Śnieżnik / Sněžník
This mountain (Śnieżnik in Polish, Sněžník in Czech ; same pronunciation and origin : "snowy cap") is one of the most famous mountains in the Eastern Sudetes (see SP page), along with the neighbours Praděd and Šerák. But unlike those two, cycling to the top, out of the beaten tracks, is much more challenging.
While the Czech trail makes a decent route of attack (though phycically and technically challenging), the Polish one makes an entertaining descent. This fantastic loop is possible only since 2008 and the Schengen space.
I did it in what was for sure the last decent cycling day of this year, just before the snowfalls. To make the trip the most profitable (also due to the fact Śnieżnik is quite distant from where I live), I visited not only this summit but also the neighbouring area of Góry Bialskie.
Considering some facts like for example I came back to the car just in time at dusk, thinking back, I think it is wiser to split it into a distinct page (trail to come), which makes Śnieżnik a more reasonnable goal in a half-day, for medium cyclers like me and many.
The trail is more conveniently started in Kletno on the Polish side, and Kladské Sedlo pass (or Nová Seninka below, involving more approach) from Czech Rep.
Since the top comes as a conclusion by starting with the Kletno trailhead, let's describe it like this.
Leave Kletno following the red marked cycling trail going left from the car park. Do not follow the asphalt closed road, that leads to the "Bear's Cave" (a popular attraction that you may find interesting to visit after the ride)
When we reach the next junction, we find the blue cycling marks that we'll follow for a while, we follow it East (left again). Few meters later, we leave green cycling marks (again !) on the left, to climb fist a little slope going south, which stops after the lace. Then the trail goes down to reach a road (upper Kamienica village), which we must descend slightly to find the continuation of the blue trail.
A steep but short enough climb follows, until the lace and the yellow marks junction.
Turn right and follow them, on this track which corresponds to an historical road called "Staromorawska Droga" ("Road to Moravia", ancient Czech empire). An alternative can be to keep on the blue trail and use the main road. Both reach the border pass Przełęcz Płoszczyna, called Kladské sedlo in Czech.
Take immediately the yellow pedestrian, cycleable, which descends avoiding the main road, passing one lace and reaching finally the red marked trail riding along the Czech mountainside.
The first section is a steep climb to regain some height (this main road follows a hollow valley), but the level remains steady as soon as we reach the portion going straight westwards. From time to time, the forest opens and unveils superb views to the Šerák range.
The red trail turns southwards at the point "Nad Seninkou", and a long portion starts again. It ends at a juction where a mountain hut named Chata Návrší is indicated. It is not far below and makes a good break point for eating.
From this point, the ascent to Sněžník starts, and follows the now double-marked blue and red trail. The lowest we are, the longest are the laces, and also the most generous. This will go crescendo till the end...
At the middle of the first section, notice the beautiful newly renovated chapel. The second lace almost reachs the polish border and turns again southwards. The third starts after leaving on the left a yellow-marked juction, then north again. It gets really steep now...
Polish border again before the fourth one, and up south again for the firth one. Steep, but so far the track is surprisingly wide and flat.
It stops at the sixth lace, suddenly turning right, in front of a regulation sign for cyclers (unfortunately, we must ignore it to continue:). To avoid stepping off your bike, don't take immediately the shortcut but the wide sharp turn instead. The trail remains decent still for a bike, and crosses a flat significant section, across some marshes over which have been built wooden panels for the walkers. One of the finest places for the atmosphere. Hell starts again, and as the trail goes south, climbs steeper than ever on path getting also rockier. As it climbs north for the final section, it is hardly cycleable and requires all strength and concentration. In a couple of places we must descend anyway. Then we reach what is almost the top, on which is located the source of the river Morava that goes all across Czech Republic. As we continue on this trail, we join the end of the Polish summit descent, but avoid the real top, few meters above on a bumb that must be hiked.
On the top of Sněžník are located the ruins of what used to be a rocky tower, and few picnic tables and information signs. Usually, the place is very windy so it is likely that cyclers, not very warmly dressed unlike hikers, will spend a quite short time on it !
The descent starts following the Polish red marked trail going West. To avoid few annoying rocky steps that must be hiked down, ride down into the second trace in the grass, few meters on the right from the real one.
The rest of the descent to the mountain-hut Schronisko "Na Śnieżniku" is as fine, going over pine roots and a couple of rocky steps, into a beautiful forest scenery. We realize also how cycling this loop into the opposite direction would have been a nonsense.. Again, at the hut, a fine place to stop, rest, and perhaps eat.
Under the hut, follow the yellow main track, then leave it at a wide multi-junction, to take the track that leaves just next to it on the right (red cycling marks). A long descent takes us back to the first junction of this circuit and then the starting point.
From Poland, and Wroclaw, drive in the direction of Kłodzko. But in order to avoid the frequent traffic jams of this little town, in Ząbkowice Śląskie take the direction of Złoty Stok, and then use the road that connects to Lądek Zdrój (a beautiful road to drive).
From Lądek Zdrój (beautiful spa to visit on the way back), continue to Stronie Śląskie, and reach Kletno at the junction of Stara Morawa.
The trail can be reached from Czech Republic either at the pass Kladské Sedlo or Nová Seninka below. One needs to drive to Staré Město, from Hanušovice, which we reach either from Oloumouc or Hradec Králové.
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When to Bike
This top must absolutely be done with reliable weather, if necessary some time after heavy rainfalls, and for sure when no snow remains on the top.
Let's note also that in theory, the final section of the Czech trail leading to the top is, in theory, not allowed to bikes. This rule is never checked, (and one will often see other cyclers), but cycle preferably in the morning, when still few people walk, not to disturb them, and if you can, preferably during the week days.