Harrachov - Labská LoukaHarrachov, our starting point, is a famous ski resort on the west side of the Sudetes's largest massif, the Giant's Mountains (Krkonoše in Czech, Karkonosze in Polish).
Labská Louka is a high plateau situated some 1400m high, where the largest Czech river, also one of Germany largest, is taking its source: the Elbe ("Labe" in Czech, from which comes "Labská Louka", the Elbe's meadow).
Krkonoše, both in Czech republic and Poland, is a national park. The bike trip we did is somehow "illegal", as we crossed by bike some of the high areas whose trails are only for pedestrian. On the way, we even faced the anger of one rangers of the park, but fortunately didn't pay any fee.
The Krkonoše czech park regulations (and unlike the polish side, which for me is ok), has something a bit paradoxal, not to say hypocritical.
While lower areas of Krkonoše are being built with loads of tourists infrastructures, and cars allowed to drive almost everywhere without being sermoned, bikes are apparently the most disturbing things.
Anyway, I do not recommend you to make a similar bike trip, unless you keep cycling in the lower part of this range on marked bike trails.
My friend Marcin invited me for this trip with 5 of his other friends. The ride had something of a socializing event, as they all hadn't seen each other for long time, and the trip was fun. There are many mountain huts ("Chata") in this area where you can stop and have good Czech beers...
Furthermore, it was the perfect moment of the year to savour the finest autumn colours, on the sunny side of this range.
After having parked the cars in teh big ski-resort of Harrachov and drunk a first beer for the "ceremonial", as my friend Marcin described it, we chose the option of taking the ski-lift in order to gain some elevation.
The group we were was kind of heteroclit, amongst us some sporty cross-country cyclers as well as and some descenders...
Once on the top of Čertova hora we unloaded bikes and rided down until the first place we stopped, the mountain-hut Chata Studenov, where it is possible to buy some fine Czech beers.
After that, we continued the descent until the village of Horní Rokytnice where was located the start of the second lift we initially planned to take. Unfortunately, this lift was out of service (and thus, despite we bought a double-lift ticket in Harrachov, which the seller omitted to inform us !)
We had to give ourselves to the evidence, if we wanted to continue our plan, there was a 500m climb ahead, with, for some of us, the stomach already filled with one liter of beer ! After a slow start we reached the second moutain hut where we would make a stop, Chata Lovčenka. The beers were already transpired and the stomachs getting hungry.
We all had a delicious guláš. And, for some of us, another beer.
Fortunately the end of the sharp slope was not very far after. We followed the horizontal blue trail until the hut Horská Bouda Dvoračky, crowded with people. We wanted to avoid a stop but few of us anticipated this moment, and while the rest of the group arrived, few pints were proudly standing on a table, shining in the autumn sun....
The number of cyclers who were there, as well as the amount of bicycles parked in front of the building witness how cycling is popular in Czech Republic, and especially in the mountains...
We continued our way, few tens of meters, before we arrived to a very large sign, showing a barred bicycle symbol in a red circle. Having the map attached on the front of the bike, I anticipated a bit this moment, but I didn't want to interfere too much with the plans of my friends.
"So let's go !", they said. And we started another gruelling ascent on a steep forbidden trail under the heavy sun (thus despite the trail was perfectly suitable for a bike). One hour later, we all arrived in very dispersed order at a point where the slope ceased, and a wide panorama opened to our eyes. All the high plateaux of Karkonose were showing their desertic immensities, under a perfectly clear autumn sky.
After few pictures, we made our way, continuing on this track, gently going down. This was undoubtly the best moment of the trip. But, at the next junction, as we planned a stop and 2 of us already opened the map, an old guy with a kaki shirt and the national park symbol on it started to bark loudly at them. The rest of the group noticed him in time, and avoided him on both side, left and right. This seemed to make him furious, and after some short last attempts of negociations, the 2 friend who were talking to him sat again on the bikes and joined us back.
At the next junction, we opened the map again. What next ? Unless we came back the whole way we came from, in all cases we were in the illegality. What to do ? Some discordant voices started to rise, but after an accurate map study, it turned out that the initial plan was still the quickest way to get out of here and find back the authorized cycling trails. As we packed back the things (we wore some extra clothes, as the long descent to come would be fresh), one of us noticed the national park ranger running far away to us. "Quick, guys, let's go."
So we turned left to another pedestrian trail, which, unless the previous ones, was not suitable at all for bikes, very rocky, very narrow, and with every 5 meters, some 20cm large gaps in order to let the rain-water flow. One of us, with a suspended bike, started all schuss this descent, but found himself with a broked tyre some hundred of meters later.
At the end of the 2 km of this horrible descent, was patiently waiting for us another mountain hut, Vosecká Bouda. We all drunk a beer, watching our friend struggling to repair his broken wheel.
Another sharp descent was to come, before catching a long asphalted cycling road, slowly going down to the level of Harrachov, where we started. We crossed the whole town and came back to our cars. Before driving back to Wrocław, we had an excellent dinner (and some more beers) in some restaurant of Harrachov.
Getting ThereFrom Czech Republic, drive in the direction of Liberec. At Liberec, of Turnov (depending where you come from), Harrachov is indicated.
From Poland, leave the A4 somewhere near Legnica and drive in the direction of Jelenia Gora, and then Szklarska Poręba. Cross the border. Harrachov is just next.