“Stupačky” (platforms) and metal chains are attached to the rock while the river flows several metres under the hiker’s feet and the deep valley below looks like an undiscovered world. Welcome in Slovenský raj (Slovak Paradise), and one of the most popular trails around Prielom Hornádu.
MORE THAN SIGHTS
Several popular trails offer hiking above the Hornád River. The significant infrastructure in the park means hikers are charged a symbolic €1.50 for access to more than 300 kilometres of trails. In several locations visitors must climb ladders alongside waterfalls, including the Kláštorná Valley where the climbing ends up on a meadow containing the 700 year old remains of the Kláštorisko monastery.
US Embassy Charge d’Affaires Norman Thatcher Scharpf and his family visited, and found the hikes exceeded their greatest expectations.
“We particularly enjoyed the exhilarating thrill of climbing the ladders next to or over waterfalls – looking to the side or right underneath the ladder and knowing that a misstep would be disastrous,” said Scharpf.
Scharpf added that his children commented that it would be unlikely they would have the opportunity to do “something so exciting in the US, because of legal concerns over the possibility of people getting injured”.
If one prefers to make their way down to Podlesok, one of the entry points to Slovenský raj, they can rent bicycles, and drop them off after reaching Podlesok. The area offers winter attractions as well.
“The best experience for me is the frozen Prielom Hornádu, which happens only once every few years. People can walk on the ice and some of them ice skate,” said Dana Novisedláková, hiker from KRTKo (a Košice-based family hiking club).
And the winter is charming at another popular hiking trail in the Zádiel Valley, 40 kilometres west of Košice in Slovenský kras (Slovak Karst). Throughout the four-kilometre-long valley there are plenty of small caves, which are not accessible to the public.
The gorge itself is just 10 metres wide in some parts and features rare flora. The terrain gets more difficult as hikers make their way up to the plain, which is well worth the effort for the view into the valley and Zádiel village. History buffs can continue east to Turňa’s castle or visit Háj village and its four hidden waterfalls.
For those who would like to see some scenery, but wish to avoid longer hikes, the Košice region is also home to the volcanic lake Morské oko (Sea Eye).
It is easily accessible by a car, located eight kilometres from the village of Remetské Hámre. Hikers reach the lake after just 15 minutes of light trail. Morské oko is popular for weekend family trips. A more challenging trail to the north goes to Snina’s Rock. It will take approximately 90 minutes from Morské oko.