Mystical sandstone rocks, deep lush forests and breathtaking scenery through a boatride in the gorges. Does that sound appealing to you? Read on! Because this is exactly, what we experienced when hiking in Bohemian Switzerland Nationalpark with our dogs.
Bohemian Switzerland Nationalpark
I often forget just how beautiful Europe is! We have beautiful nature and cute little towns with a lot of history. Yes it’s beautiful! We don’t have to cross the Atlantic Ocean to experience jaw-dropping scenery. We only had an eight hour drive from Denmark, before we reached Bohemian Switzerland Nationalpark. We didn’t do all the driving in one stretch, because it would be to long of a drive for both us and the dogs. We had one night in Germany, before we drove the last half of our trip.
Bohemian Switzerland Nationalpark is home to a forested landscape with soaring sandstone rocks peaking high above the crowns of the trees. The nationalpark is very young. It was declared back in 2000. It can be a bit confusing with the name ‘Switzerland’ because you might think the nationalpark is actually in Switzerland, until you pull out a map (or use google maps…) and locate it in Czech Republic. Bohemian Switzerland Nationalpark has been a destination for artist. The Swiss painters Adrian Zing and Anton Graff once compared the landscape with what you find in Switzerland. This is the reason for the name.
The nationalpark is only a one hour drive from Prague, which means you can easily combine your hiking trip with a city break.
Before our arrival we had a stop in the German side of the nationalpark. This side is called Saxon Switzerland Nationalpark. The two parks borders making it easy to visit both. Here we saw the beautiful Bastei Bridge. We drove on and arrived at our hotel U Forta. We had rented a cabin there and would be living right next to the hiking trails and the forest.
The next morning we got up at 7 am, to get going before the sun would make it to hot for the dogs. We packed our backpack with enough water for us and the dogs, some snacks and treats. The trail was marked really well, making it easy for us to navigate in the forest. Our trail started just about 100 metres behind our cabin, so it could not be easier.
At first we hiked through the lush green forest, but soon the hilly terrain showed up and the dogs enjoyed finding the best path through tree roots and rocks. They did so well! They really surprised me, with how they tackled the obstacles and hilly terrain, as they are not used to it from Denmark. We had the trail almost all to ourselves and wondered, why this place wasn’t packed with tourists. I guess it was a good thing to start early in the day.
Pravčická brána (Pravčice Gate)
Our first stop on our hike was at the Pravčice Gate. This is the biggest natural sandstone arch in Europe. With its 27 meters wide and 15 meter height, it was an impressive sight. However we now knew, where all the tourist were. They were here! It wasn’t like crazy crowded with tourists, but since we had just walked the forest all by ourselves, we had to get used to share our experience with a lot of others. Yeah – I like to have nature all to myself. I’m selfish like that haha…
Pravčice Gate is one of the top tourist sights in Bohemian Switzerland Nationalpark. Even though it was an impressive sight, I think what I will remember most from this part of the hike, is the scenic views above the forest and walking side by side with the sandstone rocks. Maybe this area was just a bit too touristy for me.
Hiking and a boatride through Edmund Gorge
After a break at Pravčice Gate we hiked to the city Hrensko. Here we caught up with the trail, that would lead us to Edmund Gorge. We had already hiked a few hours and the sun was burning high in the sky, making it quite hot. We chose to shorten the hike by only going through Edmund Gorge and saving Wild Gorge for another time.
We hiked next to the Kamenice river, which had made the area really beautiful with a lush green colour reflecting in the water, making it a gorgeous scenery. Edmund Gorge became accesible for tourists back in 1890. Before that time it was not possible to explore the gorge, why it was called ‘End of the world’. We hiked until it was no longer possible to continue on foot. We got in one of the gondolas, which brings you 950 meters through the gorge. The sandstone walls rises from the water 50-150 meters making your neck hurt from looking up at them, while sitting in the gondola.
Dogs were welcome onboard. We got to sit with ours and that way, they didn’t need to wear a muzzle. We had a big dog in the gondola, which had to wear a muzzle.
Sailing through the gorge the guide controlling the gondola will tell stories about the place – only in german end czech though. My honest opinion about the boat ride is, that it’s beautiful, but when we visited the boat was full, making it thight to sit in the boat, hot because we couldn’t move and a bit hard to see and take photos. We visited i June just past midday, so maybe if you visit at a not so crowded time, the boat trip will be more pleasant. By the way – bring cash – they only accept cash.
Two tired adventure dogs after a 19 km hike
We ended up doing a 19 km hike. That was more than we had expected, as we had been told the hike would be around 15 km. And we had even shortened it. Our dogs are used to hikes, but this was in hilly terrain and harder, than they are used to. With a lot of breaks and a having a close eye on how they were feeling, we made it through the hike without injuries or the dogs getting unwell. Some places we chose to carry the dogs, if ground was to hot. That way we protected their paws.
Back at our cabin we sat on the terrace and enjoyed the late afternoon and the dogs got their baskets out and got a long sleep.
The hike was dog friendly and both big and small dogs will be able to walk it. I have to point out though, that your dog has to be in a good shape because of the many stairs and hilly terrain. It’s a beautiful hike and I would recommend it to everyone, who is considering visiting Czech Republic with their dog.
Have you ever been to Bohemian Switzerland? Or could you imagine going there with your dog?