The Bieszczady Mountains belong to the Northeastern Carpathians - formed of flysch, their highest summits of hard sandstone - and they are usually divided into two mountain groups: the Western and the Eastern Bieszczady. 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 (Użocka Przełęcz/Uzhotskyi pereval) on the territory of Ukraine, where the Eastern Bieszczady begin. In Ukraine, the name "Bieszczady" is usually replaced with "Skhidni Beskydy". Their main ridge is part of the water divide between the drainages of the Baltic and Black seas, which is reflected by its Ukrainian name Vododilnyi Khrebet. South of the Western Bieszczady and about seven km west of Pikuy, the Eastern Bieszczady's highest peak, rise the massifs of Ostra Hora and Polonyna Rivna (Runa/Równa=flat), which are regarded as a separate mountain group.
In the Bieszczady, the timberline is formed of beech and runs strikingly low, often below 1200m, which is due to a few centuries of grazing which in the Western Bieszczady ended in the middle of the 20th century, when after the Second World War the local Ukrainian/Rusyn population was deported from the part of the Northeastern Carpathians that remained within the borders of Poland. 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 the woodland, and grazing enormous herds of livestock around the mountain tops. The shepherds, of whom the first may have been Romanian-speaking people specializing in what is called transhumance, cleared the woodland around mountain tops to establish pastures. As a result, the tree line has been considerably lowered. The high mountain pasture in the Bieszczady and elsewhere in the Northeastern Carpathians is known as polonyna (połonina in Polish).
Most of the area of the Western Bieszczady lies in Poland. The same goes for the highest summit of the Western Bieszczady, Tarnica at 1346m. The mountains extend between Łupków Pass in the west and Uż Pass (Użocka Przełęcz/Uzhotskyi pereval in the east). They are bounded on the west by the Osława and Laborec rivers and on the south by the uppermost course of the Uzh River. Their northeastern boundary generally runs several kilometers NE of the upper San River. (The Ukrainian bit which lies NE of the uppermost course of the San has been named Sanske Beskydy.)There are several mountain ridges in the Polish part of the Western Bieszczady:
- The main ridge - both an international border and a water divide - whose highest summit is named Wielka Rawka (1304m)
- Wysoki Dział in the west, east of the Osława River ridge (Wołosań, 1071m) - few human visitors, vast forest, good chance of seeing the big Carpathian mammals, such as the bear and the wisent
- Łopiennik group (1069m), east of the ridge of Wysoki Dział
- The Ridge of the Połoninas, on which the highest summit of the Western Bieszczady stand: Połonina Wetlińska (1255m) NW of Wielka Rawka; Połonina Caryńska (1297m) NE of Wielka Rawka, W of the village of Ustrzyki Górne; Tarnica (1346m) in the Tarnica-Halicz subgroup, east of Ustrzyki Górne
- Otryt (Trochaniec, 939m), on the north side of the San River just above Solina Dam (the ridge of Otryt can be classified as part of the Sanok-Turka Mountains, which form the foothills of the Western Bieszczady)
- Bukovce - the northern part whose highest summit is Veľký Bukovec (1012m)
- Nastaz - the southern part (800m) with Havešová primeval beech forest being a UNESCO’s World Natural Heritage
The Ukrainian corner of the Western Bieszczady between the Slovak and Polish borders, south of the main ridge, is called Skhidni Beskydy or Stuzhitski Beshchady. Their southern boundary is formed of uppermost course of the Uzh river, whose spring can be found near Uzhotska pass. Stuzhytsia primeval beech-fir forest – a UNESCO’s World Natural Heritage being part of Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany is the main landmark for the lovers of wilderness. Wooden church in Uzhok is part of a UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage called Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine. The border massif of Stynka is the place, where the largest meteor in Europe Knyahynskyi had fallen in 1866.
