Polish Barrier-free Routes
You are warmly welcome to the Polish side of the Krkonose Mountains. The project entitled Krkonose for Everyone was launched out with a partner on the Polish side of the Krkonose, Karkonoski sejmik osob nepielnospravnych (KSON) Jelenia Góra (an association of the handicapped). As part of their project entitled “Karkonosze dla wszystkich”, their staff did a survey of tourist trails and destinations which are accessible to the handicapped on the Polish side of the mountains and in the adjacent foothills. The project results are divided into three sections:
A. TOURIST TRAILS
B. TOURIST POINTS OF INTEREST
C. MOUNTAIN TOURISM
A. Tourist Trails
1. From the car park by state road No. 3 (Swinoujscie–Jakuszyce) along the Szklarka brook to Kochanowka chalet near the Szklarka waterfalls
This is the first trail in the Krkonose specially adapted to suit the needs of the handicapped, open since 2007. It is 375 m long, with a gradient of only 11 m. It is equipped with passing spots , the so-called bay of senses (zatoka zmysłów), a toilet and a lookout deck for wheelchairs. It has three educational panels where the most typical features of the Krkonose nature are explained.
The car park is accessible from road No. 3 by car or by regular PKS busses from Szklarska Poreba, Jakuszyce and Harrachov. A marked trail runs from the car park to the destination, which is part of the so-called Glassmaking Circuit (Pętla Szklarska). A green-marked tourist trail can also be taken from Szklarska Poreba along the Kamienna river.
Barrier-free hideouts and spots with refreshments along this trail:
The PTTK Kochanowka tourist chalet is situated directly by the waterfalls and its ground floor has been fully adapted to the needs of the handicapped, including toilets and easy access for wheelchairs. The chalet offers twelve beds and a snack bar.
2. From the upper station of the chair lift to Mount Kopa along the trail to Mount Snezka to Dom Slaski chalet
The section to the summit of Mount Kopa is the most difficult part for the handicapped. One has to take the chair lift to get there. With the assistance of the chair lift staff, the wheelchair is placed on the rear seat behind the passenger. It takes some 17–20 minutes to get to the top. A comfortable trail runs from the upper station to the Dom Slaski chalet (Rownia pod Sniezka, 1400 m a.s.l.). It is more than 1 km long, the longest and highest-located Polish trail accessible to the handicapped. The trail surface is made of natural materials, mainly granite grit, reinforced with meshing and levelled off. Guide rails with holders to facilitate movement have been installed, making the trail suitable also for those with impaired vision. Information and educational panels are to be installed which will include texts in Braille.
Barrier-free hideouts and spots with refreshments along this trail:
A waiting room and a refreshments stall are available at the lower chair lift station. A snack bar with refreshments and drinks is open at the upper station.
Dom Slaski chalet offers 72 beds in rooms with 2 to 6 beds with full board at reasonable prices. However, access to the building and the restaurant isn’t barrier-free and there are no barrier-free sanitary facilities or accommodation. It is easily accessible for seniors and families with young children.
3. From the bus station in Szklarska Poreba to the so-called Death Curve (zakręt śmierci) on road No. 404 to Swieradow Zdroj
This trail, 9.5 km in length, runs from the bus station in Szklarska Poreba via the lower station of the chair lift to Szrenica and back to the town centre. A right turn is taken at the intersection to follow signs for Zakret Smierci (Death Curve, 775 m a.s.l.). It is possible to go back down past Hauptmann House and several narrow streets to the PKS bus station.
Numerous rest places and several refreshments stalls are available along the trail.
4. From the centre of Karpacz to the Wang church
This trail is approximately 6 km in length and runs past the town council, Museum of Sports and Tourism, offers a view of the Orlinek ski jump, and continues down the Szlak im. Orlowicza trail to the lower station of the chair lift to Mount Kopa. Further down this trail, you will reach the Wang church in the upper part of Karpacz. The trail steeply climbs and is quite difficult for wheelchair users or those on crutches. Visitors with minor handicaps should be able to use this trail easily, and there are many lookout points and refreshments along the trail where they can rest.
