Smrk-Smrek, a twin summits mountain, has been visited by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe...
Smrk (1124m a.s.l.) is the highest mountain in the Jizerske Hory in Czech Republic. It is not especially elevated and sharp mountain because it forms with another twin mountain in Poland, Smrek (1123m), a flat area at the top. From the distance all the mountain seems to be huge and broad. A border between Poland and Czech Republic runs across exactly through the summit of Smrek. This mountain on an old map of B. Scultetus (1582) was marked as “Heidelberg” but already in 1591 it was called “Tafelfichte” (a spruce with tables). In Czech the mountain was described as Tabulovy smrk (in German “Tafelfichte”). This mountain was a joining point of borders of three countries: Czech, Silesia and Lusatia, and some tables (Tabulovy, Tafel) marked here the owners of these provinces. In 1628 on a stone near the summit there was engraved a coat of arms of Albrecht von Wallenstein. In 1790 J. W. von Goethe was on the summit of Smrek. A.T. von Gersdorf from Uniecice did many observations on this mountain. A German poet, Theodor Koerner, ascended Smrk in 1809. There is on the top a memo stone devoted to the Koerner’s visit. Nearby this stone a wooden cross lately renewed (2007) is devoted to Franz Jomrich from Nove Mesto pod Smrkem. Franz Jomrich was a catholic dean (1834-1920) in this city. In the XIXth and XXth centuries tourists visiting the mountain used a wooden view tower (1892) and a small wooden hostel. In 1946 both wooden constructions were destroyed. Since September 20, 2003 a new view tower made of steel is accessible for tourists. The bottom of this tower is arranged in form of a small and convenient room where each tourist can shelter. I slept in this room in August 5, 2008, when I was surprised on the top by heavy wind and rain. I have had a very nice company of two young couples of Czech cyclists.
Jizerske Hory (in Czech Republic) and Izerskie Mts. (in Poland) were previously overgrown by beech-spruce natural forests. Remains of that beautiful vegetation we can still observe around cities: Szklarska Poreba, Swieradow Zdroj, and Czerniawa Zdroj, sometimes in form of monumental sycamores, beeches, limes and spruces. Unfortunately, during 70/80-ies of the XXth century from the adjacent brown coal mines located westward very serious pollution completely destroyed these forests and mountains died. This disaster is still visible on the slopes and twin summit of Smrk-Smrek. Above planted new young trees of different varieties of spruces and low shrubs of Pinus montana
there are dominating high dry old spruces. From southern slopes of Smrk-Smrek and a neighbouring Polish mountain, Stog Izerski (1107m), many springs are supplying small brooks which finally create a beautiful border river, Izera (in Polish) – Jizera (in Czech).
Probably each member of SummitPost has an “own” mountain (mountains) which he visited many times and they are preferred before many others. During the first half of the XX c. some kind of fashion there was in Jizerske Hory to ascend many times some mountains. For instance on the Jested Mt. (1012m a.s.l.) which is situated a little outside of the Jizerske Hory, toward SW from Liberec City, many tourists ascended many times. Robert Band reached 3000 ascents in November 4, 1931 and a woman, Friedy Mandelik was 5130 times on the summit of Jested in 1937. Special badges have been prepared for such persons. Willem Woehl from Nove Mesto pod Smrkem ascended the summit of Smrk 2000 times. He was a carter supplying with foods and other things a wooden tourist hostel standing on the top of Smrk. Now, when a border between Poland and Czech Republic is open, such an occasion to be many times on this mountain is real again.
