Ropice Ridge Hiking Trail Contents:
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- 24 km, approximately 7.5 hours.
- 922 metres height gain.
- Moderately challenging terrain – a steep beginning but no steep decents. Mixture of hiking trails, cycle trails and roads.
The Ropice Ridge Hiking Trail is a collection of trails which take you along the ridges after the first peak of Ropice (1033m). It has a steep start up into the forests but after the first hour and a half you are mostly on gently rising and falling trails.
The trail is not generally crowded. You can walk for a long time without meeting anybody, even in summer. There are rare animals such as lynx to see if you’re very quiet and very lucky and excellent views in areas with no trees. Mostly you can just relax and enjoy a very peaceful walk indeed. There are a couple of places where there are tourist hotels and you will meet more people in these areas. Remember this is the Czech definition of ‘tourist’ though. It means something like ‘a person who loves hiking in the mountains’ and the hotels built by and for them are wonderfully welcoming places. Even if you don’t stay in one of these hotels, you can enjoy a refreshing drink and a meal along your route at very reasonable prices.
The actual terrain of the Ropice Ridge Hiking Trail is not very difficult to walk on. The main challenge lies in its length and the steepness of the first section. Many hiking trails in the Beskydy Mountains have large, loose rocks which can be a hazard for your ankles if you’re distracted by the beauty of the trail. They are left when heavy rain or spring melt washes away the soil smaller stones. This trail is more often soil and tree roots, with sections of gravel cycle trail and paved road.
I recommend that you have clothing and footwear for colder conditions than you find in the valleys. I took the photographs in the gallery above on the May Day weekend, when it was quite summery in the valley. I was wearing summer-weight boots with a Gore-Tex lining and my feet were soaked after the first hour of walking in the snow. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting snow because of the recent warm weather and I couldn’t find any weather reports for this area. The old snow was a 20 cm layer of wet slush with another 20 cm of fresh snow on top. Due to sunshine on the peaks, small rivers of melt-water were running under all of this, which made for interesting walking conditions.
As well as making your feet wet, the snow covers up the wheel ruts left by the forestry trucks hauling logs. Eventually, I put my foot down, and down, and down further, through the snow and slush, into 40 cm of freezing cold water. It doesn’t matter how much Gore-Tex you’re wearing when you actually need rubber wading boots!
Still, these conditions don’t last all year and anyone who hikes for fun needs a good sense of humour anyway! I would like to try this trail again in the winter with snowshoes. A lot of it is Nordic groomed cross country trails during the snowy season.
Like all other hiking trails in the Czech Republic, there are regular trail markers. Where trails cross or at important navigation points, there are metal signposts with colour-coded arrows pointing out the trail direction. There is also the name of the position as shown on the map, height above sea level and distances to other points, like hotels, villages and bus stops.
There are often boards with local information and QR codes to web pages with the information in English, German and Polish. Unfortunately, there was a long part of this trail where I didn’t have a phone signal, which is unusual in the Beskydy Mountains, even in the valleys.
14 km of this trail is also part of the ‘Wolfram Educational Trail’. This gives information about the members and activities of Parachute Group Wolfram, who were Czechoslovakian soldiers trained by the British ‘Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’ and dropped behind enemy lines at a risk to themselves, anyone who helped them and the families of anyone who helped them, that most of us today would struggle to believe. Unfortunately, some kind of black mould has attacked the inside of the plastic covering the information and most of the boards are unreadable. Those that are readable are only written in Czech. I am in the process of trying to find PDF versions of each board and translating them, so if you are interested, use the contact page to let me know.
This hike can be shortened by a few kilometres if you take a route following a road for the last part or you can just walk up to Ropice and back to the car park if you prefer. In mid summer there will be as many blueberries as the spring frosts and local animals leave for you (check the map and make sure you’re not in a designated nature reserve first!). In early autumn the conditions along the trail are good for edible mushrooms, if you know what to look for.
If you would like more details, you can buy a guide from here. The guide consists of a PDF map and written directions, including grid azimuth bearings and detailed instructions on the route. The directions are also included as a responsive HTML file which you can download to a smartphone or tablet if you don’t want to print them out. There is also a GPX file of the route which you can use if you have a GPS device.
If there’s anything else you’d like to know, you can contact me from my contacts page. I hope to see you in the mountains one day!