Beskid Makowski: where the Mędralowa reigns
Although the peaks, especially those in the Little Beskids don’t soar to enormous heights, but it’s easy – of course, if we’re willing to get a little tired – to find paths that will have our hearts beating faster and make us sweat. We’re not only talking about cycle routes, but also about hiking trails.
Beskid Makowski is dominated by Mędralowa, also known as Wielki Jałowiec, which rises 1,169 metres amsl. From the south its neighbours are the Rabczańska Basin and the Babia Góra Range (link to description of Babia Góra); from the west are the Little Beskids, the Żywiecka Basin and the Żywiec Beskid, from the north the Wieliczka Foothills, and from the east Island Beskids.
Wandering along its charming paths, we’ll conquer not only Mędralowa, i.e., the highest peak of the Przedbabiogórskie Range (sometimes this range is considered part of the Żywiec Beskids), but we’ll also get to know the charming paths of the Pewelskie Range (Baków – 766 metres amsl), Laskowskie Range (Łosek – 868 metres amsl), Chełm Range (Chełm – 603 metres amsl), Babica Range (Babica – 727 metres amsl), and Koskowa Góra Range (Koskowa Góra – 866 metres amsl). Some people also include the Lubomir Range in this part of the Beskids and Łysina together with Zembalowa. So, we can think about completing the Crown of Beskid Makowski.
► Przedbabiogórskie Range:
⇒ black: Zawoja Dolna – Zawoja Przysłop – Sucha Beskidzka railway station
⇒ blue: Stryszawa – Zawoja Przysłop
⇒ red: Zawoja Centre – Przysłop Pass – Zawoja Przysłop – Sucha Beskidzka railway station
⇒ blue: Maków Podhalański – Grzechynia – then to the red trail and beyond
⇒ yellow: Przysłop Pass – Kiczora – Kolędówki Pass – Opaczne Pass – Jałowiec – Lachów Groń – Koszarawa
⇒ green: Zawoja Centre – Kolędówki Pass – Siwcówka – Opuśniok – Student Tourist Shelter ‘Pod Solniskiem’ – Hucisko – Koszarawa-Cicha – Beskidek – Klekociny Pass – Jałowiecka Północna Pass
⇒ blue: Zawoja Wełcza – Jałowiec – Cicha Pass – Opuśniok – Lachowice
⇒ green: Przyborów – Jaworzyna – Mędralowa Zachodnia
⇒ red: The Main Beskid Trail from the Głuchaczka Pass through Mędralowa Zachodnia and Mędralowa to the Jałowiecka Pass
⇒ black: Krzyżówki – ‘Viktoria K’ Shepherd’s Hut – Pass below Mała Mędralowa – Hala Kamińskiego – Zawoja Czatoża
► Pewelskie Range:
⇒ blue: Ślemień – Gachowizna – Hucisko Pass
⇒ yellow: Jeleśnia – Janikowa Grapa – Garlejów Groń – Zwaliska – Baków – Ubocz – Gachowizna
► Laskowskie Range:
⇒ yellow: Koszarawa – Student Tourist Shelter ‘Lasek’ – Łosek – Przyborów
► Babica Range:
⇒ red: Little Beskid Trail – on the section from Zembrzyce through Chełm, Palcza, Bieńkowska Góra, Babica, Trzebuńska Góra, Sularzowa to Myślenice
⇒ blue: Stryszów – Chełm
⇒ green: Mysia Góra – Wrotka Pass – Stronie
⇒ green: Budzów – Mysia Góra – Wrotka Pass – Stronie
⇒ yellow: Wrotka Pass – Skawinki
⇒ blue: Sanguszki Pass – Krowia Góra – Bieńkówka
⇒ black: connects the blue and red trails (Little Beskid Trail)
⇒ green: Stróża – access to the Little Beskid Trail (red) below Sularzowa
► Koskowa Mountain Range:
⇒ blue: Sucha Beskidzka – Mioduszyna – Maków Podhalański
⇒ yellow: Maków Podhalański – Stańkowa – Koskowa Góra – Parszywka – Dział Pass – Groń – Pcim
⇒ black: connects the blue and yellow trails
⇒ green: Maków Podhalański – Budzów
⇒ blue: Bieńkówka – Koskowa Góra – Jabconiówka Pass – Groń – Zarębki – Jordanów
⇒ green: Osielec – Groń – Skomielna Czarna – Tokarnia – Knapówka – Groń – Stróża
⇒ black: Zembalowa – Tokarnia – Groń – Zawadka – access to the yellow trail below Kotoń
⇒ yellow: Lubień – Zembalowa – Krzeczów
Not just Gorylka and the sleeping apostles
