Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
2,030.00 m (6,660.10 ft)
Trail type
Shuttle
Distance
25.00 km (15.53 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.

The Tatra Mountains (aka the Tatras) are part of Eastern Europe’s Carpathian chain and make up the natural border between Slovakia and Poland. They are some of the most underrated mountains in Europe for hiking. From beautiful mountain lakes to precipitous peaks (and low traffic on top of it all!), they’re a stunning place. The Slovakian side hike to Veľké Biele Pleso (White Lake) and beyond to Zelené Pleso (Green Lake) takes place on the Slovakian side not terribly far from the northern border. This trail can be hiked either north or southbound, though the northbound trek is longer and begins at Tatranská Lomnica and will ascend the extremely steep #0930A rather than descend it.

This details the southbound version beginning in the village of Ždiar, incredibly small but rapidly gaining popularity on the backpacker’s trail because of a super rad hostel called The Ginger Monkey, which provides a great base camp for exploring the mountains in the area!

Since all trails in the Tatras are numbered and color-coded, this hike begins southbound out of Ždiar along green trail #5811, an easygoing stint through dense forest, which quickly merges (no splits involved) into green trail #5900 (on some maps called Monkova dolina) and kicks up the difficulty considerably. As you rise into the saddle, you’ll gain elevation rapidly, perhaps even needing to use your hands to scramble up steeper sections. One small section even bears an aid chain bolted into the rocky ground. Be on the lookout for a mountain spring (which runs all summer long) right next to the trail for a refreshing water refill and a little cool down.

Toward the heart of the saddle (Siroké Sedlo, 1,830 m), the trail begins to even out as you enter an idyllic field full of wildflowers, bright and vibrant for most of the summer. There’s even a crude bench here to stop and rest and take in your surroundings. Be sure to look behind you to see Ždiar framed between the two peaks, between which you have just climbed, provided the morning fog has cleared enough.

From there, follow the yellow signs pointing you right and continue on toward Kopské Sedlo (1,749 m), which signifies the border between the Belianske Tatry (White Tatras) and High Vysoké Tatry (High Tatras). This general route through the saddle was once used as a trade and smuggling route between Hungary and Poland during the Middle Ages.

Before reaching the saddle itself, right before the trail begins to descent, hike up onto the ridge off to the left (east) and make the short deviation up to Vysné Kopske (1,934 m). You are now 8 kilometers into the trek. From Kopské Sedlo, you will merge with blue trail #2911A briefly as you descend down the open slope another 1 kilometer toward the distantly visible Vel’ké Biele Pleso, or the Great White Lake (1,650 m). This shallow little lake is a great place to cool off your sweaty hiker feet and stop for a picnic at one of the picnic tables on its shores. Or if you’re like us, take shelter under the little wooden roof from the midday storm.

From Vel’ké Biele Pleso, the trail splits. Do not continue following blue trail #2911A left, but rather go right on red trail #0930A. Again, this split will be clearly signed, making it difficult to take the wrong path.

Follow this moderate to steep downward path just shy another 2 kilometers all the way to Zelené Pleso, or Green Lake. One look at the color of the deep emerald green waters, and the choice of name will become clear. Between the color of the water, the ominous mountain Jastrabia Veža (2,137 m) looms with unwelcoming steep scree slopes over it, a beautiful waterfall pouring down from higher crags into the opposite shore, and the rustic lodge Chati pri Zelenom Plese perched on the shore. This incredible sight is well worth the toil.

Depending on how long it’s taken you to get here and how motivated you are to keep moving, you have two options:

  1. Shorten the hike by taking yellow trail #8861 eastbound. This trail, which becomes a wider old logging road, follows Zeleny Potok stream. If going in the summer, be sure to be on the lookout for wild raspberries all along this trail! Hike all the way to Biela Voda, or the main road. You will need to walk a little farther along the road northbound to Kežmarské žľaby if you intend to catch a bus back to Ždiar, but hitchhiking it also a common option in the area.

  2. Continue along red trail #0930A up through Veľká Svišťovka pass, with the option of making an extremely short deviation to the 2,037-meter summit. Descend the other side until you reach Skalnaté Pleso (1,751 m), another beautiful little lake with an accompanying astronomical and meteorological observatory and cable car. From there you can either take the cable car down or hike green trail #5808 back to the village of Tatranská Lomnica, from which you can hitchhike or catch a bus back to Ždiar.

Of course, there are unlimited circuits one could create on the vast trail network that winds through the Tatras. You can even bring backpacking gear and extend this trek multiple days by continuing on red trail #0930B. Take the time to fully explore the region!

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Low traffic. Wide vistas. Variety of terrain. Mountain lakes. Many variations and options.

Cons

Strenuous.

Trailhead Elevation

2,870.73 ft (875.00 m)

Highest point

6,683.07 ft (2,037.00 m)

Features

Wildlife
Waterfalls
Big vistas
Near lake or river
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

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