Śnieżnik (Polish)/Králický Sněžník (Czech)/Schneeberg (German) is the highpoint and the focal mountain of the Śnieżnik Massif (chapter 3). The elevation of the summit is 1425 m (or 1424 m according to the Czech maps), its prominence is 657 m. Its grass-covered summit dome rises about two hundred metres above the highest of the saddles that surround it. The second highest mountain within the massif, Mały (Little) Śnieżnik/Malý Sněžník/Kleiner Schneeberg, is nearly a hundred meters lower than Śnieżnik. Śnieżnik is the only mountain in the massif whose summit rises over the tree line. Besides, straddling the Poland-Czechia border, it is one of the peaks that make up the Crown of Poland's Mountains.
The top of Śnieżnik is broad and virtually flat. In September 2022 a controversial observation tower, nicknamed ‘blender’ and attracting crowds, was opened on the very summit. As Śnieżnik – apart from the Karkonosze range - is the only mountain in the Polish Sudetes that rises above the treeline, you didn't actually need a tower to have good views from the summit, or rather the summit area.
On the Czech side of the mountain, about five minutes' walk off the summit, at 1380 m is the source of the River Morava, which has been encased in a stone wall and is accompanied by an interpretive panel. Another few minutes' walk down the trail will lead you to where the Liechtenstein Hut stood until the early 1970s. Beside its ruin is a lone statue of an elephant placed here in 1932 by a society of young artists who were also mountain lovers. For Czech hikers, the elephant has become a symbol of the mountain.
|The name of the mountain derives from the word snow. Śnieżnik is covered by snow over 200 days per year. Snowfalls might occur in August, the last can happen as late as June. The full Polish name of the mountain is Śnieżnik Kłodzki, referring to the nearby town of Kłodzko. The Czech name, Králický Sněžnik, after the town of Kraliky, distinguishes the mountain from another Sněžnik in the Czech Republic, Decinsky Sněžnik. The old German names Glatzer Schneeberg and Grulicher Schneeberg mean the same as the Polish Śnieżnik Kłodzki and the Czech Králický Sněžnik respectively, since Glatz and Grulich are the German names for Kłodzko and Kraliky. Austrians often use the name Spieglitzer Schneeberg after what was once called Spieglitz, now part of the Czech town of Staré Město.
|The Śnieżnik Massif is the second highest, westernmost mountain group in the Eastern Sudetes. Its western slopes fall into the Kłodzko Basin. The northern boundary, if the foothills are included, will be the River Biała Lądecka. The eastern limit is less clear within the confines of Poland, and is supposed to be formed by the River Morawka. Płoszczyna/Kladské Pass (817m) on the Polish-Czech border separates the Śnieżnik Massif from the Bialskie Mountains, which are part of the Złote (Polish name)/Rychlebské (Czech name) Mountains. The eastern boundary of the massif in the Czech Republic is obvious: the valley of the River Krupá (beyond which, less than ten kilometres away stands the highest mountain group in the Eastern Sudetes, namely the Hrubý Jeseník). Finally, to the south the Śnieżnik Massif reaches as far as the west-east stretch of the River Morava east of the town of Králíky. (The river has its source just below the summit of Śnieżnik, flows south within the massif and takes a sharp turn left on leaving it.)
The rocks of the massif are ancient. They were formed during the Proterozoic and Paleozoic eras and consist primarily of gneisses and crystalline schists. Among them occur lenses of marble, and consequently caves. There are not many rock formations within the massif but patches of bare rock - little groups of rocks as well as blockfields - do occur within the forest, as a rule off the marked trail.
Besides Śnieżnik, three other mountains within the massif reach 1300 m, namely Mały (Little) Śnieżnik/Malý Sněžník/Kleiner Schneeberg at 1326 m on the Poland-Czech Republic border; Sušina/Dürre Koppe at 1321 m and Podbělka/Lattichberg at 1307 m in the Czech Republic. These summits are located on two of the six ridges that protrude from below the summit dome of Śnieżnik, forming the backbone of the massif.
Away From SummitsWodospad Wilczki (Wilczka Falls)
Located in the town of Międzygórze on the River Wilczka, this is the second highest waterfall in the Polish Sudetes (after Kamieńczyk Falls in the Karkonosze). Wilczka Falls is 22m high. In fact, until 1997 the waterfall was 5 metres higher. Then a huge flood destroyed its top, which turned out to have been man-made. Wilczka Falls and its surroundings are a nature reserve. Unfortunately, the water can still smell of sewage.
Jaskinia Niedźwiedzia (Bear Cave)
The cave - discovered in 1966 - is 3.3km long, which makes it the longest cave in the Sudetes. It is located in the side of a mountain called Stroma, near the village of Kletno. The cave became famous when the skeleton of a cave bear as well as remains of other Pleistocene creatures were found in it, but it is the few, but nevertheless beautiful, stalactites and stalagmites that draw tourists here (guided tours only). Official site of the cave
There are also caves in the valley of the Morava River, south of the summit of Śnieżnik, on the Czech side. The most interesting of them is Patzelt Cave, named after a ranger who fell into an underground pond in there while walking through the forest. No marked trail leads to the cave, which is located nearly half a mile east of a resurgence (karst spring) known as Mléčný pramen. Bear in mind a visit can be dangerous.
Pasterskie Skały (Shepherds' Rocks)
Like a row of gigantic fins formed of conglomerate, these rocks mark the crest of a hill near the village of Idzików, at the western foot of the Śnieżnik Massif. As legend has it, seven shepherds were turned to stone here. Topos for rock climbers can be found on wspinanie.pl.