Jizerske Hory are the most northern mountain range in Czech Republic. These mountains and adjacent Karkonosze Mts. are mainly composed of granite. There are here two plutonic megabodies of this rock, an older one called “Lusatian” and the second “Karkonosze-Izera”. Smrk-Smrek is also built of “Lusatian” granite, of a special kind of this rock called “a rumburk granite”. It is composed of light feldspars, not so much of mica like biotite and an original blue quartz called “sapphire quartz”. This type of granite we see on the northern slopes of Smrk-Smrek where a metamorphic contact is with garnet schists. These schists there are visible on a green trail from Czerniawa Zdroj in form of vertical outcrops. These metamorphic crystalline slates create a belt from Nove Mesto to northern parts of Kamienicki Range in Poland. There happened in these rocks some metal mineralization with ore of tin, cassiterite. On the mountains adjacent to Smrk like Czerniawska Kopa, Mala Gora, Rapicka Hora, Medenec, there were mines of this ore. Now still some adits are preserved and protected as habitats of bats. The summit of Smrk and its southern slopes are also composed of granite, sometimes weathered with kaolinized feldspars and chloritized biotite. On roads and paths prepared by man at the base of the mountain we can see pieces of a black basalt and melaphyre coloured by various mineral geodes. Both rocks, basalt and melaphyre, were taken from the basalt quarries on Bukova Hora near Jiretin and Bukovec near Jizerka in southern part of Jizerske Hory. At present these quarries are closed.
Winds from the W and NW direction dominate in this area and Jizerske Hory are the first mountain range which stops arctic and oceanic masses of air, and here most of rain and snow precipitate. July is the most rainy month and March the most snowy. Temperatures below zero can occur here also in July. An abundant snow precipitation permits to prepare many very good trails for skiing and winter dog races. The summit of Smrk-Smrek is accessible for ski tourists.
On slopes of Smrk-Smrek there are many brooks, e.g. Czarny Potok, Graniczna, Lomnice, and Ztraceny potok. Southern slopes are especially rich in brooks which join together giving two branches, Czech Jizera and Polish Izera, of the largest and most beautiful river of the region. A lot of brooks start from the peatbogs developed on the flat summits or mild slopes. These peatbogs are protected as reserves of nature, and the largest one is situated south-east of Smrk-Smrek in the Izera valley. Many species of rare birds (Crane, Black Grouse, Capercaillie) and peatbog plants (Carex
) have there some habitats.
A natural vegetation of Jizerske Hory and also the Smrk-Smrek region was a beech forest. Sycamores, Sorbus aucuparia
and spruces were some admixture. In Czech Republic the Jizerske Hory are protected as a Landscape Park and there are many strict reserves (Jizerskohorske buciny) with pieces of natural beech stands. A fragment of such a reserve is on the SW slope of Smrk (see a map scheme). In some places there were natural stands of Pinus montana
, e.g. Klecoviste na Smrku, as well as a glacial relict, Betula nana
. This birch is still growing on Hala Izerska. In the XIXth century the local glass-works cut beech forest and changed this natural picture into planted spruces. In the period 1970-1980 a large centre of brown coal mining was developed around the Bogatynia City in Poland, west of Nove Mesto pod Smrkem. The pollution from this region weakened forests in Izerskie Mts. and after invasion of insects caused a great disaster of vegetation. Remnants of the died trees are still visible on eastern slope of Smrek, Wysoki Kamien near Szklarska Poreba, Smedavska hora NW of Jizera Mt. and as single dried trunks on the summit of Smrk. Especially during a decade 1990-2000 forests of the area were renewed by planting new tree species. On summits and on peatbogs Pinus montana was introduced. In Polish part most often it was done with larch. Young seedlings of Sorbus
, beech and birch were protected against animals by special plastic covers. In the Czech part I observed that several forms (varieties) of spruce were planted. This large work has been done with a financial support of the European Union. Now Jizerskie Hory and Izerskie Mts. are a large, forested area which can be a way for migrating small and large animals, therefore, there is a project to protect all the region in form of “Natura 2000”. I am hiking in this region all the year and I met many animals here, as follows:
- mating Black Grouse; especially on the Opaleniec Mt. there is a rich population of this bird. Unfortunately, at present between the bottom of this mountain and the summit of Stóg Izerski a cable railway is built. A broad belt of the slope is cleared of forest and any plants. This is a sad picture of mountains!
- hunting Peregrine,
- many Ravens,
- many foxes,
- mating deers,
- many Buzzards
- many Kestrels
- many squirrels
- traces of boars
- vipers, frogs, lizards, and I have even listen the Common Spadefoot toad (Pelobates fuscus
) on the eastern slope of Smrek,
- thousands of singing small birds and thousands of insects. Lately, some lynxes were observed near Szklarska Poręba. In my opinion this region has very valuable natural resources and ought to be protected.
