Karkonosze National Park is located in the southwestern part of Poland along the border of the Czech Republic. The park covers an area of 21.53 square miles (55.76 sq km).
The Karkonosze Mountains of the national park are affectionately known as the miniature Alps and represent the highest range of mountains in the larger Sudetes mountains of Central Europe. Along with the Krkonose National Park in the Czech Republic, the park is recognized as a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
Sniezka, Snieznik, and Sleza are three peaks in the range, all reaching heights of 4,600 feet (1,402 m). A difficult and challenging trail allows skilled hikers to make the trek between the three peaks. Sniezka is the highest of the three summits and the tallest peak in the park.
The mountainous area is characterized by large boulders, glacial kettles, ponds, and streams that feed into larger rivers. Well over half of the park is blanketed with forests. The park also features a habitat of peat bogs, which has been declared by Ramsar as an international wetland of importance.
The park is not known for wildlife; however, it is here. Birdwatchers can keep an eye out for the 100 plus species of birds nesting or migrating through the park. The highlight of the park is the mouflons that are rarely found anywhere else in Poland.
The park delivers stunning mountainous landscapes, beautiful waterfalls, and pristine wilderness, which collectively serve as the highlight for most visitors. Adventurous hikers like the challenges associated with hikes up and between the mountain peaks.
Sniezka, also spelled Snezka, is the tallest mountain in the national park reaching a summit of 5,260 feet (1,603.3 m). It is the highest point along the red trail hike between the three peaks of Sniezka, Snieznik, and Slezak.
Sniezka is located on the border between Poland and the neighboring Czech Republic. It is also the highest summit in the Czech Republic and the neighboring Krkonose National Park. This makes it a pinnacle and popular attraction for visitors.
The Polish meteor observatory sits atop the mountain, providing an indoor observatory for capturing the panoramic views while escaping the elements of the cold if needed.
Sniezka is also distinguished by being recognized as part of the Crown of Europe and Crown of Polish Mountains, and Crown of Sudetes.
The mouflon is a wildlife highlight of the park since they can rarely be seen anywhere else in Poland. The mouflon is a wild sheep that look similar to the renowned bighorn sheep except are darker reddish-brown coat.
Males are horned, and females may have horns or not. The mouflon reaches shoulder heights around 3 feet (0.9 m), with males reaching weights around 110 pounds (50 kg). Females are smaller and weigh approximately 77 pounds (35 kg).
They are most commonly found in the upper elevations floating between the forest and areas above the tree line. They prefer steeper mountainous areas.
Trails of Karkonosze National Park
Karkonosze National Park is renowned for hiking offering visitors at least 33 different trails traversing over (100 km) of the park. It is the most popular hiking destination in the Sudetes of Poland. The trails are renowned for offering stunning panoramic views of the landscape and terrain.
Sniezka Okolnik Trail: This is an exciting adventure covering a distance of 12.1 miles (19.47 km) around the loop trail, which features an elevation gain of 3,349 feet (1,020 m). The trail will meander through the forest and along mountain ridges providing astounding views of the area below.
Schronisko Trail: This 6.1-mile (9.82 km) trail ascends 1,591 feet (484.93 m) while traversing through the forest, along a river, and up into the mountains. You will have views of wildflowers and chances to see wildlife as well as the natural beauty of the landscape.
Kopa nad Morena do polana-Kotki Trail: This is a loop trail rated moderate that travels around 5.9 miles (9.49 km) of the lake and mountain wilderness. There is an elevation gain of 1,437 feet (437.99 m), which provides striking views of the lake, forest, and wilderness below.
Jakuszyce-Karpacz Trail: This is a challenging trek that features 7,007 feet (2,135.7 m) of elevation gain across 33.8 miles (54.39 km) of rugged terrain. Although parts of the trail are partially paved, much of it is rough and rocky. It is rated as difficult. The ascent and trek will lead to incredible views of the neighboring peaks and surrounding landscapes.
Karkonosze National Park was created to protect the pristine wilderness of this portion of the Sudetes of Central Europe. The park protects the highest mountain in the park as well as the tallest summit in the Sudetes.
Along with the astounding wilderness, the park protects the mouflons, which can rarely be found anywhere else in Poland. The mouflon is not native to the area, but they are a pinnacle wildlife attraction of the park.
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- Poland, Karkonosze National Park, https://poland.pl/tourism/national-parks/karkonosze-national-park/, retrieved August 2020.
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- UNESCO, Krkonose/Karkonosze, http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/ecological-sciences/biosphere-reserves/europe-north-america/czech-reppoland/krkonosekarkonosze/, retrieved August 2020.