The tour loop route around the Teplice Rocks is 5.9 kilometres long and very well marked in blue. Moreover, the Loop is provided with fifteen information boards located along the Loop Educational Trail. The texts on the boards are not only about history of the Teplice Rocks exploration but they also contain interesting information about the plants and animals living in this area along with lots of photographs and drawings. Most of the names of the rock formations have intentionally been omitted in the following Loop route description as their names are given on the arrows on the spot. Some names originate from the very first hikers that visited these rocks at the turn of the 19th century. All the names have one common feature: They try to catch particular appearances, faces, forms, or scenes. The time necessary for making the Tour Loop is about 3 hours.
The starting point is the Box Office at the entrance. The Box Office is open daily in summer. Besides entrance tickets you can also buy maps, guides, cards and small refreshments there. Near the Box Office, there is a parking lot and a train stop on the Teplice nad Metuji – Trutnov line.
INTERESTING POINTS ON THE TOUR LOOP
There used to be a bell for calling guides and also porters “for those disabled and indolent” at the existing entrance. They would be carried around the rocks on a sedan. This service, however, is not provided any more. To see and admire the kingdom of rocks, you have no other choice but walk.
Echo Point (1) – a wooden pavilion in the place where a mortar used to be fired. The sound was then echoed several times from the slopes of the opposite Bare Hill (Lysý vrch).
Střmen (2) – was the name of a medieval guard castle. To see its ruins and to get to the vantage point, you have to climb a steep staircase and ladders. The castle was built on a high cliff amidst the deep and dense border forest. Bigger part of the castle including the castle tower was carved in the sandstone with a number of holes to anchor wooden beams bearing various galleries and bridges.
The castle was probably founded in the middle of the 13th century by the Lords of Skalice who were also holders of other castles such as Vízmburk and Adršpach not far away. The castle was named after their coat of arms depicting a stirrup (stirrup = třmen in the Czech language). Although the castle is mentioned in Karel IV’s Majestas Carolina, it is hardly mentioned in other historical sources. Around 1362, the castle was held by Tas of Rýzmburk before it was bought by Hynek of Dubá & Náchod. The Lords of Dubá are mentioned as late as 1436. Further history of the castle is unknown. The castle is believed to have fallen into Hussites’ hands and been destroyed either during the Hussite Wars or later in 1447.
According to written sources, the wooden and stone material was used for building the village of Třmeny mentioned for the first time in 1606. The village was later renamed to Stegreifen (now Kamenec – part of Teplice nad Metují). Today, only hewn rock walls, remnants of staircases and holes for wooden beams remind us that Střmen once towered above the endless forests.
Rock Gate (3) with a plaque commemorating a visit of Johann Wolfgang Goethe to these rocks on August 30, 1790. On the inclined wall on your left you can see the year of 1824 cut in the rock. The year commemorates the fire which destroyed the forest and unveiled the rock labyrinth unknown until then. Another date – 1755 on your right is an evidence of visits to rocks in the eighteenth century. At that time, the loop ended just 200 metres after the Rock Gate, at the Parting below the Axe.
The surroundings of the creek between the Axe (4) and the parting near the Rock Bride (6) – here, like in other places in the Teplice Rocks, you can see a rare species of violet. It is a well-investigated case of mountainous or sub-alpine species that can also be found at lower altitudes provided always that there are relatively cold microclimatic conditions, high soil moisture and air humidity in the place of its occurrence.
The Watchtower (5) above the “Cabin at the Rock Bride” (“U skalní nevěsty”) – the tower was climbed for the first time on July 5, 1956. The climbers (Oldřich Kopal, Karel Cerman & Friends) used the wide crack in its valley wall for the ascent. This route is classified as VIIIb.
The footpath from the Small and Large Cathedral Squares to the Cathedral was built in 1846.
The Large Cathedral Square (7) – here, you can see two different plant communities. The predominating plant in one community is Lunaria Rediviva while the other one is a community of ferns such as Athyrium Distentifolium found at the foot of the rocks. Undoubtedly caused by special snow conditions in the rocks, by local cold air circulation and increased water vapor condensation, this is a nice example of a plant community appropriate to the altitudes higher by at least 200 metres.
The Rock Chapel (8) – in the place where the footpath turns right, you can see a narrow gap between the rocks in front of you. Immediately after you pass through the gap, you can go up the stone stairs to enter the Rock Chapel. The narrow interconnected gaps, gorges and corridors in the same direction are a good example of the rock blocks segmentation in the Teplice and Adršpach Rocks.
The Rock Crown (9) – This rock along with the Polar Bear ranks among the several rock formations in the Teplice Rock Area that were climbed as early as 1920s. The first ascent (classification: VIIc) was made by Rudolf Kaden and Fritz Wiessner on June 7, 1927. Fritz Wiessner is, by the way, known for his excellent first ascents in the Alps and other mountains. The original route to the top the Rock Crown begins in the crack just beside the footpath.
The Cathedral (10) – a narrow gorge in the Cathedral Walls massif. In this place, the street organ used to be played for hikers’ pleasure at the beginning of the 20th century. The height of the Cathedral Walls massif is around 70 metres.
The Sphinx (11) – this breathtaking tower was first climbed as early as 1947 by Miroslav Jandáček and Miloš Lokvenc. The route to the top is sought-after by many rock climbers even today. The name of the place between the Cathedral Walls and the Sphinx – the Giant’s Garden – dates back to the 19th century.
The Herring (12) – a small spire on the righthand side of the footpath near the Polar Throne, approx. 400 metres after the Cathedral Walls. Local climbers decided to climb this spire some time in the 1950s hoping that this spire had not yet been climbed and thereby hangs a tale: After an easy ascent (classification: III) they were surprised as they found a fishbone wrapped in a piece of paper on the top. Somebody had climbed the spire before them and had a snack there. The first climber remains unknown up to this day. Only the name of the spire acts as a reminder of the mysterious first ascent.
The gap or passageway (13) between the Boar and the neighbouring rock formation is the highest point of the Tour Loop. The Parting below the Giant’s Toothpick (14) – here, the footpath marked in red turns left. This footpath leads to the village of Janovice. If you go along this trail, you can turn right after 500 metres and following the footpath marked in blue you can pass through the Gorges above the Ann’s Valley and get to the Wolf Gorge.
The Polar Bear (15) is a tall rock on your left above the footpath. It was climbed as early as 1927 by members of the Saxon Rock-climbing Club of Empor. The names of the first climbers remain unknown. The passageway behind the Polar Bear is artificially made to facilitate the building of the Big Loop. Some adaptations were also made in the gorges of Siberia. Until then, visitors to the Teplice Rock could only get to the Cathedral Walls from where they had to return back to the entrance.
Siberia (16) – narrow gorges between high rock massifs. Snow can be found here until summer. In the shadowy sections of the gorges, you can find various mosses and notice three vegetation belts on the vertical walls. The upmost belt consists of xerophytes and heliophytes such as heather, billberry and cranberry. The plants are identical with those growing at the edge of pine groves on the plateaus. The middle belt corresponds to the mountain vegetation belt with ferns and billberries as the climate here is more humid without extremely long influence of snow on the gorge bottom and with more intensive light. The bottom belt is suitable for cold-loving plants. Due to the long months with snow, the vegetation period is considerably shorter here.
After you pass through the gorges of Siberia, you will get to the end of the Tour Loop. Following the same footpath, you can get back to the box office at the entrance.