The Tatras are undoubtedly amazing mountains. Although they occupy a small area, they delight with towering peaks and ridges. Their alpine nature, however, makes them dangerous and some trails are definitely not for everyone. Which trails are suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced hikers?
Tatra Mountains offer the trails for everyone – no matter if you like easy and short trails or demanding and difficult, you can find something for you. It’s crucial however to know which are not for you, especially if you are beginner, have fear of heights and / or not good condition. The trails in Poland and in Slovakia are marked in different colors but you have to know that colors DON’T mean level of difficulty like on ski slopes.
The following division of trails on easy, medium and hard is subjective and if you have different opinions feel free to write in comments. I’m not writing about every trails because they are too many and also I still haven’t walked every so I only chose some of them. I’m writing only about summer conditions. In winter even medium hiking trails can be very difficult and even on easy ones can be avalanche risk. Remember also that on the highest slopes snow can still lie in June or sometimes even July so crampons and ice axe sometimes are necessary even in summer. If you want to check current conditions, you can find on Facebook a few groups and fanpages: polish “Warunki w Tatrach”, “Aktualne warunki w górach”, “Aktualna sytuacja w Tatrach” or slovak “Aktuálne podmienky na horách”. People share there photos and experiences from their recent trips.
Easy hiking trails in Tatra Mountains
Chochołowska and Kościeliska Valley
Dolina Chochołowska and Dolina Kościeliska are one of the most popular trails in the Tatras. They are suitable even for children and the elderly, they lead a wide path with a slight height different, up to the shelter – on Polana Chochołowska or on Hala Ornak. The trails provide beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, but their disadvantage is high popularity. On summer weekends in good weather, you can forget about peace and quiet.
Hiking trail to Morskie Oko
Another very popular easy trail is the trail leading to Morskie Oko. It is about 9 km long and is covered with asphalt, making it accessible even for families with children in strollers. The trail itself in terms of views it’s not so beautiful comparing to other Tatra trails. It leads mainly through the forest, on the mentioned asphalt and lacks a real mountain character. Morskie Oko is, however, an amazing place. It is worth taking a walk along this lake and walk further to the nearby Czarny Staw pod Rysami (Black Pond by Rysy).
If you don’t like crowds you will find more silence in the Western Tatras. From the shelter on Polana Chochołowska you can make a trip through Wołowiec, Rakoń and Grześ, which provide great views, and although also popular, they are not as crowded as the Kościeliska Valley or Morskie Oko. It is also worth going through Czerwone Wierchy, that is the mountain massif located at a height of about 2000 m. The trail runs through four peaks – Ciemniak, Krzesanica, Małołączniak and Kopa Kondracka. This tour is more demanding in terms of condition than those mentioned earlier, but it does not include technical difficulties.
The Belianske Tatras (Belianske Tatry) is a mountain range located in Slovakia. It is not crowded, so if you like peace and easy trips you can have a lot of pleasure there. I recommend hiking trail from the village Zdiar to the shelter Chata pri Zelenom Plese and from there descend along the yellow trail. Read more on the post “Through Belianske Tatras to Jahňací štít“.
Cold Valley (Studená dolina)
On the Slovak part of the Tatras there are also other hiking trails worth to see. On a hot day, the yellow trail leading along the stream from Tatranská Lesná village to the Vodopády Studeného potoka (Cold Waterfalls) will be great. Further you can reach Zamkovského chata (Zamkovsky Hut). For beginners, the green trail from Starý Smokovec or the blue one from Tatranska Lomnica will be also suitable.
Medium hiking trails in Tatra Mountains
One of the most popular hiking trails in the Tatras, often perceived as suitable for beginners is also the trail leading to the top of Giewont. However, the end of the trail has a fairly large exposure and is secured with chains. In addition, the slippery rocks increase the difficulty. Many trails in the Tatras outweigh the difficulty of Giewont, but this doesn’t mean that it’s an easy peak and for small children, people with poor fitness or with fear of heights it can be difficult. Read more on the post: “Giewont – the most popular polish peak“.
Rysy peak from Slovak side
The are two hiking trails leading to Rysy – the highest peak of Poland: one from Polish side and another from Slovak side. The second one is technically much easier. There used to be a short fragment secured by metal chains but some time ago it has been replaced by metal stairs so now it’s available even for beginners. The trail requires only good general physical fitness.
Hiking trail through Bystrá lávka pass
Bystrá lávka is a mountain pass in Slovakia at 2300 m. Hiking trail leading through this point is generally quite easy, but it requires quite good sure-footedness. On the pass there is short, more difficult fragment with metal chains. The views on the trail are beautiful. It goes along the Waterfall Skok (vodopád Skok) which is 25 m high and a few small lakes.
Hiking trail through Priečne sedlo pass
Long time I was wondering if I should set it as a medium or as a hard hiking trail. Priečne sedlo (Red Bank), that is mountain pass in Slovakia at 2352 m is said to be one of the most difficult hiking trails in Slovak Tatras. However for me it didn’t seem difficult. I’m not saying it’s easy – it requires to have head for heights, good sure-footedness and general fitness, and I recommend to have a helmet but comparing to trails in hard section, it’s not so hard. Read more in the post “Priečne sedlo – it’s not so hard“.
Hard hiking trails in Tatra Mountains
Rysy peak from Polish side
If you’re sure-footed, like exposed trails, have good physical fitness and want to soak up the beautiful views, I recommend to summit Rysy (2499 m) from north side. Read more in the post “Rysy – the highest peak of Poland“.
Orla Perć (Eagle’s Path)
Definitely the hardest hiking trail in Tatra Mountains. It’s very demanding, difficult to do in one day and has plenty of metal chains, steps and really terrifying ladder. Read more in the post “Orla Perć – the most difficult trail in Tatras“.
Sometimes called “the Slovak Orla Perć”, it’s another very long trail, demanding good head for heights and physical fitness. There’s a lot artificial aids like chains and steps, and the views are amazing! Read more in the post “Roháče – the coolest trail in Slovakia“.
Hiking trail through Prielom and Poľský hrebeň
Contrary to Orla Perć and Roháče, which have many difficult fragments, this trail has only one such part – on the Prielom pass. It’s a short fragment but really hard and also other fragments like Poľský hrebeň and Východná Vysoká peak require good sure-footedness. Read more in the post: “Polish Comb at Slovakia – it was supposed to be easy trip“.