The table below lists the highest peaks in the Western Bieszczady.
|Summit||A few words about|
|Tarnica||Bieszczady's highest peak - to see the mountain page for more information, please click "Tarnica" to the left of the photo.|
|Krzemień||2nd highest peak, the rockiest of all in the Bieszczady, 1 km long sandstone ridge which was originally called Hreben (i.e. "Ridge"), |
blue stripes from Wołosate
|Halicz||3rd highest summit - see the mountain page for more information.|
|Kopa Bukowska||Its top part is free of heavy traffic (no marked trail to the summit), |
red stripe trail skirts its south face at 1240 m.a.s.l.
|Szeroki Wierch||Four-summit ridge whose name translates as "Broad Peak"; its highpoint is called Tarniczka, |
red stripes from Ustrzyki Górne
|Bukowe Berdo||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||The highest summit of the Western Bieszczday's main crest (which is part of the international border), dome-shaped ridge, half a kilometre long, with an avalanche-prone NE face. |
blue stripes from Ustrzyki Górne,
green/yellow stripes from Wetlina/Mala Rawka
|Połonina Caryńska||Four-summit, 5 km long mountain pasture, whose highest culmination is called Kruhly Wierch, |
red stripes Ustrzyki Górne/Berehy Górne,
|Rozsypaniec||At the southeast end of the Ridge of the Połoninas, close to its junction with the main, border ridge.|
|Mała Rawka||"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||The highpoint of Połonina Wetlińska rises in the eastern part of the massif and is called Roh (literally "horn" in Rusyn/Ukrainian); steep S face, Puchatka Hut (the highest hut in the Bieszczady) situated at the easternmost culmination, |
red stripes from Smerek/Berehy Górne,
yellow stripes from Przełęcz Wyżna/Zatwarnica/Wetlina,
|Kińczyk Bukowski||The 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 stripes interpretive trail from Verkhovyna Bystra/Uzhok Pass
|Smerek||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.|
|Kremenaros||A T-junction of three international borders (Slovakia/Poland/Ukraine), the highest summit of Slovakia's part of the Bieszczady Mountains, called Bukovské Vrchy by the Slovaks, as well as the easternmost point of the Slovak Republic. |
yellow/blue stripes from Wetlina/Ustrzyki Górne,
red stripes from Nová Sedlica/Stuzhytsia
Late summer and early autumn often offer favorable weather conditions, besides the gorgeous scenery of the colorful broadleaved woodland. Winter in the Bieszczady Mountains 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.
Wilderness & Wildlife
Europe's largest area of montane beech forest is found in the Bieszczady Mountains, where the borders of Poland, the Slovak Republic and Ukraine meet.The dominance of beech (Fagus sylvatica) is reflected by the name of the Bukovske Vrchy (Beech hills). Special circumstances have 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 another well preserved forest reserves like Udava, Havešová, Rožok were inscribed to the UNESCO's World Heritage List as Primeval beech forests of the Carpathians.
|Primeval Forest||Core Zone (ha)||Access From|
Western Bieszczady rank among the wildest corners of Europe and can be considered as a true "Wildlife hotspot". There is hardly any comparable place in continental Europe, where you can encounter the complete spectrum of ungulates (wisent, elk, red deer, wild boar, roe deer) and predators (brown bear, wolf, lynx, wild cat, fox). Another distinctive feature of the area may be that there is no other place in Europe where nature has replaced human management.
The table shows the list of LukZem's recorded wildlife observations, which were taken during multi-year visits of trilateral Western Bieszczady territory:
Krosno - Sanók 28
Sanók - Ustrzyki Dolne 84
Ustrzyki Dolne - Ustrzyki Górne 896
Michalovce - Humenné 18
Humenné - Stakčín 74
Stakčín - Nová Sedlica 558
Humenné - Stakčín
If you intend to visit the Ciśniańsko-Wetliński or the Dolina Sanu (the San Valley) landscape parks, the best option is to drive to Lesko (Sanok - Ustrzyki Dolne section) and then continue southwards to Baligród or Cisna. Ukraine's Nadsianskyi Regional Landscape Park is accessible by train.
Slovakian bus/train search
Transcarpathian suburban trains
Red Tape & Protected Areas
The Western Bieszczady Mountains are one of the best protected areas in Europe. A large chunk of the mountains is part of the East Carpathians Biosphere Reserve - the first trilateral UNESCO's 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 borders of three countries.
|Total Area (ha)||Campsites||Features|
Nová Sedlica - Poľana
Duszatyn, Buk k.Terki
As most of the Bieszczady National Park area (70%) has the status of a strictly protected zone, public access to the park requires a well prepared system of marked tourist trails. Standard National Park rules apply, such as: no camping, stick to the marked routes, do not disturb wildlife, etc. During the tourist season a small fee (about 1 euro) is charged for entry to Bieszczady National Park.
