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Paddling through the Krutynia Trail

For the adventurous soul, summer is the perfect time to explore Poland’s water trails. Paddling freely through some of Europe’s most breathtaking waterways is probably the most rewarding experience one may enjoy while vacationing in Poland. Read up on this personal account from a trip down the Krutynia Trail and follow the author from the Go Paddle on a journey through one of Poland’s best adventure destination. 

The Krutynia trail is a 110 kilometer paddle that starts in Sorkwity and ends in Ruciane Nida, Poland. Situated along the trail are welcoming villages and thoughtfully placed riverside hostels that accommodate paddlers and provide delicious traditional foods. Each segment of the trail is unique and holds the stories of countless paddlers. Here I will tell a few of my own... 

On arrival, I was not sure what to expect before starting this journey. My great grandmother immigrated from Poland to the United States in 1911. I grew up with Polish traditions that were passed down from my grandmother (pierogies!) so, in a sense, I felt like I was going to my “homeland.” The first time I looked at the Masurian lakes I was overwhelmed—they were beautiful and there were so many!  

Starting my journey in Sorkwity, my guide, Marian, explained that our route along the Krutynia River connects a chain of lakes and as we paddle we would see what makes each day-long segment of the route so special. We launched out of Sorkwity with perfect weather and I was over-the-top excited to finally get on the river I had heard so much about.  The wind was blowing but the water was beautiful. As I was paddling I was joined by a family of swans. They weaved in and out of the reeds and right alongside of my kayak at one point. That singular moment reflects so much of the Krutynia Trail—pure, pristine, and wild.  

With some kayaking on scenic rivers and small lakes under our belts—as well as a few more pierogies, the perfect weather that had accompanied us in Sorkwity decided to leave us as we neared Bienki. The timing worked out well as we were able to get off the water at Bienki and take shelter in one of the riverside hostels. The hostel in Bienki offers a secluded little getaway with bungalows and campsites right at the river’s edge.  Amenities include a store offering food and beverages; neat and clean lodging, bathrooms and showers; as well as a welcoming community fire pit. Everyone on site was so friendly! This night, a storm showed up with force, but that didn’t stop our fun: Paddling stories were shared, drinks were raised, and preparations were made for the rest of our trip. 

The town of Krutyn was our next stop. We stayed overnight in another of the riverside hostels and I was able to explore the town and nearby forest trails by bike. This particular stretch of the river was very shallow, averaging only around 2-3 feet deep. I spotted several brown trout and was tempted to whip out my fly rod! I could have spent all day wading in that river...But our goal was to paddle to one of the lakes nearby so we pushed on. Otters, swans, and fireflies that looked like little fairies buzzing around greeted us as we made our way to the lake. We had a peaceful paddle back to the hostel where I had delicious pierogies waiting for me? .  

Beyond the beauty of the trail, I had the pleasure of exploring some of the cultural activities at hand in and around the cities of Krutyn and Ryn. Our guide for one day was local expert and Director of the Varmia and Masuria regional tourist board, Justyna Szostek. At our first stop I was introduced to Francesco the knight. Yes, armor and sword kind of knight. He has a themed restaurant and lodge that encourages guests to take part in medieval adventures. Guests can wear medieval attire, eat in the picturesque dining hall, and watch Francesco defend his honor in an enthusiastic sword fight. Wrapped in my sapphire blue velvet medieval gown, I sat rapt by Francesco’s stories about the history of the knight.  

Ready to take in some more local history we visited Castle Ryn. This beautiful castle was turned into a lush hotel in the center of town. The coolest part of the renovation? They converted the dungeon into a swimming pool! Once the fountains were turned on, the quiet dungeon turned into an echoing cave with cushioned cabana chairs to rest on. This was definitely not torture. Another highlight of the hotel is the giant dining hall with ceiling tapestry depicting knights riding horses (Francesco, is that you?) and authentic relics from medieval times—a great room for any event.  

Within walking distance from the castle we found waterfront dining and plenty of traditional food. Our host for dinner, Chef Agustina, had completely out did herself! When I first walked up and saw the table I was shocked thinking that all this food can’t be just for us! A true feast, we were grateful to have Justyna and Agustina describe each local dish as we sat by the water and enjoyed an incredible meal overlooking the lake. 

A huge thank you the Polish National Tourist Office, the welcoming folks on and along the Krutynia Trail, and to everyone who carefully crafted each of the delicious pierogies I enjoyed for the countless memories. I long to travel your waters and experience Poland again. Until next time...  

You can also follow Go Paddle and the story on Facebook: 

Part 1: https://www.facebook.com/GoPaddle/posts/2189572194430774 

Part 2: https://www.facebook.com/GoPaddle/photos/a.159330407454973/2192937017427625/?type=3&theater 

Part 3: https://www.facebook.com/GoPaddle/photos/a.159330407454973/2193918357329491/?type=3&theater 

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