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Western Bieszczady

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Western Bieszczady

Page Type: Area/Range

Location: Poland/Slovakia/Ukraine, Europe

Lat/Lon: 49.08733°N / 22.56051°E

Object Title: Western Bieszczady

Activities: Hiking, Skiing

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 4416 ft / 1346 m

 

Page By: Tomek Lodowy, LukZem, agra

Created/Edited: Jan 12, 2010 / Dec 12, 2017

Object ID: 588878

Hits: 15302 

Page Score: 88.5%  - 27 Votes 

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Overview

Bieszczady Zachodnie    Bukovské vrchy    Zakhidni Beschady    Besszádok/Ungi-határhegység (HU)


The Bieszczady Mountains belong to the Northeastern Carpathians and are formed of flysch, their highest summits of hard sandstone. They are usually divided into the Western and the Eastern Bieszczady. The Western Bieszczady range extends between Łupków Pass (Przełęcz Łupkowska) in the west and Uzhok Pass (Użocka Przełęcz/Uzhotskyi pereval) in the east. Most of the main ridge of the Western Bieszczady constitutes the border between Slovakia and Poland. Its easternmost bit forms the Poland-Ukraine border, then ends just beyond it at the pass of Uzhok in the territory of Ukraine, where the Eastern Bieszczady (in Ukraine known as Skhidni Beskydy, Pikui at 1408 m) begins. The highest summit of the Western Bieszczady, Tarnica, stands inside the southeast tip of Poland, topping out at 1346 m. To the northeast of the Western Bieszczady strech their foothills named Góry Sanocko-Turczańskie, i.e. the Sanok-Turka Mountains (in Ukraine known as Verkhnodnistrovski Beskydy), reaching 1024 m. (People on the ground tend to think these mountains are part of the Bieszczady.) West of the Western Bieszczady, beyond the Osława River, Łupków Pass and the sources of the Laborec extends the Low Beskid (1002 m). To the southwest sits Vihorlat at 1076 m, belonging in the Carpathian volcanic belt. A bit further to the southeast rise the massifs of Ostra Hora and Polonyna Rivna (1482 m), which were once regarded as part of the Bieszczady but are now considered a distinct range. 
 
Tarnica and BorzavaTarnica
 
The rocky ridge of Mount Wetlinska Meadow (1253 m)Sandstone on top
 
Three polonynasLooking south
 
Beech-fir woodlandPrimeval beech-fir woodland

The Bieszczady mountains differ from the other mountain ranges in Poland rising over 1200 m in that they lack the upper montane forest level, normally formed of spruce in this part of Europe. Above the beech woodland stretches a distinctive grassland zone called połonina (Polish) or polonyna (Ukrainian). This is believed to be a natural phenomenon, although some scientists disagree. The treeline in the Bieszczady often runs strikingly low, a couple of hundred meters below the expected 1250 m, which is due to a few centuries of grazing. Until the 15th century few people had lived in the Bieszczady, but the second half of the second millennium A.D. saw extensive colonization, exploitation of woodland in the valleys and its destruction on mountain tops and the upper slopes so that it made way for pastures, on which enormous herds of livestock were grazed. As a result, the poloninas have been greatly extended and the treeline lowered. 


 
View from Pass ( 1238 m) Polonina in summer
 
Typical landscape in BieszczadyAt treeline
 
The Sun of BieszczadyPolonina in winter 
 
Krywe valleyWhere a village sat

Extensive grazing in the Western Bieszczady as well as overpopulation in the area ended in the middle of the 20th century, when after World War II the local Ukrainian/Rusyn population was deported and dispersed in the north and west of Poland in retaliation for genocide against Poles committed by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. Since then the Western Bieszczady has undergone rewilding - nature has replaced human management. Now these mountains rank among the wildest corners of Europe and can be considered a true 'wildlife hotspot'. There is hardly any other place in Europe where you can encounter such a wide range of ungulates (European bison aka wisent, elk, red deer, wild boar, roe deer) and predators (brown bear, wolf, lynx, wild cat, fox). Please see chapter 8 for more information.


Subranges


The highest summits of the Western Bieszczady rise in the southeast corner of Poland. 

