The Chornohora, which literally means Black Mountain, is the highest mountain range in the Ukrainian Carpathians. The length of the range is 40 kilometres; it contains a 20-kilometre-long section whose average elevation is 2,000m. According to most geographers, it belongs to the Eastern Carpathians, however, SP's Carpathians page splits the Eastern Carpathians in half and classifies all Ukrainian Carpathians as part of the Northeastern Carpathians.
The mountains of Chornohora have an area of about 40 by 20 km, sitting between the valleys of the Black Tisa and the Black Cheremosh rivers (map), east of the Svydovets, whose the Chornohora is a higher and more rugged copy. The southeastern boundary of the Chornohora is formed by the White Tisa, the northestern boundary runs between the town of Vorokhta and the village of Verkhovyna (called Żabie by Polish people), along the depression that separates the Chornohora from the mountains of Pokutye (Pokuts'ki Karpaty). To the south of the Chornohora, islands of crystalline rocks come to surface within the Marmarosh Carpathians proper.
Millions of years ago, the main ridge of what is now the Chornohora and the Svydovets was sawn in half by headward erosion of the Black Tisa. Centuries ago the valley of the Black Tisa served as an entrance to the Pannonian Plain for many a nomad tribe coming from the steppes of Eurasia, including those who founded the Kingdom of Hungary about a millennium ago. Looking at the Chornohora from the valley of the Black Tisa, the first impressive mountain in sight, which may appear to be the highest summit in these mountains, is the 2020 metres high Petros. Farther to the east, the actual highest summit, Hoverla at 2061m, can be seen.
Both the peaks stand on the main ridge, which between them extends east to west, but at Hoverla takes a turn to the southeast. For several centuries, Hoverla and the rest of the main ridge of the Chornohora between Hoverla and Pip Ivan in the southeast marked the border between the kingdoms of Poland and Hungary. On the higher ground, some of the toponyms betray their Romanian, or Vlach, origins – see here. The rich history of the region transpires through the names of the highest summits: Petros at the northwestern end, Pip Ivan (pip = priest in Ukrainian) at the southeastern end, Hoverla in the center (discussed here).
The upper sections of the valleys display traces of Pleistocene glaciers: cirques and troughs (U-shaped valleys) with steep, often rocky slopes and broad bottoms sometimes dotted with lakes or peat bogs; the uneven long profiles of the rivers, with occasional waterfalls, such as those on the Prut River. In the valley of the Prut the glacier was 6.5 km long. The tarns of the Chornohora are enchanting; what's more, some of them are believed to be enchanted! The highest mountain lake in the Ukrainian Carpathians is Lake Brebeneskul, which sits at 1800m.
Nesamovyte Ozero(Eerie Lake)
Full moon reflectedin a tarn under Breskul
Mount Hoverla at 2061m is the highest point in both the Chornohora and Ukraine. For the Ukrainian people, the top of Hoverla is a symbol of greatness and pride. It is situated just on the border of the Transcarpathian and Ivano-Frankivsk regions. Its conical peak is surrounded by the Carpathian National Nature Park on one side and Chornohirskyi protected massif of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve on the other side. The visitors are delighted to see the picturesque landscapes of alpine meadows, mountain lakes and forests. From the top of Hoverla it is possible to have a spectacular view of all the five summits reaching 2000 meters in elevation.
In the table below, the summits of the Chornohora which rise above 2000m - from W to SE:
Height in Metres
A few words about
In the northwestern part of the Chornohora, west of Hoverla, towers over the valley of the Black Tisa.
Just north of Hutyn Tomnatyk. It owes its name to sandstone "ribs" on its notheastern flank.
In the central part of the main ridge; on an Austro-Hungarian map made in the 2nd half of the 18th century indicated as Homul.
The second highest summit in the Chornohora, in the southern part of the main ridge.
Pip Ivan Chornohirskyi
At the southeast end of the Chornohora, often called Chorna Hora by the villagers. Ruins of Polish Astronomical Observatory built before World War II
Turkul (1933m) and Nesamovyte Lake
My movie about the Chornohora, part 1
Chornohirskyi protected massif
This is the part of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve where the most unique biogeocenoses are protected and studied. It is situated on the southern macroslope of the Chornohirskyi ridge, at 700-2061m and has an area of 16375 ha. Mount Hoverla sits within the reserve.
The main range of Chornohora is formed by sandstone (the major component of the Carpathian flysch, along with shale) of Cretaceous and Paleogenic age. The geomorphological features of the Chornohora have evolved since the Miocene epoch.
