Hiking through Bukowe Berdo was our second encounter with the Bieszczady, but it was our first chance to truly see them. After our first hike shrouded completely in mist, I’d resigned myself to hiking through haze for the whole week. It had its own charms, so it wasn’t a disappointing prospect to me.
Our hike to Bukowe Berdo began as though to confirm my assumptions about the fog. The higher we climbed, the thicker the mists that enveloped us.
But then, not long after we arrived in the połonina, the fog began to lift. Through the thinning mist we could just make out the valley below. Slowly, slowly the fog evaporated until only playful tufts were left darting in and out of valleys.
Standing in the połonina without fog felt as though a great curtain had been pulled back to suddenly reveal us perched at the top of the world. We went from struggling to see one another in the haze to gazing over mountains undulating across three countries.
A feeling of expansiveness exploded inside me. I loved these mountains covered in mist, but seeing them clearly, I began to understand what they are all about. I’d read that free spirits flock to the Bieszczady. But, I wonder if that explanation has the order backward. Walking in these mountains is a liberation of the spirit.
This sense of deliverance may or may not have been expressed in arms flung wide and spontaneous renditions of “The hills are alive with the sound of music . . .” I will warn, also, that there is a powerful urge to spin in circles, just to be able to take in all the angles at once.
The expansiveness of this particular hike is underscored by the paths sprouting like the wandering roots of a great tree. Walking paths criss cross these mountains in every direction and Bukowe Berdo feels particularly like a nexus of them. I could envision days in these same meadows following a different trail each time.
Added to its charms was an enveloping seclusion. Most of the walk we couldn’t see another soul. We watched alone as the wind whipped across the połoniny. Surroundings of this magnitude made the solitude feel like a particular gift.
From Muczne we took the yellow trail until it dead-ends into the blue. At that intersection, we took a left. There is no definitive end point for this hike, as blue path continues for several more hours in either direction. We chose to turn around at the second peak in Bukowe Berdo, which is just marked as it’s altitude (1311) on the map. We were tempted to keep going to Krzemień, but decided that would have been more hike than some of our party were up for.
The map lists this as a 4 hour hike: 2 hours and 15 minutes up, 1 hour and 45 minutes down.
We took this one nice and slow and stopped for a lunch at the top, so our total time was 5 hours and 15 minutes. It took us 2 hours to hike up the yellow trail to where it meets the blue trail. From there to the spot where we turned around was an hour. It took us 2 hours and 15 minutes from that summit to the bottom (including a lunch break).
You need to pay a nominal hiking fee at a booth at the base of the hike. When we were there it cost 6 zł for full price tickets and 3 zł for reduced (youth and seniors). Make sure you bring cash to pay these. It’s always preferably if you have smaller change, as they will have limited supplies of change.
We parked in a parking area at Muczne. This isn’t a maintained parking lot, but more like an area in a field that’s available for parking. There’s no parking fee. But, it really is just a grassy area. The day we were there it was so swampy we were concerned about being able to get the car back out.
To access the yellow trail you’ll have to walk back down the road just a bit and find the booth to buy your ticket. Although it’s all rather ad hoc, we didn’t have any trouble finding either the parking area or the entrance to the trail.
Because there is no official parking lot there are also no public toilets or other facilities in the parking area or anywhere along the hike.