A Stunning Region in the Heart of Slovakia
A striking region of scattered forests in the heart of Slovakia, sung by folk songs, but also by Slovak poets, a world of endless forests and deep forests, Orsk slopes and remote valleys, distant views and quiet corners – Podpoľanie, which is one of the most unique regions in Slovakia, unforgettable with its nature, culture and hospitable people. Life under Poľana was not always easy, the peasants worked in the fields and herded cattle during the day, but they varied their work with heligón and singing, and in the evening they also drank schnapps here and there.
The picturesque foothills landscape stands out for its natural beauty, numerous forests, streams and mineral springs, but also for its unique and still alive folk culture.
Due to its location, Park Košútka is an ideal place for hiking and cycling in Podpoľaní. There are many interesting natural and cultural monuments within a few kilometers. Among the most visited are:
Poľana – 14 km
There stands a tall, wild Polyana, having trees of enormous shadows, below it a village called Detva, having luxuriant tall sons. One of the most famous Slovak poems by Andrej Sládkovič – Detvan – begins with these words. And that’s exactly how Poľana is. High and wild, unmissable, but calm. It is the largest natural landmark, which rises above the towns of Detva, Hriňová and the scattered estates of the spa. Thirteen million years ago, Poľana was different. It was a massive cone-shaped volcano, which is said to have reached a kilometer more than it is now. Currently, Poľana is the highest and best-preserved volcano in Central Europe. A base with a diameter of 18 km has been preserved from its gigantic cone. The Poľany caldera is over 400 m high and enclosed by a ridge wall. After the ascent to Zadná Poľana (1,458 m above sea level) and the subsequent transition to the Katruška and Zbojnícky tanec viewpoints, the caldera will show itself to you in its full beauty. From the top of Poľana, you will realize how small Slovakia is, when even a stone’s throw away you can see the Low Tatras and, in good weather, the High Tatras with the majestic Kriváň can be seen in the distance.
The Zadná Poľana National Nature Reserve is mapped with an area of 855 ha as the second largest primeval forest in Slovakia. In the Poľana area, primeval forests have been preserved for a relatively long time. We can find different types of forest habitats here. The average age of the stands ranges from 180 to 230 years, the oldest trees are around 400-450 years old. The glade is rich in the occurrence of various fauna and flora, it is a symbol and a place of activity of the brown bear.
Bystré waterfall – 12 km
On the southern slope of Poľana, at the end of the valley of the Bystrý potok, one of the prides of Podpoľania – Vodopád Bystré, in Detvian Bystrô – is located. The 23 meter high waterfall is one of the highest and most powerful in the Western Carpathians. The waterfall is a national natural monument and is very accessible. The valley completes an unforgettable experience with its flora and fresh air.
Melich Rock – 12 km
Poľana has left us as a remnant of its tumultuous Tertiary past several “reversible rocks”, for example Melichova. Some think that it is the solidified face of a lava flow, the rest of which has already been eaten away by erosion. However, legend says that she is a petrified “daughter of this family” with a litter on her back. “As if Detva didn’t have giants” – the baby with the litter is a good 15 meters tall “and on those huge breasts” she offers a platform with a view. Who looks out there through a small rock window and “drops his eyes first into the valleys, what does he see?” The mountains of the miraculous shadow and the beautiful Slovak distance” with Skliarov underfoot, with Detva in the southwest and Hriňovský laz in the east.
Malček Rock – 10 km
Malček’s rock is a kind of gateway to Poľana. An inconspicuous, grass-covered rock juts out above Raticovy vrch. From the top of the rock, you can see the whole of Podpoľanie like in the palm of your hand, spa fields and cattle grazing on the adjacent pastures.
Kopa – 13 km
The Kopa rock wall rises above Melichová rock, which was modeled by frost weathering. The northern border of the distribution of thermophilic species of fauna and flora passes through the nature reserve with an area of 57 hectares.
Kalamarka – 20 km
The southern slope of Predná Poľana offers another rock landmark – Kaľamárka. It consists of 2 ramparts, which are up to 17 m high and are a popular location for climbers. People used these rock walls as early as the Younger Bronze Age, 3,000 years ago, and they created a fortress from Kaľamárka. The best visible trace of people inhabiting Kaľamárka in the past is the water cistern on top of the cliffs, cut into the rock. A large number of finds were shards from the Bronze Age and other periods, the entire peak was literally strewn with shards, but spears, swords, whorls, needles, parts of axes were also found. The most interesting find confirming the presence of Slavs is a double-edged sword from the Great Moravian period.
