The natural richness of this area proves that nature can easily manage, even in the near neighbourhood of a big, densely populated and modern agglomeration. The charming and thick forests surrounding the Tri-City abound in valuable specimens of trees, mushrooms and herbaceous plants, and they are also home to many animals.
Add to this an interesting, glacial landform, and there emerges an ideal place for an outing for nature enthusiasts. One which, even on the same day, you can combine with sightseeing in the city or making use of its urban blessings!
Dolina Samborowo [Samborowo Valley]
If escaping from the urban noise to the forest kingdom, it is worth choosing one of the three marked nature trails. Dolina Samborowo [Samborowo Valley] is a picturesque corner in the Lasy Oliwskie [Oliwa Forests] complex, which neighbour the VII Dwór estate. The route here starts in a meadow, on which you can find many species of herbs and insects, which after dark are targets for bats like the common noctule. Then, you will follow a forest alley with 11 trees of age between 150 and 300 years, perhaps while listening to the song of a wood warbler, a bird that is under strict protection.
Along the way you will meet the “Gruby Dąb” [“Thick Oak”], which has a circumference of 5.6 metres and height of 25 metres and is – similar to many other specimens on the route – a nature monument. The bottom of Dolina Samborowo is covered by a temperate broadleaf and mixed forest, a so called oak-hornbeam forest, in which there are many bird species, including the wren. Further on the trail, you will see numerous conifers, including Douglas firs, pines and spruces. In the trail’s glade with a group of loosely growing oaks you may, with a little bit of luck, spot a lizard or a beetle – perhaps a noble chafer with its beautiful, green, shiny wing-case. When people are not heard here, it is a hiding spot for roe deer and boar. On the second part of the route, there is another oak, with its trunk overgrown with a great example of common ivy. The trail in Dolina Samborowo can be covered in around 3 hours.
The “Oliwska Dolina” -“Oliwa Valleys” trail
The same amount of time should be dedicated to the “Oliwskie Doliny” [“Oliwa Valleys”] trail, which starts in one of the oldest and the most charming estates in Gdańsk – Oliwa. On the first stage of the trail you will see buildings from the times when the Cistercian Order operated on these grounds. Today, it is a place exceptionally liked by amblers, photographers look for aesthetic scenery, as well as by… birds (swifts, black redstarts) which happily nest here.
From the observation tower located on the nearby Pachołek hill, you can observe the picturesque skyline of Oliwa, and in the background you can see even Zatoka Gdańska [the Gulf of Gdańsk]. The next historical-natural stops on the trail are Kuźnia Wodna [the watermill] and Dwór Oliwski [Oliwa manor] with a pond abounding in frogs and ducks. In Dolina Czystej Wody [Clear Water Valley], you will be able to find orchids growing on a local meadow, and a little further on, when approaching Wzniesienie Mari [Maria Hill], you will see grand Douglas firs.
You will also come across a well-known Oliwa curiosity, namely “Kamienna Twarz” [“The Stone Face”] – a stone, lying in a shallow gully, whose characteristic shape is a mystery, as nobody knows whether it is a natural creation or a human one. In beech forests on the trail you can hear a red-breasted flycatcher – a rare species in Poland generally but quite numerous in Oliwa’s forests. On the concluding stage of the trail, you reach the “Źródliska w Dolinie Ewy” [“Headwaters in Ewa Valley”] nature reserve (with more than 180 protected species of vascular plants) and then the Młyn Prochowy mill, which dates from the 16th century, in the vicinity of the zoo.
“Roots' Trail” and “Alice in an enchanted forest trail”
On the outskirts of Gdynia, you will also find Marszewo, a Gdańsk Forestry centre that is both a botanical garden and education centre at the same time. You will find here a collection of forest plants, including an orchard of old types of fruit trees, a flower-covered meadow and collections of medicinal and edible plants. Two nature trails have been marked out for guests of various ages (starting with children of kindergarten age) who want to gain knowledge about forest features. The approximately 2-kilometre “Szlak Korzeni” [“Roots’ Trail”] meanders along one of the moraine hills, interspersed with educational boards which cover the issues of the world of plant and mushrooms roots, and also the history of forest exploitation. An additional attraction here are wooden, partly underground houses – for, for example, loggers and herbalists.
“Szlak Alicji w zaczarowanym lesie” [“Alice in an enchanted forest trail”] is an option dedicated to the youngest walkers, who can come face to face with a gigantic lichen or a tick, but also go through the labyrinth of senses, with plants of various smells, shapes and textures, and feel like a giant in a microscale world.