Gossdorf-Kohlmühle TRAIN STOP – Mittelndorf 5 - Beuthenfall TRAM, BUS STOP 8 – Idagrotte na Friensteinu 11 – Wenzelwand lookout tower – Lehnsteig trail – Schmilka, information centre – Schmilka, TRAIN STOP 16 km
From the Gossdorf Kohlmühle train station follow red mark through the Valley along the river Sebnitz up to the former Mittelndorf stop. The green route leads the way to Frienstein. Notice: the collapsed bridge across the stream will be restored in early 2015!
The marked trail embarks from the stop and crosses a bridge to the left bank of Sebnitz River, and climbs upward along the Trägnerweg forest path to an unforested ridge. We walk through meadows to Mittelndorf – views of Unger and Tanečnice (The Dancer). The town of Mittelndorf, like Altendorf and Lichtenhain, lies on a ridge, on the Bad Schandau – Sebnitz thoroughfare, which leads along the route of the former Hohe Strasse trade route. There are many old houses in the town, and a German half-timbered farmhouse is outfitted with an informational sign. Our marked route then heads to the southern edge of Mittelndorf – a rest area with benches at a small campground with a surprising view of the sandstone walls of Affensteine and Schrammensteine.
We continue along with the Panoramaweg route through meadows to the east for roughly 1 kilometre, and the views widen to encompass the Lusatian Mountains across Great and Little Winterberg, all the way to the table mountains (Pfaffenstein, Königstein, Lilienstein).
Then follow the south-slanting Schaarwändeweg trail through meadows and forest, and once in the forest, turn right to a meadow with an excellent, up-close view of Affensteine and Schrammensteine, and once again continue through the forest to the ravine, through which we take the steps downward to Křinice Valley to the former inn, Beuthenfall. Here we come upon the Kirnitzschtalbahn tram stop from Bad Schandau to the Lichtenhainer Wasserfall.
We continue along the green route. Cross the bridge over the Křinice, and ascend the wide path through the forest, ending in forest paths to the foot of the imposing Affenstiene cliffs, which rise like ramparts for several kilometres on the slopes of Great and Little Winterberg.
The path ultimately begins to climb up the cliffs themselves, with a long ascent along wooden and stone steps to the narrow, flat trail, Obere Affensteinpromenade, which we take through the forest to soon find ourselves at a crossroads at a spring.
We first take the turn according to the signposts to the cave – or rather "overhangs and rock cavity" – Idagrotte. We follow along a rocky ledge for a short while, during which we must take hold of the artificial handholds in the rock face. We circumnavigate an entire sandstone promontory, where the cliff-side castle, Freinstein, once stood, and come to an open space on the cliff in front of the cave itself. The breathtaking view into the abyss below us of the sea of forests and rock formations, of the Wildenstein cliff massif, the location of the largest stone gate in Saxon Switzerland, Kuhstall, of Unger ridge, Tanečnice (The Dancer), of Vlčí (Wolf) Mountain, and the summits of rear Saxon Switzerland, is one of the most amazing experiences of today's hike and in Bohemian-Saxon Switzerland in general.
We then return to the spring, where we leave the green route, which brought us here from Mittelndorf, and we continue along the signposts for Schrammsteine, Winterberg along a solid, unmarked trail across a forested plain between low rock formations and upward through the forest to the northern edge of the plain, where the blue ridgeway route Bad Schandau – Schrammsteine – Grosser Winterberg – Zeughaus leads.
It is worth your time to take the short detour here of a couple of metres to the edge of the cliffs above the edge of the Wenzelwand (Václavská Stěna/Wenceslas Wall), where another monumental view unfolds, this time to the north, of the majestic rock formations in the Schmilkaer Kessel territory, and the large stone basin below us with deep forests at its bottom. In the background, we see Bohemian Switzerland and some of the summits of the České Středohoří Mountains.
After returning to the route, we set off along the blue route toward Grosser Winterberg. We head east, along a wide path through the forest for approximately one kilometre. There is a turnoff to the right marked Lehnsteig. Continue along this trail south to southwest, initially without any change in elevation, then through rock formations, and finally along wooden and metal steps for a relatively long stretch through a nice ravine with views of the surrounding cliff massifs. The trail comes to a head down at the Wurzelweg trail, and we continue along this toward Schmilka, soon walking along an asphalt road that descends all the way to Schmilka – a small former fishing village that today makes its livelihood in the tourist trade. On the right, there is a National Park information centre with an exposition on mountain climbing, open year-round.
Below the centre, you will find a kiosk with refreshments – open long into the night. We descend via a small road between old, timbered houses (past a mill and bakery – open daily until at least 5 p.m., and until 6 p.m. on weekends) to the road from Bad Schandau to Hřensko (located 2 kilometres from here), and a ferry across the Elbe River. It runs nonstop into the evening hours. The ferry takes us to the left bank to the Schmilka-Hirschmühle stop, from which trains of the National Parks Railway run every 2 hours to Děčín and in the opposite direction to Rumburk.
From Brand, we head directly to Rathen along the red route. At first, we continue along Brandstrasse road, then the marked route heads left and descends through the Schulzengrund sandstone ravine to the base of Polenzthal Canyon. We follow the valley for a short while past the Walterdorfer Mühle former mill, and then the red route climbs to the left to the road (a small parking lot, views of Gamrig cliffs and toward Bastei), and again downward along a forest trail to Kurort Rathen. Take the well-known road among lodging houses to the ferry – see longer variant.
This route can be completed in 3 hours (without stops).
Places of interest on the route:
The Panoramaweg stretch of the route at Mittelndorf – views
Křinice tram – Kirnitzschtalbahn
Schmilka and its attractions – mill, ferry
Main route - Gossdorf-Kohlmühle TRAIN STOP – Mittelndorf 5 - Beuthenfall TRAM, BUS STOP 8 – Idagrotte na Friensteinu 11 – Wenzelwand lookout tower – Lehnsteig trail – Schmilka, information centre – Schmilka, TRAIN STOP 16 km
Variant 1 - Beuthenfall TRAM, BUS STOPS – Idagrotte – Lehnsteig – Schmilka TRAIN STOP 8 km
- On foot
- For experienced walkers