Babia Gora is a characteristic peak on the Polish-Slovak border, which you can spot from a mile off. That’s because it’s the highest mountain in the country outside the High Tatras, visible from the peaks around Zakopane. It’s located in the heart of a picturesque national park known by the same name as the mountain itself, which is home to an abundance of scenic hiking trails.
This guide to Babia Gora will talk you through the ins and outs of hiking the Queen of Beskids, which is what the mountain is often referred as. We’ll talk you through the trails leading to the peak and give you in-depth info about this mighty peak. So, let’s take a look…
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What’s in this guide to hiking Babia Gora?
Where is Babia Gora?
Babia Gora is a mountain massif in the Western Beskid Mountains on the border between Poland and Slovakia. It’s the highest peak in the Babia Gora National Park, a picturesque nature reserve, a little over two hours southwest of Krakow. You can spot this characteristic mountain from a distance when hiking close to Zakopane – Babia Mountain is the tallest peak in Poland, which isn’t located in the High Tatras. More generally, it is a part of the Carpathian Mountain range that runs across much of central and eastern Europe.
The legend of Babia Gora
The name Babia Gora translates into (rural) woman’s mountain. There are a couple of local legends that try to explain such an original name that this peak bears. Some say it’s a stack of rocks thrown by a giant woman in front of her house. Others tell stories of a highlands robber’s lover who turned into the rock from sorrow. Who knows…
There are also some stories that refer to Diablak (Devil’s Peak) – the highest peak of the Babia Gora massif. One of the legends suggests that the mountain was built by the devil, who intended to construct a castle for a local bandit on top of the mountain. However, the construction collapsed and killed the said man, who was trapped under the rubble. Some also say that the peak was once a location for witches’ sabbaths.
The Babia Gora hike
There are many different starting points and routes up to the top of Babia, so it’s worth deciding which is the best for you before attempting the climb. Whether you want to get to the top as quickly as you can or are looking for the most scenic ascent for great pics, here are some details about the best available trails there:
Is the hike up Babia Gora difficult?
Generally, the hike up Babia Mountain is quite challenging, but shouldn’t be too much of a struggle for experienced hikers. That said, climbing this mountain in the midst of winter might require some special equipment like crampons and ice axes, and gets a little harder than during the warmer summer months. On the plus side, though, winter hikers will be rewarded with fewer crowds on the trails.
There are multiple routes up, so you can easily choose one that will be appropriate to your needs and fitness level. The fastest way to the top starts from Krowiaki parking and takes between 2 and 3 hours to reach the peak. However, this route (red) is pretty steep and gets quite busy. If you’d prefer a gentler ascent, the trail from Slovakia (Slana Voda) might be the right choice. It’s longer than most ways from the Polish side (takes around 4,5 hours), but the path is wide and relatively easy. Plus, there are plenty of benches along the way for water stops.
How high is Babia Gora?
Babia Gora is 1725 meters (5,659 feet) above sea level. What is also known as Diablak (Devil’s peak) is the highest point of the whole Babia Gora massif. You can easily spot Babia Gora from a distance because it’s by far the tallest peak in the region and actually the highest mountain in Poland outside of the High Tatras. There are also subpeaks, such as Small Babia Gora (1517 m).
Where to stay to hike Babia Gora?
If you’re planning a sunrise trek to enjoy the breathtaking views from the peak (like we did back in 2012) then you might want to consider staying in the shelter Markowe Szczawiny. This place has very basic facilities, but it’s the best spot if you want to reach the top when the first rays of sunshine appear. That said, if you’re looking for a bit more luxury, we’d recommend staying in one of the villages close to the trailheads. There is no better spot for that than the modern villas at Osada Mosorny Groń – Zawoja. Families with children will also enjoy great facilities at Hotel&SPA Jawor.