DISCOVER THE UNDENIABLE BEAUTY OF GORY STOLOWE NATIONAL PARK IN POLAND
Despite being a fascinating town, Karlow isn't really top of the must-see list for most people visiting Poland. Of course it's not easy to compete with charming cities such as Warsaw and Krakow, but Karlow is also a stunning and interesting destination.
The most surprising place I've visited in Karlow was, undoubtedly, Gory Stolowe National Park, also known as “Table Mountains.” For hiking enthusiasts — like myself, it's a place you must visit again. Located in South-West Poland and sharing a territory with Czech Republic, its 63 kmsq of mountains offer a wide range of unique activities for its visitors.
The park area is a huge patchwork of hiking trails: over 100 km of traced paths. The reserve's highest point is Szczeliniec Wielki, reaching 919 metres; and, along with Mały Szczeliniec, which reaches 896 metres, both 492 feet above Karlow, they create a massive and wide landscape scenario, with numerous cracks and deep canyons.
Hiking to the top takes around one hour or two and the trail is not too challenging. However, to reach the summit, you must conquer the 665 steps carved into stone in the late 18th century by Karlow's mayor, Franz Pabel.
What really sets the park landscape apart — among stone mazes and groves, also impossible to ignore —are the rock formations shaped like animals and humans, sculpted by nature thousands of years ago. You can find an "elephant," a "monkey," and a "mammoth", among many others.
When you finally reach the summit of Szczeliniec Wielki, you will find yourself in a completely different world. At the top, there is the unique bed and breakfast - “Na Szczelincu,” built in 1845 in Tyrolean style, where you can see all of the Sudetes mountain range.
After taking in all the splendor of the west view of “Table Mountains” — in the Czech side, the way back may be done in two different paths: either going down the same trail or through “Piekielku,” which, in English, means “Hell.” Hear this advice attentively: going back the same trail would be an unforgivable sin. The "Hell" path is packed with atmospheric mazes made out of stonewalls and massive walls covered moss, and the views are just breathtaking!
It is to preserve this marvelous natural area that we have Gory Stolowe National Park. Either by climbing up the highest spot of Table Mountains or by exploring cosmopolitan Warsaw, visiting Poland is always an unforgettable experience. Once more, we have irrefutable proof that, even among giant mountains, size doesn't really matter.