Niżnie Rysy, The highest peak of Poland is a hike you can actually do from the Slovakian High Tatras and is a climb I would highly recommend when in the High Tatra region.
For reference, we hiked Rysy from the Slovakian side.
This hike takes a while to get interesting but when it does you will be rewarded with great views and the mental reward of knowing you have climbed to the highest peak in Poland and one of the highest in Slovakia.
Most will park next to Popradské Pleso station which costs 6 Euros a day for parking (paid in cash only). We decided to park an extra 1 mile away at a free car park which gave us this epic stretch of road to walk down.
Just put the below address into Google Maps for the free parking
438J+C8 Vysoké Tatry, Slovakia
The first hour of the trail is pretty unspectacular up a tarmac road but we saw it as a nice little warm-up for what was to come.
After an hour of hiking, we reached Popradské pleso and was a good spot to take a short breather and look out onto the lake. There is a couple of restaurants at his location but only one accepted card payment (with a 5 Euro minimum card spend).
Turning left at the lake takes you onto the Rysy trail and the start of some real hiking experiences. Say goodbye to tarmac and hello to traditional mud trails through Slovakian forests.
Rysy treats its hikers with switchbacks that provide great views all the way to Žabie plesá, the last lake before the steep mountain incline. This is a great place to stop and take a breather before a challenging section of the mountain.
Ladders and chains add something special to mountain trails and I was chuffed to bits to see Rysy having a small section with provided both ladders and chains! This is by no means too challenging but see this more of a fun section of the climb
Going into the clouds!
Rysy has the last stopping point as you cross under the colourful ribbons that signify you are entering the Polish side of the mountain... Here you will be able to find refreshments (including Beer!) but just remember to have that all-important cash on you!
My advice is to save the beer for the way back down as the last hour of this trail is by far the most challenging! The trail teases you into thinking you are close to the end but then throws a curveball into an extra corner or an extra steep switchback that will challenge you both physically and mentally
3.5 hours after leaving the car we reached the peak of Rysy!
The views were unspectacular due to low cloud but the feeling of being at the top was more than rewarding.
Word of warning is that the peak was very busy when we arrived around 11 AM so I would imagine it would be even more so a few hours later in the day. Just be cautious at the top as we saw a couple of people lose balance which was far from ideal in this location.