Priečne Sedlo is a saddle located in the High Tatras of Slovakia, connecting two beautiful valleys, kotlina Piatich Spišských Plies & Veľká Studená dolina. It’s a spectacular, but technically difficult hike. The entire loop takes a whole day, includes steep and exposed sections, as well as chains and bars. If you are scared of heights, this may not be for you. If you feel fine with exposed scrambling, go for it. In this blog post, I’m going to tell you more about Priečne Sedlo in Slovakia, one of the toughest hikes in the Tatra Mountains.
PRIEČNE SEDLO: NEED TO KNOW
Priečne Sedlo at 2352 m can be crossed in both directions, from kotlina Piatich Spišských Plies or Veľká Studená dolina. The saddle has two sets of chains, for those going up, and those going down. With that being said, please remember to always keep right. Even if it gets a little crowded, do not switch chains, and continue to the right. It’s extremely important to follow this rule to avoid unnecessary risk. Imagine sharing the same chain with another hiker going in the opposite direction on an exposed section. Not safe! There is no entry fee to Tatra National Park in Slovakia. The walking track is open from 16th June to 31st October.
PRIEČNE SEDLO: DIRECTION
Most people cross Priečne Sedlo from kotlina Piatich Spišských Plies to Veľká Studená dolina. Fun fact is that I did the opposite and don’t regret it at all. Here’s why. By walking the track in the less popular direction, I basically skipped the line on the chains. It does get crowded there, especially in high season as people move much slower on those exposed sections. But there’s also a good reason why most hikers choose the popular direction – the exposed ascent in much longer than descent. Many people struggle with descending on exposed sections. So if you are one of them, definitely start walking from kotlina Piatich Spišských Plies.
PRIEČNE SEDLO: ITINERARY
It may seem a little complicated, but there are two different routes across Priečne Sedlo. The standard walking track supported with metal chains and bars. It’s steep and exposed, but you don’t need any equipment to do it. And a protected climbing route called the “via ferrata” or “iron path” which to some extent, follows the standard walking track. For this one, you definitely need some safety gear. If you decide to take the standard walking track (like I did!), just ignore the long metal cable dedicated for the “via ferrata” and use chains & foot holds instead. More details about each section of the hike are included below. Enjoy!
STARÝ SMOKOVEC – HREBIENOK
The walking track starts in a little town called Starý Smokovec. Carparks are not free there, so be prepared to pay around 10€ for the whole day. I left my car in a place with following coordinates: 46RC+FP Vysoké Tatry, Slovakia. The trailhead is not too far from this exact spot. Just a couple of meters further away. The adventure begins with a 40-minute walk on the green track towards Hrebienok. Interestingly, a funicular goes up there, but I highly recommend starting the hike as early as possible, before the funicular is open.
Walking track: 2,2 km, 40 minutes (one way)
Elevation gain: 252 m
HREBIENOK – ZBOJNÍCKA CHATA
From Hrebienok, follow the red trail towards Téryho Chata. Once you get to the trail junction at Nad Rainerovou Chatou, take the blue trail through Veľká Studená dolina to Zbojnícka Chata. This whole section is quite steep and will probably take you up to two and a half hours. If lucky, you will get to see the famous porters in action. They carry large loads of up to 100 kg up and down rugged trails to supply mountain huts with food, drinks and fuel. Hard to believe it’s the only way to deliver goods to four huts in the High Tatras.
Walking track: 6 km, 2,5 hours (one way)
Elevation gain: 749 m
ZBOJNÍCKA CHATA – PRIEČNE SEDLO
Once you get to Zbojnícka Chata, make sure to relax a bit before hitting the trail again. Further along, it’s going to get even steeper! The mountain hut is beautifully situated among many lakes, and high peaks, so it would be a shame not to pause there for a minute. The views are pretty impressive, trust me! Later on, follow the yellow trail for about two hours until you reach the first metal bar below Priečne Sedlo. This is exactly where the most dangerous part of the hike begins. Slowly, but surely start climbing up the saddle.
Walking track: 3,3 km, 1 hour 40 minutes (one way)
Elevation gain: 469 m
PRIEČNE SEDLO – RÁZCESTIE POD SIEDIELKOM
Funnily enough, Priečne Sedlo (2352 m) means two completely different things in Polish and Slovak. Polish people call it a “red bench” and that’s why you will see a colourful piece of wood hanging above the saddle. This name though, doesn’t come from the bench itself, but from the reddish colour of the rocks up there. As a contrary, Slovak people call it a “transversal saddle” because it’s indeed narrow. Continue on the yellow trail to Rázcestie pod Sedielkom, and pay special attention going down the saddle. It’s extremely exposed.
Walking track: 0,6 km, 40 minutes (one way)
Elevation gain: 0 m
RÁZCESTIE POD SIEDIELKOM – TÉRYHO CHATA
The entire loop is 22 km with an elevation gain of 1744 m, and it takes 9 hours without any breaks. That’s a lot! But maybe you are keen to do more. If yes, take a green trail from Rázcestie pod Sedielkom and go up Sedielko (2372 m). This section is steep, but well-worth doing. The views are simply stunning! Then retrace your steps to Rázcestie pod Sedielkom, and continue on the yellow trail until you reach Téryho Chata. The loop with a side trip to Sedielko is 23,5 km with an elevation gain of 2079 m, and that’s 10 hours of hiking.
Walking track: 1,2 km, 30 minutes (one way)
Elevation gain: 119 m
TÉRYHO CHATA – HREBIENOK
Time for a well-deserved rest in Téryho Chata, the highest situated hut in the Tatra Mountains which remains open all year round, even in winter. The area there is called kotlina Piatich Spišských Plies. If you have some spare time, make sure to roam around. It’s such a beautiful place, worth a little bit of appreciation. After a short break, follow the green trail to Zamkovského Chata, and then take the red trail to a junction at Nad Rainerovou Chatou. Past the junction, stay on the red trail until you get back to Hrebienok.
Walking track: 6,5 km, 1 hour 50 minutes (one way)
Elevation gain: 155 m
HREBIENOK – STARÝ SMOKOVEC
This is the last stretch, and you will probably have to walk it. The Starý Smokovec – Hrebienok funicular operates daily from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, so it’s very hard to catch it, especially if you do a big hike like this. Priečne Sedlo in the High Tatras of Slovakia is no joke! To get back to the carpark, take the green trail to Starý Smokovec. This is the same section you walked a couple of hours earlier. Thinking of doing even more challenging hikes? Make sure to read a separate blog post with 7 toughest hikes in the Tatra Mountains (coming up soon).
Walking track: 2,2 km, 30 minutes (one way)
Elevation gain: 0 m
This is all you need to know about Priečne Sedlo in the High Tatras of Slovakia. When are you planning to do this hike? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
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