Why is the temple of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Skomielna Czarna also called the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Kolomyia? Are there sleeping apostles and a Guardian Angel on Urbania Góra? Where did the Gorylka come from? Is it possible to stand on Parszywka? Where do we find the imprint of the devil’s paw? When did the ‘Descent into Hell’ burn? Who gave Koskowa Góra its name and why is there a chapel on it? Answers to all these questions can be found on the undemanding yet very picturesque trails of Beskid Makowski. Along the way, you can always take a bite of what nature has to offer: blackberries, blueberries and wild strawberries tempt the tourists along the trails.
If we go to the Babica Range (734 metres amsl) we’ll certainly encounter part of the Little Beskid Trail, discover short but sharp ridges in the Las Gościbia Nature Reserve, picturesque cascades, waterfalls and streams, and if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll see some orchids along the trail: the sword-leaved helleborine with its white flowers, or maybe the yellowish white helleborine. In the forest backwoods you can still find the remains of the camp of the Home Army partisan unit ‘Surowiec’.
While in the area, it’s worth taking a moment to visit Harbutowice, to have a look at nearly 700-year-old yews (known as the Raciborski Yews – in memory of Professor Marian Raciborski, one of the pioneers of nature conservation in Poland). They are understood to be some of the oldest trees in Poland.
On the border between Poland, Hungary and Silesia
Hiking the trails of Beskid Makowski, whether on those that are marked or on original paths of your own choosing, we can also immerse ourselves in the backwoods of the Przedbabiogórskie Range (increasingly classified as part of the Żywiec Beskids). It’s dominated by Mędralowa, whose slopes rise up 1,169 metres amsl.
It is from there, or rather from Hala Mędralowa, once a sheep grazing area, where we’ll find beautiful and quite extensive panoramas. Perhaps it’s also worth recalling that until 1564 the borders of Hungary, Poland and Silesia converged here.
When choosing these trails, it’s worth thinking about climbing not only to the top of Mędralowa, but also Jałowiec: 1,111 metres amsl, Czerniawa Sucha at 1,062 metres amsl, or Lachowy Groń, which rises to 1,045 metres amsl.
Bąków, Batków Groń, Czeretnik, Czeretniki or maybe Baków? If you want to find out, it’s worth exploring the undemanding paths of the Pewelskie Range, also known as the Pewelsko-Ślemieńskie Range or Czeretniki (and it’s increasingly included in the Żywiec Beskid as well). Then we’ll conquer not only the highest peak, Baków (766 metres amsl), but also Janikowa Grapa – 737 metres amsl, Madejów Groń – 783 metres amsl, Garlejów Groń – 730 metres amsl, Zwaliska – 757 m, Bigoska – 742 metres amsl, as well as Gachowizna – 758 metres amsl and Kocońka – 701 metres amsl.
What’s the origin of the name of the Laskowskie Range (which is sometimes categorised as part of the Żywiec Beskid)? The name come from its highest peak, for Łosek (868 metres amsl) used to be called Lasek or Łazek in the past. Although its ridge is wooded, there’s still plenty of grassland with expansive views. Near the summit, tourists are welcomed by the Student Tourist Shelter ‘Lasek’. While traversing these trails, it’s worthwhile putting more notches in your hiking stick by conquering for example, Gronik – 640 metres amsl, Zapadliska – 790 metres amsl, Wytrzyszczon – 742 metres amsl, Trzy Kopce – 615 metres amsl and Zagrodzki Groń – 668 metres amsl.