Krzemień - Halicz (1333m) [Bieszczady Mountains - Poland]
The Połoninas Ridge 

There are several mountain ridges in the Polish part of the range:
  • The main ridge - both an international border and an important water divide trending WNW-ESE whose highest summit is Wielka Rawka (1304 m)

  • The Ridge of the Połoninas, which stretches to the north of the main ridge, parallel to it, and boasts the highest summits in the Western Bieszczady: Tarnica at 1346 m, Połonina Caryńska at 1297 m and Połonina Wetlińska at 1255 m  

  • Wysoki Dział in the west (Wołosań at 1071 m), east of the Osława River: few human visitors, vast forest, good chance of seeing the big Carpathian mammals, such as the bear and the wisent

  • Łopiennik group (1069 m), east of the ridge of Wysoki Dział

  •  
    Smoking BieszczadyWysoki Dział
     
    Lopiennik from FalowaŁopiennik
     
    From Mt.Korbania to the EastOtryt ridge from Łopiennik group
      
    San river in DwernikSan River

  • Otryt (Trochaniec, 939 m), on the north side of the San River just above Solina Dam. The ridge of Otryt is sometimes classified as part of the Sanok-Turka Mountains


Green lungs of Europe
Bukovské vrchy 
 
Poloniny National Park
Bukovské vrchy 

In Slovakia, the Western Bieszczady mountains are called Bukovské vrchy. In the west they are surrounded by Laborecká vrchovina (905 m) and in the south by Beskydské predhorie (661 m). They are covered by extensive woods which contain clusters of primeval beech forest inscribed on the World Heritage List as part of the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany. Nature is not the only thing that can be found there. In the villages of Ulicske Krive, Rusky Potok and Topola stand wooden churches with rare iconographic decorations of the interior. Bukovské vrchy can be divided into two subgroups: Bukovce in the north, whose highest summit is Veľký Bukovec at 1012 m, and Nastaz in the south (800 m).


 
Stynka massif (1019m)
Stuzhitski Beschady
 
Evening over Uzhok
Uzhok village

The Ukrainian corner of the Western Bieszczady between the Slovak and Polish borders, south of the main ridge, is called Stuzhitski Beschady. Its southern boundary is formed of the uppermost course of the Uzh River. Wilderness lovers will head for Stuzhytsia primeval beech-fir forest – a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. Those who are keen on cultural sites will be pleased to see the wooden church in Uzhok - part of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage named Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine. Besides, some may feel like visiting the frontier massif of Stynka, where the largest meteorite in Europe, Knyahynskyi fell in 1866.



Highest Summits


The table below lists the highest peaks in the Western Bieszczady.

Summit
Elevation in meters
Photo
A few words about
Tarnica
1,346
Western Bieszczady's highest peak whose name originally meant 'saddle'! To see the mountain page for more information, please click 'Tarnica' to the left of the photo
Krzemień
1,335
2nd highest peak, the rockiest of all in the Western Bieszczady, 1 km long sandstone ridge which was called Kremiń or Hreben (i.e. Ridge) by the locals, blue stripes from Wołosate
Halicz
1.333
3rd highest summit as late as 1970s thought to be the highest - see the mountain page for more information
Kopa Bukowska
1,320
Its top part is free of heavy traffic (no marked trail to the summit), red stripe trail skirts its south face at 1240 m
Szeroki Wierch
1,315
Four-summit ridge whose name translates as Broad Peak (its highpoint is called Tarniczka), red stripes from Ustrzyki Górne
Bukowe Berdo
1,311
Three-summit ridge with sandstone crags on the crest. According to W. Krukar until World War II the mountain was called Połonina Dźwiniacka by the local people; blue stripes Otryt-Wołosate, yellow stripes from Muczne
Wielka Rawka
1,307
The most prominent summit in the Western Bieszczady (523 m of prominence) and the highest summit on the main ridge, dome-shaped, with an avalanche-prone NE face, blue stripes from Ustrzyki Górne, green/yellow stripes from Wetlina/Mała Rawka
Połonina Caryńska
1,297
Four-summit, 5 km long ridge whose highest summit is Kruhly Wierch - see the mountain page for more information
Rozsypaniec
1,280
At the southeast end of the Ridge of the Połoninas - see the mountain page for more information
Mała Rawka
1,270
'Mała' translates as 'little'. Just north of the summit of Wielka (Great) Rawka. There is a small clearing, i.e. a tiny 'połonina' on the top.
Połonina Wetlińska
1,253
Highpoint of Połonina Wetlińska rises in the eastern part of the massif and is called Roh (literally 'horn' in Rusyn/Ukrainian); steep S face, Chatka Puchatka (former hut, today café) situated at the easternmost summit, red stripes from Smerek/Berehy Górne, yellow stripes from Przełęcz Wyżna/Zatwarnica/Wetlina, interpretive trail
Kińczyk Bukowski
1,251
Highest summit of Uzhanskyi National Park, situated on the PL/UA border. The southernmost tip of Poland - Opołonek peak rises a few kilometers past Kińczyk Bukowski, access to the area is officially forbidden! Grey stripe interpretive trail from Verkhovyna Bystra/Uzhok Pass
Smerek
1,222
At the northwest end of the Ridge of the Połoninas, in the massif of Połonina Wetlińska. Smerek is separated from the main part of the massif by a low (1075m) pass named after Mieczysław Orłowicz, renowned Polish hiker, author of about a hundred guidebooks - see the mountain page for more information
Kremenaros
1,221
T-junction of three international borders (Slovakia/Poland/Ukraine) - see the mountain page for more information


