If you want to experience something special during your stay in Czechia, you have to make a trip to Malá Skála! You’ll be walking through narrow passages between blocks of sandstone rock, and sometimes, you’ll feel like in the middle of a rock labyrinth! This natural playground with great lookouts along the way is worth exploring!
Malá Skála – your adventure starts here!
Malá Skála is a village nicely situated at the Jizera River in the northern part of Bohemian Paradise. It’s a very convenient starting point for many activities such as hiking, climbing, biking, or rafting. Especially during the summer, this place is quite busy and crowded with people.
Once you arrive in Malá Skála, a local dominant will catch your eye. High on a rock above the Jizera River, there is a lovely summer palace built on ruins of the former medieval castle Vranov. But let’s explore the opposite side of the river first. Let’s hike up to the boulder maze!
Trail through rock labyrinth
The rocks are hidden in the forest on the top of a hill, so you can’t see them from the valley. But once you come to the first rock pillar, you’ll be amazed!
A trail will lead up and down between rock towers. Along the way, you’ll have to squeeze through several narrow spots. It’s a lot of fun, enjoy yourself! 😀
You don’t have to worry you’d get lost. The smart system of signs will help you find your way. Just follow the arrows!
Besides other hilarious spots, you’ll have to get through this ⬇️ hole! You can make funny pictures standing under the boulder while “supporting” it. I’m wondering, for how long would you be able to stand below it? Write a comment!
Gorgeous outlook platforms
Right at the beginning of the trail, there are four different outlook platforms located on the tops of rock towers. But you can leave a climbing rope at home! They are accessible thanks to steps carved into the rock, metal stairs, and bridges. The view from them is just terrific!
One more lookout point is awaiting you a bit further, on the top of a hill named Sokol (Falcon). From there, you can admire the jagged rock ridge of Suché Skály (Dry Rocks). They are very popular with climbers!
In case you’re hungry…
Now, it’s time to descend back to the valley in Malá Skála. Don’t your legs hurt too much? 😀 Do you still have some energy? If you need to recharge your batteries, stop for lunch. I can’t recommend more the restaurant located in Boučkův statek (Bouček’s Farmhouse).
This several-hundred-year-old wooden house is a wonderful piece of local rural architecture. And the meals here are great! The local specialty is blueberry dumplings. Give it a try! The restaurant is open every day except Mondays.
Extra tip – hike to Vranov Castle
I know, another hike after all those dumplings… But don’t tell me the castle is not luring you!
I’m not going to lie to you. The trail leading up there is quite steep. And you’ll have to climb several stairs to get there. But it’s worth the sweat!
Right below the castle, don’t miss a turnoff to a lookout platform! A narrow path just along a rock will take you to a spot, from where you can look over the valley of the Jizera River and Malá Skála.
Some facts about Vranov Castle
Vranov Castle was built on the top of a steep rocky ridge at the beginning of the 15th century. Because of the shape of the rock and its complicated terrain, this castle was very narrow but several hundred meters long! Vranov was mostly built of wood. What we can see today are the original cellars and rooms carved in the bedrock. Its owners abandoned the castle already a century later. And gradually, it fell into ruin.
Its revival came in the 19th century, in the times of romanticism. At that time, the castle ruins belonged to entrepreneur Franz Zacharias Römisch. To commemorate famous historical personalities and events, he paced there a number of memorial plaques, inscriptions, and statues. You can find here Napoleon, Shakespeare, Goethe, and many other prominent names. He also built for himself a summer place here. This newly adapted area of Vranov Castle became known as the Pantheon.
Vranov Castle with the Pantheon is open from April to October. The entrance fee is 50 CZK. There is no guided tour, but you can explore the castle area by yourself! Climb narrow stone stairs, crawl into rooms carved in the bedrock, and enjoy the view from the top of the rocky ridge! At the ticket office, ask for a text in English. Read there more about the castle and all the places you’ll be walking through.
How to get to Malá Skála
From Prague, there is an excellent train and bus connection to Malá Skála.
If you arrive by train, from the train station, follow the yellow trail to the next signpost in the center of Malá Skála (400 m). If you decide to take a bus, get off at the bus stop Malá Skála, Vranové, u mlýna. Walk to the bridge over Jizera and then continue along the blue-marked route to the same signpost (300 m).
From here, the red trail will show you the way to the rock maze. In about 40 minutes, you’ll come to a trail junction with a signpost. For the lookouts and labyrinths, turn to the right and follow yellow signs.
The yellow path ends at Kalich. Here, continue along the blue path (to the left). This blue trail ends at a hut, where you can buy some refreshments. At the signpost, follow the yellow marked route leading to the forest. It will take you to the Sokol lookout. Afterward, continue walking the same path, and you’ll get back to the signpost you’ve already been at. Now, descend to Malá Skála along the same red trail.
The route to Pantheon starts behind the second bridge over Jizera. Just continue walking further along the red trail. Cross the bridge and the main road. You’ll see a restaurant. In front of it, turn to the right and continue steep uphill. In about 10-15 minutes, you’ll get to a crossing. For the outlook platform, turn to the left, and for Vranov Castle / Pantheon, turn to the right. You’re almost there!
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