My romantic spirits soar thinking about spending a chilly weekend at the cottage in the Jizerské Mountains. I have been intrigued by these mountains since I was a child where I used to go skiing with my parents every year. These are still my most beautiful memories, even beating out later adolescent trips to the Alps or to the sea. The rawness, rootlessness, and authenticity of the Jizerské Mountains have always fascinated me. They are not just scenic mountains with picturesque cottages, but rather a rough, inhospitable landscape with an industrial soul and an ancient crafting tradition. To me, they’re more of a rough, unwelcoming landscape with an industrial soul and ancient tradition of craftsmanship. The mountains can be pleasant and positive, indeed, but I have always been more interested in their darker, autumn side. I love the early darkness, a hint of the approaching winter, dark and dreary forests, the occasional scattered sunshine, along with the smell of chimney smoke from evenings by the fire. The time had arrived.
Upon our arrival to the mountains, I knew we were going to have a great time. Our group of stragglers only left Prague after dusk, so we were welcomed to a muddy cottage with a campfire already burning outside. I opened up a cold beer and took a seat by the campfire and though, “what could be better than this?” My mind calmed and the sense of community washed over me.
On Saturday morning, we woke up to a softly shining sun, eager to set out on our first ride. After having the necessarily hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and coffee, we were ready for our ride. It is quite cold in the morning, but as soon as we got out of the forest and caught and into the sunshine, we began to shed our outer layers. The route led through Jizerka, the highest settlement in Jizera. The cottages spread all across the meadows and plains about 862 m above sea level, making this place a real gem.
From Jizerka, we rode to a gravel path leading us between peat bogs, which were everywhere, and kept climbing towards Smědava. After climbing to the summit, we raced down a long descent, around the hairpin turns, to the Bílý Potok. When the whole group had gathered downhill, we took a coffee break at a cafe near the chateau in nearby Hejnice. The village atmosphere, combined with the owner’s effort to make the place attractive for tourists creates a unique mix of options for bikers and backpackers. Their sweets were amazing, though.
The route continued along narrower paths through the Protected Landscape Area (PLA), uphill and down, which my old school Šírer worked hard to climb. The stunning autumn landscape, however, completely outweighed the struggle. We moved from the panel house and headed toward Černá Hora, to the highest point on our route which lies about 1000 meters above sea level. We then started riding back, stopping for a home-brewed beer at a terrific guesthouse called ‘U Čápa’.
Dimming in the surrounding landscape marks the end of today’s ride. Back now, we’re waiting for a homemade stew that tastes really good in a cottage. After the heavenly stew, we light the fire again and we are in Zen.
At ‘U Čápa’, don’t look for “katův šleh” or Gambrinus beer. This inconspicuous guest house in Příchovice has much more to offer: a great atmosphere, delicious food, and, last but not least, the fantastic beer that the brewmaster makes right there at the guesthouse. The dimming light in the surrounding countryside marked the end of the day’s ride. Back at the cottage, we had a tasty homemade goulash to look forward to. After the heavenly meal, we lit the fire and began feeling Zen again.
The real Jizerské Mountains autumn in its entire beauty. First, we’re taking a rather long downhill which is subsequently outweighed by a mild, lengthy, almost ten-kilometer long ascent over Jestřabí in Giant Mountains. The trail goes on to Rokytnice v Jizerských horách and via last short climb through Kořenov back to Příchovice. The cold and damp weather is getting even more intense as we’re riding through the valley before ascending to Příchovice. Grey clouds are floating over the landscape, while smoke is rising from chimneys.
The next day we set out on a shorter route in the direction of Krkonoše, planning to finish off the ride with another great meal at ‘U Čápa’. That Sunday had a somewhat dull atmosphere from the morning with the sun hiding somewhere far behind the clouds. The true autumn of Jizerské Mountains was displaying its full beauty. First, we were descending a long downhill, which was followed by a lengthy, nearly ten-kilometer climb over Jestřabí in the Krkonoše Mountains. The route continued on to Rokytnice in the Jizera Mountains and then to a final, short ascent through Kořenov back to Příchovice. The cold, damp weather was intensifying in the valley before we made the climb to Prichovice with gray clouds floating above the scene and smoke rising from the chimneys of the passing cottages.
We were again rewarded with great food and beer at ‘ UČápa’ to finish our autumn weekend in Jizerky. Sunday’s route was brisk and more road than the previous day with a real climber’s climb at the 30th kilometer. We thoroughly enjoyed our entire experience, bleak and sunny weather alike. After returning to the cottage, the sky began to dramatically darken as if to let us know the trip had come to an end. I would have liked to enjoy the sudden darkness and crawl back into the cottage after dark, but we still had to get back home to the city. Anyway, Jizerky will always remain my favorite Czech region. See you again soon!