Movie created by LukZem during his eight visits to the Western Bieszczady: part 1/2
Movie created by LukZem during his eight visits to the Western Bieszczady: part 2/2

Red Tape, Camping & Bears

Wild camping in the Polish and Slovakian territories is forbidden.

The Western Bieszczady range is one of the best protected areas in Europe. The bulk of the mountains is part of the East Carpathians Biosphere Reserve - the first trilateral UNESCO Man and Biosphere project in the world. It is the largest biosphere reserve in Europe with a total area of nearly 2,000 square kilometers. It contains six protected areas within the confines of three countries. Please see chapter 8 for more information.

Protection statusCampsites
Bieszczadzki National Park 
Brzegi GórneBereżkiGórna Wetlinka
Poloniny National Park 
Čierťaž passRuské pass, Nová Sedlica - Poľana
Uzhanskyi National Park
Stuzhytsia, Kostrino, Stavne, Uzotska pass
Ciśniańsko-Wetliński Landscape Park 
Roztoki Górne, RabeDuszatyn, Buk k.Terki
San Valley Landscape Park 
Rajskie, Wańka Dzial
Nadsanskyi Landscape Park 
Biniowa


Bear s haven
Bear refuge - no entry
 
Ruske Sedlo pass
'Cabin 240 m'
The Ciśniańsko-Wetliński and San Valley landscape parks form the buffer zone of the Bieszczadzki National Park. Most of the area of the latter (70%) has the status of a strictly protected zone where hiking is only allowed along the waymarked trails. Camping, bivouacking and entering areas where there are known bear dens are prohibited. (There have been several bear attacks on people in recent years, nearly all of them on forest workers or the locals picking mushrooms or red deer antlers.) Biking is only allowed along public roads. Horseback riding in the BNP and its buffer zone is only allowed along marked trails and only on the Park's horses (Hutsul horses). During the high season a small fee (an equivalent of about €1.5) is charged for entry. 

Almost the same goes for Slovakia's Poloniny National Park except that there is no entry fee and you are allowed to stay overnight in a couple of cabins, such as those at Ruské sedlo/Przełęcz nad Roztokami Górnymi or sedlo pod Čierťažou, both on the main (border) ridge. Hikers are allowed to cross the Slovak-Polish border at the two following crossing points:

Border-crossing pointSeasonOpen dailyHiking trailLocated at
Balnica - Osadné
1.6. - 30.9.
9:00 - 18:00
yellow stripes
Westernmost part
Roztoki Górne - Ruské sedlo
1.4. - 30.9.
9:00 - 18:00
yellow/blue stripes
The west-central part


 
wilderness camping
Bivouacking in Ukraine
 
S face of Kremenets as seen from Ukraine s Stuzhytsia campsite
Stuzhytsia campsite
The situation in Ukraine's Uzhanskyi National Nature Park is now getting better and some campsites, hiking trails and rest places have been set up. You can follow the newly marked red stripe trail Velikiy Bereznyi - Yavirnyk - Dubovy Haj - Stynka - Stuzhytsia - Ceremcha - Lubnya - Verkhovyna Bystra - Scherbyn - Uzh Pass.
 
