The Jizera Mountains
The Jizera Mountains are graced with the somewhat macabre charm of peat bogs and peaty marshes, as well as the scrub pine woods that coat its level ridges. This region also has massive beech forests that cover the precipitous slopes of the western and northern faces of the mountains. Bizarre asymmetrical granite bars, a rock labyrinth, rocking stones and a solitary rock tower loom above these slopes. Manmade towers, built as lookout towers in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries, are also symbols of the Jizera Mountains and offer spectacular views. It is a wonderful destination for hikers, mountain bikers and cross-country skiers.
For a long time the Jizera Mountains were considered a woody extension of the Krkonoše Mountains to the west. In reality, they comprise the Czech Republic’s northernmost mountain range. Its highest peak, Wysoka Kopa (1126 metres) is situated in Poland; its highest peak on the Czech side is the slightly smaller Smrk (1124 metres).
The Jizera Mountains were named after the Jizera River, which originates on the Czech side under Smrk; in the northern part it forms a border with Poland and flows into the Labe by the spa town of Toušeň. The Desná, Smědá and Černá Nisa Rivers also run through the region of the Jizera Mountains. The Jizera is popular among water sport enthusiasts while the Smědá is navigable when its levels are high in the spring or after it rains.
Granite is characteristic of the Jizera Mountains. All rock formations, slabs, kettles, labyrinths and gates are formed of granite. Basalt also is part of the make-up of the Jizera Mountains.
These mountains are relatively quite concentrated in the sense that a large quantity of natural wonders, such as extraordinary rocks, attractive waterfalls, peat bogs, mountain meadows, water basins, and spots with far-ranging panoramas, are amassed within a small area. There are plenty of marked hiking trails, lined with popular chalets, throughout the Jizera Mountains. In less frequented parts of the mountain range, kiosks that sell refreshments during the tourist seasons are somewhat of a curiosity. The Jizera Mountains are perfect for recreational hikers who wish to spend a half day to a day walking along undemanding trails. The area is also excellent for those seeking very challenging trails that rise to great heights – these people can try to conquer all the Jizera Mountains with peaks higher than 1000 metres above sea level within 24 hours (the Jizera One Thousand – Jizerské tisícovky).
Cyclists appreciate the ideal conditions and abundance of solid forested routes that are used for transporting lumber. Several beautiful marked bike paths run along them, connecting most of the region’s tourist attractions to one another. The flat upland plains are excellent for occasional cyclists. Some paths are even marked for physically disabled hikers who need to use wheelchairs.
Considering the fact that the Jizera Mountains are not in want of snowfall (averaging 800 mm over six winter months), the hills are ideal for winter tourism, and recreational and competitive skiing. There is a total of 70 km of cross-country trails throughout the entire mountain range.
Downhill skiers will find excellent conditions in ski resorts in Ještěd, Bedřichov, Tanvaldský Špičák, and Kořenov, as well as other towns. But it must be said that in winter, cross-country skiers rule the Jizera Mountains.
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