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The Easiest Cycling Loop Nowy Targ – Lake Czorsztyn

The Easiest Cycling Loop Nowy Targ – Lake Czorsztyn

Mały rowerzysta na trasie VeloDunajec / Waksmund
Until a few years ago, cycling between Nowy Targ and Lake Czorsztyn was practically impossible without having to ride on busy roads. Thanks to investments in bona fide bicycle routes, namely the Velo Dunajec (VD) and the Trail Around the Tatra Mountains (SWT), this situation has changed in recent years to such an extent that I decided to use this particular section for the first route without side wheels for our then-youngest, my four-year-old bike route tester. How did it go, how long did it take, and what to look out for when riding with such a little kid? You’ll read about all this below.

This proposal is also a great way to add variety to your trip along the new routes around Lake Czorsztyn, which you can read about here. Combined with the variants presented there, you can make for yourself what is very likely the most beautiful cycling loop in Poland today.

I myself was curious to see how we would perform on the route, a section of which I managed to do on the road bike between Nowy Targ and Dębno in as little as half an hour. With our rookie cyclists it took us, back and forth, just about eight hours, including countless stops to observe the environment, meticulous testing of all the playgrounds, and the obligatory pitstops at the famous ice cream parlours (Ostrowsko and Nowy Targ). The route I recommend is perfect for this, as this 39 km loop is suitable for everyone. The Nowy Targ – Dębno section (15 km) is a ride on the smooth asphalt of the Velo Dunajec, all the time slightly downhill paralleling the flow of the river. The return from Dębno brings some variation, as there is definitely more gravel, but the roads are equally quiet. Important note: some sections are internal or low-traffic roads, so the route doesn’t consist in 100% of dedicated cycle routes; once in a while you will encounter a car or farm machinery, but most locals here are already used to the sight of cyclists, who in high season make up the vast majority of all traffic here.

GPX for downloading

If you arrive in Nowy Targ by car, I recommend that you park, for example, in the small car park near the pedestrian and cycle bridge at ul. Lotników. This is also where the two routes we will be using intersect. You choose your direction depending on whether you want an easier start (Velo Dunajec) and a slightly harder trip back (Trail Around the Tatras). I suggest riding clockwise and first have a smooth descent to the lake, along the VeloDunajec. Initially, we ride on a traffic-separated cycle path along the embankment of the Dunajec River. Such an idyllic ride continues from Nowy Targ all the way to Waksmund, where we make our first stop to go wild in the school playground.

The ride along the river continues mostly on quiet local roads. I recommend a slight deviation from the route after the stadiums, heading to the centre of Ostrów, and a visit to one of the best ice cream parlours in the Podhale region. The return to the main route and further kilometres are a lazy ride with observation of the buzzing riverside flora and fauna (i.e., at the youngster’s command, we take breaks to remove every dried-up frog we pass along the way or marvel at every caterpillar, black stork or sheep). The main theme of this part of the tour is the river, so make as many stops by it as the little guy wants; regarding the dedicated rest stops for cyclists, they can be found along the route in Ostrowsko, Harklowa and next to the stadium in Dębno. Their location can be found on the map (in additional layers you will also find information about parking, Bicycle Friendly Places or additional tours and trails)

After arriving under the bridge at Dębno, the place where the Dunajec River turns into Lake Czorsztyn, this trip proposal dovetails perfectly as I said with the proposals for riding around the reservoir on VeloDunajec and VeloCzorsztyn. It thus creates an ideal ‘eight’ (around 80 km), which can be made by intermediate riders in one day, and if you’re riding with children, it makes for a brilliant cycling weekend. For accommodation somewhere by the lake, I recommend for example the camp sites in Dębno and Frydman.

However, this time we opt for the loop and return via another variant to Nowy Targ (mainly following the Trail Around the Tatra Mountains). After turning off the embankment onto ul. Kościelna, we head for the centre of Dębno, and we vary the ride through the quiet corners of the village with a visit to the famous church and a short break in a shop. The ride from Dębno to Nowa Biała (trail sign 102) on the hard-packed but gravel section may be more challenging for small wheels and legs, so take this into account when distributing your strength, especially that a 7 km section of similar surface awaits you between Szaflary and Nowy Targ. If you still have some energy left, I recommend that you get to the Białka Gorge Reserve in Nowa Biała, soak your feet in the river where Jánošík used to sit, and then return to the Trail Around the Tatras (you can go through the centre of Nowa Biała, or you can take the dirt road a keep the direction on your own). 

Przełom Białki

We leave this attraction and, after a short breather at the rest area in Nowa Biała, we follow the signs of the Trail Around the Tatras to the end of the trip. At least as far as Gronków, we’ll enjoy the smooth asphalt of the bicycle path and the brilliant views of the Tatra Mountains. The section from Gronków to Nowy Targ is a ride on paved forest roads built specifically for cyclists. Beware of the short section in Szaflary (approx. 2 km), which, due to the loose pebbles, can be the most difficult for small wheels on the entire route. In any case, we cycle all the way to the end through the brilliant woods of Bór Nad Czerwonem and when we leave it, we reach the end and arrive at our car park. However, we’re not packing into the car yet: and as a reward, we cross the footbridge and shoot the obligatory photo with the sheep-biker, then take our little route tester for a solid snack plus ice cream at the Nowy Targ market square. Unsurprisingly, after we return to the car, it turns out the little guy has regained strength and there’s nothing left for us to do but scrupulously test the playground on the Szaflarska Glade and throw some stones in the Biały Dunajec. If that’s not enough, I’d still recommend a trip along the nearby peat bog path. This is how we end the day and the first serious outing for our youngest member of our team. Nearly 40 km for a first trip ever, two weeks after pulling the side wheels off, that’s not bad, right? He’ll become our VeloMałopolska route tester :-)

Practical information: 

The tour is not suitable only for very narrow tyres (gravel sections of the Trail Around the Tatras and trail No. 102). It doesn’t have any great ascents either, so it can be tackled by anyone regardless of equipment or fitness. There is a gentle uphill only from Dębno to Nowa Biała and beyond Gronków. You’ll have shops along the way in Nowy Targ, Dębno, Nowa Biała and Gronków.  

 What else is worth visiting along the way? Certainly, the stud farm, the manor house and Tetmajerówka in Łopuszna, the historic church in Harklowa and the limestone rocks on the way to Gronków, which form part of the so-called Nowy Targ Rocks.

Jarek Tarański


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