Kościeliska Valley is one of the most popular valley in Tatra Mountains. Even if you are not insensitive to natural wonders you will be impressed. Especially that during the trip you can also see the caves, the Kraków Gorge, or go to the Smreczyński Pond.
The valley is often visited by parents traveling with children because this trail is one of the easiest in Tatra National Park.
We start the trip in “Kiry”. There is an entrance to the valley. You can get there in a few minutes by bus from Zakopane or by your own car – there are lot of parking lots.
The valley has shape of a deep rock gorge, and at its bottom flows Kościeliski Potok. In several points of the valley, in places where the walls are located very close to each other, there are narrowings, called gates. About half a kilometer from the entrance, we reach the first one. This is the Niżnia Kościeliska Gate.
In Kościeliska Valley in „Bacówka” you can buy highlander’s specialty, oscypek cheese. When we visit this valley in the spring time, we can admire a beautiful carpet of crocuses.
We stay on the green trail and go further. After about 1.5 km, we reach “Cudakowa” clearing. Then, behind it, on the “Stare Kościeliska” clearing, the „Zbójnicka” Chapel is located. Trails are crossing above it. Going to the left, across the bridge, you will get to the “Mroźna” Cave. It is definitely worth visiting, it is easily accessible for tourists and artificially illuminated, so you can even take your children. A few meters higher the trail to “Stoły” clearing begins. Those who don’t want to visit the cave, should go several dozen meters along the path leading to it, because there is an “Ice Source”. The water flowing out of it has a constant temperature – 4-4,5 ° C and is crystal clear. It is worth stopping for a moment, resting and observing the surroundings.
We’re back on the green trail. Above “Stare Kościeliska” clearing the Intermediate Kościeliska Gate is located. About 4 km from the entrance to the valley is “Pisana” clearing. It offers beautiful views. About 150 m above the route where we are goes the trail to the Kraków Gorge and the Dragon’s Cave. Only the front part of the ravine is available for tourists. It is worth seeing it. High walls make it a bit scary and mysterious, but how interesting! From the ladder leading to the cave, the path is one-way. The trail that leads from the cave leads to the “Hala Pisana”. If we did not visit the ravine and we stayed on the road, we go across the bridge and reach the narrowing of the Higher Kościeliska Gate. On the left is the Pisana Rock, and right behind it starts the black trail leading to the “Raptawicka” Cave, as well as the red one that reaches the “Obłazkowa” and “Mylna” caves. At this point, highlander carriages finish the course.
After leaving the gate we go several hundred meters and we can see the Kościeliska Valley expands. On the left we see the “Smytnia” clearing. Crossing “Tomanowy” brook we will be at the trails crossing – the green will lead us to “Tomanowa” Pass and Ciemniak Mountain, and black to “Smreczyński” Pond.
If we want to reach only the Mountain shelter on Hala Ornak, we stay on the road. A great idea is to relax on the bench in front of the shelter and enjoy the landscapes. The Kościeliska Valley is one of those places in the Tatras, which should be kept in mind when planning a holiday. The walk will give you lots of fun. You can spend time close to nature. Relaxation guaranteed!