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The Mazovian Scenic Park

„Na Torfach” (On peat) reservation „Na Torfach” (On peat) reservation

Peats and dunes

The sandy benches of the Vistula valley on the right-hand river bank are covered by stunted pine forests. The surroundings of Otwock and Celestynów have been for many years a favourite trip destination for Warsaw citizens. There is no telling which factor was crucial here: beauty of forest wilderness, healthy microclimate, or just convenient public transport connection with the capital.

distance: 13 km (possible to cut it short to 10.5 km)

marking: starting with black marks, then red

difficulties: easy route

public transport: train connection between Warsaw and Pilawa

0.0 km train station in Otwock

Willa in OtwockFrom in front of the modernist-secessionist building of the train station, walk around the streets of Otwock following marks of the black trail. You will swiftly realize that it is an exceptional place. How often does it happen that tall pines hum in a town? The present character of Otwock was shaped in the second half of the 19th century. Back then, anti tuberculosis qualities of the local microclimate were discovered; it is distinguished for a large number of sunny days and resinous air.

Along the newly-built railway by the Vistula, a health-resort was established; it soon became well-known for its peculiar architecture. It was a mixture of fashionable at the time health-resort building style of the Alps and Schwarzwald and the architecture of Russian dachas. The oldest examples of wooden richly-decorated buildings were constructed by Michał Elwiro Andriolli, a popular illustrator. Many years later, Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński called their eclectic style „świdermajer” after the river Świder flowing through Otwock.

Romantic wooden villas are currently mixed with more modern structures, not always of the best design, but the forest murmurs just like before the war.

2.5 km Soplicowo

On the southern outskirts of Otwock, a colony of clerical houses was built in the 1920’s. By Sułkowski’s street, there is a villa hidden in the forest, which played a big role in politics. In 1948 the authorities imprisoned Władysław Gomułka here, who was accused of “right-wing deviations”; 37 years later the president of Solidarity, Lech Wałęsa, was interned to this place. In the villa Soplicówka by 2 Narutowicza Street, there is The Museaum of Otwock Land (open daily, except for Mondays, 9am-5pm, tel. 22 788 15 45). The exhibition provides a lot of fascinating information on the local nature and history. One can see old pictures and a collection of Judaicas. Another collection deserving our attention is ethnographic compilation, especially textiles.   

Behind the crossroads with the Narutowicza street, the trail turns south and loops along forest paths getting closer to the Karczewo outskirts. You are within the territory of the Mazovian Scenic Park. It was established in 1987 covering the area of over 14 thousand ha. The park consists of two parts, separated by the urban development of Otwock.  The park’s landscape is created by strings of dunes covered by pines and split by boggy depressions frequently filled with peats. In the backwoods there are, inter alia, black storks, mud turtles, elks and badgers. The territories of the Mazovian Scenic Park play an important role in the  “green lungs” of the capital. Clean air flows from here through the Vistula valley straight onto the Warsaw streets.

3.7 km Jewish cemetery

Among sandy dunes, by the former road from Pogorzela to Karczew, there is an old Jewish cemetery. Before the war, Jews constituted three-quarters of the Otwock population; it was also their favourite summer resort. In 1940 Fascists established a ghetto (second largest after Warsaw) which was dissolved two years later. Leaning to the ground stone macebas could probably tell us a lot about the history of Otwock. Try to read the history by yourself – quite a few inscriptions carved into the gravestones are in Polish.

5.5 km „On the peats” reserve

From the region of Osieck through to Otwock, along the Vistula valley, there is a strip of boggy peats. Currently most of them have been transformed into fertile meadows but it is still possible to admire a picturesque peat landscape in the reserve. Observation of nature is facilitated by a large viewing platform.

An enchanting small lake, which is in the centre of the protected area, in spite of appearances was not created by nature. The hollow is the outcome of peat exploitation and it is supplied by springs on the lake’s northern side. The water surface is surrounded by a wide ring of boggy forest. Numerous peninsulas and islands are covered by clusters of alder and birch. Higher and drier ground is dominated by Poplars, Pines and Oaks. The lakelet and its vicinity are the wildlife sanctuary. Several dozens of bird species nest here. The easiest to be seen are majestic white swans. Frequently there is rhythmic tapping echoing above the surface of the lake. These are Woodpeckers living in hollows up the lake-side trees. Fauna curiosities are not very conspicuous. Somewhere in the peat there are mud turtles and smooth snakes hiding. The small lakes vicinity was found attractive by bigger animals as well, Elks and Deer. If you wish to spy on the wildlife, you have to lie in wait at dawn.  

