Gorczański National Park
Gorczański National Park
Gorczański National Park extends over the central and north-east parts of the Gorce Mountains, which belong to the Western Beskids. The park was established in 1981 and comprises two mountain ridges stretching from Turbacz (1310 m asl) towards the peak of Gorc (1228 m asl) and the peak of Kudłoń (1276 m asl). Jaworzyna Kamienicka (1288 m asl) is the highest summit of the park. These relatively low mountains are of particular interest to tourists with a taste for hiking thanks to a variety of trails suited to everyone’s enjoyment. Importantly, the area was also included into the Natura 2000 network, being a habitat to rare European birds, such as the western capercaillie, the white-backed woodpecker, the Eurasian pygmy-owl and the Ural owl.
Flora and Fauna
The mountains are covered with beautiful forests, themselves the remnant of the once primeval Carpathian Forest. The areas least affected by man are situated in the lower parts of the mountains made up by mixed forests called beech woods. There, should you visit, one can find centuries-old beech and fir trees in antique splendour. A true curiosity of flora is the lanceleaf grapefern, a fern known to grow only in the Gorce Mountains and now, sadly, completely threatened with extinction. Large predatory mammals - like the wolf and lynx - as well as a number of hoofed mammals, also inhabit the area. The old trees are a favourite nesting site for birds, including such rare species as the eagle owl and western capercaillie, while the flowery meadows resound with the myriad buzzing of insects. The park’s charming symbol is the frequently seen fire salamander.
However, the prominent feature of the Gorce Mountains is the glades, the consequence of the region’s pastoral traditions that harkens back to the 15th century. Amidst the forest complexes, the glades create vast and picturesque clearings that warrant splendid views. Sometimes, these clearings link together allowing landscape trails of breathtaking pastoral beauty. Once used as grazing lands for sheep, some of the glades are embellished with chalets. A few chalets on the Mostownica, Jankówki and Wzorowa glades, precious to the areas charm and history, have been refurbished. The park is also rich in rock outcrops and landslides located mostly in the north on the black trail from Lubomierz.
Gorczański National Park, trail admission fee: May-Oct, 1-day pass: PLN 2, concessions: PLN 1, 3-day pass: PLN 4, concession PLN 2, free admission for children under 7 years old, www.gorczanskipark.pl
On the Jaworzyna Kamienicka glade one may find an interesting feature, the small Bulanda Chapel, which is over 100 years old. It was built by Tomasz Chlipała who grazed his sheep here for almost 50 years. On the edge of the park there are several hostels: pod Turbaczem (Turbacz peak doesn’t belong to the park), na Starych Wierchach and na Maciejowej. Moreover, in the towns of Grywałd, Łopuszna and Harklowa, laid out at the foot of the Gorce Mountains, one can admire the splendidly quaint wooden churches located along the Wooden Architecture Route.