The Mylna Cave is an intriguing and mysterious underground attraction in the Tatra Mountains. Although it’s not as popular as the Mroźna Cave, it still offers an incredible experience for those who dare to explore it. Nestled in the Kościeliska Valley, within the Raptawicka Turnia massif, this cave is a fantastic way to spice up your adventure in the area.
Trip Through the Mylna Cave – What to Expect
If you want to explore the Mylna Cave, it’s good to know that the entire journey should take around 1 hour. It includes a 15-minute walk to reach the cave, a 30-minute exploration inside, and a 10-minute return to the Kościeliska Valley.
Here are some essential things to know before venturing into the cave:
- The trail inside is one-way
- You’ll need to bring your own lighting
- Expect some crawling and dirty clothes
For those who crave even more caving adventures, it’s worth noting that Mylna Cave is conveniently located near Obłazkowa and Raptawicka caves, which you can also visit.
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Cave’s Short History
Being there, you need to know that there’s no lighting inside, so good flashlights are a must. Prepare for a wet, damp, and muddy experience as you navigate the maze-like corridors that give the cave its name (Mylna in polish means ’misleading’).
Legend has it that the infamous outlaw Janosik himself once hid in this cave. This aura of mystery might explain why the cave was first explored and documented as late as 1885 by Jan Gwalbert Pawlikowski. He named the cave and some of its corridors, like White Street, Great Chamber, and Choirs.
I believe it’s interesting to note that half a century later, the Zwoliński brothers explored the cave further and discovered another labyrinth of paths. However, it wasn’t until 1948/49, during the Tatra Society’s work to make the cave acessible to tourists, that the cave’s northern entrance was excavated.
The Trail to Mylna Cave – A Journey Begins
The starting point for the trail to Mylna Cave is slightly behind Polana Pisana, about an hour’s walk from the Tatra National Park ticket offices. Once you pass the clearing, conttinue toward the beautiful Tatra nook, which includes the Kraków Gorge and Dragon’s Cave (yellow trails). Next, go past the end of the trail, where you’ll eventually exit after exploring Mylna Cave. The trail to Mylna Cave begins 100 meters further, on the right. Keep an eye out for red markers.
Here, you’ll also find black trails that lead to the neighboring Raptawicka Cave (15 min up). The start from the Kościeliska Valley can be quite challenging, as you’ll need to climb a steep rock at first. A short sequence of chains comes in handy here.
Beyond this point, no additional safety measures are provided on the way to Mylna Cave, but the path continues uphill. After 10 minutes, the black trail turns right, while the red trail proceeds straight ahead, passing Obłazkowa Cave and reaching Pawlikowski Windows.
Exploring the Neighboring Obłazkowa Cave
Obłazkowa Cave, though not particularly large at 214 meters in length, is still worth a visit. Like Mylna Cave, it was carved by the Kościeliski stream, which eroded the limestone rocks to form an underground pasage. It’s fascinating to think that the Kościeliska Valley’s floor was once at the level of the caves before it lowered by nearly 130 meters due to erosion.
The Obłazkowa Cave is also open to tourists and can be explored independently. Upon entering the cave, you’ll find yourself in the main chamber, known as the Preliminary Hall. This section of Obłazkowa Cave is still illuminated by daylight, but you’ll need a flashlight to continue exploring.
From the Preliminary Hall, a narrow corridor leads you to a fork about 20 meters in. One path is a dead-end, while the other takes you to the Final Chamber. To reach it, you’ll have to crawl for about 5 meters. At the end of the Final Chamber, you’ll find Jędrusiowy Przełaz, which connects Obłazkowa Cave to Mylna Cave. It’s worth noting that Obłazkowa Cave, Mylna Cave, and Raptawicka Cave together form the Pawlikowski Caves system.
As you continue on the trail, you’ll first come across a 25-meter-long corridor that features natural rock windows, known as Obłazowa Jama. These windows are called Pawlikowski Windows, named in honor of the first explorer of this cave system. They allow plenty of natural light in and offer stunning views of the Tatra Mountains. From here, you can see the Kościeliska Valley and the Bystra Valley, which is the highest peak of the Western Tatras.
