Canoeing trail on the Wierzyca River

  • Trail length: 154 km
  • Number of days: 8
  • Number of canoe transfers 14
  • Difficulty of the trail: moderately difficult and slightly strenuous (due to canoes transfers)

Recommended rafting route

Koscierzyna (J. Wierzysko) – Gniew.

After many years of oblivion, the Wierzyca trail is rediscovered. This river flows from the central part of the Kashubian Lake District and is suitable for canoeing from Lake Wierzysko in Koscierzyna. Its upper course leads through Kaszuby, and the middle and lower course through picturesque Kociewie. The trail ends in the historic Gniew on the Vistula.

Due to the fact that the river runs through wild and rarely inhabited areas and has high, overgrown, inaccessible banks, this trail is recommended for more experienced kayakers. Wierzyca meanders beautifully and often changes direction, but it is often treacherous. Do not fall for its calmer current, where you can meet many fallen trees and numerous boulders hidden under water. It is best to start the trip in Koscierzyna – one of the so-called “Kashubian capitals”. Overcoming the next kilometers, the river reaches Starogard Gdanski – the capital of Kociewie. Further on, through a beautiful valley among forests, fields and meadows, the route leads to the post-Cistercian Pelplin, passing the reconstructed settlement in Owidz on the way.

On the Wierzyca trail, there are several portages at historic hydroelectric power plants, which are an additional attraction of kayaking. It is worth stopping for a moment in Owidz, Kolincz, Stocki Młyn or Czarnocinskie Piece to see how electricity has been produced from energy accumulated in the waters of the river for over hundreds  of years.

Worth seeing on the trail (also by bike or car):

Koscierzyna – the beginning of the Wierzyca canoe trail. A city where tradition intertwines with modernity, and the market square with historic tenement houses offers charm. It is worth visiting the museums and sanctuaries in Koscierzyna. The biggest attraction is the Railway Museum with an exhibition of numerous steam locomotives and wagons, fully open to the public.

  • Castle in Stara Kiszewa – The remains of a Teutonic, Gothic defensive complex from the XIIIth century and a XIXth-century palace located on the Wierzyca River. Next to it is a modern hydroelectric power station.
  • Starogard Gdanski – Wierzyca flows through the city center. The remains of the city walls from the XIVth century have been preserved here as well as the XIXth-century mills and factories, the Wiechert family palace, a charming market square and old tenement houses.
  • Owidz – in Owidz, a medieval settlement on the Wierzyca river, fenced with a palisade, was reconstructed. It houses huts, towers, an entrance gate and an exhibition building. Workshops of old crafts and reconstruction events are held there almost every day. The “medieval” playground for children also provides amazing experiences.
  • Pelplin – A town on the Wierzyca River, famous primarily for its monumental brick cathedral. Next to it are the buildings of the post-Cistercian monastery, the Diocesan Museum, which contains the only copy of the Gutenberg Bible in Poland.
  • Gniew – A historic town, located on a hill at the mouth of the Wierzyca River to the Vistula River. A unique attraction is the castle in Gniew, built by the Teutonic Order at the end of the XIIIth century. Currently, it houses a hotel, restaurant and museum. Hydro power plants in Wierzyca. In Wierzyca, in the beginning of the XXth century several hydroelectric power plants have been preserved in good condition to this day.

Four of them deserve special attention:

  • Czarnocinskie Piece Hydroelectric Power Plant – the oldest power plant in Wierzyca, built in 1906.
  • Owidz Hydroelectric Power Plant  – built in a former mill from 1910 by the Wiechert family from Starogard
  • Kolincz Hydroelectric Power Plant : established in 1911 on the site of a former mill. Most of the equipment has been operating continuously since the opening of the facility.
  • Stocki Młyn Hydroelectric Power Plant  – built on the site of the mill in 1908. In the 1930s, it reached a power of over 3 MW, being one of the strongest power plants in Pomorskie. Liwa River has an extremely picturesque, little-known and diverse kayaking trail. Its forest middle section between Prabuty and Szadowski Mlyn is particularly interesting. It abounds in charming and uninhabited places.

Unfortunately, there are serious problems with water on the river, especially on the most interesting, middle section.

When the water level is low, in many cases it will be necessary to carry the kayak. In addition, there are many difficult, inconvenient and cumbersome portages on the trail.

Gorna Liwa is available for canoeists from the vicinity of Kamieniec Suski (monumental ruins of the palace). Weaving through fields and meadows near the interesting, small town of Prabuty, it flows through the vast Dzierzgon Lake and the reed beds of the waterfowl reserve on Liwaniec Lake. From this place, 30 km, it flows through a dense forest complex of the Kwidzyn forests. The lower section of the river, from Kwidzyn to the mouth, is a properly regulated, monotonous and embanked canal.

It is only before Biala Góra that the river meanders again and the trail becomes interesting. The reward for those who persevere is the opportunity to see the historic locks in Biala Gora and the possibility of continuing the trip along the Nogat towards Malbork.

The greatest attractions

  • Dzierzgon Lake. One of the largest lakes of the Ilawa Lake District, with an area of nearly 800 ha and a depth of up to 15 meters. It has quite a varied coastline, and the Liwa River flows in its southern part.
  • Liwaniec Lake. A very shallow, overgrowing lake is a unique oasis of peace. The waterfowl living here have excellent breeding conditions, as the lake has been protected as a nature reserve. Kayakers entering the lake have to overcome vast reeds, where it is easy to lose orientation.
  1. The Liwa Gorge. The gorge, forest section of the Liwa River is the most interesting part of this canoe trail. Numerous obstacles and rapid current will make it a challenge even for experienced kayakers. The river flows in a deep gorge, and the water current used to be used by mills, several of which were located in the valley.
  2. Biala Gora Lock. There is a complex of hydrotechnical facilities built since the 16th century to separate the waters of the Vistula and the Nogat, which until then was the main stream of the Vistula. It is worth going to the highest point of the building, from where there is a vast panorama of the Vistula Valley.

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