Glówny Szlak Sudecki
Lower Silesia, Poland
Distance: 217 miles (350 km)
Time: 2 weeks
Surface: Mountain and Forest Trails
Glówny Szlak Sudecki WikiPedia Page
The Glówny Szlak Sudecki follows the line of the Sudetes Mountains, stretching from southwestern Poland, along the border with the Czech Republic, and on into eastern Germany. Just what territory the Sudetes cover has changed with the centuries, and there was a massive dislocation of the region’s population during and after World War II in the wake of Nazi Germany claiming the region as Germanic Sudetenland, only to have much of its German population expelled after the war. Czechs don’t much like the word “Sudety” because of its associations, but the popularity of the name Glówny Szlak Sudecki and the growing interest in this demanding trail is proof of how it has endeared itself to the Polish people.
The trail, which was begun in 1947, begins in Swieradów-Zdrój, a spa town in the Kwisa Valley of the Jizera Mountains. From there, it enters the Krkonoše Mountains, the birthplace of the Elbe River and a popular holiday destination in summer and winter, and one of the most traditional regions in Central Europe. The trail merges with the Polish-Czech Friendship Trail for 12 miles (19.3 km) as it ascends Snezka (5,256 feet/i,602 m), the highest point on the Silesian Ridge, before descending into the Rudawy Janowickie range in the Western Sudetes.
The trail then passes through the Owl Mountains, enough of a destination on its own with its labyrinth of trails, the late thirteenth-century Grodno Castle in Zagórze Slaskie, and the mountain’s resident Eurasian eagle owl; and Stolowe Mountains National Park, Poland’s only sandstone mountain range. There are mountain huts and hotels along the way, and the trail is open year-round.