The views are so breathtaking that some people choose to hike just to the windows and then turn back. Keep in mind that only a part of the trail through Mylna Cave is one-way. This is also where the easier, „clean” portion of the trail ends. Now, you must descend to the ground floor, as the entrance to Mylna Cave requires crawling, and you’ll encounter puddles, dampness, and mud.
Important Things to Remember
Mylna Cave has two entrances – southern and northern. The total length of the maze-like corridors in the cave is 1,630 meters, with a height difference of 46 meters. The tourist route, however, is much shorter, at about 300 meters long.
Remember that this trail is one-way and exits in a different location. Following the red trail, you’ll descend back to the bottom of the Kościeliska Valley near Skala Pisana. So, it’s not a good idea to leave backpacks near the entrance, thinking you’ll return for them later.
Speaking of backpacks, large ones can be quite an obstacle in the tight spaces of the cave. There will be situations where you’ll need to push or pull them through. Generally, the cave is narrow, and much of it requires navigating in a slightly upright position, as you can see in the pictures.
Headlamps are essential for Mylna Cave, as it isn’t illuminated. They’re a better choice than traditional flashlights or phones, as they keep both hands free. Bringing spare batteries might be a good idea too. Even though the route is marked, there have been instances where people got lost and suffered fatal accidents in the maze of corridors. The cave’s temperature is around 5 degrees Celsius in summer, while in winter, due to an artificial ditch, parts of the cave experience below-freezing temperatures.
Navigating Mylna Cave
Starting at Oblazowa Jama, you’ll need to descend to the ground floor and squeeze through a narrow passage leading to the Main Corridor. Along the way, you’ll encounter various turns and crossroads, so it’s essential to pay close attention to the trail markers.
Just a few months after World War II ended, a 38-year-old priest tragically got lost in the cave’s labyrinth and died from exhaustion. His body was found two years later in a remote crevice and could only be removed after being cut into pieces. So, it’s crucial to have backup batteries and avoid exploring the cave alone.
As you progress, you might spot traces of the Kościeliski Potok stream in the form of pebbles. The trail continues through the Great Chamber, one of the two largest cave rooms, measuring 5×16 meters with a height of 10 meters. Within the chamber, you’ll find a section not open to tourists – the Connecting Corridor that links Mylna Cave to Raptawicka Cave.
After leaving the Great Chamber, you’ll quickly reach another fork in the path. Here, the main trail goes straight, but there’s also a side trail that takes you along the low, nearly 60-meter Pawlikowski Street to the Choir Hall. This section is marked with red triangles on a white background, and you’ll return the same way.
The main trail turns right into White Street, where you’ll see another path to the left marked with red circles on a white background. This path leads to a large Oblique Chamber. Soon, you’ll encounter a thrilling 20-meter section secured with chains, situated above a 3-meter gap.
Be extra cautious here, especially in winter, as the traverse can be icy. You’ll soon arrive at the Final Chamber, where the northern entrance to the cave has been dug. From here, a 10-minute descent along the trail will bring you back to the bottom of the Kościeliska Valley.
Mylna Cave Difficulty Level
Sure, navigating Mylna Cave requires some agility with a chain-secured section and moisture everywhere, but the hardest part might be waiting for you at home. You’ll need to clean all the dirty clothes, potentially sparking some conflict with your spouse or parents. But the trail is fantastic, and I am convinced you’ll love it 100%. It’s definitely worth the extra hour in the Tatras.
- Relatively few tourists visit the cave
- Remember to bring warm clothes
- Be prepared to leave the cave dirty
- Don’t forget headlamps and backup batteries
- No phone signal, which is common in caves
- Mylna Cave is open year-round, and admission is free
- The cave is home to Studniczek Tatrzański, a relic crustacean from the Tertiary period, which can grow up to 16 mm in length