Sněžka – 1,603 m a. s. l.
The highest mountain in Bohemia is a popular destination for mountain hikes. The peak offers lovely views into the country on both the Czech and Polish sides. At the peak there is the circular St. Lawrence chapel from 1665, a Polish mountain lodge from 1976 with a weather station and a new Czech post office built in 2005–2006. The building of the original post office stood nearby between 1899 and 2009, which was the highest location in the Czech Republic where one could obtain a postmark. The old post office was dismantled in 2009 and transported to Javorová skála (Maple Rock) (about 7 km to the southwest of Sedlec-Prčice), where it was eventually re-assembled.
From 1850 the old Polská (originally Slezská) bouda (Polish/Silesian Lodge) was also at the summit. It was replaced in 1976 by the current modern Polská bouda, and Česká bouda was demolished in 2009.
You can get from Špindlerův Mlýn to Sněžka on foot by various routes (the shortest is about 10km long). A new cable car from Pec pod Sněžkou with an intermediate station on Růžová hora also leads up to Sněžka. Pec pod Sněžkou is approximately 45km by car or bus.
Source of the Elbe – 1,387 m a. s. l.
The source of the Elbe is a symbolically adapted place for tourists, marked as the beginning of the Elbe River. The actual spring area of the Elbe is located in peat bogs about 150 to 300m from there and is inaccessible to the public for nature conservation reasons.
A stone wall with the coloured coat-of-arms of 26 notable towns through which the Elbe flows on its way to the sea was built here in 1968. The creator of the wall was Jiří Škopek. There is also a pair of memorial plaques. The first one was donated by the Czech Tourist Club on the occasion of the 70th birthday of a promoter of Czech hiking in the Krkonoše, Jan Buchar; the second on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of organised hiking and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jan Buchar. The place is one of the most popular destinations for trips on the Czech side of the mountain range.
Sněžné jámy (Schneegruben in German, Śnieżne Kotły in Polish) are one of the best-known and most photogenic sites in the Krkonoše. The dominant features of a distinctive construction – a mountain lodge called Wavel on the summit of Vysoká pláň – will reliably guide you to it even from a distance. It served as a tourist hut in the past and nowadays it is used only as a TV transmitter for Poland.
The main ridge abruptly falls here through rock walls to the Polish side into deep pits – kettle holes carved out by a glacier long ago – on the bottom of which are small glacial lakes. Just as in other glacial cirques, they contain botanic jewels of the Krkonoše.
Špindlerova bouda – 1,198 m a. s. l.
A mountain lodge built near the Polish border on the main ridge of the Krkonoše at Slezské sedlo below Malý Šišák mountain. The original lodge was built in 1784 by František Špindler (a magistrate from Bedřichov). The lodge burnt down three times but each time it was repaired following the fires. An 8 kilometre long road from Špindlerův Mlýn to the lodge was constructed in 1914. During the Second World War, Špindlerova bouda was used as an internment camp for captured officers from the ranks of the French, British and American armies. Currently, the lodge is used as a restaurant and hotel.
The lodge is an ideal starting point for hikes on the main ridge of the mountains through which the main ridge hiking trail runs (red marks) or to the Polish side of the mountains. It is possible to arrive at the lodge by car only with the permission of the Krkonoše National Park (it can be organised by the KRNAP information centre), but a tourist bus goes there several times a day and in the morning at about 10 and 11am a bus for carrying bikes also operates, which will take your bike up as well. Of course, it is also possible to get there on foot, using a mere 4km long path following the green hiking marks around Jelení boudy or a longer path (about 7km) along the river following the blue marks to the mountain lodge at Bílé Labe, and then by following the yellow marks up to the saddle.
Martinova bouda – 1,250 m a. s. l.
The guesthouse and restaurant Martinova bouda stands on the boundary of zone 1 of the Krkonoše National Park below the main boundary ridge on the side of Vysoké kolo mountain. It ranks among the oldest mountain lodges in the Krkonoše; it was founded in around 1642, when inhabitants started to retire to the mountains in the troubled times of the Thirty Years’ War. The present name is derived from its lessee Martin Erlebach, who restored the lodge in 1795.
You can reach Martinova bouda easily on foot from Špindlerův Mlýn by following the green hiking marks. The lodge is inaccessible for cyclists. The lodge is situated at a crossroads of hiking trails. Following the blue marks you will ascend to an altitude of 1,350m to the main ridge after less than one kilometre, where the main ridge trail (red marks) runs. By following the green marks to the west, you will get to Labská bouda and the Elbe waterfall (Labský vodopád).
Mountain lodge at Bílé Labe – 1,000 m a. s. l.
A popular destination for both outings and bike trips in the close environs of Špindlerův Mlýn. The lodge stands approximately 5km from the town centre at an altitude of a round 1,000 metres. The way to it leads through the picturesque valley of the Bílé Labe. An educational trail starts immediately next to the lodge along Čertova strouha which features several preserved dykes built by our skilled ancestors.
An educational trail through Čertův důl starts at the U Bílého Labe lodge and continues against the flow of Čertova strouha. By following it you will reach a place where the remains of an old blacksmith’s shop can be found. Then it runs back following the same route. The entire circular route is about 2.5km long.
Moravská bouda – 1,225 m a. s. l.
The Moravská bouda restaurant and hotel is a pleasant stop on route to the Krkonoše ridges, especially for families with children. It is located less than three quarters of a kilometre from the main ridge on meadows with viewpoints overlooking Špindlerův Mlýn and Kozí hřbety.
You can get there either comfortably from Špindlerova bouda by following the red marks, from which you switch to the green marks below Petrova bouda(about 2.5 km in total), or from Dívčí lávky by following the yellow marks. The blue marks from the town centre will take you to Dívčí lávky.
