The Carpathian Mountain Range is the second longest range in Europe, spanning over 1,500 km through the Czech Republic (3% of the chain), Slovakia (17%), Romania (53%), Ukraine (11%), Serbia (2%), Hungary (4%), and Poland (10%).
The range is divided into three different regions, the Western Carpathians (the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia), Eastern Carpathians (south-eastern Poland, Eastern Slovakia, Ukraine, and Romania), and the Southern Carpathians (parts of Roumania and Serbia). The Southern Carpathians make up Europe’s largest UN-fragmented forested area.
It is also the site of many thermal and mineral waters, with the Romanian portion of the range having one third of all the thermal and mineral water in Europe.
The range is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including: brown bears, wolves, and lynx, all of which mainly inhabit the densely forested southern portion of the range in Roumania.
So, if you want to avoid all these creatures and take in beautiful unobstructed views, the Eastern Carpathians in Ukraine is the ideal place.
While various hiking trails can be accessed via a number of smaller villages, there are also a number of more prominent cities in the region with access to the Carpathians, including: Krakow, Poland, Bratislava and Kosice in Slovakia, Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu, and Brasov in Romania, Vienna, Austria, and Miskolc, Hungary.
Here are five recommended hikes in the Ukrainian Carpathians.
Carpathian Mountain Range: The Borzhava Mountain Range
The Borzhava Range is located approximately three hours south of Lviv and is probably the warmest and most predictable region weather-wise in the Carpathians.
There are three main peaks in this range, Mt. Stig (1,681m), Mt. Velykyj Verkh (1,598m), and Mt. Magura (1,088m).
The Borzhavas are largely bare and as such, provide beautiful, unobstructed views of the surrounding landscape.
The trials start from Volovets, and the range can be covered in two days with overnight camping. However, due to its proximity to Lviv, it would be easy to make day trips as well.
Carpathian Mountain Range: Chronogora Mountain Range
This range is by far the most well known and frequently visited range within the Carpathians.
It has the highest peaks in Ukraine and is known for its crystal clear lakes (such as Lakes Brebeneskul and Nesamovyte. One can quickly access the Chronogoras from either Lviv or Ivano-Frankivsk.
There are two primary starting points for hikes within the Chronogora Range.
The first goes towards Ukraine’s highest mountain, Mt. Goverla (2,061m) and starts at the Zaroslyak tourist camp.
The other heads towards Mt. Pip Ivan (2,021m) and starts at the village of Dzembronia.
While the Chronogora Range is unquestionably beautiful, it is also known for having very unpredictable weather.
Driving rain and heavy winds are not uncommon in this area of the Carpathians.
Additionally, since this is one of the most well known ranges within the Carpathians, it is also often the most busy. It can be exceptionally busy with tourists and hikers in the spring and summer months.
Carpathian Mountain Range: Marmarosy Alps
The Marmarosy Alps are the most remote and least accessible of the ranges within the Carpathians. Large chunks of the range are a biosphere reserve and due to its close proximity to the Romanian border, the Marmarosy Alps were not even listed on Ukrainian hiking maps until recently.
This remote range has two primary peaks, Mt. Petros (1,780m) and Mt. Pip Ivan Marmarosky (1,936m).
The Marmarosy Alps are very different from other ranges within the Carpathians due to its abundant sunshine, sharp rocky peaks, and the fact that it is largely devoid of people.
The inaccessibility of the Marmarosy Alps stems from the fact that one requires permission from the Ukrainian border control, which must be obtained at least a week prior to hiking, in order to hike there. Since the majority of tourists don’t understand this process, the Marmarosy Alps are very much, “the real wild.”
The majority of hikes start in the villages of Bohdan or Dilove, near the town of Rakhiv.
While it is possible to take extended day trips, it is recommended that if you are going to hike in the Marmarosy Alps, you make it a multi-day camping trip, just due to the hassle of obtaining the necessary authorization to hike there.
Carpathian Mountain Range: Gorgany
Despite the frequent rain and the fact that Gorgany generally has smaller peaks, this range is known for its more challenging hikes and for being less touristy than its Chronogora counterpart.
Experienced Ukrainian hikers hail Gorgany as their favorite.
Gorgany has five peaks, Mt. Grofa (1,748 m), Mt. Popadya (1,740 m), Mt. Syvulia (1,836 m), Mt. Dovbushanka (1,754 m) and Mt. Synyak (1,665 m), with the easiest access point to the range being the well known ski-resort town of Bukovel or the town of Yaremche.
For those that are a little more adventurous, they should look at starting their journey in the small village of Bystrytsia.
While day trips are possible to parts of the range, it is recommended that Gorgany be explored on a multi-day camping trip in order to be able to take in all its beauty.
Carpathian Mountain Range: Svydovets Range
Referred to as the Ukranian Alps, the Svydovets Range boasts a number of highland lakes (Apshynets, Dogyaska, and Vorozheske) with crystal clear water, similar to the Chronogora Range.
The three main peaks in the Svydovets are Mt. Blyznytsia (1,883 m), Mt. Dogyaska (1,761 m), and Mt. Stig (1704 m).
The best way to access the Svydovets Range is from the town Yasinya in the east, or by the village Ust-Chrona in the west. As with many of these ranges, day trips are possible, but if you really want to explore the range and experience its full beauty, multi-day camping trips are recommended.
