Wielka Sowa (The Great Owl) is the highest peak of Sowie mountain range in Poland. It belongs to the Crown of Polish Mountains. It’s 1015 m high. What do you expect on such a peak at the end of April? A not very demanding hike perfect for families with children and people hiking for the first time. It is a great day trip from Wrocław (check this quick guide to Wrocław if you plan to go there too!) And it would be the case… if it hadn’t been for tons of wet snow on the trail 🙂
I do love winter in the mountains. I love looking at the white fluffy snow covering leafless dark trees. I like when frost bites my cheeks and when steam goes out of my mouth when I breathe the sharp, cold air. The atmosphere is magical then.
But damn, not at the end of April! I counted on a sweet smell of flowers and fresh green grass. On birds singing and enjoying spring. On the sun warming up my body.
What did I get instead? Wet snow falling from trees right on my head when I don’t expect it. Turning into a cold water and running down my neck. And I just kept slipping on the dirty white slush. Thanks, spring 🙂
I must admit I didn’t expect that.
Yes, I knew that the real feel temperature on Śnieżka, the highest peak around reaches -10 C, that’s why we dropped our original plan to hike there. But Śnieżka is famous for its bad weather conditions. And it’s 600 m higher… There shouldn’t be so much snow on Wielka Sowa.
Apparently, there was 🙂 We hiked in a group of 8 people and for some of them it was the first time ever in the mountains. Do I have to mention how fun it was for them to hike in trainers wet from the very first minutes and slipping every other step? They were ambitious and managed to hike up the mountain – but it wasn’t safe, don’t do that! Luckily it ended with a flu “only”…
We hiked from a village called Walim up the yellow trail through Mała Sowa (The Small Owl). The hike to the top is 4,5 km long but you will gain most of the elevation on the first 3.
Beyond the top of Mała Sowa the trail gets flat and more pleasant. But right when we got more excited about it, dark clouds appeared and tried to scare us with a mix of rain and snow 🙂
When we reached the top it started snowing heavily. I felt like singing Christmas carols! We hid in a small wooden bower which had a designated place for fire. We knew it’s possible to buy wood and sausages in the tower… and we regretted even more we don’t have real spring here! 🙂
Because of the snow and low clouds we didn’t even check the viewing platform on top of the tower. The dark cloud looked impressive enough from the ground…
We hiked down the blue trail hoping there will be less snow or it will be less steep. It was less steep indeed. But nobody walked there before us and the snow reached our knees.
Even my super-pro-hiking books soaked during the hike down! I love these shoes and they crossed many trails in Poland, in Italy and the USA with me… but there’s no membrane able to stop loads of snow falling into the shoe from above. And I didn’t think about taking gaiters with me at this time of the year…
Wielka Sowa – The Crown of Polish Mountains – practical information
Check the trail from Walim to Wielka Sowa on the map here.
Distance: 10,7 km
Elevation gain: 551m, most of it on the first 3 km between Walim and Mała Sowa
Time: 3,5h according to the map. In snow, very slowly and with a break on top we hiked this trail in 4h.
Did you know that there is an amazing but quite undiscovered spot close from Wielka Sowa? These are Colorful Lakelets in Rudawski Landscape Park. Don’t miss this place, it’s worth visiting!
Check my posts about other peaks belonging to the Crown of Polish Mountains – start with the one about nearby Skalnik where I almost met a Mountain Spirit 🙂 Make sure you know how to prepare for your first hike in the mountains.
And I wish you a pleasant hike to the peak of Wielka Sowa. Not very demanding one, perfect for families with children. But just in case – prepare for all possibilities… 🙂
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