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  • Writer's pictureKristin

Sucha Bela Hike at Slovak Paradise National Park with Kids

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

After spending a few days in the High Tatras and surrounding area, we headed a bit south to Slovak Paradise National Park, also known as Slovensky Raj. For anyone with an active lifestyle there is so much to do in this northeastern part of Slovakia. And as an added bonus, it is all within relatively close proximity to each other. It was only a 50-minute drive from the base of the mountains in Nova Lesna to the point of Paradise National Park where we were looking to hike.


Hiking with Kids at Slovak Paradise National Park

We had done some research ahead of time to see if it was practical to do one of the hikes with young kids at Slovak Paradise National Park and didn’t come up with a lot of information regarding it. We did find that there is one hike where you have to go with a guide and they wouldn’t take kids under 5 years old. Then there were some others who said they had done the hike and seen kids as young as 5 years old on it, but we couldn’t find anything in relation to kids under than that. We weren’t too concerned about Clara (7.5 years old) doing the hike, it was just Connor (4.5 years old) that we weren’t sure about after looking at photos of the different platforms, bars and ladders that you’d have to cross. However, we thought we’d at least give it a try and if worse came to worse, we’d just turnaround and go back.

One of the many bridges & other elements that are part of the Sucha Bela Hike at Slovak Paradise National Park.

Sucha Bela Hike at Slovak Paradise National Park

Upon arriving we talked to the parking attendant and asked what he’d suggest for the best hike with a 4-year-old. He said that his sister who was 5 years old did the Sucha Bela hike without any problems. He thought it would take about 2 hours to climb up and then 1 hour down. However, it seems like every projected hiking time here in Slovakia is much shorter than what we’d consider realistic. I know we have kids, but even without them I’m not sure we’d be able to complete it in 2 hours on the way up.


The Stats of the Sucha Bela Hike:

Distance: Approximately 4 km up through the Gorge & 5 km down

Suggested Hiking Time: 2 hrs. on the way up & 1 hr. down

Our Actual Time: 5.25 hours

Terrain: Rocky through the gorge with a stream running through. We were there in July and the water flow was still present, but not high enough that we couldn’t skip over the water when needed. However, the kids did get their shoes a bit wet….mostly because they were trying to jump or accidentally slipped. In the spring, I think you’d likely have to walk through water in part. Then a rough gravel road on the way down.

Cost: 3 Euro to Park and 1.50 Euro per Person


What did the Kids Think of Sucha Bela Hike?

The kids absolutely loved this hike – they got to climb, jump and just explore as they progressed along the trail. Plus, with the added elements of chains, platforms, bars and ladders to climb, it just added a bit more to the adventure for them. They did well through the chains, bars and platform elements; the worse part was just the slippery wood, but otherwise they did great.

Tackling the bridges (above) and the ladders and platforms (below) - Sucha Bela Hike

Handling the Unique Elements of the Hike

When we got to the ladder portion up next to a waterfall they were a little bit uncertain, especially as they got higher up. However, we just kept encouraging them and telling them they were so brave. I think they even felt a sense of self accomplishment after the hike. I have to say at times it was a bit nerve racking for the parents too – we just had to keep a close eye on the kids and be within arms reach, especially with our youngest. These were some of the photos from that particular section:

Sucha Bela Hike - Slovak Paradise National Park

Although it was a bit nerve-racking at times, it was one of the most unique hikes we have ever been on! This hike had several of the bridges, ladders, chains and platforms well spaced throughout the hike - so we were tackling something interesting pretty consistently from the beginning until the top of the gorge. However, if you have a fear of heights, then I would NOT recommend going on this hike.


There were 3 sections through the canyon that we had to pass through in total. The first one is definitely the most daunting and then the two after that didn’t seem as bad.

After passing through the last one, the water stops flowing and it’s a pretty steep climb to the top. It was only in this section that the kids started to complain a bit, because there wasn’t the unique obstacles to keep them busy. The hike is only one-way, so once you reach the top you have to take a gravel road back down.

They actually rent bikes at the top that you can ride back down, but I would say you’d have to be a pretty comfortable mountain biker to do that, as the rocks can get quite large and rough in some sections as you make your way down.


