Mount Rysy hike
Mount Rysy Hike is one of the most popular and most beautiful hikes in the High Tatras. It awards you with stunning mountain views, beautiful tarns, and a great challenge. Rysy is the highest mountain in Poland and the seventh highest mountain in Slovakia. It’s also the highest peak in the Tatras you can climb without a guide, which is the reason it’s so popular among the local and foreign hikers.
Use the electric train to go to the Popradske Pleso train stop.
|When to do|
15th June - 31st October
Out and back
Route Description for Mount Rysy
This hike is marked as strenuous and with good reason. Hikers must be ready for a challenging hike including some exposed parts with chains and big crowds on top of the mountain (as the peak can be reached from both Slovakian and Polish sides of Tatras). The trail opens up on the 15th of June but the snow on the top part of the trail stays until mid-July so it is advised to either pick later in the summer or be very careful. Good hiking shoes are a must and having trekking poles is strongly advised. Also, we would advise starting this hike as early as possible, because not only the parking fills up very quickly, but also because quite often after midday the mountain gets covered by fog or cloud. Rain on top of Rysy is not uncommon even after the sunniest mornings.
Mount Rysy Hike, also called the Rysy Peak Hike, or just Rysy Hike is probably the most famous hike in the High Tatras. It is the seventh highest peak in Slovakia and the highest peak you can hike in The High Tatras without a guide. Rysy has three summits and is on the border between Slovakia and Poland. It’s also the highest peak in Poland. So naturally, there are a lot of people who want to challenge this mountain. It also comes with spectacular views.
The hike on the Slovakian side starts either from Štrbské Pleso or Popradské Pleso. We recommend going from Popradské Pleso as the hike is a little bit shorter this way and the trail from Popradské Pleso starts with a well-paved path which makes it easier for your knees. You will need your legs nearer the mountain. The hike starts via the blue trail with a nice ascent. You start going up through a beautiful forest. The views of the surrounding mountains are amazing and also different, which we love about this national park. This route is also accessible by vehicles that are used to transfer supplies to the Popradské Chalet, so sometimes a car might try to pass by.
You will reach the first crossroad where you can choose to follow the blue trail which will lead you faster to the peak or the yellow one, which will take you closer by the Popradské Lake. We suggest taking the blue one to get to the peak faster as with time the crowds increase dramatically on this trail.
After about an hour and 20 minutes, you will reach another crossroad where you will see a shed and some people resting. This part is a big crossroad between quite a few points. The yellow trail leads down to the Popradské Pleso and the chalet, where a lot of families come to relax by the beautiful mountain lake. The blue trail continues to the Koprovsky Peak. But it is also the first part of the trail towards the Rysy Mountain Chalet and later, Mt Rysy peak. So continue on the blue trail. You will immerse yourself in the forest. The nice paved path here becomes covered in rocks and tree roots. This is a really enjoyable part and it’s full of amazing views of Mengusovka Valley surrounded by a wall of mountains, one of which is Mt Rysy.
After 30-40 minutes of hiking, you will reach another crossroad. From here, follow the red trail towards Rysy. Now you will start ascending a lot more intensely and the trail becomes more difficult. You will pass a nice stream, cross a wooden bridge and start switch backing up the mountain. The views along this part of the trail are magnificent.
After quite a bit of ascending, you will reach another valley with two beautiful tarns, guarded by the mountains. Walk the trail keeping the tarns on your left. Be careful here as parts of the trail were still covered in snow during July, so it gets quite slippery with summer footwear. Continue ascending towards the mountain wall.
When you reach the mountain wall, you will need to use the chains and ladders to climb up. This is another difficult part of the trail but it is manageable. Just hold on to the chains and climb your way up. This part shows why it’s important to start early as later during the day there might be people queuing here to go up or down. Make your way through the metal steps, and ascend further up. After a while the trail becomes wider and less dangerous. Just before the Chalet under The Rysy Mountain, there is usually a patch of snow. It’s really easy to go up, but might be a bit dangerous and more difficult to descend. Be careful as it is really slippery with the melting snow.
You can get some refreshments or hot drinks at the chalet, but we would suggest doing that on the return, to avoid crowds. If you need to, use the toilet on the mountain ridge which is a 2-minute ascent from the chalet. It has amazing views with a see-through plastic wall down the abyss.
A lot of people finish at the chalet, but the trail continues to Mount Rysy peak, just behind it. The ascent starts with two big patches of snow. Be careful here as you need to share the trail with those who are returning and it’s a bit too long to wait for others to pass. So try not to fall as you do not know what the snow covers. Usually, in these mountains, it might be a crack between rocks.
After the ascent, you will come up to a ridge. Enjoy the beautiful views down at Bielovodska Valley. From here you will see the highest peak in the region – Gerlachovsky Peak, Bradavica Mountain and other sights you will see only from a few places in the High Tatras.
The Rysy summit is on your left. But it’s not the first peak you will see. Start ascending the false summit. This part of the trail becomes harder as the climb gets quite steep. After you climb the first peak, you will see the Rysy summit. It actually has three summits but the highest two are usually packed with people taking a break on them. Be very careful on this part as it descends to a ridge from where you start scrambling with your legs and arms up the last bit of Mt Rysy. It’s very important to follow the trail, as a lot of parts might seem like they are approachable but in the end, you might end up climbing up somewhere you cannot go anywhere from. So save your energy by following the red trail marks.
After you reach the summit, or both of the highest ones (one of them is in Poland, the other in Slovakia), enjoy the 360-degree views. Have a rest and carefully descend back the trail you came from. Whichever time you started, you will have to let a lot of people pass through as it’s a very popular hike and the traffic here is quite high. Some people start scrambling down through random parts of the mountain, but we strongly suggest climbing the way you came from.
After that, descend towards the chalet. Be careful on the snowy parts as summer hiking footwear might be slippery on the snow. A lot of people fall here. The hardest snowy patch is just after the chalet, as it is quite steep and you might have to slide down. There might be an alternative trail on your left on the snow, but if it’s the end of June, be careful when using it as the snow usually melts from below, leaving a good one-meter gap between the rocky ground and the layer of snow. You might fall through and injure yourself.
The chain part might be more crowded and you might have to wait for someone to let you pass. After the chain part, the hike becomes more relaxing, although still tough due to the rocks you need to jump on all the time you are descending. Enjoy the beautiful views going down.
If you want to make the return different, you can go back to Štrbské Pleso. From Popradské Pleso, choose the red trail. It’s really scenic but you will have to ascend before you reach the town.
Visit the Popradské Pleso Chalet for refreshments after the big hike. Get a cold draught beer at the beautiful lake.
Feeling strong? At the Popradské Pleso crossroad, there are bags of 5-10 kg, made up for delivering to the Chalet under Mt Rysy. If you deliver one to the chalet you will be given… well, a cup of hot tea.
Start this hike early to avoid crowds. Remember that this is probably the most popular hiking destination in this region.
Bring hiking poles! Your knees will thank you for using them on your way down, trust us. Here's a great guide on how to choose and use hiking poles.
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