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Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Czech Republic/Poland, Europe

Lat/Lon: 50.73600°N / 15.74000°E

Object Title: Sněžka/Śnieżka

Activities: Hiking

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 5259 ft / 1603 m


Page By: yatsek

Created/Edited: Apr 16, 2003 / Jan 7, 2017

Object ID: 151570

Hits: 24105 

Page Score: 95.35%  - 54 Votes 

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This page was created anew in October 2016.


Sněžka Śnieżka Schneekoppe 

Sněžka/Śnieżka (Schneekoppe in German) at 1602 or 1603m (according to the latest Czech measurement) is the highest summit in the Giant Mountains, in all of the Sudetes as well as Czechia. It has 1202m of prominence and stands on the border between Czechia and Poland. It rises nearly 200m above the main ridge of the Giant Mountains. This is due to the mountain's geologic make-up – unlike its surroundings, Śnieżka/Sněžka's is formed of hornfels, which is extremely resistant to erosion. 

Sněžka's north and southwest sides are quite high and steep. They descend over 500m to the bottoms of the valleys of, respectively, Łomniczka and Úpa brooks. The gentler side is the southeast side. At the west foot of Śnieżka extends the undulating plateau – an ancient peneplain raised by tectonic forces - that forms what we call the main ridge of the Giant Mountains west from Sněžka. The main ridge of the Giant Mountains east of Śnieżka is much narrower and does look like a ridge. Between Sněžka and Svorová hora/Czarna Kopa at 1407m, the ridge - clad in dwarf mountain pine and talus - is called Obří hřeben (Giant Ridge)/Czarny Grzbiet (Black Ridge). 

Classic view
Śnieżka seen from NW, Obří/Czarny Ridge to its left - photo by Konrad Sus

In the Ice Age, the upper parts of the valleys that begin at Sněžka cradled glaciers, which results in a couple of fine, albeit lakeless, corries sitting below Śnieżka on either side of the international border. These corries are notorious for avalanches.

Studinicni hora seen from the...
Studniční hora at 1554m across a corrie - photo by Tomas Kristofory 

Given the qualities of the rock which Śnieżka is composed of, it is no surprise that the upper slopes of the mountain are virtually devoid of vegetation and covered in talus.

Śnieżka’s N face
 North face

Snezka from E slope of Studnicni hora
Southwest face - photo by jandamart

As far as the climate is concerned, Sněžka can be called the Central European Mount Washington, especially with reference to the wind speed. The maximum wind speed recorded on Śnieżka was 345km/h in 1990 (Mount Washington 372km/h in 1934).

Close to the summit
On the western trail in winter - photo by Dziku 

Sněžka has been climbed for nearly or even more than 500 years! In Obří důl (Giant Pit), the uppermost part of the Úpa Valley, metal ores were mined as early as the 16th century. The popularity of Śnieżka soared in the 19th century when it was the highpoint of Prussia. There are a few buildings on the summit, of which the chapel of St.Lawrence, built in 1681, is the oldest. The biggest is the Polish 'UFOs' from 1976, which used to house a weather station, a mountain hut and a restaurant. But in summer 2016 only a buffet was open on the ground floor. Another building is a Czech post office, where you can buy postcards and similar stuff. The fourth structure is the upper station of a Czech cable car. 

The Chapel on Snezka
Chapel of St. Lawrence - photo by Dziku 


There are many options, of which the most 'obvious' are listed in the tables below. The asterisked routes are the most interesting in my opinion.


Ascent from theStart point in the town/village of Approx. total elevation gain in metresApprox. length of hike (km)Time for walk up (hrs)Marks
North: via Łomniczka Valley*
North: via the tarns*
over 1,100
several options
 North-East: via Budniki* Kowary 1,300 12 5 yellow-blue-red
 North: upper station of chairlift (Kopa) Karpacz 260 2.3 1 black-red

The uppermost part of the valley of Łomniczka boasts a nice post-glacial corrie and a 300-metre-long cascade. The two pretty tarns which sit northwest of Śnieżka - Mały Staw and Wielki Staw, i.e. the Little Tarn and the Great Tarn (photos in the chapter after next) - are the biggest natural lakes in the Giant Mountains. The trail from Kowary has the greatest elevation gain and a romantic stretch along Malina brook below where once the hamlet of Budniki stood.

Lomniczka ValleyŁomniczka's corrie
Łomniczka’s HeadwatersThe cascade
Malina BrookMalina brook
Śnieżka from Czarna KopaThe east ridge


Ascent from theStart point in the town/village of Approx. total elevation gain in metresApprox. length of hike (km)Time for walk up (hrs)Marks
South: via Obří důl*
Pec pod Sněžkou
Pec pod Sněžkou
Špindlerův Mlýn
nearly 1,000
 NW: Slezské sedlo  550 9.5 3.25 red
 East Horní Malá Úpa 850 6 2.75 green-yellow-red
 South: Upper station of cable car Pec pod Sněžkou several 0 0.05 

The trail through Obří důl offers excellent views of the more jagged, south face of Sněžka as well as Studniční hora with its corries and waterfalls, whereas the trail from Špindlerův Mlýn runs up the side of Kozí hřbety, a relatively narrow ridge, exceptional for the Giant Mountains.

