Český Ráj, or in English, Bohemian Paradise, is located around 90 minutes drive, North East of Prague. It was the very first nature reserve in the Czech Republic, named as such in 1955 and spans over an area of approximately 180 Km2. Scenes from films such as Hellboy, The Brothers Grimm and Van Helsing have been shot there; hardly surprising, as this area of varied landscape is quite sensational! In order to become acquainted with the area, it is best to spend the weekend sampling several trails. You can make for one of the three following towns : Turnov, Jičín or Mnichově Hradiště, as many trails radiate from these locations. Here is our suggestion for a weekend (or even better, 2 days mid-week to avoid crowds), in Turnov.
Difficulty of hikes: easy to moderate Distance: four hikes of varied length.
Access: by car: Drive to Turnov (90 mins from Prague). By train R : from Hlavní nádraží direct to Turnov in less than 2h
Day 1 – Hike #1
Starting point : 50°34’6.644″N, 15°9’57.910″E
Difficulty : easy Distance : 3,5 Km Time: 1h
Detailed itinerary: Follow the yellow trail to Pod Hlavatící then go left on the red trail. Almost immediately you will happen upon a grassy clearing where several wooden sculptures stand in a circle. A nearby plaque details the wood used and the nature of the various representations, and quotes Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), the Austrian philosopher, architect and founder of Waldorf education (based on the cultivation of imagination), biodynamic agriculture (which shares certain principles of organic farming but in addition, the sowing period for crops is determined by astrology) and anthroposophical medicine (use of plants and generally anti-vaccine philosophy,..). Steiner died in Dornach, Switzerland and many years ago, I visited one of his architectural creations there. His schools are found mostly in Germany. This location on the red trail is known as brana do Českého Ráje, gate to Bohemian paradise!
Keep following the red trail and shortly afterwards, you can climb a spiral staircase to a lookout point at the top of a rock tower (pictured above). Walk all the way to U Konic then go straight on to the castle, Hrad Valdštejn.
Hrad Valdštein is the property of the town of Turnov and is the oldest castle in the nature reserve, dating from around 1260. It costs 100Kč to visit the extensive grounds (family entrance 190 Kč) and entry with a dog is authorized, on leash.
Then, whether you have chosen to visit the castle or not, to continue your hike, facing the castle, just before you cross the bridge towards the entrance, take the path down to your left, bearing green trail markers. This pretty path which weaves through a beautiful forest, will lead you back to the carpark at the starting point.
On-line itinerary : https://mapy.cz/s/kokebuforo
Take a break or check-in to your accommodation, then set off again on hike#2 !
Day 1 – Hike #2
Difficulty: moderate Distance : 4,3 Km
A beautiful hike with viewpoints and thus, several climbs.
Tips: Rather than continuing to the carpark, it is absolutely possible to park for free at the T junction indicated as the starting point.
Detailed description: From the starting point at the T junction next to Pilský rybník, take the green educational trail which heads into the forest on the right hand side of the minor road (the one without the “restricted entry for vehicles” sign). Keep walking and you will join up with the blue trail. Go right on the blue trail, all the way to the water source Antoninův pramen, then go left on the yellow trail. This yellow trail is particularly beautiful and you will find yourself advancing on a wide path, often surfaced with white sand, which weaves through magnificent sandstone blocks.
You will climb stairs and find yourself at a “symbolic cemetery” in memorial of the Czechoslovak climbers who perished in the 1970 Peru Natural Disaster, which killed thousands. The “cemetery” which is located under a wall, known as Nekonečná Skála (endless rock), was established in memory of these mountaineers who were participating in an expedition in the Peruvian Andes, when an earthquake, measuring 8,9 on the Richter scale occurred in the Ocean, causing the North face of to detach and trigger an avalanche of rocks. One highly-skilled climber from Liberec had fallen to his death in the early days of the expedition but all 14 of the remaining climbers were to perish in this Natural disaster, on the 31st of May. You will also see an array of white cross-country skiing competition bibs, strung between two trees at this location (pictured above). The reason for this, is that the 15 mountaineers who never returned from Peru, had been founding members of the Jizerská padesát, an annual and very famous cross-country skiing race which takes place in the area around Bedřichov every Winter. The competition had been founded by the men in 1968 as a way to maintain fitness and get back into training for the next climbing and mountaineering season.
From here, you can also access a wonderful view of the surrounding rock formations. Climb a little further and you will reach the official viewpoint where you can marvel at a magnificent view of another nearby castle, Hrubá Skála (pictured above). Continue to the end of this yellow trail and just before you reach the carpark at Adamová Lože, go left down stairs, and you will find yourself on a very pretty blue trail, surrounded by rocks. You can then follow this blue trail and use our on-line map to navigate right back to the starting point.
on-line itinerary, map and elevation chart :
Day 2 – Hike #3
A flat, easy hike along several bodies of water and marshland, inhabited by a multitude of bird species.
Difficulty: easy Distance: 13 Km (possible to shorten)
Tips: 1) If you do not wish to carry a picnic, after the first stretch of the trail, you will arrive at a carpark. Here, there is an outdoor café on the left and a restaurant on the right. 2) Amateur ornithologists will want to carry binoculars on this trail. 3) If you are walking with a dog, depending on the breed, you will want to have him on-leash on certain stretches, due to the quantity of bird species nesting in the marsh areas bordering the lakes.
Detailed description : For some variation from the sandstone formations, you may like to try out this flat circuit which borders lakes and marshland. Take the educational trail (green) from the starting point. Several information boards are erected on the lakesides, informing you of the wildlife which can be sighted in the various bodies of water or nesting in the reeds.
On-line map https://mapy.cz/s/jukenecete
Day 2 – Hike #4
Finally, to end your hiking weekend what about a short but arduous climb to an exhilarating viewpoint?
You can either climb to the viewpoint then simply retrace your trail back to the starting point (3,5 Km) or you can continue from the viewpoint to the end of the trail then go left and back to the start via the red trail. We just climbed to the viewpoint and returned. It is a very beautiful trail and we were merely prolonging the pleasure of spending a weekend in this glorious region, before heading back to Prague.
You will pass several water sources at the beginning of the trail before heading on up into higher ground. Expect several steep flights of metal stairs but all are passable for man’s best friend.
Starting point and online map: https://mapy.cz/s/hudosuzapo
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After using our free material, we would love to have your feedback. Please scroll down to the reply section and leave your comment after your hike, to assist other users. Planning itineraries for a hiking weekend takes time! If you wish to save time, you may like to purchase our book which contains other weekend hiking ideas in the Czech Republic, complete with pet-friendly accommodation suggestions. To buy our book, visit the “our book” blog page to find out how you can buy it. Profits from book sales are donated to CZ based shelters for dogs.