What we call the Beskids (Beskidy in Polish, Beskydy in Czech, Slovak or Ukrainian) covers a huge mountainous area of low rounded mountains, which forms the outside part of the northern Carpathians (overview on SP).
The Carpathians. Just evokating this name makes one dream ! Since the fall of the iron curtain and the apparition of mountain-biking in this part of Europe, it has become an evidence the Beskids are exceptionally beautiful to ride.
For the challenging nature of the terrain, the quality of the trail marking, and their undeniable beauty. Wilder and more raw, hosting pastoral activity that sometimes seems from decades ago, as well as an incredible wildlife, they are much more authentic than the Sudetes, and riding them fulfills the nostrils with the smell of adventure !
The Beskids are usually divided by regions, from West to East:
- Moravskoslezské Beskydy (Moravian Beskids, CZ)
- Beskid Śląski (Silesian Beskids, PL&CZ)
- Beskid Żywiecki - Oravské Beskidy (Beskids of Żywiec and Orava, PL&SK)
- Beskid Mały & Makowski (Small & Medium Beskids, PL)
- Beskid Wyspowy (Island Beskids, PL), which include the Pieniny (MBPost area).
- Beskid Sądecki (Beskids of Sącz county, PL)
Other regions not called "Beskids" are also part of it, like Gorce (currently an area on MBPost) and the Bieszczady, Poland's easternmost range.
Remember only that the Tatras are not a part of it, since their structure is usually considered as different by geologs.
For practical regions (there are too few trails and photos yet), this area encapsulates all "Beskids" located West, which means the Moravian, Silesian, Żywiec and Small Beskids, around the convergence of the three borders of Poland, Slovakia and Czech Republic.
This is the reason why I named it "Western Beskids". If other objects are submited in quantity in the future (but against all expectations currently...), subdividing it could be considered. Some time ago, another contributor from Poland, Sebasn, submited few very interesting photos of the region, which encouraged me to make this page.
Here is a map that shows roughly the area that the "Western Beskids" are meant to cover :
View Beskids in a larger map
Main cycleable summits
Not all parts of the Beskids can be cycled. Some peaks, despite small, are just too steep to avoid too much bike-and-hike. Some other areas are protected, like Babia Góra in Poland, Beskids highest.
On the other hand, some are served with more-than convenient tracks till the top, where are sometimes located mountain huts, radio transmitters, ski resorts, or outlook towers.
Some, less famous, own genuine singletrack jewels that need to be discovered and tested. Mountainbiking is quite recent in this corner of Europe, and there is pleinty of fresh terrain to explore !
I am pretty sure I can state the trails of the Beskids are wilder in average than those I abundantly described in the Sudetes. There is also more to see, with more clearings, more sherpering, more huts, more agriculture anf cattle.
Finally, some will prefer cycling the tiny and tortuous alphalted roads. It's steep, full of challenging mountain passes, worth the stages of Tour de France. Only beware of the dangerous driving of most cars.
Here are few famous cycling goals :
- Lysá Hora, highest in the Czech Beskids. Served by an asphalted road, but great descents on singletracks on every side of the mountain.
- Radhošť, another emblematic mountain of the Czech Beskids, spiritual ride with lots of cultural objects on the way. Other parts of the massif such as Kněhyně can also be reached, but more "wildly".
- Stożek Wielki/ Velký Stožek, on the border, with the ski station. The emblematic mountain of Jablunkov can be cycled up from this place.
- Czantoria Wielka/ Velká Cantoryje, another top on the border. There is an outlook tower on top, but the access by bike needs to be studied better...
- Skrzyczne is the emblematic mountain of the Żywiec surroundings. A radio transmitter on top and a local ski station, so the peak is served with a good trail described here.
- Wielka Racza, in the SW Polish corner near the 3 borders. User Sebasn mentions it as a fine singletrack.
- Rycerzowa, made on foot by Dorota and me few years ago, some tracks one can possibly ride with a bike.
- Romanka, in the Żywiec area, might have some access...
- Pilsko, second highest in the Beskids, owning a ski resort, is a very challenging destination, according to my friend Marcin who did it.
- Babia Góra, as mentionned earlier, is forbidden by bike according to its national park regulations. Besides, the main summit would be far too challenging.
- Polica, East from the Babia Góra protected area, is known as a local biking destination...
Many European metropoles around this region can be reached by plane :
As for closer access, a "star map" will better describe all possibilities than a long chapter... Just be aware that the deepest you go in mountains, the tiniest are the roads...
Medium sized towns are usually served by bus or train, but carrying bikes in them (muddy bikes ?) is often a lot of hassle (in Poland, many trains are marked as "bikes welcome", but once you get on board you are told to f___ off...). Additionally remote trailheads are much more convenient to reach by car.
On popular destinations, you'll often find paying car park. Usually it's not too expensive. Just take them, your car will just be safer than left in a remote place of the country, where unfriendly locals could be interested in opening a foreign car to see what's in it...
View Larger Map
Accomodation & tips
The Beskids are highly touristic areas in all three countries they belong to. Since the sea is too remote, herds of tourist, both from Southern Poland or Central Europe rush to the green during sunny green week ends, or to the snowy ski resorts in winter.
Consequently, the tourist will be embarassed with choice concerning accomodations.
Areas located near ski resorts usually have a lot of modern accomodations in the valleys. As for more remote places, the density is lower, but one will find more genuine accomodations locally known as "agrotouristic" (green B&B's).
A lot of portals summarize all accomodations on internet, but unfortunately rarely in English or foreign languages. Since an inventary of all of them would be too much work, and the data is changing constantly, here are only a couple of tips to help to sort it out.
Let's start with a small lexicon:
- Accomodation = Noclegi (PL), Ubytovanie (CZ/SK)
- Hotel = Hotel/Hotel. "Hostels" often designate Youth hostels or motels.
- Green lodge = Agroturystyka (PL), Agroturistika (CZ/SK)
- Guesthouse = Pokoje gościnne (PL), Penzión (CZ/SK)
- Summer residence = Dom letniskowe (PL), Chalupa (CZ/SK)
- Flat for rent = Kwatery (PL), Privat (CZ/SK)
- Mountain hut = Schronisko (PL), Chata/Horsky Hotel (CZ/SK)
- Tavern = Chata (PL) => not to mix with the Czech homonym
- Restoracja (PL), Restaurace (CZ/SK)
- Campsite = Kemping (PL), or Kemp/Tábořiště/ATM (CZ/SK)
(however campsites are rare in these regions)
* Czech Republic:
Other tips :
Beskidy Mountainbike Trophy 2011