Mačinová – 22 km
Mačinová is a nature reserve that represents a typical example of a block site to a scree, which arose on the edge of a lava flow and is characteristic of a territory of volcanic origin. In winter, the flowing water freezes and turns Mačinová into a favorite place for ice climbers.
Dobročský forest – 25 km
The most famous Slovak forest is located 25 km north of the town of Hriňová in the central part of the Veporské vrchy. The territory represents a well-preserved example of the biotope of beech and fir-beech flowering forests. Despite the fact that it is the most widespread type of forest biotope in Slovakia, very few natural examples have been preserved, as this type of forest was and still is intensively managed by forestry. All developmental stages and phases of the Carpathian mixed forest are represented on the territory of the primeval forest.
Černohronská railway and forest open-air museum Vydrovo – 28 km
Čiernohronská železnička, only 28 km from Košútka, is a preserved narrow-gauge forest railway between the villages of Hronec and Čierny Balog. At the time of its greatest expansion, its network, branched into the surrounding forests, had 131.98 km. At present, there is a seasonal tourist operation on 17 km of preserved tracks. It was declared a national cultural monument in 1982. To this day, the 10 km long main line from Hronec to Čierne Balog, a 3 km extension of this line from Hronec to Chvatimech and a 4 km branch from Čierne Balog to Vydrovská dolina are in operation.
A ride in these wooden carriages of the historic forest railway, together with the beautiful countryside and enchanting nature, will allow you to go back in time to places where wood was once harvested.
Bátovský boulder – 39 km
The Bátov boulder, which lies on the Hučava plains, is also called the Witness, because who could better bear witness to the stories that took place in Hrochoťská dolina than him. As the brigands stood on the top of the Shining and clawed far behind them in the middle of the valley, their captain became angry and violently shook a large boulder that towered below him in anger. The boulder broke away at that moment and rolled down the slope with a tremendous crash. So says the rumor. Another version says that it is a massive agglomerate block that was loosened by frost weathering in the older Quaternary and collapsed onto the Hučava floodplain in Hrochotská dolina. The block is 14 m high with a diameter of 8 m. A typical pear-shaped volcanic bomb can be seen among the solidified volcanic material, which indicates that it was still in a semi-liquid state at the time of impact. Over time, life took hold on the boulder, in inhospitable conditions, a pine tree grew there from 1931 to a height of almost nine meters. Unfortunately, the storm blew her away. The natural monument is located right next to the road and the blue tourist sign.
Kyslinky – 40 km
In 1905, Fridrich Habsburg began the construction of a railway for weighing wood. Shortly afterwards, the first mining plant was built right in the heart of the crater, as the basis of a later forestry settlement. The train weighed wood and people until 1975. Today, Kyslinky is a paradise for forest animals, especially deer. A legendary story from the end of the Second World War, when an exceptional trophy valued at 241 points was knocked down on the Trojskalská Plateau, is still being told today. It was a guerrilla deer, a world record holder at the time. They went to the exhibition in Florence, but since the shooter was not known, the exemplary individual was not officially recognized. However, on the basis of this catch, Poľana was declared a reserve for deer. Since a 240-point buck was shot in 1961, this deer area also has the stamp of being protected. Kyslinky is one of the most beautiful areas of Poľana with excellent access, either from Predná Poľana or through Hrochoťská dolina.
Jánošík Rock – 43 km
Jánošík had many friends in Hrochota and Očová. Whenever he was passing by on his horse, he liked to stop at the local pub. Rumors spread quickly, and immediately he was hot on the heels of Vígľa Castle. Once, when he was running back home through Bátová na Poľane, he carved a hole in the rock and hid his treasures in it together with the robbers. The rock is named after Jánošík to this day. A massive rocky cliff of volcanic origin, approximately 30 meters high and 200 meters long, rises above the Hučava stream. It is located a few minutes from the road towards Kyslinky, near the blue tourist sign.
National nature reserves
NPR Zadna Poľana
NPR Ľubietovský Vepor
NPR Hrončecký grúň
PR Under Dudáš
PR Pri Bútlavka
PR Havranie skaly
National natural monuments
NPP Vodopád Bystré
PP Melich’s rock
PP Bátovský boulder
PP Veporské skalky
CHA Meander of the Kamenisté brook
CHA Horná Chrapková
CHA Dolná Zálomská
CHA Hrochotská Bukovina
CHS Buk pod Klíkou
CHS Buk pod Široková
Brest on Hukava