Should you find yourself in the Romanian Carpathians, here are some bonus recommendations!
Carpathian Mountain Range: Piatra Craiului Mountains: These mountains, situated on a narrow ridge, boast 360 degree panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
They are located near the town of Brasov and can be traversed in one day in the summer, assuming perfect conditions. However, it is common to break the trip into two days, camping along the way. The length and the elevation change makes it a medium to hard hike.
Bucegi Mountains: The Bucegi Mountains are a collection of large hills and valleys and again can be done in either one day or two. Due to its steepness and length, it is a medium to hard hike.
Apuseni Mountains: This is a relatively simple hike that is not very long nor requires a huge change in elevation. However, it will likely take a full day to complete simply because you will want to stop to admire the views as well as the quaint, thatched roof houses along the way.
MOUNT PARASHKA: STUNNING VIEWS FOR HIKERS OF ALL LEVELS
Outside of the five recommendations above, Mt. Parashka is another idyllic hiking location for hikers of all levels. Mt. Parashka (1,268.5m) is the highest peak in the Parashka Range.
Located just five miles from the district center of Skole and and about 73 miles from the central Lviv region, Mt. Parashka is covered with beech and birch trees as well as secondary growth of blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries.
The Velyka Richka River, home of the nearby Gurkalo waterfall, starts at the base of the mountain. The Opir and Styr Rivers also run by the mountain providing a beautiful lower plain for the start of your ascent up the mountain. Couple the beautiful scenery with the fact that popular resorts are located in nearby Skhidnytsia, Skole, and Slavske.
Carpathian Mountain Range: Mt. Parashka:
is a very popular one day hike. It is very easy to reach the top, even for inexperienced hikers. The route length is about 20 km with only about 800m of elevation change from the start to the summit.
The early part of the trail leads through an open area, which allows of excellent views of the surrounding ranges. However, it is the view at the top that makes the trip worth it.
The summit overlooks both the surrounding plain as well as the Carpathian Mountains. With ideal weather, visibility from the summit extends as far as 50km.
Carpathian Mountain Range: PIKUI: HIDDEN GEM
Mt. Pikui (1,405m) is the highest peak in Lviv Oblast, Ukraine. It is located on the border of the Lviv and Trascarpathian regions and is part of the Beskydy watershed. It is also a part of the Pikui landscape reserve, which is of great national importance. Mt. Pikui is easily accessible from Lviv, thus making it a good day trip for tourists looking for a less challenging hike off the beaten track.
TIPS FOR HIKING IN THE UKRAINIAN CARPATHIAN MOUNTAINS
The Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains are very likeable, with no inaccessible peaks, generally mild relief, and a number of summits that can be reached by hikers of all levels.
With that being said, the Carpathians are some of the wildest peaks in Europe and do not have many developments such as RV parks, developed hiking paths, camp grounds, and mountain refuges typical in the United States and elsewhere in Europe.
When hiking in the Carpathians, here are some important things to consider.
Selecting a Trail and Route: The majority of hiking in the Carpathians, occurs on logging trails or unmarked trails.
Generally speaking, if there is a mountain or other point of interest, there is a way to get there. However, the trails depicted on maps are often not what they actually are in reality.
Therefore, it is often best to consult with experienced hikers or locals with regards to routes.
Maps: While maps should not be the sole resource in selecting a route, it doesn’t hurt to have them. Maps can be found in bookstores and kiosks around Ukraine as well as in stands around the Carpathians.
Additionally, maps and topographical maps of the region can be downloaded online.
Bugs: The Carpathians are generally tick and mosquito free. Gnats can be common in certain places.
Weather: The Chronogora Range, as well as other ridges above 1,400m are known for their poor and unpredictable weather.
Always be prepared for storms with rain (the Carpathians get about 1,000-1,500 mm of rain per year), hail, and high winds. Likewise, in the summer there is just as much of a chance that you might run into warm weather.
It is best to check the weather forecast, come prepared for a variety of different weather conditions you might encounter at the given time of year you are visiting.
If there is the smallest possibility of poor weather overnight, do not camp on the ridges as these areas are more susceptible to the adverse weather.
In the winter, avalanches can happen above the treeline, and the temperature can drop to -20 degrees Celsius. While the Carpathians are very accessible, one still needs to be prepared as hikers perish every year due to not being prepared.
Rules and Regulations: There are very few rules and regulations throughout the Carpathian Mountains, especially when compared with other natural areas throughout Europe and the United States.
The majority of the park is rarely, if ever patrolled.
The only areas with camping restrictions is the nature reserve east of Hoverla as well as the other nature reserves spotted throughout the range, where camping is prohibited.
Carpathian Mountain Range Services
Mountain Rescue Service: The Rescue Service in the Carpathians is made up of fellow mountain enthusiasts who are paid by the government to advise and rescue hikers.
It is advised that you let them know when and where they are planning to hike. They also can give advice on where to hike, cheap places to stay, transportation, and equipment rentals.
The Carpathians stand as the last true area of untamed wild in Europe. For outdoor enthusiasts, it has everything you could ask for.
There are thousands of kilometres of peaks, all of which are accessible, to climb, offering picturesque views and untouched wilderness.
Opportunities for camping, climbing, and even cycling are endless. It doesn’t matter if you are a novice outdoors-person, or an expert, the Carpathians have something for you.