Almost the same goes for Slovakia's Poloniny National Park except from fee charging. Hikers are allowed to make use of two PL/SK border-crossing points:
|Border-crossing point||Season||Opened daily||Hiking trail||Located at|
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 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. According to my experience, it is good to ask the border police if you are allowed to visit Ukrainian piece. It is also advisable to report your plans at the headquarters of Uzhansky NNP at the town of Velikiy Berezniy. Nadsanskyi Regional Landscape Park is accessible only with a permit from Mostyska border office!
East Carpathian Biosphere ReserveEast Carpathians Biosphere Reserve is the largest biosphere reserve in Europe. In November 1992, under the Man and Biosphere Program, UNESCO designated a Polish-Slovak bilateral Biosphere Reserve. In October 1998 the Ukrainian part joined to form the first trilateral Biosphere Reserve “the East Carpathians” - a unique treasure of global importance, combining immense wildlife value with rich cultural heritage.The reserve contains some of the least disturbed ecosystems e.g. part of the largest European natural beech forest complex, Eastern Carpathian mountain meadows called “poloniny”,and protects endemic and threatened mountain plant species and communities. It constitutes one of the most important refuges for large animals of primeval habitats of Europe. Unique fauna is composed of all native big predators like the brown bear, wolf, lynx and golden eagle, as well as all big native herbivorous mammals like the European bison, red deer and reintroduced Hutzul horse.
East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve covers 200,000 hectares (in Poland 53%, in Slovakia 19% and in Ukraine 27% of the total area) and encompasses six protected areas within the borders of three countries:
- Bieszczady National Park, Cisna-Wetlina and San Valley Landscape Parks in Poland
- Poloniny National Park and its buffer zone in Slovakia
- Uzhansky National Nature Park and Nadsyansky Regional Landscape Park in Ukraine
- Fragments of old Carpathian virgin forests are still preserved over vast areas of the Reserve and the natural beech stands are the biggest in Europe. No wonder in 2007 the clusters of primeval beech forests were inscribed to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
- East Carpathians Biosphere Reserve is the only territory, where mountain meadows called poloniny are being protected.
- Also it is one of the wildlife hotspots, where big forest animals roam free.
- Low population density over a relativelly large territory makes East Carpathians Biosphere Reserve unique within Europe.
Bieszczady National ParkIs established on August 4th, 1973 (gradually enlarged In 1989, 1991, 1996 and 1999). It covers an area of 29.201,62 ha now. It is the largest mountain and third largest national park in Poland. (after Biebrzański and Kampinowski Parks)
- Natural forest ecosystems along with numerous animal populations
- Poloninas stretching above upper forest limit with its distinctive flora and fauna of the Eastern Carpathian character
- Picturesque valleys of former villages, called “the land of valleys”
Since 1992 it constitutes a central part of the first trilateral International Biosphere Reserve “Eastern Carpathians”.
Bieszczady National Park (BdNP) conducts and supports scientific research and promotes ecological education by organizing public access of selected natural resources in the Bieszczady Mountains.
In 1998, as the second place in Poland, it was awarded a Diploma of the European Council for protected areas.
BdNP includes the most important and beautiful places like Polonyna Wetlinska, Polonyna Carynska, the highest summit of the Western Bieszczady – Tarnica and valley of the river San.
Around four hundred thousand tourists go trekking along the trails in the Bieszczady National Park each year, especially during summer season. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on one’s point of view - for example the inhabitants) the number of tourists is growing each year. This doesn’t change the fact that the Bieszczady Mountains, with its low population density, unique countryside and unforgettable scenery, are a perfect place for long, trekking excursions, which could provide one with experiences for a whole life. They are a cult location, a must see for everyone who admires wild nature, quiet and open stretches of land. Countless of people are drawn here in search of silence, clean air and crystal clear water. The serene nature of the Bieszczady is exceptionally gracious for those who love photography of wild nature.
However, these trips require proper preparation and experience, which is always worth remembering while planning a trip.