Chełm, its massive mound rising to 603 metres amsl, dominates the low hills of the northern part of Beskid Makowski and occupies the area between the valleys of Skawa, Paleczka and Stryszówka. While in the area, it’s also worth exploring Lipowa Góra – 547 metres amsl, Starowidz – 534 metres amsl, Chełm Wschodni – 581 metres amsl, Mysia Góra – 576 metres amsl, Lasek – 500 metres amsl, and Niculowa – 557 metres amsl.
From Lubomir you can see... the universe
This is where the waters in the springs of Smarkawka, Lipnik and Niedźwiadek rise from the cool, clean depths, and the paths that wrap around this green pyramid have a unique charm. So when we assume that Lubomir belongs to the Beskid Makowski (some researchers see it in the Island Beskids), then during our peregrinations we’ll be able to discover not only the mysteries of the forest and its inhabitants, fill our ears with silence, but also enter the universe by observing comets, stars and nebulae, the Sun and Venus.
From a bird’s eye view, it resembles a massive green mound with a small bald spot near the top. It’s a small clearing on which a building sprung up that resembles a medieval fortress from afar: it’s the Tadeusz Banachiewicz Astronomical Observatory. Why was it installed in this rather unusual place?
Well, the heads of the Kraków Observatory, based at the beginning of the 20th century at Kopernika Street, began to look for a location from which they could make their observations unhindered. Why not in Kraków? Because the sky above the city was not only polluted by dust, but also by the light of the expanding urban agglomeration. The originator of the first observatory station outside the city was precisely Professor Banachiewicz, recall the hosts of the Astronomical Observatory on Lubomir.
After quite a long search, the choice fell on Łysina. There was only one problem. The mountain was owned by Prince Kazimierz Lubomirski. However, the strength of Professor Banachiewicz’s arguments must have been a big deal, since the aristocrat not only donated 10 hectares of forest to the new scientific institution, but also added a wooden hunting lodge. The station began operating in 1922 in rather Spartan conditions. Among other things, it had no electricity, except that which was drawn from batteries.
However, Łysina thus gained a new, prestigious life, but also a new name, for in 1932, in honour of a generous patron, it became Lubomir. However, to ensure that the traditional name wasn’t lost, Łysina was ‘moved’ to a nearby, slightly lower peak.
Let’s also recall that it was on Lubomir that the first two Polish comets were discovered. The first one, in the constellation of Pegasus, was detected by Lucjan Orkisz on 3 April 1925 (it was given his name, and is the first comet discovered by a Pole). Another comet was attributed to Władysław Lis. A resident of Węglówka, an astronomer’s assistant on Lubomir, he saw his comet on 17 July 1936 with the naked eye: in the constellation of the Little Lion (it’s now called Kaho-Kozik-Lis). Not surprisingly, both comets have found their way onto the Wiśniowa coat of arms.
And so, wandering from peak to peak, from valley to valley, you can discover the secrets of Beskid Makowski. Most of the peaks aren’t high and the slopes are quite gentle. Here you will find caves, rocky outcrops and fairy-tale shaped rocks, to which numerous trails and paths lead. The fields, meadows and pastures have slowly become overgrown since intensive farming ceased in the area a dozen years or so ago. Nature is thus taking back what was once snatched from it.
link to description of the Tadeusz Banachiewicz Astronomical Observatory on Lubomir
Wilcze Stawy, Znalezisko, Zbójeckie Okno, Stone City on Łysina, cascades under Złota Górka, Zwalisko, Komoniecki Grotto, Dusiołek Waterfall, Witches’ Rock, Dragon’s Den. What do they have in common? All of these extraordinary features can be found in Little Beskids. That is why, when traversing this charming area, which is dominated by Czupel (930 metres amsl), it’s worth looking not only upwards in search of the marvellous beauty of the sandstone outcrops, but also glancing down from time to time. There’s no shortage of attractions both here and there.
