Šumava is beautiful and unpredictable. Maybe that’s where the beauty comes from, because we never know what to expect from it.
Šumava is not a big mountain, you’d think, and you’d make a mistake. You won’t find cliffs, crevasses or sharp ridges, but you will experience all kinds of weather. Not only every day rains (at least in the evening, when you’re trying to cook a meal a casserole dish), but also
there will be frost and wind and flooding. And then – but only if you’re an adventurer – you’ll stay at the camp alone, watch the rain curtains for a while, and when it starts to flow into the tent, you’ll go to the local famous patisserie.
As you may have already recognized, the experiences are personal. Perhaps it remains to say that the wind was not just any wind, the wind broke the tent, that the flood did not come unexpectedly, for four days straight it rained like a watering can and the stream spilled right into the camp (and the tent). And because we didn’t want to go home yet, we stayed alone in the camp (completely, because the camp has closed).
Everything has been playing for the so-called domestic holiday lately. And why not? This series Tours of the Czech Republic dares to suggest a few places that are definitely worth a visit. We’ll focus mainly on camping and hiking (and occasionally good food). Today we’ll start with Šumava and, of course, a few tips for a trip.
Where to stay
The first and one of the most important things is where to stay and sleep. Šumava can be divided into two main parts – Železná Ruda (the more mountainous part) and then Modrava and its surroundings, which are full of bogs, wetlands, rivers, streams and swamps. Both are beautiful, and if you choose the second option, there is a large camp called Antýgl right by the Vydra River. However, there are too many kilometres for hiking trips. I’d almost recommend staying at the camp in Železná Ruda and taking the bus, which runs regularly in summer, for a trip to the bogs.
Accommodation in Železná Ruda also has other benefits- besides easy access to supplies, there is a famous place called Café Charlotte. This patisserie has a rarity besides delicious desserts, giant sundaes, cakes, ice creams, imaginative cocktails for evening gatherings and the ubiquitous fruit. There is a train passing under the ceiling, on wooden tracks winding through the room, and always gives a proper horn before crossing.
The route starts at the railway station in Železná Ruda along the blue tourist sign. From the crossroads by the monument of Adolf Kašpar (illustrator of some editions of Babička, for example), take the red tourist sign to Čertovo jezero. From here we will have a steep climb and an even steeper descent to cross the Jezerní hory saddle to Černý jezero. From here we climb again, sometimes by path, sometimes by stream, to the highest waterfall in Šumava, Bílá strž. Here we can go to the double peak of the Velký (Big) and Malý (Small) Ostrý, popularly called the Prsa Matky Boží (Breasts of the Mother of God). Then we will descend deep into the village Hamry and really the last climb will take us to Hojsova Stráž, from where we will take the train back to Železná Ruda.
Jumping across the border: Velký Javor (The Great Maple)
We start at the border train station between Czech and German Železná Ruda. Interestingly, the border runs right through the middle of the building. From here we try to climb up to the Brennes saddle directly below Velký Javor. After a long climb, we descend steeply back down to the Malé Javorské jezero (Little Maple Lake), which captivates us with its floating islands. At the same time, we will see the terrifying wall of the Velký Javor (Great Maple) in front of us, which we will crawl up again. The top is large, colourful, full of rockeries and heather and with a view of the whole Šumava. There is also a restaurant and a small church.
Because we are looking forward to returning to our native land, we take down the rocky path again to the Velké Javorské jezero (Great Maple Lake) for a change. Time is running, the boat rental shop is already closed, but everything is in perfect order. It’s quiet here and the top of Velký Javor (Great Maple) is reflected on the surface in the setting sun. When you`ll go through the forest on paths that disappear and reappear, follow your natural instinct. In these difficult moments we nostalgically remember our famous tourist signs. Despite the nostalgia, we have to get back to the train station by nine o’clock, when the last train leaves.
The cable car to Pancíř is a rarity nowadays. A classic canopy, a backpack rack and a chair swinging on a rope. You`ll experience a wonderful sightseeing ride, and even some excitement, and you`ll be rewarded with a magnificent view of the whole Železná Ruda region. Besides, you can easily go on several hikes from here.
One of them could be the way down to Špičácké sedlo and then up to the lookout tower on Špičák. The view is spectacular, because we have a bird’s eye view of the glacial lakes right in front of us.
Another option is the ridgeline via Můstek and Prenet to Zelená Lhota, which is again on the track to Železná Ruda. Although the maps promise refreshments at the well-known Prenet cottage, don’t be tempted – the cottage has become a nice family house, but at least there is a nice little bell tower nearby.
A bus goes directly from the camp to Prášily. From there we will climb a short distance to Prášilské Jezero (Prášilské Lake), which is one of the most beautiful lakes. But then, with a much worse climb, we go to the flat top of Poledník. Up to this point, we have been loyal to the red tourist sign. The landscape here is desolate and unforgiving. The endless path stretches through a vast sea of stumps left by bark beetles. But it has its own charm. At the crossroads, follow the green tourist sign down the valley to the stone Frantův bridge and return to Prášily along the stream. However, if you aren’t too tired, it is still possible to go to Lake Laka (also with islands). In Prášily, the local restaurant U Michala is definitely worth mentioning.
Other options include a trip to the Vydra River (again, excellent bus connections are available). Right around Železná Ruda there are learning paths focused on the border fortifications with many accessible bunkers. The local moorlands such as Chalupská or Tříjezerní are also a great experience. All of the above mentioned hikes are around 20 – 30 km long, but don’t be fooled, for example the path to Velký Javor seems much longer.
God knows how it will be with accommodation this summer, so I will mention one more possibility here. Those who don’t want to be tied up, can walk along the Šumava Highway (Šumavská magistrála) from Lipno to Železná Ruda, and using the emergency night quarters (for example, at Poledník with a fireplace). Most of the time, however, it is a place with a fence, where it is allowed to spend the night even in the middle of the national park.