Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
579.00 m (1,899.61 ft)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
18.00 km (11.18 mi)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Slovak Paradise National Park, or Slovenský raj, part of the Spiš-Gemer Karst of the greater western Carpathian Mountains, is a popular tourist destination because of its incredibly unique and interactive hiking experience. From lush forests (which cover a whopping 90% of the park!), narrow canyons walks, waterfall-laced gorges, and over 300 underground caves, including the famous Dobšinská Ice Cave, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has some really unique sights to behold.

In its small 197 square-kilometer space, it holds eight of the country’s 11 nature reserves and has over 300 kilometers of hiking trails, despite the fact that most of the terrain is hardly accessible save for the metal trail system. This allows access to areas otherwise off limits and protects the native flora and fauna from direct contact with humans.

The Prielom Hornádu Canyon, a medium difficulty route that’s one of the park’s most popular, is one of but many of these spectacular trails within the national park. It takes you from Hornád Basin 13 kilometers down the Hornád River (which cuts up to 150 m into the limestone canyon walls) via a series of suspended metal grates, suspension bridges, and ladders anywhere from 3 to 20 meters above the swirling waters. In places, such as the Iron Gate, the canyon gets as narrow as 15 meters wide.

Trail Tip: Trail etiquette is super important in Slovak Paradise due to the narrow width and often single-file nature of the trails. Many of the gorges are one-way only, so be polite. Take turns with opposite flow traffic and be mindful of the the pace of those approaching you from behind (if they’re going faster, step aside when possible and let them overtake you!).

There are many points of access to Slovak Paradise, either Podlesok or Čingov are common gateways to the northern region of the park. Specifically, you’ll want Čingov for this hike, which isn’t much more than a handful of cottages (which you can rent if you want to do more exploring) and cafes. Park in one of the paid lots and follow the yellow marked trail south through the village until you reach a crossroads (about 0.5 km from parking), at which point continue straight onto the blue marked Hornádu Nature Trail. Just before entering the gorge, you’ll need to pay the minimal park entrance fee, just under $5 for an adult day pass (though if you plan on detouring to visit the Dobšinská Ice Cave, plan on paying over four times that for just admittance to the cave itself).

From the start of the Hornádu Prielom, you’ll immediately start criss-crossing over the river Hornád as well as some of its tributaries, getting the full via ferrata experience. Be on the lookout for caves carved into the soft limestone cliffs by the ever-flowing waters of the river. A few other colored trails will cross and temporarily merge with the blue one that travels down the river, but stay true to blue. After 5.0 kilometers, you will reach Letanovský mlýn (Letanov Mill) with a large crossroads between various other colored trails. At the mill, you can grab lunch at a local food shack and relax at the picnic tables in the peaceful meadow along the river.

Continue 1.5 kilometers to the blue trail toward Kláštorská roklina (Monastery Gorge). This gorge is perhaps the most amazing 1.5-kilometer stretch along this trail, so feel free to take your time as it meanders upstream through a narrow canyon overhung with moss and trees. Be mindful that you enter one of the park's nature preserves, meaning you must stay on trail. Strict nature preservation rules are enforced here.

Being one of the steepest gorges in Slovak Paradise, it finishes with a spectacularly huge ladder that crawls up the side of a gushing waterfall toward the ruins of a 14th century Carthusian monastery, perched right on the plateau between the Hornád and Kysel rivers. Once the Carthusians left the monastery in 1543, it fell to ruin and regrowth of the earth. It wasn’t until 1983 that preservation efforts were underway. The monastery is still collapsed, and has grown part of the limestone karsts surrounding it, but it is quite magnificent.

Again, a large crossroads happens here and it’s easy to get a little turned around, despite the simple coloring of the trails and signage. Follow the red trail, which will take you back to Letanov Mill. As interesting as the gorge is, you cannot return that same way as all tributary gorges in the park are one way only due to narrow width and high volume of visitors.

Back at the mill, walk behind it toward the crossroads by the Carthusian Bridge you crossed on the way to the mill. This time, take the left yellow path, which, over 2.7 kilometers, climbs steeply up to the southern face of L’udmanka to Tomášovský výhled (Tomáš's Viewpoint), a huge 146-meter rock outcrop from which you can see way down into the gorge as well as the distant peaks of the High Tatras. The rocks in this area are also frequented by rock climbers, as it is the only part of the park in which rock climbing is permitted.

From the viewpoint, keep following the yellow trail 1.8 kilometers as you descend back down into the gorge and to the village of Ďurkovec. Walk briefly along a paved road (still following yellow) past Spišská Tomášovce and back to Čingov.

More Slovak Paradise Adventures: This is but one of the many amazing trails in Slovak Paradise National Park. The others are worth a visit as well, in summer or winter, as some of them are known for some pretty rad ice climbing that is permitted along the trail. Others trails to visit are:

  • Suchá Belá Gorge (ice climbing permitted)

  • Sokolia Dolina Gorge (ice climbing permitted)

  • Piecky Gorge

  • Kysel’ Gorge

  • Vel’ky Sokol Gorge

  • Kláštorská roklina gorge (ice climbing permitted)

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Park entrance fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Exciting terrain. Steep canyons. Flora and fauna. Nature preserve. Via ferrata. Ancient ruins. Stunning waterfalls.

Cons

Biting flies. Crowded. Narrow trails. Possible vertigo for those sensitive to heights.

Trailhead Elevation

1,840.55 ft (561.00 m)

Highest point

2,542.65 ft (775.00 m)

Net Elevation Gain

885.83 ft (270.00 m)

Features

Flushing toilets
Potable water
Near lake or river
Wildlife
Waterfalls
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Cave
Old-growth forest
Bird watching
Vault toilet
Family friendly

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Comments

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