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Winter Hiking in Tatra Mountains: Walking Routes, Park Rules & Safety

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Tatra National Park

Tatra National Park was established only in 1954 by the Communist Government, based on the plans made during the interwar period. The park is a good historical what of what building nations tried to do with the recreational areas. The clash between environmental protection and technological modernization unveils two different visions of how a modern society should look like in the 20th century.

Having in mind that even though some parts of the park are completely modernized, some parts are totally remote. It is important to follow all the rules in order to protect this wonder of nature Tatra Mountains are and to keep yourself together with your friends safe.

In this short guide, you’ll find all the essential information required for winter hiking in the Tatra Mountains of Tatra National Park including marking color meanings, recommended routes, closed routes, rules of the park, risks of avalanche & useful URLs.

Tatra National Park Details

A panorama from Nosal Mountain, Zakopane. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

The Meaning of Route Marking Colors

One of the most important things to understand in Tatra National Park before any hike is that route marking doesn’t mean difficulty, thus your judgment should not be based on the color, or at least in this manner. The marking is there for the type of the route:

Red – used for the most important and long-distance routes.

Blue – used for the routes connecting important places.

Yellow – used for short connections between other routes.

Green – basically for everything else.

Recommended Winter Hiking Routes

The High Tatras is one of those places you worth returning again and again. The majestic silence and absolute beauty of winter mountains keep amazed anyone willing to challenge themselves. While most parts of Tatra National Park has a really good infrastructure, like anywhere else in the mountains during the winter – moderate chunks of the park is closed to the public. Due to the nature of the coldest time of the year, even the opened parts require a good preparation. Be sure to check if you have all the recommended equipment for winter hiking in the mountains.

Too bad it is impossible to see High Tatras all at once, thus good research is recommended before setting your foot on any of the routes. Most of the routes listed below, I walked myself therefore I didn’t chose them randomly. It is a result of hours and hours of research to make sure I’m getting most of my time in Tatra National Park. If you don’t have time to do the research yourself, I recommend checking this 4-day winter hiking itinerary.

For Beginners:

Intermediate:

Hard:

How to get to Tatra National Park

Tatra National Park is located on the border of Poland and Slovakia. As a matter of fact, these mountains are the natural border between the two countries. It could be reached from various directions by various means, but the main bases are: Zakopane in Poland; Resort town lined up on road 537 by the Tatra Mountains.

By Car

Zakopane could be reached from Krakow by the S7 highway with an exit to the road 47 by town Rabka. Navigating around Tatra National park from the Slovakian side should be done on roads 66 and 18, both have plenty connections with road 537, which is as close as you can get to the High Tatras by the road.

By Public Transport

The best and the only way to reach Tatra National Park from the Polish side is by bus. You can find a suitable option on busradar.com. There are more options to reach the High Tatras from the Slovakian side. See the train timetables here, the buses navigate as well but finding decent information online might be a bit tricky.

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By Private Transfer

Given the rather complicated transportation in this mountainous region, a private transfer might be the best way to get here if you are not an experienced driver in these conditions.

These transfer options were selected by GetYourGuide platform. It guarantees the quality of service and offers free cancellation up to 24 hours before the transfer date.

Map of the Tatra National Park

Rules of Tatra National Park

These are the official rules of TANAP (Tatra National Park) taken from the park’s website. More information could be found in the sources segment at the bottom of the article together with locations for special activities like paragliding.

  1. Information notice boards about the National Park serve you, the visitor – please do not damage them. In order to enjoy your visit please use marked hiking tracks, footpaths and cycling tracks as well as Tourist Information Centres. In order to protect the nature and to ensure your safety, hiking tracks in the mountains are not accessible to public between 1 November and 15 June. Enjoy your hiking in the daytime, between an hour after sunrise and hour before sunset.

  2. Hiking away from marked tracks, under the supervision of experienced guides, is available between 16 June and 31 October. (paragraph 4, item 5 of the Visitor’s Charter)

  3. Picked flowers will wither, captive butterflies will die, chicks of an eagle could fall from their nest if disturbed. Therefore touch the nature by your heart only.

  4. It is not permitted to camp or bivouac anywhere in the National Park. It is prohibited to light fires anywhere in the National Park other than in designated sites in tourists villages.

  5. If you are enjoying your stay in the National Park with your pet dog then the dog should always be on a lead and muzzled. In specifically designated nature reserves dogs are not permitted to enter at all.

  6. Peacefulness of nature is there for you to enjoy. It should not be polluted either by lights effects or loud music, or any other noises.

  7. Please do not pollute the environment. Take your rubbish home with you. To avoid fires please refrain from smoking during dry periods.

  8. Protect the underground beauty of the nature. Do not try to enter inaccessible caves and gullies.

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Encounters with Bears Rules

What every visitor of Tatra National park must keep in mind that he/she might encounter bears. Never forget that bear is a large predator which may be very dangerous. The way behave will be crucial for your life and the future of the bear. In order to stay safe – keep in mind these important rules:

Skalnate Pleso could only be accessed by cable car as the route leading to Skalnate Pleso is closed down for skiing. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

List of Closed Routes in Winter (11.01 – 05.15)

Due to safety reasons, the following routes are closed for tourists from 1st November to 15th June. Respecting these prohibitions could save you your life, or at least a lot of trouble to park rangers. If you still want to do any of these routes, you are required to hire an experienced guide.

Best Tours to Tatra National Park

There are quite a lot of things to do in Tatra National Park. Everyone will find activities to fit their wishes and expertise. These majestic mountains have plenty of things to do even for the most experienced of us but if you don’t have any experience in this kind of terrain, it might be a wise idea to hire a guide to kickstart your journey into Tatra National Park.

This list of guided tours is coordinated with the partnership of GetYourGuide. The platform guarantees the quality of every tour and offers a possibility to cancel any tour up to 24 hours before the tour date.

Useful Websites

Sources

TANAP.org – the official Tatra National Park website.

Very last steps to the peak of Kasprowy Wierch. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

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