Not far from Wrocław and near the city of Wałbrzych is located one of Poland's most famous castles, Książ (formerly Fürstenstein). Not only the castle is nice but also the natural park around. Despite small in superficy, it contains many interesting trails. I didn't expect the terrain to be so hilly, with a real canyon in its middle ! Besides the already bike-marked tracks that circument it, the pedestrian trails going inside and on top of this ravined relief make delicious singletracks.
The Książ mountains are lying somehow in middle between the Owl range and the west of Rudawy Janowickie.
The final part of this loop provides stunning calendar views to the castle seen from the other side of the valley, secret spots known only by the best local photographs... With the autumn colors, this was a short but beautiful escape.
Getting there form the large city of Wrocław is quite straightforward. Take the main road leading to Świdnica (a beautiful town to visit, don't miss the main square, "Rynek", but also the wooden church registered at the Unesco inheritage, away from the centre). After, take the direction of Wałbrzych and just after Świebodzice, you'll see signs to the castle. There is a huge touristic car park at the castle whose price is not the cheapest one can find.
But, on a quiet misty morning, if the car park guy sees you unpacking the bike like it was for me, and if you explain you're going to ride around for several hours, he may be kind enough to give you a "mountainbiking" discount :)
From Czech, the access is more remote as this lies relatively far from the border. From Hradec Kralové, head to Nachod and the border to Mieroszów, where Wałbrzych is reached (gloomy former mining town).
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From the castle car park, ride in the direction of the castle (which you can picture while touristic crowds are not there yet), and pick the red-marked trail going down on the east. You pass a stud farm with horses, and then pick at one point on the left an unmarked track. It circumvents steadily the rounded hill, without going as low as the village of Pełcznica.
Only at the end, while reaching a junction with the pedestrian green trail, it crosses the river. We ride the main street of Pełcznica for a little while, and follow the same green-marked trail that leaves it on the right as we reach a factory. Then we pass a little artificial lake, follow an asphalted road in bad state, and reach the point where the green trail turns right into the forest.
Then, it becomes only tracks, into magnificent forests. We reach a junction with another blue-marked trail going south, and following a little stream. Beware after rains, this tends to be the muddiest part of the ride...
As we reach the edge of the forest, we head again NE on a large unmarked forestry trail again. Go straight until yellow marks appear on the right, going south. This is a lot of zig-zags, but the area is small and beautiful so let's make the most of it ! Beautiful maintained forest all the way long.
Then a blue pedestrian singletrack appears on the left. This is the start of a marvelous singletrack that will overlook the "Szczawnik" gorges. It goes first steeply into the forest (but handleable in all parts by bike). Then it goes steadily along the ridge, where a couple of rocky promontories allow stunning views (Zwierzyniec, 412m). A very sudden descent concludes it, and we reach the stream.
Instead of taking the direction of Pełcznica (yeah, we're almost back there !), go into the gorges until you pick a small wooden ladder that crosses the stream. Another steep ascent awaits, on a larger track this time. During the first half, you overlook again the "Szczawnik" gorges on the opposite side (431m, highest point), then during a portion where marking could be better, it shifts slowly to the other hillside of the ridge, where it now overlooks the other gorge (Pelcznica river) that separates from the hill where the castle is. As it starts slowly to descend, we pick a couple of viewpoints where gaps in tree branches allow taking stunning pictures of it.
As the descent concludes, we pass the "Zamek Stary Książ", translates "the old Książ castle", ruins of a former fortress older than the palace you just saw. Very photogenic ruins. We reach a meadow, and follow a large track on open ground for a while. Another bridge passes the Pelcznica river, and we ride up again in the direction of the car park and the Książ castle. Just before getting back to the car, do not miss the touristic viewpoint on the blue-marked path.
When to bikeSpring, summer, autumn. Dry conditions strongly recommended.
The map below shows my itinerary in blue and with dots. Move and zoom like in a Google map. If the top banner is too invasive, use "Hlavička ON/OFF" to fold it up. In the banner, the UK flag will translate all in English. If you wish to download the GPX, click on "Zpět na detail výletu" and "Uložit Jako" ("route details" / "Save as").
Not all trails are visisble on the Czech map, so I've added another Polish hiking map support.