You’ve probably never heard of Šumava National Park before. We neither – until our recent trip to South Bohemia this spring. Our 5 days road trip was packed with activities like sightseeing in historical cities and towns, and touring castles. All of which South Bohemia offers unique ones! But we knew we’d need a break in nature. So we did some research and ended up finding Šumava National Park, home to forests, mountains and glacial lakes.
Why visit Šumava National Park?
So on the Czech-Bavarian border lies Šumava National Park. With its deep, primaeval forests, peat bogs and clear alpine lakes, it gave us a sense of remoteness, tranquility and majesty. Even driving through it under the shade of its large trees brought nature close. Despite of getting soaked several times during the two days we spent hiking there, we liked this park.
We liked it for its large mossy rocks in the crystal clear streams. For the gleam of sunshine on the lakes. And for its giant trees and unspoilt natural beauties.
Hiking Black and Devil’s Lakes Loop
Our first hike was the trail to the Black and Devil’s Lakes (Černé jezero and Čertovo jezero in Czech). It’s a lovely loop trail that can be done in 3-4 hours. The trail runs through pine forest, then passes the two fabulous little alpine lakes.
Black Lake is the largest and deepest one in Šumava. Why black? Because of the reflection of the dark forest surrounding it. The other one, Devil’s Lake got its name after a legend that says that the devil himself dug out the lake. There’s a viewing tower on the way from Black Lake to Devil’s Lake. It’s worth the short detour as it offers the nicest panorama on this loop trail.
Finally, a useful tip if you arrive by car. The large parking lot at the trailhead has an hourly fee, but not far from it there’s an even larger parking lot that belongs to the ski lifts. It was free when we visited in May.
The Prášilské Lake trail
Just half an hour drive from Špičácké sedlo, there’s another trail that leads to another alpine lake. Prášilské jezero can be reached on a forest trail from the village of Prášily. We did this hike after the Black and Devil’s Lakes Loop, and the two of them made for an enjoyable hiking day.
Hike to Plešné Lake & Plechý Hill
Plechý Hill is the highest peak in the mountain range with 1378 metres. It towers above Plesné Lake, and the steep uphill route to the peak offers stunning views of both the alpine lake and the surrounding hills. Khm… I mean, when you can see anything. Because what happened to us is that just after we started our ascent above Plesné Lake, the landscape slowly disappeared in the fog. By the time we reached the peak, we barely saw some of the closest pine trees.
The first section of the trail is on a paved road (not a busy one tough). After that we continued along a little stream in the pine forest.
Walk in the valley of River Vydra
We said goodbye to Šumava National Park with a casual walk in the valley of River Vydra. Granite rocks, rapids and small waterfalls make this valley the most picturesque of all the places we found in the park. Probably we spent more time taking pictures than walking, but either way, it was worth it.
When to visit Šumava National Park
With its highest peak being 1378 metres, Šumava National Park is not what we’d call high mountains. It means that the hiking season here is longer, roughly from mid-spring to mid-autumn. This makes Šumava a nice hiking getaway even if you visit the Czech Republic in low season.
How to get to Šumava National Park
The park is easy to reach either from Prague (about 2.5 hours drive) or from Český Krumlov (about 1.5 hours drive) if you have a car. If not, you can still look for organized day trips – like this one from Prague.
Have you visited any of the Czech national parks?
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