A bicycle spin in the Land of a Thousand Lakes – part II

Rivers for bikes has recently been a popular slogan so In Masuria you can say Lakes for bikes. As you would probably agree riding a bike along beautiful lake shores is a very appealing idea. The two biggest lakes Lake Mamry and Lake Śniardwy make interesting conditions with the most attractive trips around the lakes possible. Mamry was written about in a previous edition so now I will tell you about the trail around the biggest lake in Poland, Lake Śniardwy. You can start the trip at any point you like as the bike trail is in a loop.

So let’s start from Mikołajki, going in the direction of Wierzba i Popielno. The only ferry on the Masurian lakes is the first attraction on the trail. You should remember that the ferry service is available only during the tourist season. Now you have a choice either to go along the west shore of Lake Bełdany or go via Kamień to Ruciane or shorten the trail bypassing this town. Nevertheless, interesting attractions in Ruciane-Nida may make you want to stop there. There are two places to be seen, the first one is the Cone Seed Extraction House dating back to the late 19th century. It still functions and harvests seeds from the beautiful trees of Pisz forest (www.maskulinskie.bialystok.lasy.gov.pl). When you are leaving town, you will see Guzianka – one of the three Masurian locks on your way (www.atrakcje.mazury.pl/miejsce/sluza-guzianka), it is worth paying attention to how these hydro-technical devices operate.

Cycle on a further 10 km through Wejsuny and Lake Śniardwy will come into view again. When you reach Niedźwiedzi Róg you have a chance to see a beautiful panorama over two big islands – Czarcia and Pajęcza. Fort Lyck was still there till the end of 18th century on Czarcia island. The lake in this particular place is shallow so you have to wade out a little to get to a place where you can swim. After riding along the forest track, you reach Pisz, a Masurian town with quite a rich history. The Museum of Pisz Land (www.muzeumziemiipiskiej.pl) is worth visiting and you can learn about a big ironworks with a huge furnace that used to be in the neighborhood. Here you can wonder at the vastness of the Masurian forests and plan your bike trips in the Pisz forest from the vantage point of what was once a water tower and now functions as a viewing platform.

Another must is to see another Masurian lock –Karwik (ww.mazury.info.pl/atrakcje/karwik). It is situated on the longest Masurian canal which is 5 km and connects Lake Śniardwy to waterways throughout Europe sailing through the Pisa, the Narew and the Vistula rivers. You can even get to Berlin and Paris from this place not leaving the water. Now , we go back a few kilometres the same way that we came. In the village of Jeglin you cycle over the Jegliński Canal and after a few kilometres you are on the shores of Lake Śniardwy once again. While riding through Masurian villages such as Szczechy Wielkie and Zdory you reach the Białoławka estuary. When you see it pay attention to the dam and the weir located at the mouth of Lake Śniardwy. The level of water of the biggest lake in Poland (113 km) is maintained just there. We realize with amazement that the present shape of the lakes is a result of human activity to a large extent, only for the dam and the weir, Lake Śniardwy would be much smaller than it is.
Now Guty is ahead of us . It used to be a small, quiet Masurian village but it has changed into a resort because of the most beautiful views of Lake Śniardwy. The opposite shore is at a distance of 15 km. A beach with shallow water stretching for several kilometres is ideal for bathing in warm weather. The sunset in Masuria is at its best in this place.

So let’s move on, you still have a lot of ground ahead of you mostly on the northern shore of the lake this time. In the bigger village of Okartowo, you should visit the inconspicuous looking church to see its paintings. Although, they are not very old as they were painted in 20th century, they are still stunning.

If we have any enery left at this point, you can do a spot of birdwatching at the Nature Reserve of Lake Łukajno at the end of the trail. It is worth visiting one of a few viewing towers to listen to birds such as the sound of canes and see the numerous mute swans and others living there.
There is only 5 kilometres to go and you will close the loop around the lake in Mikołajki.

A little practical information to finish with. The trail leads along various tracks of different standards from high quality asphalt to paving stones to gravel some of the trail is earmarked just for bikes and general road traffic is seen only along a few short stretches of the trail. The trail is 90 km long so an experienced cyclist can travel the entire length within one day. Those who want to see all attractions should spend at least 2 days and stay overnight.

By Marian Jurak

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