When you are going to ascend Smrk-Smrek, you can start from two cites in Poland, namely Szklarska Poreba Gorna or Swieradow Zdroj. To both cities one can arrive directly by bus from Wroclaw, the capital of the Lower Silesia province. Szklarska Poreba can be also reached indirectly by train (or bus) through Jelenia Gora. A bus travel from Wroclaw to Swieradow Zdroj lasts more than 3 hours. Starting from Szklarska Poreba we will cross many nice summits offering broad panoramas around, northward to Kamienicki Range and southward to other parts of Izerskie Mts. as well as Jizerske Hory in Czech Republic. Following a red trail firstly we will ascend to Wysoki Kamien Mt. (1058m) built of hornfelses and as the next ones are the following summits:
Izerskie Garby (1084m) with the past mine of quartz
Przednia Kopa (1114m)
Sine Skalki (1122m)
Rudy Grzbiet (945m)
Szerzawa (975m) where I observed a hunting Peregrine pair
and as the next we reach a lower flat area called Polana Izerska. From this point we can choose some more difficult and steep way still along a red trail leading to Stog Izerski Mt. (1107m), an eastern neighbour of Srmk, or we can go by so called “Droga telefoniczna” (a Telephonic Way) and reach a pass Lacznik between Stog Izerski and Smrk. At this point we will see a small wooden hut called “Hunters Hut”. Now we are on a green trail leading us directly through the state border to the summit of Smrk. The above variant of trekking offers one-day trekking through the Polish Izerskie Mts. There is another Polish variant from Swieradow Zdroj through a red trail leading on rather steep northern slopes of Stog Izerski and then via Lacznik and a green trail one can ascend the summit. My last hiking in Izerskie Mts. and Jizerske Hory I begun from Swieradow Zdroj westward to Czerniawa Zdroj. At present Czerniawa is a most western part of Swieradow but in the past it was a very nice independent spa. From Czerniawa two green trails starts toward the summit of Smrek-Smrk. One is omitting westward Opaleniec Mt. (825m) and through Stog Izerski and Lacznik leads directly to the state border at the summit of Smrek. The other one is going through steep northern slopes of Czerniawska Kopa (776m), then along a state border it reaches a wooden Frontier Hut. This hut was previously used by soldiers having a guard at the border. I my opinion the last version of a hiking is very nice. It is leading through forests, grasses and ericaceous shrubs; in the ground we go on a stony surface composed of a rumburk granite with blue grains of sapphire quartz. I hiked trough all the mentioned trails. They are not very difficult, however, they are not proper for disabled or very old persons. If you are in the Czech cities like Nove Mesto pod Smrkem, Lazne Libverda or Hejnice and Bily Potok there are for disposal other trails as follows:
- from Nove Mesto a blue trail going through very steep western slopes of Smrk,
- from Lazne Libverda a red trail going west and south of Smrk and then it joins a blue one on a very steep southern slope of Smrk,
- from Hejnice through Bily Potok we can choose a red and as a next one a green trail going eastward to reach “Predel”, a joining point of several trails situated a little northward from Plochy Vrch (939m). From this point we choose a very convenient red trail toward north and then its blue branch like above. Now we must go through a steep southern slope of Smrk. Others, nor marked, roads or paths are also accessible. Their runs are rather horizontal around the mountain.
A snow precipitation reaches in these mountains even 800 mm and therefore there is an offer of good trails for ski tours. A very long and easy ski trail starts from Jakuszyce in Poland and runs through almost all summits:
Zlote Jamy (1087m)
Wysoka Kopa (1126m)
Przednia Kopa (1114m)
Sine Skalki (1122m)
Stog Izerski (1107m)
Klinowy vrch (972 m)
Plochy vrch (939m)
Czerny vrch (1026m)
Snezne vezicky (1055m)
and then near Bedrichov and Janov nad Nisou to Jablonec nad Nisou. A part of this trail is marked (a white line) on a scheme map attached.