One of the most visited places in the Little Beskid is the Little Beskid Landscape Park. It is here that its greatest treasures are protected: not only orchids and endangered mosses, but also caves, towers and rock pulpits. It’s in the Madohora Nature Reserve, which includes the slopes of Łamana Skała (929 metres amsl, the second highest peak in Little Beskids), that we’ll see the beautiful yellow baskets of the Austrian leopard’s bane, the fantastic pink, blue or dark azure petals of the willow gentian, or perhaps northern firmoss or hard-fern?
Other, equally popular peaks here, are Leskowiec (922 metres amsl), Potrójna (847 metres amsl), and above all Groń Jana Pawła II (890 metres amsl) with two picturesque glades: Beskid and Bargłowa. It’s here that you can find the tourist shelter and the chapel of Our Lady Queen of the Mountains, erected as a gift of the tourists to the Holy Father John Paul II. Next to it stood a steel cross dedicated to the ‘people of the mountains’ and a statue of John Paul II.
Beskid Makowski and Little Beskids – on the paths of history
Where was Karol Wojtyla born? Who was Chiel Bałamuth? What did the Wojtyłas’ flat look like? You can find out all this in the John Paul II Family Home Museum in Wadowice, which was opened on Karol Wojtyła’s 64th birthday and has at its heart the flat of the Wojtyła family on the first floor of Chiel Bałamuth’s tenement house.
We can see here some small artefacts such as a handbag and a medallion with a four-leaf clover worn by Karol Wojtyła’s mother, a copy of Karol Wojtyła’s school certificate and family photographs, but also tableware, his mountain boots, skis and canoe. It’s also a place where we can find traces of the Jews of Wadowice, including a photograph of Jurek Kluger, a friend of Karol Wojtyła.
A trip to Maków Podhalański is also worthwhile, if only to visit the Emil Wacyk Regional Chamber of Maków Land. It’s housed in the Paczosówka Manor House, and preserves for posterity documents and photographs relating to the history of the town and its surroundings, household objects, the work of folk artists, including sculptures, paintings and toys as well as unique white Maków embroideries.
In Lanckorona, in addition to exploring the remarkable town, it’s impossible to miss the site established on the initiative of the Society of Friends of Lanckorona: Antoni Krajewski Lanckorona Museum Chamber, named after a professor from Kraków. It brings together exhibits from the excavations at Lanckorona Castle, everyday objects, folk handicrafts from the early 20th century, and part of the exhibition is dedicated to the Bar Confederation.
In the Myślenice Museum of Independence, we’ll see not only what was excavated at the castle, but also décors of bourgeois interiors from the 19th century. Another institution tempting with its extraordinary collections is the Municipal Museum in Sucha Beskidzka, Local Product Gallery in Stryszów, Municipal Museum in Wadowice, as well as the Polish-American private museum Hell’s Angel: an exhibition recalling the fate of the American B-24 Liberator bomber, which was shot down in Zygodowice during World War II.
Treasures of the Małopolska region – not only on the UNESCO list
The Passion and Marian sanctuary in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, founded by Mikołaj Zebrzydowski in the 17th century, is one of the most precious diamonds in the tourist crown of the Małopolska region, and at the same time the second destination for Polish pilgrims after Częstochowa and a place strongly associated with Pope John Paul II. It’s also an artfully spacious and impressive, shrine, that has enormous spiritual significance. It’s no surprise that the entire ensemble made it onto the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The sanctuary, picturesquely arranged on the slopes of Mount Żar, features not only the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels with the miraculous image of Our Lady of Kalwaria in the main altar, as well as the monastery of the Bernardine Fathers, but also a charming pilgrimage park consisting of 45 chapels, shrines and little churches. It’s also the two-storey ‘Pilgrims’ Houses’ located on Bernardyńska Street, in front of Rajski Square and the entrance to the monastery complex. They were built in the first half of the 18th century and have original wooden terraces with canopies.