5. From Szklarska Poreba to Jakuszyce
This trail begins in Szklarska Poreba and runs along the main road (Trasa Czeska, E65) to Jakuszyce. However, given its difficulty and length (more than 11 km), we recommend that at least part of the trail be done by car or by bus. There are several points of interest along the trail, for instance, the Kamienczyk waterfall on the Kamienna river, a former glassworks where crystal glass used to be made, the Bieg Piastow cross-country association centre in Jakuszyce and the newly reconstructed railway line from Szklarska Poreba to Harrachov, which will be a new attraction and will help the handicapped to get around.
6. From Karpacz to Kowary via Sciegny and Kostrzyca
This trail is some 12 km long. Starting in Kowarska St. in Karpacz, it runs via the Western City attraction in Sciegny and Krzaczyna village to Kowary, a town which offers several tourist attractions, such as the Underground Tourist Trail, Radon Inhalation, and the Miniature Park of Lower Silesian National Heritage. The historical part of Kowary is also worth seeing. On the way back the trail heads in the direction to Jelenia Gora near Babi Rocks and Radziwillowka castle, via Kostrzyca with its Forest Plants Genetic Bank (Bank Genów Leśnych) and Milkow to Karpacz.
The trail is quite difficult for the handicapped, and it takes quite some time to see the historical monuments. The trip must therefore be well planned and prepared.
7. From Myslakowice via Bukowiec, Krogulec and Karpniki to Lomnica Dolna
A very interesting trip for the handicapped who want to learn more about the Krkonose can be taken around Myslakowice. The trail runs through the Valley of palaces and gardens (Dolina Pałaców i Ogrodów) and starts at Tyrol House in Myslakowice. The Neo-Gothic royal palace, built by Friedrich Wilhelm III, and the local church decorated with original columns from Pompeii, are worth seeing in the village. From there the trail runs to Bukowiec with the ruins of a castle and a pleasant park symbolising various periods of human development. The trail continues via Krogulec to Karpniki with a palace surrounded by a moat. From there you can follow the trail for Jelenia Gora to reach Lomnica Dolna, where a palace built in 1720 and the so-called Widow’s House (Dom Wdowy) can be seen. From there, a recently reconstructed palace in a park can be visited in Wojanow on the other side of the river.
This trail is only partially suitable for wheelchairs. Especially sections running along field paths are problematic.
8. Municipal Circuit in Jelenia Gora
This trail will take you through Jelenia Gora. It is barrier-free and can be easily handled by the handicapped. It is 4.5 km in length. Starting at the bus station, it runs via the main square (Plac Ratuszowy), past the church of St. Erasmus and Pancras, the chapel of St. Anne and via the Wojanowska gate. From there you can go to the theatre and the Krkonose Museum (Muzeum Karkonoskie). It is also worth seeing the Wzgorze Kosciuszki park. The trail runs to the successfully reconstructed Palac Paulinum villa and the Wzgorze Partyzantow hill. This is where the journey back to the main square begins. Down the trail, you will also see the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross with its beautiful and rich interior furnishings and the Orthodox Church of the Apostles St. Peter and Paul.
9. From Cieplice Slaskie Zdroj quarter to Sobieszow
A walk in the main square (Plac Piastowski) in Cieplice and the Spa Park and Norwegian Park (Park Zdrojowy and Park Norweski) is an interesting opportunity. You can escape from the noise of Jelenia Gora without leaving the town, you just need to go from the Cieplice parks to Sobieszow to the foot of Chojnik hill with a castle bearing the same name. The castle is not accessible for wheelchairs, neither is the section through the National Park. More skilled tourists interested in the nature can take the trail via Podzamcze to Podgorzyn and its large fishponds, and enjoy the local fish specialties. A way along a promenade of oak and maple trees can be taken directly back to Cieplice.
B. Tourist Points of Interest
1. Three lookout towers
These are in Radomierz (Janowice Wielkie), Jelenia Gora and Mirsk, and also in the meeting hall in the townhall in Kowary (Sala Rajców) and Devil’s Mill (Czarci Młyn) in Swieradow-Zdroj.