The climate is moderately continental: from cool and humid to cold. As the altitude is higher, the air temperature drops, and the amount of precipitation increases. According to the data from the wheather station at Luhy (613m), the average temperature of the coldest month (January) is 6.8 degrees below zero, warmest (July) - 15.7 degrees, the average annual temperature - 5.4 degrees. The average annual amount of precipitation is 1001 mm. At the Pozhyzhevska weather station (1430m), the average temperature of January is 6.4 degrees below zero, July - 11.5 degrees, the average annual temperature - 2.8 degrees. The annual amount of precipitation increases up to 1465 mm. Large amount of precipitation results in a well-developed net of streams and rivulets. The headwaters of the White Tisa are located here.
Typical of the forest formations are light-brown and dark-brown mountain-forest soils. On the higher territory, peat-mountain-podzolic and mountain-meadow-brown soils prevail.The Chornohirskyi protected massif is characterized by a large diversity of vegetation and flora. The prevailing type of vegetation is forest. The pure beech forests are rarely found in the Chornohora, where the climate is cool, and they are restricted to the southern slopes. Mixed larch-conifer forest with beech, fir and spruce, which grow up to 1200m, are found within a wider altitudinal range.
Pinus Cembra on slopes of
Kiedrowaty, shot in 1929
The zonal fir-groves of the climax character are found higher, forming the upper forest line, which runs at 1500-1600m.The climax communities of elfin woodland (Mugheta, Duschekieta and Junipereta) grow in the subalpine zone.
The best preserved virgin forests of Chornohoskyi massif together with other virgin forests in Transcarpathia and Slovakia, were inscribed to the UNESCO's World Heritage List as Primeval beech forests of the Carpathians
The grassy communities of Deschampsia caespitosa, Calamagrostis villosa can be found in many areas here. Fewer areas are occupied by Nardus stricta. The alpine meadows are formed by the communities of Carex sempervirens, Festuca supina and Juncus trifidus. The communities with the prevailing Carex curvula and Lerchenfeldia flexuosa are occasionally found.
Fir tree 52 meters tall
The flora of the Chornohirskyi massif boasts a number of rare species, such as: Atragene alpina, Helleborus purpurascens, Leucanthemum waldschteinii, Listera cordata, Rhododendron kotschyi, Aconitum firmum, Anemonastrum narcissiflorum,Chrysosplenium alpinum , Gentiana acaulis, Gentiana verna, Melampyrum saxosum, Parageum montanum, Pedicularis verticillata, Polygonum viviparum, Pulmonaria fillarskiana, Rhodiola rosea etc...
The nucleus (characteristic combination of species) of the Chornohirskyi massif's vertebrate fauna is formed by the species of taiga and alpine complexes. Higher up, at approx. 1800m, one can found a snow vole Chyonomis nivalis and alpine accentor Prunella collaris, entered into the Red Data Book of Ukraine.
The typical bird representatives of the conifer and mixed forests are the following: three-toed woodpecker Picoidus tridactylus, goldcrest Regulus regulus , ring ouzel Turdus torquatus, black grouse Lyrurus urogalus lynx, bear etc.
In general, fauna of the Chornohirskiy massif is represented by species which are typical of the forest zone across the Carpathians. Some vertebrate species, including endemic species which are tokens of the Ukrainian Carpathians, can be found only in the Chornohora.
My movie about the Chornohora, part 2
Ruins of the observatory
on the summit of Pip Ivan
Czechoslovakia/Poland historic border post
The main ridge of the Eastern Carpathians used to be a borderline. Until the partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772, it divided the commonwealth from the Kingdom of Hungary. After World War I the border remained in place, but the states it separated had changed: the whole area of what is today western Ukraine was divided between Poland and Czechoslovakia. In 1938-1939 the western part was re-annexed by Hungary until the end of World War II, when the whole region was snapped by the Soviet Union. Since the disassembly of the Soviet Union, the territory has been part of Ukraine. However, most of the characteristic granite border posts from the interwar period still stand all along the crest of the main ridge, and the ruins of the Polish Astronomical Observatory on the summit of Pip Ivan also remind us of the bygone days.
There are many hiking paths that will make the visitor familiar with this green land as well as providing unforgettable experiences. One of the most attractive and popular hikes is the steep ascent of Hoverla. Note that 24th August is Ukraine's Independence Day, on which a great many people (even the president) climb to the summit of Hoverla!
The Chornohora - on this Polish mapCzarnohora, just east of the center - against the other mountains in the area. The red dotted line stands for the border of the province of Maramarosh in the early 20th century, then still part of the Kingdom of Hungary. To the northeast of the NE section of this line lies Galicia, which after World War I, i.e. after over a century of Austrian rule, returned to Poland.