Friday, June 18, 2010

Prachovske Skaly (Prachov Rocks)

Hi Everyone,
Recently, Jiri and I, and another couple, visited Prachovske Skaly (Prachov Rocks) near Jicin, which is about 90 km (56 miles) north east of Prague.  We had a beautiful, cool, cloudy day to visit this part of the Czech Republic.  The weather was perfect for hiking in these wooded, verdant foothills of the Krkonose Mountains.  The Prachov Rocks are actually sandstone towers and blocks, called the "rocky village" of this area.  The Prachov Rocks is a nature reserve and is part of the Cesky Raj (Czech Paradise) Nature Reserve in Bohemia.  The Prachov Rocks reserve was founded on December 31st, 1933, and has an area of 243.39 hectares (approximately 601 acres) comprised of beautiful forests, sandstone rocks and towers, and fauna of many types.  The park sits at an altitude of 350-462 meters (1,148 to 1,515 ft) making hikes very easy and comfortable (aside from all the rocks and stairs).  

Our group set out around 10:00 in the morning, after purchasing maps for the hike at the park's tourist center (highly recommended you buy a map to avoid getting lost).  The reserve is full of hiking trails which pass through the park and on to other parts of the Czech Republic.  These trails are visibly marked and maintained by volunteers.  Hiking in Prachov Rocks reserve includes easy and more challenging trails.  We saw older people, as well as kids, hiking the trail that day.  Our group fit in with those who are of the middle generation, i.e., those who are middleaged.  Most of the footpaths we followed were at the intermediate level and safe for the most part.  However, there were a few areas on the trail where sand  covered the route, making the way slippery and slightly hazardous.  Even so, the paths are very well maintained and offer beautiful scenic views of the valleys, towns and farms below. 

 Sandstone tower formations, with views of countryside in the background (upper right).

Parts of the trail were very challenging.  There are so many rocky stairs to climb and descend, making this hike a wonderful workout for your leg muscles.  

Rocky stairs on the trail.

A few of the rock stairs went through very narrow gullies and culverts.  There were a couple of these gullies where my claustrophobia kicked in.  

This stairway was actually very wide compared to others we 
encountered later on the trail.

 This particular stairway was through a spot where you had to
turn sideways in order to pass. This one was the 
the hardest test for me!

Me coming to the wider part of this stairway--very relieved
to have made it through OK!

Stairs and more stairs.
Prachov Rocks reserve is also where climbers like to practice their trade.  The sandstone formations provide easy, as well as challenging climbs.  We saw several groups out climbing the day we visited the park.

Climber nearly to the top of this sandstone tower.

 A couple on top of one of the towers taking a break together.

 A climber's view of the sandstone formation.

 A Czech flag and canister at the top of one formation.  The canister
contains a notebook where climbers write their names and the 
date of their climbs to let other know who was there and when.

This is the top of the tower where the Czech flag was in the 
previous picture.

Finally made it to the top!

 Loved this! Someone put the stick in between the stones to
create an optical illusion.  The rock on top looks to be balanced
  on top of the stick and the other rock below.  In reality,
both stones were stuck in between boulders.

Following are a few more pictures from the trail and the beautiful rocky sandstone towers we discovered along the way.  The path also winds through some beautiful forest where its possible to see ferns and moss growing on the rocks.  We even encountered a deer that day! 

The trail is worn in places like this--the roots of the trees have become
polished from the many hikers who have passed this way.


We covered about 10 km in two hours.  Not bad for some middle aged friends.  Near the end of our hike we decided to stop at a small hotel listed on our map.  We came upon the hotel from the back, and were wondered if it was even open.  The bushes and grass in the back yard seemed to be overgrown, and a swimming pool was in an unkept state.  Once we reached the front of the hotel, however, we discovered a very charming and quaint place.  

The name of the hotel is Hotel Pod Sikmou Vezi (Hotel Under the Leaning Tower, named after one of the sandstone formations found on the hiking paths).  The link leads to the hotel's website, in Czech.  But the page can be easily translated with Good Translate).  The hotel offers rooms for about 630 CZK ($30.30 USD), and has an excellent menu with so many choices, and the prices were very reasonable.  The hotel restaurant offers seating either outside on the deck, or inside.  We ate out on the deck and found it a very pleasant place to sit and eat.  We were surprised by the number of items available on the menu in such a small, out-of-the-way hotel.  The food came in good time and was excellent, with satisfying amounts of food on each plate.  I would like to stay at that small hotel with Jiri sometime.  It was a very quiet and peaceful place to stay in the middle of this beautiful nature reserve.

The front of the hotel with the deck.  Wonderful place to sit, 
relax and eat.
Pretty dead tree in the hotel's driveway garden.  
I loved the way they had saved the tree and
managed to use it to create this pretty scene.

This was near the end of our hiking trail that day.  We had a wonderful time and could have easily spent the entire day hiking around the preserve, but we all had to get back to Prague by later in the afternoon.  So we headed homewards.  On the way home to Prague we stopped in the city of Jicin.  I'll write about our visit there in the next post.

Have a great day!

God bless,
Sher :0) 

Sher's Stuff Store

Photos property of S. Vacik
(c) 2010 by czechoffthebeatenpath


Karen said...

I loved this post and the pictures! What a fantastic hike. The Czech Republic is blessed with so many wonderful spots.

Sher said...

Hi Karen,
Glad you enjoyed the pictures and the post! This place isn't too far from where you went on that hike before you moved! Yes, this country is truly blessed to have such beautiful areas we can all enjoy!

Have a great day,
Sher :0)

lubos said...

This place looks neat. It reminds me a lot of Old Rag, a popular hike in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park. There is a similar staircase there, and a place where you gotta crawl under a rock.

Monica said...

I recently moved here and walk these paths regularly. Now I have your article to share with friends and family all neatly presented with all the work done. Thanks, well done, love it out here.

Sher said...

@lubos: Yes, this place is beautiful and does resemble some places back in the US. I grew up in Minnesota, and it looks like some places up North.

Have a great day,
Sher :)