I’ve always avoided going to the same places. I love exploring new spots, and staying in a one I’ve seen just bores me. On the other hand, Pieniny is one of a few exceptions. I love them and every time I miss them enough, I jump into the car to see once again the characteristic pine tree at the top of Sokolica Mountain.
Actually, I can’t explain why Pieniny are so special to me. Maybe it’s a matter of the diverse landscape of this place. The mountain trails are green here and aren’t as monotonous as in the Tatra Mountains. At the same time Pieniny is an excellent observation point for the Tatra Mountains. To this day I’m getting back to August mornings, when drinking my morning coffee I had such views in front of me.
I love driving on local winding roads, looking for an opportunity to take nice photos. I also like to wake up early, watch sunrise and enjoy being the only person on a trail. Unfortunately, the tourist trails in Pieniny are quite popular. To reach the summit of Trzy Korony (Three Crowns) or Sokolica, you must often wait in a long queue. On the other hand, I like to contemplate the beauty of these mountains alone.
I love Czorsztyn Lake, which isn’t actually a lake but an artificial retention reservoir. Everytime I’m here, I take a detour around it. Then I visit famous town – Czorsztyn, where you can see the remains of the former village of Maniowa, flooded with water for the purpose of building a retention reservoir. A characteristic wooden architecture from the turn of the 19th and 20th century, is located in the most beautiful place of Czorsztyn Lake. The panorama of the Tatras and Pieniny as well as the Castle in Czorsztyn and Niedzica is the best from here.
Right next to it, you can visit Czorsztyn Castle, although it is quite ruined, it is still a great viewpoint.
On the other side of the lake, there’s a much better preserved castle in Niedzica. The castle looks best from the dam.
The dam is another attraction of Czorsztyn Lake. It plays a very important role in the water management of the area, as it creates a retention reservoir that regulates water level. Thus it protects adjacent areas from drought and flood. A pumped hydroelectric energy storage is also located here. It stores the surplus of produced electricity, pumping water from the lower to upper tank. On the other hand, during increased demand, this process is reversed to produce electricity.
Since 2011 on the dam you can see an interesting 3D mural called ′′ The Power of Elements”. To see this three-dimensional picture, you have to stand in a strictly marked place.
In fact, the main reason for my return to Pieniny is one beautiful trail leading through the most beautiful peaks of Pieniny: Trzy Korony (Three Crowns), Castle Mountain and Sokolica.
Although the Three Crowns look best from the Slovak side, it’s worth climbing this summit because with any luck, you can see an amazing view of the Tatra Mountains from here. Last time I wasn’t so lucky, but on the other hand the persistent fog and clouds created an amazing atmosphere.
The further route I take from the Three Crowns leads through the Castle Mountain and then to Sokolica. This trail is very diverse, leading through the forest and quite steep rocks, while the views along the way are amazing.
The last point – Sokolica, in my humble opinion, is the most beautiful peak of Pieniny. There you can admire a beautiful view of the green hills and meandering Dunajec river. Additional charm of Sokolica is added by a dwarf pine, which is actually a symbol of this mountain.
A trip to Pieniny can’t be completed without climbing the highest peak of Pieniny – Wysoka, which also belongs to the Crown of the Polish Mountains. This is the highest peak in Pieniny, with an amazing view of the rest of this range, Tatra Mountains and Babia Gora. Unfortunately, during my visit, the weather wasn’t very good and apart from dense fog I didn’t see virtually anything, but this unpredictiable character of the mountains attracts me the most.
An additional attraction of this route is the Homole Gorge, which leads through a number of bridges and footbridges. Steep canyon walls, interestingly carved stones and water cascades, are the main reason to explore it.
Being in Pieniny, it’s also worth visiting the famous spa – Szczawnica – Zdrój. This is a perfect place to relax after mountain climbing. On the other hand, if someone doesn’t have enough, they can always use a chair lift to the top of Palenica. From the summit there is a beautiful view of Szczawnica and its surroudnigs.
Less than 3 km from Szczawnica, you can see Zaskalnik falls. It’s a popular place, especially in the summer you can meet many people cooling in cold water here.
Pieniny is an amazing place worth visiting even for an longer weekend break. I am convinced that I will come back here again 😉