The urbanized part of the town of Zakopane is directly adjacent to the area covered by the Tatra National Park. It is this handy location that allows anyone a bit pressed for time, or whoever doesn’t happen to be particularly fit, or who simply would like to get acclimatised and ready for longer mountains hikes, to get the feel of what being in the mountains is all about, and to commune with nature at leisure.
The Droga pod Reglami footpath - routed along the border of the Tatra National Park, an easy and comfortable footpath (black trail markings). The trail begins at ul. Przewodników Tatrzańskich street, and ends up at the entrance to the Kościeliska Valley (total distance ca. 8 km). Having passed by the ski jump complex, it will take us past the entrances to several scenic valleys, e.g. the Dolina Białego valley, the Dolina ku Dziurze valley, the Dolina Strążyska valley, the Dolina Za Bramka valley, and further on, already outside the town limits, to the Dolina Małej Łąki valley. The footpath is also freely open to cycling.
The Dolina Białego valley - access in close proximity of the "Wielka Krokiew" ski jump facility, or along the Droga do Białego street (yellow trail markings). It takes ca. 1h to follow its entire length. Stunningly scenic, weaving along a mountain creek graced with white-crested rapids and picturesque waterfalls. We can either make our way back along the same trail, or alternatively have the hike extended by turning either towards the Polana Kalatówki glade, or to the Sarnia Skała rocky outcrop, and then further down to the Dolina Strążyska valley.
The Dolina Strążyska valley - entrance from the Strążyska street (red trail markings). After ca. 40 min walk we should reach the Polana Strążyska glade, where the original shepherds’ log huts still stand (one of them presently accommodating a tearoom). Another 10 min. long walk will take you up to a small, scenic waterfall named Siklawica. You may continue the hike from the Polana Strążyska glade towards the Sarnia Skała rocky outcrop (definitely a much steeper climb - black trail markings), while the more seasoned and fitter hikers may opt for a much harder and appreciably longer trail all the way up to the Giewont summit.
The Polana Kalatówki glade - the route begins in Kuźnice (blue trail markings). After ca. 15 min. we come to the fenced off area of the Albertine Sisters convent, where Brother Albert’s hermitage may be visited, or by turning along a short yellow trail (ca. 15 min) - Albertine Brothers Monastery on top of the Śpiąca Górka hillside. Continuing along the main trail we will eventually reach the Polana Kalatówki glade, with a mountain hotel located in its very midst. The glade is stunningly scenic, particularly in the Spring when the lilac crocuses are in full bloom. We can either follow the same trail on our way back to Kuźnice, or opt for a scenic detour by following the black trail markings all the way up to the Dolina BIałego valley.
The Dolina Olczyska valley - entrance from the ul. Balzera street in the Jaszczurówka district (in close proximity of a historic wooden chapel, designed in the highlanders’ style by. St. Witkiewicz). At the entrance the Centre for Active Protection of Amphibians and Reptiles may be visited. It takes ca. 45 min. hike to reach the Polana Olczyska glade (green trail markings). We can get back along the same route, or extend the hike through Kopieniec all the way to Cyhrla Toporowa, or through the Nosalowa Przełęcz pass to Kuźnice. This may still be combined with a climb to the rocky peak of Nosal, although great caution is advised on a rather steep descent.
The Grzbiet Gubałówki ridge - for all those who are particularly fond of the wide vistas. The ridge is located outside the Tatra National Park, with a comfortable tarmac road routed along its entire length. After getting to the top in a funicular railway, we can admire a stunning panorama of the Tatra Mountains and the sprawling town of Zakopane in the foothills. A 30-40 min. walk (in the westerly direction) will take us along the ridge to the upper station of the chairlift to the Butorowy Wierch hillside, which offers a temptingly scenic and comfortable descent.