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Ziar, Slovakia, Slovakia

Zapadne Tatry from Ziarska chata

Western Tatra Ridge Loop through Banikov and Tri kopy

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Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 12.0 miles / 19.3 km
Duration: Full day
Overview: The most attractive part of the trail is the scenic loop from Ziar cottage (Ziarska chata) following the ridge of Zapadne Tatry (Western Tatra) while passing the summits of Banikov, Hruba kopa and Tri kopy. The trip starts and finishes at Ustie Ziarskej doliny (Ziar valley mouth). The ridge may reward you with fantastic panoramic views.

The demanding round trip from Ziar valley mouth is about 20 km, gaining about 1580 m in elevation. It generally takes about 9:20 hours for an average hiker to complete the trip, allowing just basic time for refreshment stops.

Leave your car at the parking lot of Ziar valley mouth which will be your trailhead. Gently ascend to Ziar cottage which mark the beginning of the loop section of the trip. Undergo a steep ascent to Banikov summit. Then enjoy thrilling hiking through the narrow ridge of Western Tatra, passing the summits of Hruba kopa, Tri kopy, Smutne sedlo (Sad saddle) and returning to Ziar cottage. Then gently descend to the trailhead.

Tips: Options. Upon closing the loop at Ziar cottage you may hire a scooter at Ziar cottage. Then all the time follow the asphalt road downwards which brings you directly to the parking lot.

You have both to be absolutely physically fit as the elevation will test you to the utmost and possess general climbing skills. Otherwise do not try to complete the total trip but consider a shorten version, possibly to Jalovske sedlo (PO 3) or Banikov (POI 4) and back.

What to bring:
A water protection coat.
Snacks and enough water. You may replenish your supplies at POI 2 (Ziar cottage).
Good hiking boots.
A pair of gloves, may be really helpful at climbing, especially when you have to touch frozen iron chains.
Magnesium (first aid against cramps).

Points of Interest


1 Ustie Ziarskej doliny (893 m)

Start your trip at Ustie Ziarskej doliny (Ziar valley mouth). Leave your car at the paid parking lot.

Next POI (Ziarska chata) is 5.1 km. From the end of the parking lot, head first NE, initially through the forest. It will be a gentle ascent until you come to Ziarska chata.

2 Ziarska Chata (1299 m)

At Ziarska chata (Ziar cottage) have a refreshment break. Get ready for the most difficult ascent part.

Next POI (Jalovske sedlo) is 2.73 km. A few meters past Ziar cottage, turn left and start a loop upwards heading first W, then NE. You are soon in the open, leaving the forest belt behind. The zigzag steep descent leads to Jalovske sedlo (Jalov saddle).

3 Jalovske Sedlo (1858 m)

At Jalovske sedlo (Jalov saddle), enjoy first views to the opposite side of the ridge.

Next POI (Banikov) is 1.56 km. Continue the steep ascent to Banikov summit heading E. While ascending, experience beautiful emerging views to both sides (Poland, Slovakia).

4 Banikov (2178 m)

At Banikov summit have a refreshment break and enjoy supreme panoramic views. This is the highest point of your trip. If you are really in the excellent condition you may postpone your refreshment break to the next POI.

Next POI (Hruba kopa) is 1.34 km. Head E and enjoy the ridge hiking. The ridge section is certainly the most attractive.

5 Hruba Kopa (2166 m)

At Hruba kopa (Broad Mound) you have reached the second most important summit of the day. Have a short break and absorb the precious views including the back look to Banikov summit you have just come from.

Next POI (Tri kopy) is 506 m. Continue E and get ready for the most strenuous technical part of the trip. In front of you, there are several sharp peaks of Tri kopy. This section requires some climbing skills. However, the most difficult parts are secured by iron chains. So it is not so difficult to manage. Anyway, take extreme precautions here not to slip that might be fatal.

6 Tri Kopy (2136 m)

Once you reach Tri kopy (Three mounds) peak, take another break and allocate some time to look around. From this point on you will quickly lose the height.

Next POI (Smutne sedlo) is 590 m. Head SE. The climbing part of the ridge is narrow but quite safe.

7 Smutne sedlo (1962 m)

At Smutne sedlo (Sad Saddle), enjoy last chance to take hold of beautiful looks around. From now on, you will descend only.

POI 2 (Ziar cottage) is 3.2 km. First head S. The descent is trouble-free. At Ziar cottage, after a short break, take the same route back to the trailhead.
Pictures in this guide taken by: takacs

Zapadne Tatry from Ziarska chata Trail Map

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About the Author

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I live in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, EU. Favorite leisure time activities: Hiking, mountain biking,...

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