NB: Ukraine is not part of the European Union, so the regulations are much stricter, and border-crossing is out of question. From experience, it is a good idea to ask the border police if you can visit the Ukrainian piece. It is also advisable to report your plans at the headquarters of the Uzhansky NNP at the town of Velikiy Berezniy. The Nadsanskyi Regional Landscape Park is accessible only with a permit from Mostyska border office!


Getting There

 
Heading to Bieszczady
Coming from W
 
Bieszczady forest railway
Bieszczady railway
 
Uzhok viaduct
Uzhok viaduct
Polonina Carynska in MayInto highest chunk


Flights fromArrive inFrom airport by roadFrom airport by trainTo
England, Ireland, Germany
Rzeszów 
Rzeszów -E371- Domaradz -DW886- Sanok -DK84- Ustrzyki Dolne -DK896- Ustrzyki Górne 
Rzeszów - Zagórz
Bieszczadzki NP
Austria,Czech Republic
Košice 
Košice -E50- Michalovce -18- Humenné -74- Stakčín -558- Nová Sedlica 
Košice - Humenné, Humenné - Stakčín
Poloniny NP
Ukraine
Uzhorod 
Uzhorod -H13- Uzhok 
Uzhorod - Syanky
Uzhanskyi NP


The highest part of the Western Bieszczady is readily accessible from the north (Poland). The driving distance from the city of Rzeszów to the village of Ustrzyki Górne in the middle of the Bieszczady National Park is less than 170 km (a car journey takes over 3 hrs, bus 4.5 hrs).

From Košice, the largest city in the east of Slovakia, it takes up to 2.5 hrs to drive to the village of Uličské Krivé that sits in the heart of the Bukovské vrchy.

Uzhorod 10:35 p.m.
Syanky 02:02 a.m.
Sokolyky 02:35 a.m.
Polish railroads   Polish buses    Slovak buses/trains   Ukrainian search   Transcarpathian suburban trains
Ulic Krive - Church of St Michael the ArchangelChurch in Uličské Krivé
Carynska above UstrzykiAbove Ustrzyki Górne

Maps





More maps online

 
Trail signpost at Przyslup Carynski
 
Upper San river valley - Map
 
Paper Maps

Map titleScaleLatest editionPublisherArea covered
Bieszczady Wysokie
1:40,000
2009
Ruthenus 
Bieszczadzki NP 
Bieszczady
1:50,000
2017
Ruthenus 
Polish Bieszczady
Bieszczady
1:50,000
2017
Compass 
Polish Bieszczady, N part of Bukovské vrchy 
Bieszczady
1:50,000
2014
Sygnatura 
Polish Bieszczady
Bieszczadzkie Pogranicze
1:70 000
2017
Compass 
Nearly all of the Western Bieszczady
Bieszczady i Bukovske vrchy
1:70 000
2014
Daunpol 
Nearly all of the Western Bieszczady
Bieszczady/Bukovské vrchy
1:50,000
2003
VKÚ Harmanec
Polish Bieszczady except E part, Bukovské vrchy, Stuzhytsia 
Bukovské vrchy
1:50,000
2003
VKÚ Harmanec
Poloniny NP
Bieszczady Wschodnie
1:100 000
2010
Ruthenus
Uzhanskyi and Nadsianskyi NP, all of the Eastern Bieszczady 
Użański Park Narodowy
1:50 000
2011
Compass
Uzhanskyi NP

When To Go

The climate of the Western Bieszczady is continental with snow cover lasting from November till the beginning of May. The annual amount of precipitation exceeds 1100 mm and July is the rainiest month. If you are seeking solitude, a hike in the Bieszczadzki National Park in the middle of the summer season is definitely not a good idea. September is often said to be the best option - for two reasons: fewer people and leaves turning colors.