Tourist activities within the area of the Park are only allowed along marked trails and paths of individual purposes like trekking, skiing, cycling and horse riding. Trekking as a main activity of hikers is described in the separate section.
- Mountain biking
On BNP area it is forbidden to ride a bike along trekking route, nature paths or horse trails but cycling is allowed along public roads and marked bike trails. The total length of mountain bike trails running in BNP is 47,4 km. e.g. trip from the border of BNP across village (Łokiec), along concrete road to Dzwiniacz Gorny and to the border of BPN near Tarnawa Nizna (about 9km.)
Bieszczadzki Ski Event
- Horseback riding
Mountain Horse riding in the Park and its buffer zone is only allowed along marked trails and on the Park’s horses (the Hutsul horses which originate from the Eastern Carpathian Mountains) or on other horses with a special permit of the director of the park. Suggestion of trails:
- Wolosate – Tarnawa (about 30 km / 6 h)
- Tarnawa – Suche Rzeki (about 36 km / 8 h)
- Wetlina – Wołosate (about 22 km / 5 h)
Bieszczady National Park is one of the few European mountainous areas with relatively well preserved native fauna and flora. It is worth to remark that the plant cover and the fauna have been created in result of spontaneous secondary, regenerative succession, which has lasted here since the end of World War II. That ecological phenomena doesn't occur so long and at so large scale in other mountainous areas of Central Europe. Wonderful mountain vistas, vast beech woodland and high probability of meeting wild animals – these are the main features of Bieszczady National Park - the area fondly known as the 'Polish Wild East'.
RoutesI post here only a very little part of all possible route but in my opinion with the most important places and with the most unforgettable views.
- Main destination – Tarnica, Halicz
Ustrzyki Górne, blue marked trail with green marked natural trail (the sign: spotted salamander, 19 stops), there is possibility to take a bus because of long concrete road which is boring (about 1,5h by foot) – Wołosate, red marked trail with green marked natural trail (the sign: long-flowered primrose, 28 stops)and also concrete road but this time without possibility of taking bus (3h by foot) – Bukowska Pass, red marked trail (about 1h) via Rozsypaniec – Halicz, red marked trial (about 1h) – Siodło Pass, yellow marked trail (1/4h) – Tarnica (the highest peak in Bieszczady, 1346 m), yellow marked trail (1/4h) – Siodło Pass, red marked trail with green marked natural trail (the sign: Spring snowflake, 26 stops)via Szeroki Wierch (2h) – Ustrzyki Górne (total time 9h)
- Main destination – Polonyna Caryńska, Krzemieniec
Ustrzyki Górne, red marked trail with green marked natural trail (the sign: beech tree, 35 stops) via Polonyna Caryńska (about 2,5h) – Kruhły Wierch, green marked trail with green marked natural trail (1h) – Wyżniańska Pass, green marked trail (1 3/4h) – Mała Rawka, yellow marked trail (0,5h) – Wielka Rawka, blue marked trail (3/4h) – Krzemieniec , blue marked trail (1h) – Wielka Rawka, blue marked trail (1 3/4h) – Ustrzyki Górne (total time 9 1/4 h)
- Main destination – Polonyna Wetlińska
Smerek, red marked trail via Wysoka Smerek (1222 m) (about 3h) – Orłowicza Pass, red marked trail with green marked natural trail (the sign: alpine globeflower, 35 stops) via the ridge of Polonyna Wetlińska (2h) – Hasiakowa Skała (Chatka Puchatka – the PTTK Hostel), red marked trail with green marked natural trail (1h) – Berehy Górne
Nature paths in Bieszczady National Park go along tourist and routes. The stop points are marked in the field. The special guidebooks contain detailed descriptions which extend your knowledge about the Park. The guidebooks can be purchased in the information points. There is 12 natural paths and 5 of them run via this three examples of routes. Other:
- Nature- historical trail “Wołosate – Tarnica”, sign: lesser spotted eagle, 25 stops
- Nature trail “Wielka Rawka”, sign: rowan, 46 stops
- Nature trail “Suche rzeki – Smerek”, sign: silver fir, 20 stops
- Nature trail “Bukowe Berdo”, sign: rock pink, 24 stops
- Nature trail “Suche Rzeki – Jaworniki”, sign: brown bear (only for participants of educational programmers organized by BPN)
- Nature trail for disabled persons “Zwrót Valley”
- Heritage trail “Upper San Valley”, sign: beaver, 19 stops.