Kozi hrbetyKozí hřbety
Mount Snezka from Obri DulIn Obří důl
Open views to to Sněžka over the  Lví důl valley Sněžka's gentle, SE side


Postglacial cirques...

online map

paper/waterproof/digital/online 1:25,000 - the Giant Mountains

paper 1:25,000 - E part of the Giant Mountains

Nearby Huts

NB There are plenty of guesthouses and hotels as well as a few campsites on either side of the Giant Mountains.

  • Dom Śląski at 1400m - a Polish hut sitting just west of Śnieżka, half an hour's walk from the summit

  • Strzecha Akademicka at 1258m - a Polish hut half a kilometre northeast of Samotnia Hut, 1.5hrs walk from the summit

  • Samotnia at 1195m - an atmospheric Polish hut by Mały Staw (the Little Tarn), 1.75hrs walk from the summit

Dom Śląski, the hut below ŚnieżkaDom Śląski
The Great Lake is located in...Strzecha Akademicka

The Snezka massif seen from...Luční bouda
Chata JelenkaJelenka
Łomniczka HutŁomniczka

  • Luční bouda at 1410m - a Czech hotel with its own brewery, west of Sněžka, 1.33hrs walk from the summit

  • Bouda pod Sněžkou at 950m - a rather pricey Czech hut in Obří důl, 2hrs walk from the summit  

  • Jelenka at 1260m - a Czech hut east of Sněžka between the summit of Svorová hora/Czarna Kopa and Soví sedlo/Sowia Przełęcz, right on the border between Czechia and Poland, less than 1.5hrs walk from the summit

  • Nad Łomniczką (Łomniczka) at 1002m - a Polish hut which does not offer accommodation, in the upper part of the valley of Łomniczka, 1.5hrs walk from the summit

  • In high season all the huts can be fully booked. If so, in the Polish huts you can normally get a place on the floor.

    Getting To Nearby Resorts

    Obří důl, upper end of the valley

    To get to Špindlerův Mlýn, leave Road I/14 at the town of Vrchlabí and drive north up Road 295 for about ten miles. From Špindlerův Mlýn it is possible to take a bus to Slezské sedlo/Karkonoska Przełęcz on the Czech-Polish border (private cars have been banned from the road).

    To get to Pec pod Sněžkou, leave Road I/14 at the town of Mladé Buky and drive north up Road 296 for about ten miles.

    To get to Malá Úpa, leave Road I/14 at the town of Mladé Buky and drive north up Road 296 for nearly ten kilometres, then turn right onto Road 252.

    Czech trains and buses

    Minibus service between Pec pod Sněžkou and Karpacz

    Karkonosze from distance

    The resort of Karpacz lies just 15km south of the centre of Jelenia Góra, a large town just north of the Giant Mountains. The town of Kowary lies about 17km southeast of the centre of Jelenia Góra, with which it is connected by Road 367. Buses/minibuses from Jelenia Góra to Karpacz run through Kowary.

    Jelenia Góra has good train and bus links with Wrocław, the capital of Lower Silesia. There is also a direct bus service between Wrocław and Kowary. 

    Polish trains
    Polish buses

    Red Tape

    Digitalis purpurea from Obri Dul

    The area is part of a national park (or rather two parks: Karkonoski Park Narodowy in Poland and Krkonošský národní park in the Czech Republic. You are not allowed to camp/bivouac or stray from the waymarked trails. In Poland there is an entrance fee - an equivalent of approx. €1.40 for a day pass in 2016. In Czechia there is no entrance fee, but be ready to pay for parking, e.g. in Pec pod Sněžkou nearly €5 per day.

    In winter (sometimes also in autumn) and the first half of spring, the sections of trails that ran through the heads of valleys (Łomniczka Valley, Obří důl, Biały Jar just west of Strzecha Akademicka hut) and the road that traverses the north face of Śnieżka (blue marks) are closed due to the avalanche risk. 

    When To Climb & Mountain Conditions

    If possible, do not go in high season or at a weekend unless you like being part of a crowd. On a sunny day in July or August the summit is visited by several thousand people! 

    Under winter conditions crampons can be a must.

    Mountain rescue phone numbers:
    Poland +48 601100300
    Czech Republic +420 1210
    Current mountain conditions
    Weather forecast for Luční hora on meteoblue.com
    Weather forecast for Sněžka and webcams on www.yr.no

    Funny clouds over the Karkonosze Mountains
    The wind of change - photo by rgg