Late summer and early autumn often offer favorable weather conditions, besides the gorgeous scenery of the colorful broadleaved woodland. Winter in the Bieszczady Mountains can be freezing cold, but is very romantic as there are hardly any visitors and you have unique panoramic views for yourself: From the High Tatras on the western horizon to the Gorgany Mountains far east inside Ukraine.

Tatra Mountains from Bieszczady
 
Paportna winter scenery
 
Carynska sunset
 

Mountain Conditions & Rescue



In the Western Bieszczady there are about a dozen places that experience avalanches almost every year, the sides of Wielka Rawka and Szeroki Wierch being most at risk. Avalanches can occur on any steep slope, not necessarily above the treeline.

  • webcam

  • avalanches

  • Poland (GOPR) emergency number in the mountains: (+48) 601 100 300 or 985

  • Slovakia (HZS) (+421) 18 300
    Warning In Slovakia - unlike in Poland - those who do not carry commercial insurance have to pay for any rescue services rendered by Mountain Rescue Service (HZS).

  • GOPR Head office Sanok, 49 Mickiewicza Street: tel. 13 4632204

  • Aviation emergency – Sanok: 13 4630477

Emergency stationPhone
Ustrzyki Górne
13 4610606
Cisna
13 4684734
Przysłup Caryński
13 4611848
Połonina Wetlińska
603449516


Reach out for the sunrise!
 


Mountain rescue service in Ukraine

Name of MRSAddressTelephone/e-mailMobile phone
Transcarpathian
Uzhorod, Vereshcahina 18, 88006
+38 0312 671 413 zak.resque@tn.uz.ua
+38 097 585 6685
Lviv
Zaliznichna 16, 79905
+38 0342 222 165 resque_tur@ukr.net
+38 0322 395 070
Vyshka
Krasiya summit, 89023
+38 0312 671 413
+38 050 527 1705
Volovets
Karpatska 100, 89100
+38 0313 622 290
+38 068 502 8551

Duty officer of Ministry of Emergency  (+38 0321) 660 701, 660 114 or (+38 0442) 473 103

Emergency number of rescue service: 101 (only from UA operators)

Accommodation

 
Rabe forest hut
Rabe
 
Balnica in winter
Balnica
 
Bacowka pod Mala Rawka refuge
Pod Małą Rawką
 
Wetlinska summit refuge at sunrise
Chatka Puchatka

There is a wide range of accommodation options in the Polish Bieszczady: Take a look here or here 

AreaMountain HutsGuesthouses, Hostels
Bieszczadzki National Park
Puchatka*, Pod Małą RawkąKremenaros
WetlinaUstrzyki GórneWołosate
Ciśniańsko-Wetliński Landscape Park
Pod HonemJaworzec
Baligród, CisnaBalnicaOkrąglik
San Valley Landscape Park
Chata Socjologa
SękowiecZatwarnicaChrewt
* The famed Chatka Puchatka (Winnie the Pooh's Hut) has been recently turned into a café and does not offer accommodation any longer.


Accommodation in the Bukovské Vrchy 
Spring ritualThe best accommodation
Runina Runina village in a sea of green

Guesthouses in Ukraine Overnight accommodation in Nadsianskyi RLP is available here:
Village Cottages owned by
Boberka Mykola Butriy Galyna Pron'o Anatoliy Bizhyk Ivan Fedash
Shandrovets Hanna Zgoba Mykola Saray Anna Pyptyk Ivan Startsun
Verkhnya Yablunka Paraskoviya Semkiv Bogdan Shyika --- ---
The former Czechoslovak Javorník Hut (red stripes from Velikyi Bereznyi) built in 1936 is operational.


Recommended accommodationAddresse-mailPhone
Stavnoe pension
Stavne 158
158@stavnoe.com
+38 0997 340 177
Club Slidopyt
Rusky Mochar
admin@slidopyt.com
+38 0992 010 415
Club "Visson"
Kostryna 1
info@clubvisson.com
+38 0312 444 107
Sherbin pension
Sherbin (150m from train station)
salamanderalex@yahoo.com
+38 0965 205 266
Hotel Uzhok
Volosyanka 440a
-
+38 0963 301 606
Verkhovynsky Dvor
Kostryna 187
-
+38 0313 537 225


 
Jaworzec refuge
Jaworzec
 
Przyslup Carynski refuge
Przysłup Caryński
 
Ruske sedlo refuge
Just a shelter (see chapter 2!)
 
