”, completed in 1845 in Tyrolean style, where you can see all the Sudetes mountain range.

After taking in all the splendor of the West view of “Table Mountains” in the Czech side, the way back may be done in two different paths: either by going down the same trail or through “Piekiełku,” which, in English, means “Hell.” And hear this advice attentively: going back the same trail would be an unforgivable sin. This path is packed with atmospheric mazes made out of stonewalls and massive slabs covered with moss, and the views are just breathtaking!

Preservation of this marvellous natural area that we call Gory Stolowe National Park is paramount. Either by climbing up the highest spot of the Table Mountains or by exploring cosmopolitan Warsaw, visiting Poland is always an unforgettable experience.

Natural geologic processes shape “Małpi Łeb” or ‘The Monkey Head’

Cover Photo: The Highest peak of Szczeliniec is a rock formation called “Fotel Pradziada or “Great Grandfathers Armchair”, which can be reached by metal stairs

All photos provided by the author.