The Slovak Paradise national park is not as famous as the Tatra mountains, but is definitely interesting too and it is a pity to miss out this great hiking area when exploring Slovakia. What is different to Tatras? Well… probably everything. There are no rugged peaks, lakes or spectacular views. All this is compensated by hiking through beautiful gorges full of greenery, climbing ladders, walking on catwalks and bridges. Sometimes I get a feeling like I´m walking through a jungle. But maybe it´s just me.
Here is the list of the best 5 hikes for your inspiration. But before going there, take into consideration the following advices. Waterproof hiking shoes with ankle support is a must. There is no other way sometimes, than stepping into water. The water level fluctuates often and it may rises within an hour due to the rain. Also your feet have to be stable on ladders. You also shouldn´t go there if you are afraid of heights.
1 Sucha Bela
The most popular gorge is undoubtedly Sucha Bela. The starting point is at Podlesok and this hike hides for you nice cascades of waterfalls and even a Window waterfall. In this place you will go through a small stone “window” after climbing one of the ladders. The secret tip to avoid crowds and waiting in a cue is: Start the hike at around 8 AM.
The word piecky means – fireplaces. It´s because the rock formations created by water in the gorge remind of fireplaces. The starting point is southwest from Podlesok at a place called Píla. The gorge is remarkable and you will climb one of the tallest ladders in the whole park, which is 14 m high.
3 Prielom Hornadu
18 km long gorge Prielom Hornadu is the longest in the park. You´ll spend the day walking along the river Hornad, walking on catwalks above the river and bridges when crossing the gorge from one side to another. You can enter this gorge either at Podlesok, Letanovsky mlyn or Čingov. There is even an interesting viewpoint – Tomasovsky vyhlad, which is a 200 m high cliff (paradise for climbers) and on a sunny day you can even see the Tatra mountains in the distance.
4 Kysel – Via Ferrata
This gorge was closed for 40 years after a fire, which devastated the initial part of the gorge. Nowadays it has been opened for couple of years and in its upper part is really nice via ferrata. If you don´t have your own climbing harness, you can rent one either at Podlesok or at Čingov. But don´t go there without it!
5 Velky Sokol
They say Velky sokol is the mightiest and wildest gorge of the Paradise with some unique places to hike different from any other in other gorges. The starting point is at Pila. From there you need to walk little bit further to the south. This gorge is not so well known and thus wildlife, such as deer or even chamoix, may appear on the steep cliffs surrounding the gorge. So look up and scan the forest every now and then.