So….can young kids on Sucha Bela Hike?

I think the Sucha Bela Hike is definitely doable with a 4-year-old. However, I think that age would be the absolute youngest I personally would feel comfortable bringing on the hike; unless you had them secured in a good child carrier and you felt comfortable climbing up ladders with them on your back. Saying that, this would NOT be the first ever hike I’d bring them on. I think they need to have a pretty good previous hiking experience so they have the agility and balance to climb along the rocks and handle the different elements.


But most importantly, I would say I would only bring a younger child who is good at listening to directions. If they aren’t a good listener then this probably isn’t the best hike, as there are times when you have to give them verbal instructions or have them stay in one spot while you get off the ladder, etc. The other downfall is the length, the 9 km total of hiking was a bit much for Connor’s little legs. Although he did walk most of it, I did have to carry him for some portions. He somehow got a second wind and just ran down the hill for sections on the way back - that always seems to happen to him when he comes across a downhill section.


Back at the bottom of the hike there are several restaurants that you can choose from to toast beers at and celebrate the fact that you didn’t die during the hike! Ha ha! We celebrated and rewarded the kids with some ice cream.


While we were in the area, we also visited another popular site at Slovak Paradise National Park - the Dobsinska Ice Cave. This was about an hour drive from the spot in the park where we hiked Sucha Bela. Unless you're a group of fast hikers I would recommend doing these separate days, especially since the last cave tour is at 4 p.m. so it wouldn't give you much time unless you started early in the morning.


Dobsinska I’adova Jaskyna – Dobsinska Ice Cave

On the southern end of Slovensky Raj/Slovak Paradise National Park is the famous ice cave - Dobsinska I'adova Jaskyna. This cave is part of the Stratena Cave System and is one of the most well known high mountain ice caves in the world, and is now a heritage site. Up until 1946, there was even public ice skating permitted inside the cave - how cool would that be!


Upon arriving at the site, you have to pay 3.50 Euro to park and then it’s a short, but steep, hike up to the top. The hike only takes about 25 minutes or so, but the kids weren’t too impressed with us as we had promised that we were done hiking for a bit, after the past week full of hikes.


Cave Tours

To enter the cave you have to go with a guide and the website and signs said that tours depart every hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. However, when we arrived at 10:10 a.m. and purchased our tickets (9 Euros/adult and 4.50 Euros/child 6-15 years old), they said there was a tour starting in 5 minutes. So if there are enough people they increase the number of visits according to the demand between the scheduled times. If you want to take any images or video within the cave you also have to pay an additional 10 Euros for that, which they give you a special sticker to wear as identification.

Entrance & Exit to the Dobsinska Ice Cave

Cold Year-Round - Bundle Up!

The temperature of the cave hovers right around 0 C/32 F for the duration of the year, even during summer. Therefore, we had to hike up in our shorts and shirts because it was hot that day and pack all our additional layers in our backpacks. Once we were up at the top we bundled up for the cave tour. Our kids complained more than I expected about the cold - I don't know if it was that they just hiked up the steep hill and worked up a bit of a sweat before going in the cool cave or if they just weren't in the mood that day. We had them bundled in toques/hats, a long-sleeve shirt, fleece jacket with shell, long pants and thin mittens. Alex and I didn't think it was too bad, but they complained about it for almost the whole 30 minute tour.


The cave was unique and was nothing like we had seen before. The build-up of the ice was so impressive as well - some of the ice walls were from the floor up to the ceiling of the cave! Plus the shapes that the ice created were amazing as well. The only disappointing part was that the cave tour was in Slovak (and there didn't seem to be any options to have a tour in English at least when we were there) so we didn't get a lot of additional knowledge or information from the guided tour.

Unique Ice Formations in the Dobsinska Ice Cave

We were super impressed with all that the Park and the surrounding area had to offer. We also noticed that the Park and surrounding area was a popular spot for cyclists, so lots of variety of outdoor activities! However, the highlight for us was definitely the Sucha Bela hike at Slovak Paradise National Park - it will definitely be a hike that we will always remember!

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