From the platform, the black trail goes along an educational walk. By reading the track side boards, you will get to know and understand the surrounding forest. After more or less half a kilometer, the walk turns off the forest tract and approaches a lakelet. If you find the provided information interesting, you can hike on from one board to another. The trail and walk intersect again at the “Peats” base.

6.3 km „Peats” base

Mazowiecki Landscape ParkIn an old forester’s lodge there is an ecological education centre as well as the Museum of the Mazovian Scenic Park. Educational classes for schools and other organized groups are arranged here (Karczew, ul. Torfy 2, open during holiday Sat and Sun: 9am-2pm, September to June school trips but there is no problem with joining a group, tel. 22 799 26 94 extension 103). Nearby there is a forest car-park.

The biggest attraction of the base is a lair founded in 1998. The shelter is provided to those animals which, for various reasons, need help getting back to nature: injured deer, birds that fell out of their nests and other difficult cases.

From in front of the forester’s lodge, follow black marks to the south east.

6.6 km trails’ intersection

If you wish to cut your hike short, you can go back to Otwock from here by going northward following blue marks. We encourage, however, carrying on along the black trail. You go along a forest road through the poor pine forest. After 1.2 km the trail turns to the north east, and after another 800 meters it reaches a wider forest road adopting the previous direction.

9.3 km loop of trails

The black trail joins the red one. Past the new signs turn left, and after 100 meters turn right. You begin a climb up a sandy hill.

9.8 km The Dąbrowiecka Mountain

On a high dune, there are two best-preserved bunkers from the German defense line from 1944. Construction of fortifications of the co-called „Warsaw Pre-bridge” began already in 1941. The works, however, were abandoned after German successes on the eastern front. Gathered materials were sent to the building site of the Atlantic Embankment. When in 1944 the German withdrew under the Red Army pressure, hasty finishing of the fortifications began; however, there was not enough time. Between the 27th and 30th of July 1944, the Russian broke through the German defense line near the Dąbrowiecka Mountain, on the weakly secured section close to Dąbrówka.

The trail runs further along the forest path and after several hundred meters climbs up the hill. Now you are standing 116 m above the sea level. On the northern dune slope the forest which was destroyed by fire. From the burn site you can admire an extensive view on green spaces of the Mazovian Scenic Park.

9.8 km The Red Road

The trail goes now along a bitten forest road. For the Warsaw surroundings, it has a surprisingly red colour. Seemingly, in order to harden the tract, the capital’s ruin rubble was used.

10.8 km Okoły

A small hamlet consists of just a few buildings lost somewhere in the forest. The red trail intersects here with green marks leading from Celestynów to Otwock. A bit further you will see an enormous oak by the road – a nature monument with a girth exceeding 4 meters.

12.2 km road Otwock – Celestynów

Behind the road there is the railway track. In a fork between the roads, a forest car-park is located. Nearby there is a memorial stone commemorating the fight of the resistance soldiers. During the Second World War they were destroyed railways.

The trail turns left and along the road leads to the neighbouring train station.

12.9 train station Pogorzel Warszawska

By train you will get to the car parked in Otwock or straight to the capital.

Practical information

Gastronomy:

Karczew: restaurant Rokola, Rynek Zygmunta Starego 24, tel. (22) 780 65 42

Otwock: restaurant Zalesin, ul. Ambasadorska 14, tel. (22) 788 92 47

Otwock: pizzeria Metropizza, ul. Karczewska 10, tel. (22) 779 32 71

Otwock: restaurant M-kwadrat, ul. Matejki 2, tel. (22) 719 62 60

Accommodation:

Otwock: the Tourist Services Office, ul. Poniatowskiego 1, tel. (22) 779 31 05; helps find accommodation in holiday resorts and private accommodation

Otwock: hotel Villa Otwock (with a restaurant), ul. Wspaniała 47, tel. (22) 788 05 88

Otwock: guest-rooms, ul. Kasztanowa 6, tel. (22) 779 49 18

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