As part of opening up tourist attractions in the Krkonose and the adjacent areas to the handicapped, five national heritage sites are being modernised. A model will be installed in front of each of these monuments for those with impaired vision, describing its history in Braille. A recording in mp3 format will be downloadable from the internet, telling what can be seen from each of these lookout towers.
2. Miniature Park – Lower Silesian National Heritage in Kowary
Those with no or impaired vision can touch every miniature. Information panels are installed for each of the miniatures giving their description, and a guide is available which speaks about the monuments. Wheelchair users can freely move between the models, and toilets are barrier-free. No Braille inscriptions are available.
Link to mapy.cz: Park Miniatur
3. Mine shafts in Kowary
This attraction is accessible for wheelchair users as well as for those on crutches. The main paths have been modified for the handicapped.
Link to mapy.cz: Mine shafts in Kowary
4. Cable car to Stog Izerski in Swieradow-Zdroj
The handicapped can easily use the cable car after folding up one of the seats in the cabin. They can relax in the Na Stogu Izerskim tourist chalet at an altitude of 1037 m a.s.l. and enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the Krkonose, Jelenia Gora valley (Kotlina Jeleniogórska) and the Kaczawskie Mountains.
Link to mapy.cz: Cable car to Stog Izerski
5. Wang Church in Karpacz
The current Polish regulations do not allow churches to be redesigned to fully suit the needs of the handicapped. A tour of the church therefore requires an assistant. You can obtain a permit to enter the car park next to the church. Wheelchair users only exceptionally visit this place as it is not possible to push a wheelchair in. For the most determined ones the side door can be opened and they can get in with assistants to see this monument. People who have a different handicap have to use the same services as other tourists, which basically means recordings that are replayed in the church.
Link to mapy.cz: Wang Church
C. Mountain Tourism
Since 2007 wheelchair users have been able to enjoy winter sports on Krkonose slopes. The first skiing lesson was attended by four participants and took place on the slopes of Lysa Gora hill in Dziwiszow. In the same year the first skiing school in Poland which cares for handicapped sportspersons was inaugurated in Karpacz. It is operated by SPORT-ON company in collaboration with the START club in Poznan and the AWF Poznan and AWF Wroclaw University of Physical Education. Courses are held several times a year and are conducted by Jaroslaw Rola, a Paralympian in Turin and Vancouver and a Polish Alpine skiing national team member. Jaroslaw Rola is qualified as a sports instructor for the handicapped. The participants are accepted in the order of application as well as by the type of handicap. When their classes are completed they can use downhill tracks up to medium difficulty, i.e. blue and red. They can use monoskis, skis and stabilisers or similar equipment.
Pro-active people with a physical handicap often prove they can enjoy life just like healthy people do. As an example, one leg of the Polish Cycling Cup for the Handicapped was held in the Krkonose in May 2010. The track was almost 26 km long, running from the centre of Cieplice to Podgorzyn. There were three categories: classical bike, handbike (a bike powered by the arms) and the open category for poliomyelitis. Several dozen contestants participated, including some Paralympians and one Czech contestant. This is a regular event now, and you are free to join the Polish Cycling Cup for the Handicapped.
Children, youth and adults can participate in the therapeutic climbing camps held in Rudawski Landscape Park (Rudawski Park Krajobrazowy) under the organisation of the Fundacja Czarodziejska Góra foundation with its headquarters in Mniszkow, the Janowice Wielkie municipality. Its staff help young handicapped people to regain confidence in other people and in themselves, teach them responsibility and cooperation. This is done through climbing, environmental education and the history of art of the region. Climbing by the handicapped requires different preparations than with healthy people who are able to fully communicate. Autistic people, those with impaired hearing and with a physical handicap are accompanied by an instructor who follows the climber on a separate rope and can suggest or show where to put one’s foot or what to hold with one’s hand. Healthy people use a different technique when the rope is attached to the rock top while the belayer stands at the foot of the rock.