As I promised myself after Wielka Kopa, and having read my friend's other trip, I came back to Rudawy Janowickie to explore the rest of the area, as I planned, from Szwajcarka to the top Skalnik (945m).
Once more, the region has not disapointed me and confirms its value of very good mountain biking area.
This circuit, a bit longer than the last one, visits many points of interest: the Wojanów palace and castle, the Karpniki lakes, the old town of Kowary, the top Skalnik, the rocks of Rudawy Janowickie and the hills of Sokoliki.
With a nice automnal weather, a very rewarding trip... May I mention also how satisfied I was from my recent repair !
Note: Skalnik has given its name to the most famous independant sport shop in Wroclaw (where I regularly look for hidden treasures during the offsales...)
In Wojanów, cross the Bóbr river via the green pedestrian bridge to get to the south shore, where is located the fortress. Take the black marked trail in the direction of teh village Karpniki, but leave it on the right at the level of an unmarked junction, to follow the track that goes along the artificial fishing lakes (Karpniki lakes, named after the town).
We cross the road and catch the green trail in the direction of Krogulec, until we meet a yellow marked trail leading to the village of Bukowiec. The flat land stops and we ride the first hills, with beautiful views, forests and clearings.
From Bukowiec, we must ride on a small asphalt road following the red marks, to reach the city of Kowary. We reach it via the descent that goes along the Bukowiec sanatorium (a beautiful old building), and we catch the main street, first along the ugly factory, but later via the beautiful main square and upper main street with colorful houses. Shops here and there, where to buy cookies, water and so on.
We leave the town in the upper end taking the bicycle marked trail, that crosses the main road a bit before where the main street joins it too, and elevate in the direction of Skalnik via what used to be a former road to the town Kamienna Góra. We cycle still on the asphalt, but the trail is steep enough in most places so we are happy of it...
When we reach the main pass, a red marked trail goes left to the top. This is a pedestrian trail, but cycleable in the first portion. As it starts elevating, instead of following the red marks we keep on the main track, now unmarked, until we meet green marks coming from oposite, and elevating on the left. Apart from the very first meters, this pedestrian trail leading to the top can be cycled, involving some technical skills such as passing stones and roots. But fun and easy enough. This is how to reach Skalnik by bike !
The top is made of a couple of bizarre granitic outcrops, and the highest, few meters away from the marked trail junction, has stairs to go to the top plus a balcony so we can enjoy the view. The panorama to Karkonosze is really gorgeous, and the views opposite to all the Jelenia Góra basin and Rudawy region, especially the Sokoliki twin hills, are beautiful.
The descent is made via the blue trail going east on the ridge of Skalnik. The first part is cycleable, then becomes a technical descent, before it becomes for good... a descent to be made on foot next to the bike, for a significant distance. But this is worth doing, and the continuation of the ridge, after we pass a granite mine, becomes again gentle and makes a fine portion to ride.
Thus until we meet the asphalt portion turning left to the rocks Skalny Most and Piec (visited during Wielka Kopa); first a descent, then going up during few laces after turning left at the junction. "Skalny most" ("rocky bridge" in Polish)is a very famous rock forming a natural arch, a must-see for the local rockclimbers, while Piec, from the track, offers a balcon and few benches to admire again the panorama.
Then we descend again north-west via the green-blue marked trail in the direction of the Karpniki road and the sokoliki hills. After an entertaining descent and passing the road, we enter the sokoliki hills, a tricky place to cross by bike. Unless we have planned a beer in it, we should not cycle to the hut Szwajcarka (however worth seeing, a 180 years old wooden mountain hut). Continue in the unmarked continuity of the track until meeting the blue trail that goes to the pass Przełączka, between the 2 hills.
From there, it is also possible to give a visit to the top of the Sokoliki north hill, via a steep red-marked trail going up in sharp laces. The summit rock, Krzywa Turnia, has (again) stairs and a balcony on the top, with a stunning panorama (lock your bike downside not to get it stolen, the area is crowded).
Back to the pass Przełączka, we get back to the starting point via the green trail going north west. The start of the descent is kind of tricky, but most difficult parts can be avoided riding aside the track. Then a fine descent takes us back to Wojanów and the car park near the river.
Don't forget to give a visit to the Wojanów palace, located just few kilometers away, returning by car.
From Wrocław, take the motorway A4 to the West. At the exit of Kostomłoty, take the road n°5 in the direction of Jelenia Gora (the exit is just after a sort of inn on the motorway named "Filipek Bar").
Follow the road 5 until Bolków, then Kaczorów, and then the junction to Wojanów (a much better option than via Janowice Wielkie).
Park in Wojanów near the green pedestrian bridge over the river Bóbr.
The city of Kowary can also make a logic starting point for those who stay in the area, or coming from Czech republic, as it is the largest town in the circuit.
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