Two short hikes that should keep you busy for half of the day: Ziarska Chata (hut) and Skok Waterfall.

Ziarska Chata (hut)

How to get there?

In order to reach the start of the hike, from Liptovski Mikulas you need to go to the village of Ziar. After you exit the settlement you should find a large parking lot where you can leave your car. When we visited this place the parking was free so we can assume this is a general status.
From the parking lot, we will continue on the road that goes uphill and that can be accessible to cars if the weather conditions allow it. Even though we left home early in the morning we had the misfortune to have heavy traffic on the road and managed to reach the parking lot at sunset. Since we had no idea how much snow was covering the road we hiked on foot with headlamps all the way to the hut. This usually is a closed road that is used only by guests and for resupply.
The road has nothing special to show but in winter everything looks better! Since it was dark we didn't see a lot of the surroundings but we made up for it the next day during our descent.

It was dark outside when we reached the hut so we went to our room, had a bite to eat and fell asleep. Our plan for the next morning was to gather our stuff and to continue uphill in the direction of Baranec Peak from where we would continue on the ridge until the parking lot.

Truth be told we were not expecting so much snow for the 1st of December. From the hut onward there were sections where the snow was 50 cm deep. After a few steps, we started to understand that our destination might be unreachable in these conditions.

Many were going uphill but with proper gear, cross-country skies or snowshoes while we were slowly sinking in the snow. Our general feeling was that we came to the mountains in flip-flops. We were the only ones that went hiking.

Even though when we reached the hut it was snowing and it continued during the night, the next day's forecast was clear skies and good weather. We walked for a while and it wasn't easy at all, we managed 2 kilometers and about 400 meters vertical relief in 3 hours.

As there were no markings to guide our way we could only guess where the track could be accompanied only by a GPS track. We took turns to open the way through the snow and eventually managed to reach Pod Homolkou located at the "fabulous" altitude of 1700 meters. It is here where we decided we should turn back as it was futile to fight our way up the mountain.

On our way back we stopped to admire some people (probably the ones from earlier in the morning) that have reached the peak and we making their way down on skies. It was only them and the mountain.

We watched until they disappeared from sight and then we continued down following our own tracks. Even if it was a short walk we had a good time.

Hike details

Ziarska Chata (hut) – Pod Homolkou – Ziarska Chata – Parking lot

  • Distance: 9.3 km
  • Vertical relief: + 400 / – 800 m
  • Time (winter): 6 hours (4 hours walking time)
  • No winter markings available

GPS Track Wikiloc

Good to know

  • Ziarska Hut is an excellent place for cross-country skiing – people in Slovakia are quite fond of such activities.
  • From Ziarska Hut you have two paths available that end up on two peaks: Baranec and Banikov. Both areas have great cross-country skiing potential.
  • During the summer you can go by car to the hut but only if you sleep in regular rooms. There is a road tax of 10 euros per entrance. If you choose to sleep in bunk beds you can't drive to the hut.
  • The hut has 4 person, 8 person rooms and bunk beds of 12+. For the bunk beds, you need a sleeping bag while for the rooms it is not mandatory. You also have access to hot water showers and overall the hut is really clean. They also serve food but from what we heard the breakfast isn't that great. Other than this if you ask for hot water for tea you need to pay 10 cents per cup or 1 euro per thermal flask. The hut caretaker is pretty grumpy but maybe we just caught him on a bad day.

Skok Waterfall

How to get there?

The hike to Skok waterfall starts in Strbske Pleso. You will have two parking options, one is the middle of Strbske Pleso and it costs 6 euro/day and the other is a bit further up the mountain in the ski resort and it costs 10 euro/day.
The hike to Skok waterfall is an easy walk through the forest. The way is well marked and we had the fortune to find the path free of fresh snow.

We also found a DIY self-service schnapps vending machine on our way and we took some extra fuel on the road, it was a nice sight :))

We were not so lucky this time as the clouds were really low and it was foggy. It was also snowing and we had limited visibility. We didn't mind the weather all the much as we have been on this side of the mountains in the past but for Gabi and Moni who were for the first time here, we don't think it was all that fun. All in all, it was a pleasant Sunday walk.

The clouds were sitting just above the waterfall and everything around was frozen. We stayed for a while to admire the sights, for a chat and to eat our packed goodies after which we descended back to our accommodation.

Hike details

  • Distance: 9 km
  • Vertical relief: +/- 400 m
  • Time: 2 h (3 hours with breaks)
  • Markings: Yellow Tape

GPS Track Wikiloc

Good to know

  • During the summer you can continue from Skok waterfall to Bystra Lavka in order to complete a 17 kilometer circuit with a vertical relief of 1000 meters. Blue lakes and spectacular mountains, check this link for more details.
  • Strbske Pleso is a small skiing resort that features some Nordic skiing tracks. It was a first for us as we had only seen such gear on TV/net – they are so damn narrow! There were quite a lot of people with such skis so thumbs up to the Slovaks!

You now have two easy winter hike options in Slovakia, a beautiful country which offers plenty opportunities for relaxation and adventure so… Go visit Slovakia! 🙂