Moravská bouda can also be reached by cyclists – KRNAP marked bike route 15 passes through here – a tour via Špindlerovka and Moravská bouda.
Luční bouda – 1,410 m a. s. l.
Luční bouda (Wiesenbaude in German) stands on Bílá louka on the left bank of the Bílé Labe just a short distance from the Úpa peat bog where the Bílé Labe springs, as does the Úpa River. It is the largest mountain lodge in the Krkonoše and one of the largest in Europe. It takes up an area of 5,600 square metres, it had its own self-sufficient homestead as well as its own bakery.
To this day, you can buy the excellent baked goods produced there. It is also the oldest lodge on the Krkonoše ridges – the first simple building stood there as early as 1623. It gradually became a significant economic, trade, exploration and tourist centre. Cattle farming, harvesting hay from surrounding meadows, and later accommodation and refreshments for tourists heading for Sněžka were sources of livelihood. Mountain herbal cheese was a local speciality.
It burnt down several times during its existence and each time it was restored and extended. A new large lodge with 120 rooms and several lodging rooms was completed in 1914. After the borderlands were surrendered to Germany following the Munich Agreement, both Luční and nearby Rennerova bouda burnt down in unclear circumstances on 2nd October 1938. Its present appearance dates back to 1939–1940.
Luční bouda is an ideal place for a rest before and after climbing Sněžka or on route to the Polish side of the mountains.
Trial access for cyclists along the asphalt road from Výrovka (the road leads from Pec pod Sněžkou) has been permitted since 2008. As the lodge is situated in zone 1 of the national park, access for cyclists to other roads is not permitted. However, they can leave their bikes there and reach Sněžka on foot.
Labská bouda – 1,340 m a. s. l.
Labská bouda is situated on Labská louka (Elbe Meadow), a vast plateau, just several hundred metres from the source of the Elbe, directly above the Elbe Waterfall. In view of its position it is a notable landmark, mainly in the winter period.
An original lodge with an inn stood in its place from the mid 19th century. Count Jan Harrach had it rebuilt in 1878-9. A 50 kilometre race took place there on 24th March 1913, during which Czech sportsman Bohumil Hanč with his friend Václav Vrbata perished. The lodge was in operation until 1965 when it burnt down.
The modern reinforced concrete nine-storey building from 1975 bears the same name as the original inn. The Communist regime built it in rather brutalist style. It does not fit in too much with the local conditions with its position or the materials used – the concrete began to fall off due to the extreme mountain conditions. A number of operational problems persist despite an extensive renovation from 1998 to 2004. The Krkonoše National Park is trying to purchase it and tear it down.
Elbe Waterfall (Labský vodopád)
The Elbe waterfall is a 35 metre high waterfall with rapids on the uppermost reaches of the Elbe. It falls down Labský důl below Labská bouda.
In 1859 the owner of the nearby Labská bouda, Josef Schier, created a rather small reservoir above the waterfall in which he retained water. Once the number of paying tourists was sufficient, the sluice gate of the reservoir was lifted and the waterfall opened – in this way it looked much more impressive. This tourist attraction was later abandoned for nature conservation reasons. Nowadays, only the most observant will find the remains of the reservoir below Labská bouda.
The Pančava waterfall is the highest waterfall in Czechia. The height of the waterfall is 148m (it falls from 1,298m a. s. l. to 1,150m a. s.), and seasonally even 162m. The waterfall has four notable stages at heights (from the top) of 36, 39, 23 and 20m. It comprises of the Pančava brook (a right-hand tributary of the Elbe), which falls into the upper part of Labský důl.
The name of the Pančava brook comes from the German word pantschen, in standard form planschen or plantschen, which means to splash or slosh.
The waterfall has been visited since the beginning of tourism. In 1859 the owner of the nearby lodge Labská bouda, Josef Schier, build a small reservoir with a sluice gate above the top edge. Once there was a sufficient number of paying tourists, the sluice gate was lifted and the waterfall massively increased its flow rate. Small refreshment booths and an outlook terrace were set up both above and below the waterfall. The small reservoir with the booths and terrace ceased to be used in the 1930s.
Current access to the waterfall is limited as it is located in zone 1 of the national park. There is a viewpoint in the vicinity of the waterfall from which one can see the upper part of the waterfall and another view is provided by the nearby Ambrož viewpoint.
Vrbatova bouda – 1,400 m a. s. l.
Vrbatova bouda is the sole notable construction on Zlaté návrší – a ridge between Medvědín and Kotel. It was built in the 1960s. The lodge is named after the skier Václav Vrbata who died tragically. A memorial (cairn) to Hanč and Vrbata, which stands on a hillock a short way off Vrbatova bouda, is dedicated to the tragic deaths of Vrbata and his friend Hanč.
Memorial to Hanč and Vrbata
A ridge called Zlaté návrší (Golden Hillock) stretches between the Medvědín and Kotel mountains. A cairn is situated on one of its hillocks called Vrbatovo návrší. It is dedicated to Bohumil Hanč and Václav Vrbata – a skier and his friend – in memory of their tragic deaths during an international 50km cross-country skiing race held on 24th March 1913. Vrbata gave a piece of his clothing to Hanč in an attempt to save him, as a result of which he eventually also sacrificed his life – his frozen body was found at this very place.
In his memory, 24th March is celebrated as the Day of the Mountain Rescue Service. The cairn, which is sometimes also referred to as the Cairn of Friendship, was built in 1925.
Hanč was found half dead about 300 metres from here. He died after being transported to Labská bouda; resuscitation attempts were in vain. The Hanč memorial is at the place where he was found. You will find it by following the red hiking marks towards Labská bouda.