 Chata Socjologa  Shelter
Chata Socjologa

East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve

Movie created by LukZem during his eight visits to the East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve

The East Carpathians Biosphere Reserve in the Western Bieszczady Mountains is the largest biosphere reserve in Europe. In 1992, under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Program, a bilateral, Polish-Slovak Biosphere Reserve was designated. In 1998 Ukraine joined and the first trilateral biosphere reserve came into being - a treasure of global importance combining immense wildlife value with rich cultural heritage. The reserve contains some of the least disturbed ecosystems in Europe, such as the largest on the continent, well-preserved beech forest complex and East Carpathian mountain meadows ("poloniny"). It is home to several endemic and threatened plant species and communities as well as a number of animal species, including large predators such as the brown bear, wolf, lynx and golden eagle. Along with the carnivores, big herbivorous mammals live here: Carpathian red deer, European bison (also known as wisent) and Hutsul horse.

The East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve covers 200,000 hectares (of which 53% is in Poland, 19% in Slovakia and 27% in Ukraine) and encompasses the following six protected areas:

Protection statusEstablished inTotal area (ha)PhotoFeatures
Bieszczadzki National Park 
1973
27,064
Polonynas - the highest parts of the Bieszczady Mountains, endemic flora
Poloniny National Park 
1997
29,805
The least visited NP: the highest concentration of primeval beech forests in Slovakia, wooden churches
Uzhanskyi National Park
1998
39,159
Stuzhytsia primeval beech-fir forest, Chorna mlaka crater
Ciśniańsko-Wetliński Landscape Park 
1992
51,014
Duszatyńskie Lakes, canyon called Sine Wiry, narrow-gauge railroad
San Valley Landscape Park 
1992
36,600
Free-ranging herd of wisent
Nadsanskyi Landscape Park 
1997
19,428
Historical buildings


Movie created by LukZem during his visits to the Bieszczady, Poloniny and Uzhanskyi National Parks
Movie created by LukZem during his visits to the Cisniansko-Wetlinski, San Valley and Nadsanskyi Landscape Parks

Europe's largest area of montane beech forest can be found in the Western Bieszczady. The dominance of beech is reflected by the Slovak name of the mountains, Bukovské vrchy (Beech Hills). Special circumstances made it possible for extensive remnants of virgin forests to persist in this transboundary area until today. The first forest reserve called Stuzhytsia was established in 1908. In 2007 this primeval forest with other well-preserved forest reserves such as Udava, Havešová and Rožok were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians.


Primeval ForestCore Zone (ha)Access From
Stuzhytsia - Bukovské Vrchy 
2 950
red stripes from Nová Sedlica
Stuzhytsia - Uzhok 
2 532
red stripes from Stuzhytsia village
Udava 
52
yellow stripes from Osadné
Rožok 
67
unmarked forest road from Uličské Krivé
Havešová 
171
unmarked forest road from Kalná Raztoka


 
A gap in the canopy of beech trees
Havešová
 
Udava nature reserve
Udava
 
Udava primeval forest
Udava
 
Rainbow over the canopy of world s treasure
Stuzhytsia


sunset in Bukovské Vrchy (Slovakia)
 


Bieszczady National Park


Hills above Lutowiska
View from N 
Trail registration
Check in
 
Bieszczady ski touring
Backcountry skiing
On the trail to Mount Połonina Caryńska
Controversial, right?
The park was first established in 1973, but was substantially enlarged in 1990s. Today (in 2017) it covers an area of 292 sq km encompassing the most valuable, highest, eastern part of the Western Bieszczady that lies in the southeastern tip of Poland fondly known as the 'Polish Wild East', including a narrow exclave stretching along the uppermost reaches of the San River, divided from the core area of the park by a swathe of its buffer zone designated as the San River Landscape Park. The Bieszczady National Park is the largest mountain national park in Poland. It protects montane forest ecosystems, the poloninas and the so-called 'land of valleys', i.e. the cultural landscape of what is left from the villages of the Ukrainian/Rusyn Boyko and Lemko ethnic groups. It may be worth mentioning here that since the end of the 1940s the flora and fauna of the area have been developing as a result of spontaneous, secondary, regenerative succession. 

