If you look from a very high place, you’d be able to see a 186 miles long mountain range of the Sudetes Mountains, stretching through Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany. By narrowing the field of view only to Poland, it is possible to distinguish many mountain ranges within this range. Today, I will focus on the Sowie Mountains (Owl Mountains), which is the oldest part of the Sudetes and considered to be the most mysterious. Furthermore, I will tell you about, the Stołowe Mountains, called the Table Mountains. I will tell you why these, are my best place for winter hiking in polish mountains. I will reveal some secrets hidden in the depths of the Sowie Mountains. Also, where “The Chronicles of Narnia” was filmed.
The Owl Mountains are a low range, extending over an area of about 16 miles, and are considered to be one of the most mysterious mountain ranges in Poland. Why? The answer has to do with the Second World War. There are stories that the Nazis hollowed out a system of bunkers and underground structures in the Owl Mountains, which were supposed to serve as the headquarters of Adolf Hitler. Apparently, the Nazis hid treasures there that are still waiting to be discovered. When it comes to material treasures, I do not know how much truth there is, but natural beauty in the Owl Mountains simply requires a sigh of delight. In addition, on the trails leading to the highest peak, Wielka Sowa (1015 m above sea level), you can see real gems of mountain landscapes.
It’s especially beautiful in the winter! First, I start my route in Rzeczka town, at Sokolec Street. Then, I follow the red trail to Wielka Sowa (Great Owl), which belongs to the Crown of the Polish Mountains. In summer, the ascent to the summit should not take more than 45 minutes. Although in winter it looks a bit different. Namely, most of the trail is almost completely icy! That is why it is worth having crampons with you. Unfortunately, I was not thoughtful, didn’t have any crampons. And so, I did most of the route in the most bizarre positions, trying to keep my balance. It was conducive to frequent stops and careful observation of the captivating nature, which displayed its charms at every step.
If you are just starting your adventure with winter hiking in polish mountains, going up Wielka Sowa Mountain (Great Owl Mountain) is a good choice. You can reach the summit on one of the many trails. Each of them is accessible and very pleasant. At the very top, at an altitude of 3 330 foot, you can get a stamp as proof that you have managed to reach the peak included in the Crown of Polish Mountains!
I managed to get to the top of Wielka Sowa (Great Owl), and therefore managed to get my first peak from the Crown of Polish Mountains! It’s cold, but there is a self-service barbecue area around where I can warm myself. It is worth stocking up on food and spending some time upstairs. The views are amazing, especially from the tower. It is over 100 years old tower that has become a symbol of the Owl Mountains. From there, you can see the view of the entire Sudetes. How cool is that!
When I stand today at the highest point of the Stołowe (Table) Mountains (Szczeliniec, 919 m above sea level), it is hard for me to believe, that millions of years ago, it was only a sedimentary rock at the bottom of the sea, that once covered the entire surface of Poland. Over a very long time, erosion, tectonic movements, and the sun have created a plateau crisscrossed by faults. The relics of this plateau are the Table Mountains.
The Table Mountains are amazing! Not only because they were created from the sea, but mainly because of the shape of the rock formations. They will awaken the imagination of even the greatest sceptic. Perhaps that is why Stołowe (Table) Mountains were also the place of the screening of scenes from the movie “Chronicles of Narnia”!
My main focus is Szczeliniec, the highest point of the Stołowe (Table) Mountains, which, like Wielka Sowa (Big Owl), belongs to the Crown of Polish Mountains. The trails that lead to Szczeliniec are perfect for the beginners in winter hiking, as well as for advanced hikers looking for an aesthetic experience among the dramatic rocks.
Szczeliniec Wielki is the highest peak of the Table Mountains, 3 015 feet. If you plan to go to the summit in the winter, I recommend taking crampons with you. Since the road is completely icy, it’s hard to keep your balance, especially on the stairs! There are 680 stone steps! So imagine how long it took me to beat them without crampons. Except for the icy surface, which is quickly resolved by crampons, the road is very pleasant and easy. On the trail, I pass many kids with their parents, so even the youngest can easily climb Szczeliniec Wielki.
After climbing the stairs, I reach the hostel in Szczeliniec, from where you’ll find a nice viewing point. Panoramic view of the Table Mountains, also on the Czech side is truly breathtaking. In the hostel, you can buy hot and cold drinks as well as something to eat. I don’t know it yet, but the best is yet to come!
It begins in an interesting way because during the winter you enter the tourist route on Szczeliniec Wielki at your own risk. This route is officially closed in winter. However, in the summer season, to enter this route, you have to pay for the ticket. If you are planning winter hiking in Polish Mountains, Szczeliniec Wielki should definitely be on your list! Why?
The maze of rock corridors in Szczeliniec Wielki is a unique place on a national scale! Nowhere else in Poland you will see monuments so fancifully carved by nature. They even have names like “Ape”, “Camel” and “Princess Head”. There is also the “Great-Grandfather Armchair”, which is the highest point in Szczeliniec. Moreover, the top of this rock formation offers the most beautiful view.
A winter trip to Szczeliniec Wielki is a real feast for the eyes. Snow-covered tree crowns, small streams flowing rapidly in the crevices and the sun shining on the icy stones create a truly fairy-tale scenery. Unfortunately, part of the route in Szczeliniec is completely closed in winter. The closed part is where the deepest rock labyrinths and ravines are located. The scenes for the movie “Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” were shot in the area called “Piekiełko”(Hell). Entering the rock labyrinths in Szczeliniec Wielki is like entering another world. It is a fairy-tale world, full of mystery and beautiful landscapes!