Visitor number
Visitor number
MTB tour
Ergis #ID: 905

The Harrach - Tour (MTB)

enlarge picture: The Harrach - Tour (MTB) * Krkonose Mountains (Giant Mts)
enlarge picture: The Harrach - Tour (MTB) * Krkonose Mountains (Giant Mts)

Vrchlabí Náměstí - Vrchlabí Náměstí

detailed map

Through Harrach-County
[60km/1666m; MTB]

The old and distinguished Harrach dynastie is related to a large
number of European aristocratic houses. It has bred cardinals, diplomats
and industrialists. During the Thirty Years‘ War the Harrachs
arrived in the Krkonose Mountains and acquired the castle of Horni
Branna from Albrecht von Wallenstein in 1632. They expanded their
influence in the western part of the Krkonose Mountains an in 1701
acquired other acreage around the town of Jilemnice. In spite of further
manors in Bohemia, Hungary and Austria, they were based in
the Krkonose Mountains. Their family members were extraordinary
good farmers, well educated and entrepreneurially oriented, promoting
the whole western part of the Krkonose Mountains on a long
term basis. During the 18th century the yarns and fabrics produced
in Jilemnice were exported even to Amsterdam and Venedig. The
glassworks in today’s town of Harrachov gained worldwide fame in
the 19th century.
One of the family’s most significant figures was Jan Nepomuk
Frantisek Count of Harrach (1828-1909). He was a righteous patriotic
man and a exceptionally good farmer anfd forester. He pioneered
tourism in the Krkonose Mountains, he laid out hiking trails, built the
first inns and he built the observation tower on Zaly mountain. Inspired
by the Norwegians he brought the first skis to the Krkonose Mountains,
that was declared a natural preserve in 1904. In 1897 he organised a
silvicultural congress in Jilemnice, which was rather progressive at
that time. The 600 participants elected the Prince Schwarzenberg to
lead their association. In a long convoy of carriages Harrach led the
congress members through his county and demonstrated the beauty
of this swath of land.
Now you are invited to explore the Harrach county yourself. We
start in Jilemnice and pass a roadhouse, built by Harrach on the
Kozinec hill, that already gives us a nice view over the western part of
the Krkonose Mountains. Later on we will again have the opportunity to
look at the county from a hill above Roprachtice. After our descent into
the Isera valley we cross a railroad track, laid out by Harrach in 1899.
From there we pass through the Ponikla valley or the calm, romantic
Stromkovice valley and head for the mountains. In both valleys we can
find characteristic mountain log cabins with stonewall stables. In former
times, many of these houses had a loom to produce fabrics. But people
did wood work (for furniture, transport boxes, cartwheels, fiddles or
shingles), manufactured shoes, braided baskets or blow glass. Up to
the present day glass beads and Christmas ornaments are produced
in Ponikla. The Rautis family, who still follows this handicraft, will be
delighted to demonstrate the manufacturing process. There is also a
Krkonose Mountains handicraft museum in Ponikla. In Jan Harrach’s
lifetime many people produced goods at home in their houses. But
with industrialisation things changed rapidly. Along the Isera river a
few old factories from that time are still present. Our path now leads
us up to the village of Benecko. From here the first hiking trails, laid
out by Harrach, led up to Zaly mountain. Next to the Zaly observation
tower, there used to be a roadhouse built by Harrach of which only the
fundament is visible today.
From here we start the long descent to Vrchlabi.

Length58.2 km
Time04:30 h
Elevation rise1666 m
Maximal altitude860 m
Minimal altitude315 m