VeloCzorsztyn – alternatively, MTB style
Probably every Polish cyclist has heard of the bike route around Lake Czorsztyńskie, and most have either already ridden it or have plans to do so. The paved VeloCzorsztyn (part of VeloDunajec), prepared especially for cyclists and almost entirely separated from car traffic, has been attracting tourists to the Podtatrze region for several years now. No wonder, after all, going along this fairly easy route (one more difficult climb is the one near Falsztyn) you can admire the beautiful landscape of the lake and the surrounding mountains, i.e. the Lubań range to the north and the Pieniny Spiskie to the south (plus, of course, the Tatra Mountains and Babia Góra in the background). If anyone during this trip wondered if it was possible to get the aforementioned mountains squeeze on a bicycle and go around the lake with them, then this tour proposal is just for him or her.
We warn you at the outset that this is a proposal dedicated to mountain bike lovers and those with a fair amount of power in their legs, or possibly – electricity in an e-bike):
- 63 km,
- Approximately 1500 m up/down,
- 70% off-road, on unpaved paths.
Before the VeloCzorsztyn bicycle route was created, which circles almost the entire dam reservoir on the Dunajec River (excluding parts of the Pieniny National Park), it was around Lake Czorsztyńskie that one rode on busy public roads (road version) or just over the mountains (MTB version), using hiking trails (Spiš Loop) and paths of the surrounding halls.
VeloCzorsztyn – alternatively, MTB style (pic. VeloMalopolska)
By water or by land?
The common denominator of the standard and alternative cycling route around Lake Czorsztyńskie is the need to use water transport, i.e. a ship or a gondola, which runs between the castles in Czorsztyn and Niedzica. You can, of course, choose to travel along the paved county road, stretching along the Osice Pass, or along an off-road road as far as Kroscienko nad Dunajcem and return along the Dunajec Pass and VeloDunajec to Niedzica, but then it will be difficult to cover the entire route in one day. For the brave and experienced cyclists this option is of course also highly recommended, especially that in Czerwone Klasztor you can turn to fantastic singletracks in Slovakian Lechnica, where you can have fun for a good half a day.
VeloCzorsztyn – alternatively, MTB style (fot. VeloMalopolska)
You can leave your car below the Czorsztyn-Ski ski resort, which in the warm season turns into a lively bikepark with slopes of various levels of difficulty. However, we will return to it at the very end of the trip, and if strength allows someone, there is nothing left to do but to check out any of the four routes.
Route description (start – finish)
From the Snożka Pass you will descend on local dirt roads (with a picturesque view of the lake, castles and the Tatra Mountains) to the shore of the lake in the area of the marina in Czorsztyn. Here you will decide with your bicycles on any boat (they run from May to November) and in this pleasant way reach the Dunajec castle in Niedzica. Those who want to, explore, and those who want to hit the mountains right away, start climbing along the Spis Loop trail to the next scenic spot – Pod Taborem. The markings of this trail will help you get your bearings several times during this trip, although we will deviate from it a few times, if only to ride along the picturesque ridge of Mt. Żar and climb a small observation tower located on its summit.
VeloCzorsztyn – alternatively, MTB style (fot. VeloMalopolska)
Treat this suggestion more as an option for the willing, as the climb to the ridge is quite tedious – there is a bit of pushing uphill and a return along the same road. Why yes? After all, descending from Ziar to Dursztyn on the hiking trail is possible, but it is ultra-steep and the surface is very loose. Anyway, the names of the amateur downhill lines mapped on Trailforks speak for themselves – To the Gates of Piekielko and Piekielko. I wonder if they took their name from the name of the peak or from red-hot brake pads?
So we suggest returning by the ridge and descending through the mountain pastures (watch out for shepherd dogs!) to the first buildings of Łapsze Niżne, from where you will take the asphalt road up the Wokół Tatr Trail (SWT) to Dursztyn. This will be one of the few asphalt sections, but we hope no one will be offended by it on the climbs. In Dursztyn you’ll leave the comfortable SWT trail and return to dirt tracks to climb Grandeus. This is the start of one of the more picturesque hills in Spisz, with a captivating panorama of the Tatra and Gorce Mountains. Accompanied by such views, you’ll ride all the way to Ubocz, where an easy descent under Dursztyńskie Rocks awaits you, and a momentary return to the paved SWT to cross the bridge over the Białka River in Nowa Biała.
VeloCzorsztyn – alternatively, MTB style (photo. VeloMalopolska)
Here, as another optional excursion, we recommend bouncing to the Białka Gorge Nature Reserve – under the famous Oblazowa Rock. Be sure to dip your feet in the cold water and think about the scenes for the TV series about Janosik that were filmed here. You will cover the distance from Nova Biala to Debno, where we recommend visiting the wooden church, on gravel roads along the Bialka River, so the ride is pleasant, all the time with a slight slope. Enjoy it, because the most difficult part of the route ahead of you…
It will still be relatively quiet and asphalted for the last time to Szymbark, so you will take advantage of bike paths and local public roads that will take you high up to Studzionki. Only in the middle of this climb the hard surface will turn into a gravel and dirt road, but fortunately this will not prevent you from entering the Lubań range. From here I’m already riding along the popular hiking and biking trail along the ridge of this range, up to the observation tower on Luban. The landscape stretching out from here is downright insane, so we encourage you to take a slight detour from the route, even though the tower is not on the trail and you have to reckon with a short bike push (we recommend doing it along the trail from the ruins of the old hostel). The descent below the Czorsztyn-Ski resort in Kluszkowce is a mix of forest roads and paths, which were also used during mountain biking marathons organized here (Cyklokarpaty, Ochotnica 4Towers).
VeloCzorsztyn – alternatively, MTB-style (fot. VeloMalopolska)
After returning to the bikepark, you can go straight to any of the pubs for a solid meal, or climb to the very top (the last one for today) of Mt. Wdżar. You’ll look at the lake and the Tatra Mountains from here, rub your nose (thankfully) at the Gorce Dragon sculpture, and test at least one of the local slopes. Who knows, maybe new singletracks will be ready, to be put into use in 2022? We encourage you, of course, to go down all the local routes. Remember that getting to the summit again will be facilitated by a chairlift operating nearby.
Tired? Then think about the fact that tomorrow you can already drive around the lake on VeloCzorsztyn at full speed, look from its banks at the surrounding mountains and think: “oh, yesterday I was on this peak and on that peak”. Satisfaction guaranteed!
VeloCzorsztyn – alternatively, in MTB style (fot. VeloMalopolska)