The tablelands of the Central Sudetes (please see this map and study its description) are bounded on the northwest and the northeast by the Kamienne (Stone) Mountains - several ranges of hills made of hard volcanic rocks, namely porphyries, late-Paleozoic of age and reddish in colour. The eastern part of these mountains, which straddles the Czech-Polish border east from the upper course of the Ścinawka River (and the national road 35), is called the Suche (Dry) Mountains by Poles, whereas Czechs call them the Javoří (Sycamore Maple) Mountains. They are all covered with woods in which sycamore maple trees are not uncommon, so there is no mystery behind the Czech name. But one may wonder why such green hills have been labelled "dry." The answer lies in many dry valleys and few springs within the area. The hills have steep slopes, are formed of impermeable rock and the soil layer is thin. As a result, the rain which hasn't been intercepted by vegetation runs off fairly quickly.
The most interesting part of these green dry mountains is their northern chunk between Sokołowsko (once a famed health resort of Görbersdorf) and the town of Głuszyca. This area contains several interesting hills rising around 900m. This is the highest part of the Suche/Javoří Mountains, the Kamienne Mountains, and also of what German geographers call Waldenburger Bergland (the Kamienne and Wałbrzyskie mountains). Thanks to what they are composed of these porphyry hills have surprisingly bold, often conical silhouettes, contrasting with the flat tops of the other mountain ranges of the Sudetes that surround them. Even on the waymarked trails hiking can be surprisingly challenging, owing to the steepness of the slopes. On a couple of trails, there can be plenty of man-made scree under your feet, since the local rock, despite being very hard, tends to be very crumbly. Also, off the beaten track there can be more and more bushwhacking involved recently as the hiking tradition fades. Nevertheless, part of any hiking route will have to contain stretches of dirt roads, whose network is pretty dense there, just as the network of waymarked - hiking and biking - trails.
German name: Heidelberg
Despite being the highest summit in the Kamienne/Suche/Javoří Mountains as well as one of the highest mountains of all in the Central Sudetes, Waligóra does not seem to be a most attractive hiking goal since its top is covered with wood an does not provide any views. The mountain stands in the backyard of Andrzejówka Hut, from where it can be climbed in about twenty minutes. (I must confess to not having climbed it yet although I have visited the Suche Mountains several times.) There is an SP page by visentin focusing on Waligóra as well as the area at its foot, around the Andrzejówka Hut, which makes for a little ski resort in winter.
German name: Dürreberg
Prominence: approx. 65m
At 928m Suchawa is the second highest hill in these mountains. It is the highpoint of a three-summit massif which towers over the valley and dirt road linking the resort of Sokołowsko to the Andrzejówka Hut. The massif's western summit is called Włostowa (903m), the middle peak is Kostrzyna with a conical top (906m), whilst Suchawa forms the eastern part of the massif. Just east of Suchawa, beyond a relatively deep valley, rises Waligóra. The top of Suchawa only affords a limited view, to the north-west. Far better views are provided by the nearby top of Kostrzyna. But on the northwestern slope of Suchawa a unique phenomenon in the Sudetes can be seen: An active cliff-talus system within the forest zone. (! Please do not try to climb the rocks or tread on the talus cone for two reasons: 1- the place has been designated a nature monument; 2 - the rock is extremely chossy. However, one can climb up around the talus and cliff, which involves walking elusive deer paths as well as bushwhacking.)
German name: Spitzberg
Prominence: approx. 190m
At 880m this hill is the highpoint of the Czech part of the mountains. Compared to Waligóra, it has a couple of advantages. It stands farther away from the villages and resorts and it has an observation tower on the top, which lets you climb an extra twenty two metres up and offers an excellent view of the highest summits of the Suche Mountains. The 360-degree vista consists of many other mountain ranges and massifs of the Sudetes: the Sowie Mountains not far to the north-east; the Ślęża Massif beyond the rim of the Sudetes, just left of the Sowie Mts; in the opposite direction, across the Broumov Basin, the outlines of each of the tablelands of the Central Sudetes can be recognized; on the eastern horizon looms the silhouette of the Śnieżnik Massif, whereas in the west a much nearer and clearer outline of the Giant Mountains is visible.
German name: Groß Storch
This isolated hill is situated in the northwestern corner of the Suche Mountains, north of the resort of Sokołowsko, just by the village of Unisław Śląski. The hill takes its name, which translates as Great Cone, from its shape. There is a small, wooden lookout tower on its summit.
The walls of Rogowiec Castle (German name: Hornschloss) built in C13/14 on an 862m summit in the northeast corner of the Suche Mountains, among sycamore maple trees, were partly natural. The castle was founded by a Polish prince Bolko I over 700 years ago. More images and info (in Polish) here. The castle hill affords a good view of Borowa (853m), the highest hill in the Wałbrzych Mountains.
Part of the dungeon is all that is left of the castle of Radosno (German name: Freudenburg) built in the 13th or 14th century. It is not known who founded the castle, whose ruins sit on a lesser hill at the foot of Suchawa, just about five kilometres west of Rogowiec Castle. It seems likely that it was originally a Czech castle and the border ran a bit differently then. More images and info (in Polish) here.
Red Tape, Camping and Accommodation
- No need to stick to waymarked trails.
- Camping not allowed.
- One mountain hut: Schronisko Andrzejówka
- Guesthouses in Sokołowsko and other villages in the area.
- Day trips from Wrocław not much of a problem.
Getting ThereThe mountains lie several kilometres to the south of the Polish city of Wałbrzych (Waldenburg before World War II), which has good railway and road links with Wrocław, the capital city of Lower Silesia. From Wałbrzych minibuses or buses run to Sokołowsko and Głuszyca. Although the railway station in Głuszyca has been closed down, the railway line (Wałbrzych-Kłodzko) is still in use.
The Czech hikers will most likely start their walking trip in the village of Ruprechtice (bus terminus), which is situated just a few kilometres north-east of the town of Meziměstí (train, bus).
Thanks to visentin, you can see how to get to the potential trailheads