We suggest two trails thanks to which you will get to know the most beautiful spots in Karkonosze. The times given for ascent and descent are approximate. In high season, especially on Śnieżka, you have to assume traffic on the trail, so it is best to plan your trip during the week.
Trail I. To Śnieżka from Karpacz.
Walking time (without stops): about 6 hours, elevation gain: 869 m
The trail begins in Karpacz, one of the two largest resorts in Karkonosze, at the picturesque Wang Church. The unusual building from the 12th century comes from Norway and by a crazy turn of fate ended up in Silesia, when Prussian King Frederick IV was encouraged by some painter to buy it. It is the oldest wooden church in Poland and a unique example of Scandinavian stavkirke style churches – a crumb of the Viking world just below Śnieżka!
From the church, a comfortable blue trail leads through the forest toward the glacial Mały Staw, over which the picturesque “Samotnia” mountain shelter (German translation of the name) with its characteristic wooden tower is perched. After a warming cup of tea or a bowl of soup, we continue along the blue trail toward the main ridge of the Karkonosze.
After about an hour of walking, we reach the Równia pod Śnieżka – a flat, swampy meadow, the vegetation of which looks as if taken out of the far northern reaches of Siberia. From here it is not far to the very top of Śnieżka, which is reached by a comfortable, wide road among majestic rocky debris and magnificent views. At the very summit you can rest in a shelter. Descend to Karpacz along the black trail in the direction of the “Orlinek” ski jump.
Trail II. To Wielki Szyszak from Jagniątków.
Walking time (without stops): about 7 hours, elevation gain: 1021 m
This is a proposal for more seasoned hikers. The reward for the effort is the relative emptiness of the trail and the exquisite panoramas from under Wielki Szyszak – the second highest peak in Karkonosze.
We begin our hike in Jagniątków by the house of Gerhard Hauptman, a German writer from Silesia and Nobel Prize winner. The atmospheric Art Nouveau mansion with fancy interiors has been renovated in recent years and turned into a museum open to the public. From there, the blue trail leads through the forest toward the main ridge of the Karkonosze.
Along the way you pass granite rocks – Paciorki. Although they are a work of nature, the massive, ashen blocks are not the only ones that people with an exuberant imagination will associate with ancient Celtic buildings.
Approximately 30 minutes after reaching the ridge, the red trail passes the summit of the Wielki Szyszak. Immediately after the summit, the slopes of the ridge descend steeply, revealing the Śnieżne Kotły – a huge rock chasm of postglacial origin, down which avalanches sometimes slide in winter.
Above the place called Czarcia Ambona (the German translation of the name) towers the menacing silhouette of a late 19th century relay station, still used today as a radio mast.
The scenery from the road to the summit and the views stretching from the edge of Śnieżne Kotły are sometimes hard to distinguish from those of the Alps. It is even harder to believe that we are only at an altitude of about 1,500 meters above sea level! Not far away, on the Czech side of the ridge, the springs of one of Europe’s largest rivers – the Elbe – are located.
An hour’s walk behind the summit is the Pod Łabskim Szczytem mountain shelter, where you can have lunch or spend the night. Return to Jagniątków along the black trail.