The BNP has 140 km of waymarked hiking trails furnished with wooden signposts, rain shelters, benches, bridges over streams, duckboards, steps and railings to prevent erosion by walkers. Some stretches of the trails, furnished with information panels, marked with an image of a wild animal or plant and described in detail in a booklet that you can purchase at the entrance, function as interpretive paths. One of these paths, named 'Zwrót Valley', is accessible for disabled persons. There are also some trails for horseback riding (around 65 km in total). 

The BNP is one of the few European mountainous areas with relatively well preserved native fauna and flora, although forest of primeval character, beech or beech-sycamore with an admixture of fir, covers only a few percent of it, growing in the wildest, hardly accessible nooks, such as the valley heads of Solinka, Wołosatka and Hylaty creeks. The woods of the Western Bieszczady had the hardest time from the 19th to mid-20th cent., when they were decimated to meet the needs of industry, but much of them had been altered or destroyed by humans since a few centuries earlier when a greater number of farmers became settling in the valleys and herders practicing transhumance arrived. The poloninas were extended but oxen and sheep were grazed in the woods as well. Also, livestock sought shelter from scorching summer heat there. A testimony to the pastoral economy of the past is bizarre 'pasture beeches', which used to be nibbled by livestock or pruned by sheperds. 

 
Wolosatka valleyAbove Wołosatka wilderness
 
Wolosatka valley wildernessWołosatka wilderness
 
Niedzwiedzi Potok creekBear Creek
 
Old Beech Tree'Pasture beech'
 
Charcoal burning in BieszczadyOutside the Park

The timberline that is closest to what it must have been before the arrival of herds of cattle and flocks of sheep can be seen at about 1250 m on the sides of Wielka Rawka, where grazing ended over a century ago. The upper level of the beech wood shrinks to krummholz, then green alder appears, then grasses and subalpine or alpine flowers. Poloninas, i.e. the meadows above the treeline, are a species-rich formation characteristic of the Northeastern Carpathians. Most are secondary communities that arose owing to cattle grazing on mountain ridges. Some of the most beautiful flowers have been recognized as Dacian migroelements, namely the bellflower (Campanula abietina), Dacian violet (Viola dacica), monkshood (Aconitum lasiocarpum) and compact pink (Diantus compactus). In recent years the poloninas have undergone floristic and faunistic changes due to the fact that the grassland is not grazed by livestock or cut any longer. Generally, the grassland is slowly losing its human-induced biodiversity. Therefore the park authority is considering a resumption of grass-cutting on selected poloninas. 
 
 
Glaucopsyche aleksis on Ragged RobinGlaucopsyche aleksis
 
Siberian Iris<i>Iris sibirica</i>Siberian Iris
 
Viola dacicaDacian violet
 
Dianthus compactusCompact Pink
 
The term 'land of valleys' is used to refer to the romantic remnants of the Boyko villages, whose residents were deported from the part of the mountains that remained within the borders of Poland in 1947. (Please see this album.) These patches within the park, the largest of them being the exclave along the uppermost reaches of the San, are under partial protection, which means, for example, that its semi-natural meadows are cut and grazed by livestock. 

 
Upper San river valley
 Fog over 'land of valleys'
 
Jaworzec village
Where Jaworzec village was 
 
Boyko houses at Sianki, 1939
Sianki village in 1939 
 
 Countess  Tomb  chapel at Sianki
Tomb of Countess 
Unfortunately (or fortunately,depending who you ask) the number of tourists visiting the BNP (450,000 in2017) keeps growing every year. This doesn't change the fact that it is aperfect place for long day hikes, a cult location for everyone who admires wildnature, tranquility and sweeping mountain vistas. Especially, if you come in the off-season.

