Dolina Chochołowska (Chochołowska Valley),
time to walk 5 h
This is half a day trip, an easy one, with 225 metres of altitude difference. A walk along the longest valley in the Polish Tatra mountains. One of the biggest attractions in the months of April and May are crocuses all covering the Chochołowska Clearing with a violet carpet. There is a car park at the entry to the valley at Siwa Polana. There is also mountains bikes rental, bikes can be returned at the shelter in Chochołowska Clearing. We can also get to the valley with one of numerous private mini buses operated in the area. In the valley, we can take a horse carriage ride or a train between Siwa Poland and Polana Huciska (operates only in summer time).
Access from Zakopane via village of Witów. The road to Chochołowska Valley goes left of the main road southwards in the place where Kirowa Woda stream coming from Kościeliska Valley is joined by Siwa Woda from Chochołowska Valley. Czarny Dunajec river comes out of those two. Continuing along regular asphalt road past Leśniczkówka restaurant we come as far as Siwa Polana. In the east corner of the clearing, in a place where helicopter with the late Polish Pope John Paul II landed in 1983 a cross was put up to commemorate the event. John Paul II met Lech Wałęsa in Chochołowska Clearing mountain shelter then. The late Pope's visit to the valley is commemorated on many occasions all along the valley. In the southern corner of the clearing the road comes into the woods, and this is where Chochołowska Valley proper starts. It takes 3 kilometres to walk to get to Polana Huciska, where a car park used to be in the past. This is where the regular asphalt road comes to an end. Bitten track takes you to dolomite Niżna Brama Chochołowska (Lower Chochołowska Gate) along Chochołowski Stream. On the eastern wall of the gate a plague commemorating John Paul II's visit to the valley in 1983 together with an anti Austrian uprising that broke out in the neighbouring village of Chochołów in 1846 was placed. Further onto the right is a Pod Jawory clearing with historical shepards' shelters. A few hundred metres further up is the Droga Pod Regami path (black trail) taking you to Kościeliska Vally. We then go past another narrowing Wyżna Brama Chochołowska (Upper Chochołowska Gate) cut in between the slopes of Bobrowiec and Kominiarski Wierch and reach National Park forester's lodge – former Blaszyński's shelter. Left goes the path to Iwaniacka Pass and then Ornak shelter in Kościeliska Valley (yellow trail) or to Mount Ornak itself, Siwa Pass (green trail from Iwaniacka Pass), Starej Roboty Valley and further to Siwa and Raczkowa Passes and Starobociański Szczyt (black, green and red trails). The road along Chochołowska Valley goes south-west wards and climbs higher and higher. We then come to another crossroads – left of the Trzydniówka Clearing goes the red trail to Trzydniowiański Wierch.
Continuing straight on we come out of the woods onto the Chcohcołowska Clearing. The summits of Bobrowiec (with pointed dolomite crags known as Mnichy Chochołowskie) and Grześ together with Rakoń pyramid surround the valley from the west. There are still quite a few historical shepards' shelters left together with John the Baptists chapel at the foot of Mount Bobrowiec (the chapel was built as a stage set for a well know Polish JANOSIK film). It is worth turning back half way through the clearing to see the massive Kominiarski Wierch with characteristic layers of sediment rock. In the south-western corner of the clearing is the biggest of all Tatra mountain shelters called Schronisko Chochołowskie (1148 m asl) that was built in 1953 according to Anna Górska's design. There are almost 200 beds available in double and quad rooms, dorms, dinning room, sitting room, bookshop, buffet bar. Close to the shelter is a small museum opened thanks to efforts of Tatra Guides Association and TOPR - Tatra Voluntary Rescue Team and commemorating the operation of transporting injured Slovakian and Soviet guerrillas from the Slovakian military hospital on the slopes of Brestova next to Zwierówka over the border to liberated Zakopane at he end of the World War II. In winter time there is a mobile ski lift. The views are most picturesque in spring when crocuses bloom.
We return the same way.