When setting out on the pilgrimage route, it’s also worth seeing the churches of St Joseph and of St Michael the Archangel and the Convent of Brothers Hospitaliers – a former monastery and hospital – dedicated to St Florian in Zebrzydowice. In Wadowice, in addition to the home of Karol Wojtyła, we can find the beautiful Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the monastery of the Discalced Carmelites with the Sanctuary of St Joseph in Wadowice.
Skawinki boasts the church of St Joachim, Maków Podhalański has its awesome Sanctuary of Our Lady Queen of Families, Myślenice is honoured by the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the shrine at Stradom, Jordanów exalts the beauties of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Inwałd is blessed no less by the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Inwałd, while Sucha Beskidzka is justly proud of its church and monastery complex. It certainly bears mention that the list of wooden gems of the Małopolska region include the Church of St Erasmus the Bishop and Martyr in Barwałd Dolny.
Lanckorona of artists and angels: Sucha Beskidzka with Little Wawel
Lanckorona is an atmospheric and at the same time magical place. In the past, due to its extraordinary charm and climate, it was a popular destination for Kraków’s artists. Today, it’s still a place full of charm and is visited by large numbers of tourists. It’s also a place of lovers and angels. You’ll discover here not only an urban layout dating back to medieval times, but also a well-kept picturesque Market Square surrounded by small-town buildings and featuring the Church of John the Baptist from the 14th century and the ruins of a fortress from the time of King Casimir the Great.
A unique atmosphere can also be found in Sucha Beskidzka, where we’ll easily find a majestic Renaissance pearl: the Komorowski family castle. It used to be called ‘the little Wawel’ and was owned by the most prominent families of the Małopolska region. Today, it houses, among others, the Sucha Beskidzka Municipal Museum, the Municipal Cultural Centre and the ‘Zamek’ Art Gallery, the Higher School of Tourism and Ecology, and the Kasper Suski Hotel and Restaurant. After just a few minutes’ walk we can reach the famous Rzym Inn, serving not only local specialities, but also colourful stories about, among others, Pan Twardowski. It’s worth mentioning that this inn of extraordinary flavours is housed in an 18th century inn building.
Where else to look when traversing the paths of Beskid Makowski and Little Beskids? Maybe to Myślenice, where you can find the Greek House, Dolnowiejski Manor, a water mill to turn grain into flour, a castle and a beautiful market square. Tokarnia attracts visitors with its elegant nobleman’s manor house with a beautiful history, Jordanów with its charming market square and beautiful town hall, Andrychów with its beautiful Classicist Bobrowski family palace, and we cannot forget to mention such gems as the manor house in Stryszów.
Not just children but parents too wouldn’t dream not going to Inwałd with its magical attractions: World of Dreams Miniature Park, Dinosaur and Amusement Park ‘Dinolandia’ and the Medieval Stronghold. What happens in Apilandia? To find out, you have to visit Klecza Dolna.
Beskid Makowski and Little Beskids – perfect for tourists
Trails and paths that lead through Beskid Makowski and Little Beskids will lead you to places that are very well known, but also rarely visited. We’ll travel here and there on Earth, but also among the stars. We’ll find treasures that the whole world admires and those that will please only our eyes. These areas are perfect for hiking and are particularly suitable for those who don’t like excessive exertion and large numbers of tourists on the trails, but who are instead longing for peace and quiet. They can be explored on foot, by bike, in the saddle or on skis (e.g., Czarny Groń, Arena Myślenice, Szklana Góra (link to description of the Szklana Góra Ski station), and even from a bird’s eye view. Anyone who enjoys an active but not too strenuous holiday will be delighted. Here it’s possible to escape, if only for a moment, from the civilisation that can sometimes wear us down. So, these mountain areas are ‘children’, who aren’t just beautiful and alluring, but also ‘worthy of attention, recognition and love’!