Modest joy: Záruby and Ostrý kameň

The Small Carpathians are hiding several diamonds in the rough.

Záruby and SmoleniceZáruby and Smolenice (Source: VaGa)

All roads lead to Záruby mountain!

Expect one.

The Trnavská stovka long trail avoids Záruby.

Don´t be disturbed by the name, this 100 km long trail goes nowhere near Trnava.

It is one of the oldest organised long trails in Slovakia. Since 1973, at the beginning of summer, on a special Saturday, at 6:00 a.m., keen hikers start from Bratislava on a pilgrimage through the Small Carpathians to Brezová pod Bradlom. Here a barrow is situated, the final place of rest of the great son of the Slovak nation and ultimate hero - General Milan Rastislav Štefánik. Most of the trail follows the red marked hiking path, the Štefániková magistrála.

It is 100 km with a change of elevation of 3,309 m, which should be completed within 26 hours. A challenge for all curious tourists!

The Small Carpathians cycling road mirrors the Small Carpathians. It starts in Nové Mesto nad Váhom, leads through Čachtice, Vrbové, Trstín, Buková, Pernek, Kuchyňa, Lozorno, and ends in Vysoká pri Morave. 105 km. A challenge for all powerful cyclists!

The KarpatyRun is the biggest trail race in Bratislava, the festival of forest run, 5 trails from 5 to 45 km.

A challenge for all keen runners!

Up through the tree jungle

And what about Záruby mountain?

The 768 m high, tallest peak of the Small Carpathians, is accessible from Smolenice. From the fairy-tale Smolenice castle, surrounded by its charming English garden, the marked hiking paths will lead you through the Hlboča gorge, passing the only waterfall in the Small Carpathians, Občasný vodopád, and the only accessible cave in the Small Carpathians, the Driny cave, and thought the Čertov žľab gorge to the summit.

And from the west, the marked hiking path to Záruby mountain starts on the banks of Buková water reservoir.

The route through the forest, reminiscent of a jungle, which in spring changes into a white carpet of snowdrops with green borders of wild garlic, varies into a steep hike ending in front of the gate to the highest castle of the Small Carpathians, Ostrý Kameň castle.

A dark atmosphere of the ruin, hidden deep among the trees, and huddled on the cliffs of the western limestone ridge of the Small Carpathians, only silently proclaims its famous history.

A room full of gold

The castle was built in the 13th century as one of the border castles protecting the main trade route from Budín through the pass to the Bohemia, known as a "Bohemian trade route".

According to legend, under the castle a jealous widow used to live. She was very malefic and hated everyone who had more than she. Once she found herself near Ostrý kameň castle and discovered a room full of gold. But she didn't see an old man, the protector of the gold. She wanted it all for herself. Suddenly the earth stared to shake, and everything, including the lady maleficent, was covered wiht clay. She was never seen again.

The ridge, first rocky, then turning to forest, leads from the castle to Záruby mountain. While it maybe the highest mountain of the Small Carpathians, it is nonetheless overshadowed by the fame of its glorious sisters, Vysoká and Vápenná mountains.

Diamonds in the rough

The Small Carpathians are not as high or majestic as the High Tatras. Their beauty is modest and unexpected, diamonds in the rough. They are a paradise for rolling cyclists and rambling hikers, tired, but happy runners, searching explorers of deer, history lovers, mushroom-pickers and herbalists.

When you run six times to Záruby mountain from the Čertov žľab gorge, you will reach the height of Mount Everest. It is called the Small Carpathians Everest.

When we ran the KarpatyRun for the first time, with the few fiery trail runners, among the slim and high beeches, and wrinkled oaks, we felt enormous joy. Even as we ended last.

The Small Carpathians are always full of joy. Maybe they are not a love at first sight. But they are a love for an entire life.

VaGa Agency is an incoming company concentrating on active, adventure, cycling, and sport tours in Slovakia, in the unique, authentic and safe country, far away from mass tourism; offer undiscovered and amazing places, tailored-made solutions and very professional individual guiding. For more information please visit: Vaga.agency and www.vaga-camp.com.

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