Kinczyk Bukowski (1250m)Bieszczady in April
LukZem video from his two visits to the Bieszczady NP


Wildlife


Video of a rare encounter with a wolf in the Western Bieszczady (by LukZem)

The East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve is one of the wildlife 'hotspots' where big forest animals roam free and small animals are aplenty. The table below shows LukZem's recorded wildlife observations, which were taken during his several visits to the Western Bieszczady.

Species
Photo
Observed at
A few words
Wolf
San Valley Landscape Park
About 150 individuals, the highest density of wolf packs in Europe.
Wisent
Poloniny National Park
About 200 animals roaming free especially in the Polish part.
Ural owl
Stuzhytsa primeval forest
Forest-dwelling species, its territorial call can carry up to two km
Viper
Poloniny National Park
Encountered on the trail without any signs of fear from my presence.
Black stork
Bieszczady National Park
Its favourite areas are the valleys of the San, Wetlinka, Prowcza and Osława.
Red deer
Poloniny National Park
Several hundred individuals preferring remote forest complexes; rich food resources result in healthy populations of mature animals that can weigh over 250 kg
Nutcracker
Stuzhytsia primeval forest
This typical inhabitant of spruce woodland has also found refuge in Stuzhytsia's primeval beech forest.
Roe deer
Poloniny National Park
These game animals are common and serve as a nutritional base for large predators.
Silver-washed Fritillary
Uzhanskyi National Park
Its preferred habitat is thin, sunny, deciduous woodland.
Grey-headed Woodpecker
Poloniny National Park
This rare bird species was observed near Stuzhytsia's mixed woodland.
Fox
San Valley Landscape Park
I was lucky to observe six lone foxes in the meadows near Zatwarnica.
European Dipper
Poloniny National Park
This expert diver likes fast-flowing rivers and streams.
Grass snake
Poloniny National Park
It lives near water and reproduces in water-filled depressions.
Buzzard
Bieszczadski National Park
It breeds in forest, usually on its fringe, but favors hunting in an open land.
Squirrel
Poloniny National Park
Its diet consists primarily of a wide variety of plant food, including nuts, seeds, conifer cones, fruits and fungi.
Grey Wagtail
Poloniny National Park
Usually seen on open marshy ground or meadows, where they walk solitarily or in pairs.
Common frog
Bieszczadski National Park
It breeds in shallow, still, fresh water. The females, which are generally larger than the males, lay about 1,000 eggs, which float in large clusters.
Black woodpecker
Poloniny National Park
Typical inhabitant of Stuzhytsia and Havešová primeval forests.
Wasp spider
Uzhanskyi National Park
This spider weaves a spiral orb web in about an hour, at dawn or dusk, commonly in tall grass a little above the ground.
Carpathian blue slug
Poloniny National Park
This species is endemic to the Carpathian Mountains.
White stork
Poloniny National Park
A nesting pair in the center of Runina village.
Spotty salamander
Havešová primeval forest
I happened to observe more than 30 individuals in a single rainy day.
Meadow Brown
Uzhanskyi National Park
Its larvae feed on grasses, such as Sheep's Fescue.
White-backed Woodpecker
Rožok primeval forest
It is the largest of the spotted woodpeckers living in the boreal and temperate climates.
Blackspotted pliers support beetle
Poloniny National Park
Larvae develop in silver fir, hazel and European beech.


Video created by LukZem during his eight visits to this trilateral wilderness: part 1/2
Video created by LukZem during his eight visits to this trilateral wilderness: part 2/2

External Links

Bieszczady s westernmost ridge
W Bieszczady at W end
Polonyna Bukowska (the Halicz range)
W Bieszczady at E end - photo by agra

 
Campanula serrataCampanula serrata

Carynska in winter 

                                                                          Layout and text of the 2017 version: yatsek and LukZem

Images

Glaucopsyche aleksis on Ragged RobinThe Sun of BieszczadyReach out for the sunrise!Old Beech TreeThe rocky ridge of Mount Wetlinska Meadow (1253 m)Nature\'s templeWetlinska summit refuge at sunrise
Mount Smerek (1222 m)Sunrise over Mount CarynskaSpotty salamander <br> <i>(Salamandra salamandra)</i>Dianthus compactusMount Krzemien (1335 m) and Mount Kopa Bukowska (1320 m)Carynska in winterCampanula serrata
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