As it was mentioned above, there is a proposal to protect all the territory as “Natura 2000”. At present, the largest and most valuable strict reserve joining two peatbog areas, “Raseliniste Jizery” in Jizerske Hory and “Torfowiska Izery” in Izerskie Mts. is protected as “Natura 2000” in the Izera Valley. Many other reserves in Czech Republic protect old fragments of natural beech forest (Jizerskohorske buciny). Artificial lakes near Bedrichov, Josefuv Dul and Sous having broad buffer zones are also protected as stores of drinkable water for adjacent cities. Through some reserves like “Prales Jizera”, “Czerna Jezirka”, “Jizerskohorske buciny” south of Bily Potok, “Raseliniste Jizerky”, “Bukovec” tourist trails are marked out. In others protected areas any visit is forbidden.
Maps and booklets
When I plan to hike in Jizerske Hory I use two Czech maps, a less detailed Jizerske Hory, Frydlantsko 1:50 000 edited by SKOCART (www.mapyonline.cz) and another, very good one, with attached booklet "Chranena Krajinna Oblast Jizerske Hory" 1:25 000 edited by Eurokart. Polish maps, "Gory Izerskie" 1:50 000 edited by PPWK and another entitled "Gory i Pogorze Izerskie, Przelom Kwisy" 1:40 000 edited by PLAN I use during my trekking in Izerskie Mts. A Polish part of these mountains is described by Krzysztof Mazurski & Janusz Czerwinski in a booklet "Gory Izerskie". This book was edited in 1991 and, therefore, information is not very actual. The booklet edited as supplement to the Czech map is very good and provides very actual text on Jizerske Hory.
Tourists and hikers have here at disposal a lot of hotels and hostels, especially in Swieradow Zdroj, Lazne Libverda, Hejnice, Bily Potok and Jizerka (see www links). The only camping is in Bily Potok. The closest hostel is situated in Poland on the summit of Stog Izerski. To reach this point you must surmount the steep northern slope of Stog Izerski going from Swieradow Zdroj. Then you are very near to the summit of Smrk. Another hostel called “Chata Smedava” is in Jizerske Hory, directly southward from Smrk summit, nearby of the NE slope of Jizera Mt. Hotels and hostels offer also meals. A little more distant from Smrk-Smrek two other hostels, Chatka Gorzystów on Hala Izerska and Orle near Jakuszyce, are in Polish Izerskie Mts. (see www links). In general, a free camping is only possible at the tourist trails, not in forest, only in the night. Such a form of hiking is not practiced in Izerskie Mts. On Smrk-Smrek tourist-hikers have some additional sites where they can sleep and be protected against wind and rain:
- a room in the lower part of the view tower,
- a small interior of the past Frontier Hut and, if it is closed, a wooden veranda before it,
- a wooden veranda of the Hunters Hut on the eastern slope of Smrek,
- a small wooden hut painted in green and called "Zielona Budka" (Green Hut). This hut is situated a little southward from Polana Izerska at the blue trail leading from Hala Izerska to Swieradow Zdroj. From this place we can choose an easy way to Smrek called "Droga Telefoniczna" or to take a more difficult red trail through the summit of Stog Izerski and then by a yellow-green trail to reach Smrek-Smrk. I used "Zielona Budka" to camp and I developed my tent inside it during very bad weather.
I think that any free camping out of forest and in the vicinity of cities is also not forbidden. I have often such camps near Szklarska Poreba and Swieradow Zdroj.
Here I do not make more detailed comments how I hike and camp in these mountains.
Old postcards and pictures
At the end of the XIXth century on the top of Smrk (Tafelfichte) there were erected two wooden constructions, a view tower of 20m height and a simple hut. Attached postcards show that this hut was later changed into a more convenient building. Supply of food and equipment was made by means of horses, also during very snowy winters. The hut was then completely covered by snow and such weather conditions are also at present winters.
Old postcards and pictures of Jizerske Hory and Smrk Mt. are provided by, e.g.:
Below there is attached a link info on adjacent to the Smrk-Smrek Mt. mountain ranges, cities, hostels and huts, nature protection, etc.