Close your eyes and imagine the perfect place for cross-country skiing … the image you have conjured up is the Jesenická magistrála. Here, you will find everything you dream of: expansive plains bathed in shimmering light, deep forests of silver fir, breathtaking views of mountain peaks, alternating descents and ascents – all in a place which year after year boasts the best snow conditions in the Czech Republic. So what are you waiting for? Grab your skis and some wax and head to the mountains!
If you want to thoroughly experience the Jesenická magistrála, you will glide along nearly 60 kilometres of trails leading through the Jeseníky Mountains, situated in the northeast of the Czech Republic. The best access point is the Ramzová saddle, from which you will ascend nearly 600 vertical metres up to Šerák peak. If you are not feeling up to the effort, just use the lift from Ramzová. The route continues to the bare peak of Keprník Mountain, from which you will have a wonderful view of three Czech mountain ranges – the Jeseníky Mountains, the Krkonoše Mountains and the Beskids. When you have sufficiently soaked in the scenery, expect a steep descent to the Trojmezí crossroads. To keep the path from ever become even a little bit monotonous, another rise leads to the Vřesová studánka spring and then you will descend once again to the Červenohorské saddle.
Fortifying garlic soup for a witches’ coven!
From the Červenohorské saddle you will follow the route across a ridge trail through Velký Klínovec and Výrovka all the way to the popular Swiss-style mountain chalet called Švýcárna, where you should not forget to warm yourself with the delicious garlic soup with cheese. After all, by this point you will already have more than 20 kilometres behind you! Now with renewed energy and determination after a nice rest, you will ascend to the top of Praděd, which at 1,492 metres is the highest mountain in Moravia. When you add to this figure the height of the mountain-top transmission tower, it can claim the greatest altitude in the entire Czech Republic. From here, head to Petrovy kameny (meaning Peter’s Rocks), which, according to legend, is a place where witches convene. If one of the witches does not spirit you away, continue on to the most exposed part of the ridge. The route across the bare plains is marked with poles for better orientation. Still, be careful and stay on the marked path, because just beyond the cross-country trail are dangerous avalanche slopes. This little rush of adrenaline is worth it, however, when you consider that the ridge trail leading through Vysoká hole, Kamzičník, Máj and Jelení hřbet offers one of the most beautiful views in all of Moravia.
Reach your destination on skis or by bus
Don’t forget to snap a few photos before continuing on. From Jelení studánka the trail leads across Břidličná Mountain on to Pecný and Pec. Then there is a rather demanding descent through Ztracené skály (meaning Lost Rocks) to Skřítek, where you can warm up in the Skřítek chalet, named for the local patron – an elf. From here you can travel by bus to the town of Šumperk. Should you wish to continue on skis, go along the hillside of Černé kameny to Nový Malín, which is then only 4 kilometres from Šumperk.
A mound of memories for minimal exertion
Should you feel that the Jesenická magistrála is too demanding for you, not to worry! There are plenty of groomed cross-country trails in the Jeseníky Mountains ideal for those who are not quite in the cross-country champion’s category. One of the easiest is an 8-kilometre trail leading from the Červenohorské saddle to Červená Mountain. Although the trail is not demanding, it still has much to offer. Just ascend to the top of the mountain and enjoy the stunning view. From here you will see the whole of the Jeseníky Mountains, Praděd, Králický Sněžník, and also one of the Czech Republic’s most original technical monuments – the Dlouhé Stráně Hydro Power Plant. The easiest way to get to the highest peak of the Jeseníky Mountains, Praděd, is the moderately difficult 12-kilometre route leading from Ovčárna to Kouty nad Desnou.