Trip suggestion: Edmund Gorge in Hrensko
Besides the Pravčická brána (German: Prebischtor), the Edmund or Kamnitz Gorge is one of the major tourist attractions in the Bohemian part of the National Park, just behind the German-Czech boarder. Last weekend we went there, so I would like to tell you about it.
Experience a ruggedly picturesque boat adventure!
The Edmund Gorge is a very narrow valley, which was gradually opened to tourism in the late Romantic period. Prince Edmund (1813 – 1894) owned this territory and paid for its development, hence the name Edmund Gorge.
Some of the different trails, which were prepared in this period, have been carved in the rock like galleries, there are even several tunnels. The final highlight is a dam, which can only be crossed by boat. For a fee of 70 crowns, ca. 3 Euros per person and 30 crowns, ca. 1.50 Euros for kids, a ferryman steers the boat with a punt pole through the narrow valley, like in Venice. It takes about 20 minutes. The ferryman tells many interesting stories and names lots of the rock formations. There is also an artificial waterfall and we had the chance to listen to a harmonica performance.
At the end of the boat trip there is a restaurant. Up to this point, the trail doesn’t have any significant ascents and difficulties and is therefore also highly suitbale for short-legged children (or children unwilling to walk). I have also seen a family with a pram, but I would not recommend it – a back carrier is more suitable.
It is a very popular destination and the distance is easy, therefore, it is quite crowded. However, in comparison to visiting the Bastei in the high season, it is really pleasant. Even at the boat landing we did not have to wait, and also in the restaurant there were enough seats.
The easiest option is starting in Hrensko. From the car park you walk along the Kamenice River for about 30 minutes, without significant ascents. Behind a dam you have to continue by boat. The boats are steered with a punt pole, the boat trip takes about 20 minutes. It is a further five minute walk to arrive at the restaurant in a log cabin. In addition to the usual meals and drinks, you can also buy a sausage and grill it on the fire on your own. Take the same way back.
If you prefer, you can continue up the valley and climb up the stairway to the small village Mezná (about 1 hour). There are also several restaurants / bars and a small and simple playground.
From there you can take a wide path through the forest back to the road in direction of Hrensko and walk back along the road. The last part of the path is not particularly recommended, because there is no footpath next to the road – One of us waited with the children, the other one went to get the car.
If you haven’t had enough, it’s possible to make a deviation from Mezná to the Prebischtor (Pravčická brána).
The whole hiking tour however is about 5 to 8 hours (pure walking time).
Further upstream, behind the Edmund Gorge there is the Wild Gorge, which is also accessible by boat. Unfortunately, I can’t tell about it because when we went there in 2009 this part was still destroyed by the flood. Since 2011, the Wild Gorge is accessible again.
How to get there
The beginning of the walk into Edmund Gorge is in Hrensko (German: Herrnskretschen). It is a small frontier town, just behind the former border crossing of Schmilka. Who arrives by car, turns right into the valley of the little river Kamenice (Kamnitz) in Hrensko, then drives past an enormous amount of outdoor kiosks and China Markets (who buys this stuff???) and arrives at a sign-posted car park. (The official currency of the Czech Republic is the Czech crown – 100 crowns are about 4 Euros. We paid 4.50 Euros.) You should not start too late; otherwise the car park might be full.
Hint: Hrensko can be easily reached with public transport, just take the train S1 to Schöna and then take the ferry across the Elbe.
To sum up
Of course there are also lots of great hiking trails in the German part, and destinations worth visiting, also interesting for children, which have not been described here so far. However, the Edmund Gorge is one of the most beautiful destinations in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. The trail is quite easy to hike and very varied.
Due to the high rocks, the shadow and water, the gorge is also perfect for very hot summer days. You can also find a place, where the kids can play in the water. You should bring some towels and spare clothes!