photo by Huhulenik
If you are looking for a two day break where you will be able to connect with nature at the deepest level, then you should know that the opportunity awaits : just a two hour drive from Prague.
This post aims to save you some planning time, by giving you some useful information, directing you to the trails in this area which I’d register under the “do not miss” category and providing you with an adaptable itinery which is comfortably feasible in two full days.
By train and bus : From Praha hlavní nádraží to Děčin hlavní nádraží then bus 434 from just in front of the station to Hřensko then Mezní Louka.
By car : E442 towards Ústí nad Labem until exit 69, Děčín, Hřensko, Mezní Louka.
Important information :
1) The area known as Bohemian Switzerland was given the status of National Park in the year 2000. Due to this status, it is prohibited to stray from official trails. Frequent notices in czech remind visitors of this rule. The marked trails are wild and wonderful ; there is absolutely no need to venture elsewhere.
2) The rock is sandstone, thus the variety of shapes and appearances resulting from erosion. Some paths are coated in soft white sand !
3) If you choose to hike in Spring and Summer, you will be sharing the paths with many other walkers. Some paths are North facing and will get slippy ie. dangerous, and are therfore best avoided when conditions may be icy (December-January). For the best experience, especially if you are walking with your dog, choose two dry days mid February or March. Especially on week days, it is highly probable that you will not see another human being !
4) The surrounding forests are home to European roe deer (snec obecný), red deer (jelen lesní), wild boar (prase divoké), European pine marten (kuna lesní) and even…Eurasian lynx (rys ostrovid) – although further questioning informed me that the reintroduction of lynx in this area took place on the German side and that their reintroduction in CZ took place principally in two other mountain ranges. In respect of the wildlife, if you are walking with your dog, I highly recommend starting walks no sooner than 9am in Winter. Dogs should be on leash.
Recommended two day itinerary :
DAY ONE :
Arrive in Mezní Louka between 10 – 11 am. Carry a picnic lunch. Do the hike “Little Arch Trail”
There are many fantastic picnic spots along the way. I had my picnic right below the sandstone arch.
Here is a summarized itinerary :
Mezní Louka (red) – Malá Pravčicka brána – pod Šaunštejnem – (yellow) – Vysoka Lipa (hotel Lipa) – (blue) – Ptači kámen – Zameček – Divoka soutěska – Mezní Louka
Distance : 15 Km Time : approx 3 hrs
After your walk, check in to your accommodation, chill for half an hour, then get back on your feet.
The Little Arch Trail (malá brána) was but an appetizer! Now you are going to discover the real McCoy! From Mezní Louka, you will need 1h10 to walk to your destination, then you’ll need to retrace your steps ; so roughly 2h20. Use an app to check the time of sunset. At the end of February, for example, it will be approximately 17:30 so you should plan to be back by then. Remember that you are in the mountains ; when the sun drops, it gets dark almost instantaneously.
Follow the red trail leaving from the left hand side of U Fořta restaurant. This is the Gabriel trail and it will lead you here ! Breath-taking 😮
Pravčický brána is the biggest natural sandstone archway in Europe. For detailed information on the history and specificity of the location, consult the blog post “Edmundova gorge and Pravčický brána”. Then retrace your steps to your accomodation and a well-earned meal and night’s sleep.
DAY TWO :
After a copious breakfast, drive (or get the bus) to Jetřichovice and when you arrive in front of the wooden school house (painted green and cream), turn sharp left and you will find a very welcome car park, with a baroque church over to your left. N.B. : Competing for the twenty odd parking spaces in this village in Summer must be a nightmare. Plus, you will have no doubt noticed all the threatening “no parking” and “unauthorized vehicules will be towed away” notices, as you entered the village… On a weekday in February, the car park was empty!
Now do Lookout Trail which starts with blue trail markers and commences precisely to the right-hand side of the church.
Here is a summarized itinerary :
Jetřichovice – kostelik (blue) – Pohovka (red) – Rudolfův kámen – Vileminina stěna – mariina skála– Jetřichovice
Distance : 15 Km Time : 2h30
Photo by Modris Putns
After this sensational walk, drive towards Hřensko and, if like me, you can’t bear to leave this beautiful area just yet, park for an hour or so, in the last Hřensko car park which is located just as you turn left out of Hřensko, onto the Děčín road. It costs approximately 30 Kč/h to park here. Climb the metal stairs and follow yellow trail markers. You will be able to take some good photographs of the Elbe and of the village, then you can continue through a pine forest and meditate and rest for a while in a huge field, ploughed by wild animals…., before finally heading back home.
Extra tips : After 4 minutes on the Gabriel Red trail towards Pravčický Brána, on the right hand side, there is a children’s activity area, labelled the Lynx trail. Venture into the forest and discover amazing facts about the wildlife inhabiting the area, right down to how much they weigh and how far they can leap. Really cool 👍 Also, you will even be able to discover the music of each tree species. I loved this and have decided that it will be my next woodwork project ! I love wood 😍 How cool is this?!
For accomodation in Mezní Louka, there are a few possibilities. I needed a pet friendly place and found the ground floor of U fořta’s haylofts, a first class place to spend the night with my dogs. The room is spaceous enough to insert dog bed, blanket and all. They charge a cleaning fee of 4€ for a dog. The staff were kind and the restaurant (one of the only ones to be open in Winter) offers a varied menu. The food and service was very good.
The above travel guide article was written by Karen O’Rouke, author of the book Dog Walks Prague and similarly titled blog www.dogwalksprague.blog, where she shares the adventures she and her four legged friend take on throughout the Czech country side.
For a collection of her favourite hikes you can purchase her books or read more on her website www.dogwalksprague.blog.