Polonyna Krasna, literally Beautiful (in Polish also Red, via an unfortunate translation) was the most beautiful mountain pasture of Subcarpathian Ruthenia (nowadays Transcarpathia) during the interwar period. It belongs to the Northeastern Carpathians and its main ridge is about 35 km long. The western boundary of this complicated massif is formed by the Tereblya River, which separates it from Polonyna Borzhava. Its eastern limit is the Teresva River, separating the Krasna from the Svydovets. On the north Polonyna Krasna is bounded by the Mokryanka River and its tributary the Pryslop, separating the Krasna from the Gorgany. The southern limits are not clear-cut because the relatively low mountain landscapes are densely fragmented by the hydrographic net with the Uholka and the Luzhanka being its most significant rivers.
Springtime on Krasna
The southern part of the massif is made of the Marmarosh sediments. Karst formations, e.g. caves Druzhba (Friendship) or Molochnyi Kamin (Milk Stone) and Stone Bridge are also associated with this remote area. A peculiar feature of the relief is the presence of rocky strands with cliff formations.
There are 5 important summits in the Krasna Massif:
The highest peak, situated in the central part.
The second highest summit with a transmitter on its top, in the western part.
Rising in the southern spur outside the main ridge, rarely visited.
Situated in the central part (3 km SE of Syhlianskyi)
Located in the eastern part.
Video created during my four visits to the Krasna massif
Uholka-Shyrokyi Luh virgin beech forest
The largest virgin beech forest in Europe with a total area of more than 10 000 ha grows on the slopes of the Krasna massif. This hidden treasure can be deservedly called a pearl of the Carpathians. Protected since 1920, this core of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve is the most valuable asset of Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians - an international UNESCO's World Natural Heritage site. While the virgin forest of Uholka covers the southern and eastern slopes of Menchul, the virgin forest of Shyrokyi Luh, adjacent to Uholka, stretches over the southern and western parts of Krasna. Purely beech woodland, growing in optimal conditions, prevails. It is no accident that the tallest beech specimens in the world, which reach an incredible height of 55 meters, can be found in Uholka. No noise, no pollution here - many tranquil spots instead, including plenty of "first-class wilderness".
A very special feature of Uholka is the presence of numerous limestone cliffs and karst caves. "Druzhba" (Friendship) Cave is the largest in the Ukrainian Carpathians. The milky colouring is what gave its name to "Molochnyi kamin" (Milk Rock) Cave. However, Uholka's main landmark is the Karst Bridge - a natural rock arch created through karst-forming processes.
Video created during my four visits to the Uholka-Shyrokyi Luh massif
Uholka virgin beech forest is accessible from Mala Uholka and Velyka Uholka villages respectivelly, which can be reached by bus from Tyachiv (approx.departures: 12:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. - only on workdays). Private buses and taxis depart from Koshuta Street 90, opposite the orthodox church. Tyachiv is accessible by train or by bus from Uzhorod.
Shyrokyi Luh virgin forest is accessible from Shyrokyi Luh village by bus from Tyachiv.
The Mala Uholka hiking circular trail leads through primeval beech forests passing by Druzhba cave and rocky limestone belt called "Hrebin" with Chur lookout on the way up to the Karst Bridge. The trail is about 5 km long with 500 m elevation gain. The best time to visit is from April to October. The trail begins at the office of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve in Mala Uholka village (Kicherely by the locals).
Deer in the virgin forest
Vast virgin beech woodland
The Velyka Uholka hiking trail is about 4.5 km long with a 400 m elevation gain. The trail begins at the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve's checkpoint in Uholka, which is situated 5 km north of the Velyka Uholka village. On the highest point of this circular route there is the karst cave "Molochnyi Kamin" (literally Milk Stone). Several hundred meters downhill you will catch a first glimpse of a lonely rockface Velyka Kopytsya (literally Big Haystack) which is 70 m high. The only way to get to the summit is a narrow path on the western slope. It is worth to climb as there is a marvellous view over the whole area covered by the canopy of virgin beech forest.
Paradise of wild nature
Shyrokyi Luh virgin forest is accessible via unmarked path leading along the right bank of Luzhanka river.
Polonyna Krasna is accessible via red striped hiking trail connecting Ust Chorna with Kolochava.
Video created during my three visits to the Shyrokyi Luh virgin beech forest
Since Uholka-Shyrokyi Luh virgin forest forms the phytocoenotic core of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve, there are some restrictions. Below is the list of activities, which are forbidden.
leave hiking trails
make fire outside fireplace
damage trees and bushes
eat forest fruits
Carpathian blue slug
To visit Uholka's virgin forests you need a ticket (25 UAH), which can be bought at the local CBR office in Kitcherely (Mala Uholka) situated in the upper end of this village. Another option is via CBR office in Velyka Uholka situated in the upper end of this village about 5 km from the bus stop. To visit Shyrokyi Luh virgin forest you have to reach CBR office in Posych situated about 10 km north of Shyrokyi Luh village.
...in the virgin beech forest
Broken-off tree stem
Polonyna Krasna is not included in the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve so it means, there are no limits dealing with camping, fireplace etc...
Video created during my four visits to the Uholka virgin beech forest