Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy

Lake Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy, although it is not accessible through a tarmac road, like the most popular Tatra lake Morskie Oko, does not require special skills or fitness from tourists. Of course - just as any other walking trip in the mountains - it requires some common sense; common sense to judge your own strength, the weather and to remember about many other factors, such as the right boots, jacket, backpack or a thermos with some hot tea. There is a shelter along the way to Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy, where you will be able to have something to eat and drink some tea.

The route to Czarny Staw from Kuźnice is 13.6 km long. According to guidebooks, its takes 3.40 h to get there and back again. It is worth checking it on - a hiking time calculator. You will then find out that a very fit person will need just 2 h, while a weak tourist in poor shape must expect up to 5-6 h of walking. Despite this, it is an easy trail, especially during the summer holidays, in late spring and in early autumn, when it is not slippery or icy.

We set out from Kuźnice. Remember that you must get there on foot or by bus - the road between Kuźnice and the Jan Paweł II Roundabout is closed for traffic. Only mini-buses are permitted to go to Kuźnice. From our Kawa z Mlekiem, Stars and Scandinavia Apartments, it takes just 5 minutes to walk there.

We recommend walking even if it is only to stop for a moment at the Prometheus Shot Dead Monument. The monument was created by Władysław Hasior and erected at the road to Kuźnice in 1964. It commemorated the 20th anniversary of the massacre of 20 Poles who were shot by the Nazis at the Wielka Polana Kuźnicka clearing. The monument, created by this brilliant Zakopane-based artist, is a fascinating but also overwhelming work of art. Several metres above ground, on top of a granite rock, Hasior placed a metal, headless and mutilated human corpse pierced with arrows, with a huge gaping hole in the middle. There is a ladder reaching it from the ground. Next to it, the artist included more symbols. Next to the monument is a wooden cross with the inscription: „It was here that those who deserve the respectable name of protectors of the Homeland were killed on 30 May 1944”.

In Kuźnice, make sure you follow the blue trail, which starts to the left of the cable car station. If you take the blue route which begins on the right side - you will suddenly end up on Mount Giewont… We start at an elevation of 1,010 m a.s.l. and finish at 1,624 m a.s.l. at Lake Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy. After ca. 1.3 h of walking, the blue route will get us to the Murowaniec Tourist Shelter in Hala Gąsienicowa. Along the way, you will pass by a log cabin of the Tatra National Park and the Central Training Facility of the Polish Mountaineering Association.

The blue and yellow trails meet at the mountain pass known as Przełęcz między Kopami. Beyond the pass, in the southern part of the trail, you can see the grassy expanse of Królowa Rówień. The views from this point are among the most scenic in the Tatra mountains. There are benches for tourists here to let them rest.

The Murowaniec Tourist Shelter at Hala Gąsienicowa is located at 1,500 m a.s.l. It was built between 1921 and 1925 by… The Polish Army. It offers 120 beds in rooms for between 3 and 10 people.

Our destination is only 2 km away. Guidebooks say that it takes another 30 minutes to get there. The difference in elevation between the Shelter and Lake Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy is 124 metres. Czarny Staw is the fourth deepest lake in the Tatra Mountains. It is 51 metres deep in the deepest place. Its western bank is overlooked by the slope of Kościelec, one of the most often visited and most popular mountains among Tatra hikers in this part of the range.

The lake’s waters seem to have a deep navy blue or even black colour. This effect is due to water which flows down the nearby slopes and the cyanobacteria covering the rocks on the shore. But the colour is just an optical illusion. The actual colour of the water is sapphire, and it is translucent up to a depth of 12 metres.

The lake freezes over in October or November, depending on the weather. The ice disappears completely in May and sometimes even only in June or July.

In order to introduce some variety on our way back, at Przełęcz między Kopami, we choose the yellow trail, which also leads back to Kuźnice through the Dolina Jaworzynka valley. The valley resembles more a canyon than a vale. It is narrow with steep slopes. It is here that the first large ski jump in Poland was built in 1921. Its ski jumping record is 36 metres. After the Wielka Krokiew ski jump was built, the one in Dolina Jaworzynka was disassembled in 1930.

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