Bukowiec, blue historical – natural trial via non-existing village Beniowa and Sianki where is the grave of counts Klara and Franciszek Stroińscy – Wierszek, unmarked trail - spring of San river, length - 444 km., altitude - 950 m.
- East Carpathian Biospehere Reserve
- Interactive map Bieszczady
- Made in 1936, Polish/Czechoslovakian part
- Hiking trails in Poloniny Nature Park
- Raised-relief map of Bukovské Vrchy
- Interactive map Ukrainian part
- Nadsianskyi Regional Landscape Park with E/UA/PL/SK legend
- Hiking trails in Uzhanskyi NP (Cyrillic)
Map Title Scale Latest Edition Publisher Area Covered Bieszczady 1:40,000 2009 Ruthenus Bieszczadzki NP Bieszczady 1:50,000 2009 Compass Ciśniańsko-Wetliński LP, San Valley LP, Bieszczadzki NP Bieszczady/Bukovské Vrchy 1:50,000 2003 VKÚ Harmanec Ciśniańsko-Wetliński NP, San Valley LP, Bieszczadzki NP (western part), Poloniny NP, Uzhanskyi NP (Stuzhytsia) Bieszczady 1:50,000 2004 Sygnatura Ciśniańsko-Wetliński NP, San Valley LP, Bieszczadzki NP Bukovské Vrchy 1:50,000 2003 VKÚ Harmanec Poloniny NP Bieszczady Wschodnie 1:100 000 2010 Ruthenus Uzhanskyi and Nadsianskyi NP Użański Park Narodowy 1:50 000 2011 Compass Uzhanskyi NP
AccommodationThere is a wide range of accommodation possibilities in the Bieszczady.
Destination Mountain Huts Guesthouses, Hostels Bieszczadzki Natioanl Park Puchatka,
Pod Małą Rawką
Ciśniańsko-Wetliński Landscape Park Pod Honem
San Valley Landscape Park Chata Socjologa Sękowiec
Accommodation in the Bukovské Vrchy
Guesthouses in the Skhidni Beskydy Overnight accommodatin in Nadsianskyi RLP is available here. Village Cottages owned by Boberka Mykola
Former Czechoslovakian Javorník Hut (red stripes from Velikyi Bereznyi) built in 1936 is operational.
Recommended accommodation Address Phone Stavnoe pension Stavne 158 [email protected] +38 0997 340 177 Club Slidopyt Rusky Mochar [email protected] +38 0992 010 415 Club "Visson" Kostryna 1 [email protected] +38 0312 444 107 Sherbin pension Sherbin(150m from railroad station) [email protected] +38 0965 205 266 Hotel Uzhok Volosyanka 440a - +38 0963 301 606 Verkhovynsky Dvor Kostryna 187 - +38 0313 537 225
- GOPR (Poland) emergency number in the mountains: 601 100 300
- GOPR's another Emergency Number: 985 (free of charge).
- GOPR Head office Sanok, 49 Mickiewicza Street: tel. 13 4632204
- Aviation Emergency – Sanok – 13 4630477
- Emergency Signals:
Please help! 6 times a minute (sound or light signal), then a minute's pause.
Answer: 3 signals per minute.
Emergency station Phone Ustrzyki Górne 13 4610606 Cisna 13 4684734 Przysłup Caryński 13 4611848 Połonina Wetlińska, PTTK 603449516
Mountain rescue service
Name of MRS Address Telefon/e-mail Mobile phone Transcarpathian Uzhorod, Vereshcahina 18, 88006 +38 0312 671 413
+38 097 585 6685 Lviv Zaliznichna 16, 79905 +38 0342 222 165 [email protected] +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 GROUP Bieszczady - Sanok Mickiewicza 49, 38-500 +48 134 632 204
+48 601 100 300 Ustrzyki Górne GOPR +48 134 610 606 +48 601 100 300 Pod Małą Rawką GOPR +48 504 170 127 +48 601 100 300
Duty officer of Ministry of Emergency - (+38 0321) 660 701, 660 114 or (+38 0442) 473 103
Emergency numbers of rescue services - 101 (only from UA operators)
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