The hike to the Prebischtor rock gate is among the classic hikes in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Unfortunately, there is currently no official way to reach the Prebischtor from the German side. The legendary "Fremdenweg" trail had its starting point in Pilnitz (Dresden) and led to the Prebischtor. Still there is a real legitimate hope that due to the growing interests in the integration of the tourism regions Saxon and Bohemian Switzerland, a solution will be found. Until this moment we use a very attractive alternative tour in order to get to the largest sandstone rock gate in Europe - the waterway through the gorges of the river Kamnitzbach.
The hike to the Prebischtor rock gate is among the classic hikes in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Unfortunately, there is currently no official way to reach the Prebischtor from the German side. The legendary "Fremdenweg" trail had its starting point in Pilnitz (Dresden) and led to the Prebischtor. Still there is a real legitimate hope that due to the growing interests in the integration of the tourism regions Saxon and Bohemian Switzerland, a solution will be found. Until this moment we use a very attractive alternative tour in order to get to the largest sandstone rock gate in Europe - the waterway through the gorges of the river Kamnitzbach. Our starting point of the hike is the town Herrnskretschen (Hrensko) directly at the Czech-German border. You can travel there by car or train/S-Bahn. Hikers coming from Dresden take the S-Bahn S1 until the last stop in Schöna and then cross the river Elbe by ferry to the Czech Republic (Don't forget your identity card!). This option is preferable to taking a car, as the train drives every half hour and has no unpredictable delays (due to traffic jams, border clearance, ...). Those who arrive by car should continue on the road to Rainwiese (Mezni Louka) to the bridge over the river Kamnitz. On a parallel road (back into the direction of "Hotel Prague") is located a paid parking. On the other side of the river is the pension "U Emigranta". This is also the starting point for the first section, the gorge hike. The guests who arrive by train and ferry are standing at the ferry dock directly at the river mouth of the Kamnitzbach, which flows into the river Elbe. Herrnskretschen (Hrensko) is located 12 km north of Tetschen (Decin) at about 120 metres above sea level and is the lowest part of the Czech Republic . The rocky territory rises from about 120 meters above sea level at the river Elbe up to about 490 meters up on the slopes of the Great winter mountain (Großer Winterberg). Points of interest in the town are not only the church, the hotels and mansions (which were meticulously restored after the flood in 2002/2013), but unfortunately also the numerous stalls and junk shops along the roadsides. Like in the German towns in the Elbe sandstone mountains, during the second half of the 19th century a rapid development of tourism took place. This was caused by the extensive development of communications between Dresden and Decin (railway, steamship lines) as well as the publicity through the artworks of landscape painters and their master students from Dresden. Another major improvement for Herrnskretschen was in 1938 with the construction of the road from Dresden to Decin. Unfortunately due to the new road layout it was necessary to take down the mansion of Prince Clary Aldringens, a former jewel at the river Elbe. We follow the slightly ascending walkway (surrounded by Vietnamese stalls) in the Kamnitztal valley until the Pension "U Emigranta" and the aforementioned parking. At this point is the entry into the 1,5 km long Edmunsgrund ravine, further leading into the Edmund Gorge (also silence gorge, 960 meters long) and finally the Wild Gorge (450 meters long). The first hut standing at the wayside is a cashier house, where we have to pay the admission in order to enter the gorge. The path now continues on the right, later on the left side of the stream Kamnitzbach toward the boat station. The water at this point is dammed by a weir of logs. Previously the dam served for timber floating, today it ensures boat trips since 1890. It is said that in 1877 due to a bet five brave adventurers went on three rafts from the former Grundmühle mill at the Ferdinand gorge to Herrnskretschen. Because since 1998 salmon were again released in the Kamnitz, a fish ladder was built at this place. The salmons can thus follow the old course of the river to their breeding grounds. It is therefore understandable that fishing in the ravine is forbidden. The vegetation in the gorges, which is at an altitude of about 200 meters above sea level, has some special features. Since cold air can collect in the deep ravines, submontane (700 to 1000 meters) and montane (800-1500 meters) plants grow here. These include the arctic yellow violet (Viola biflora), the arctic starflower (Trientalis europaea) and the common spruce. In addition at the river bank grow various moss and fern species, such as the hard fern, mountain clubmoss or stiff clubmoss. The vegetation at the base of the ravine concists usually of a fir-spruce-beech forest with some sycamore maple. We now get on one of the punts and experience a friendly, bilingual tour, which is probably only adapted every 20 years content-wise ... The boat stations are opened from April to October. Detailed information on the opening times and fares can be found in the Internet at: www.soutesky-hrensko.cz. After our first boat trip we relax at a kiosk with a cool Stachopramen beer. The abandoned historic log cabin is still waiting for a restoration... We then walk on a romantic path between the stream bed, rocks and partly through rock tunnels to the Stimmersdorfer bridge. You can then either follow the green waymark north to Stimmersdorf (Mezná) or branch off toward south to Rosendorf village (Ruzová). We stay in the gorge (now Wild Gorge) and walk up to the second punt dock. Again, we can see a fish ladder for salmons. After the boat trip we cross a bridge to the left river bank. A steeply rising trail is carved in stone and cannot be overlooked. This is a shortcut to Stimmersdorf village, but we do not use it. We follow the creek on the old trail, secured by iron and tin plates. The width of the stream does not allow a path along the shore. After about 1 km we leave the stream of the Kamnitzbach to the left direction toward the moderately rising Soorgrund gorge (yellow waymark). If it were possible to follow the now closed path further along the creek, you would arrive at the former mill Grundmühle and the gorge Ferdinandsklamm. Until 1945 it was still possible here to make a trip on a punt. After a few hundred meters, we arrive at a small clearing with a way forking. From here it is only another 1,5 km (blue waymark) through a spruce forest to Rainwiese (Mezni Louka). We reach the local connection road and to our left handside we see the "Hotel Mezni Louka" (formerly called "Hotel Rainwiese"). This hotel was built by Prince Clary-Aldringen in 1892 and has since been the center for tourists in the the village. However if you search for a cozy accomodation you should have a look on the opposite side of the street, where the new hostel "Hospodka U Forta" (built during the late 90's) is located. The beer garden and also the good prices for their delicious meals are very attractive. From now on, the hike only follows the red waymark. A moderately steep path leads up to a stone signpost, which illustrates in German language the walking times to Rainwiese and Prebischtor. However, against our supposition this signpost was not made in the pre-war era. In 1993 the formerly destroyed signpost got replaced with the present one, which was made by a Czech stonemason. From now on we walk on the Gabrielensteig trail. The name of the trail derived from the sister of Prince Clary-Aldringen. He had a large influence on almost all remaining tourist facilities in the region of Herrnskretschen. The Gabrielensteig trail is well built and leads along rocky reefs and steep rock walls. Until the ascent to the Prebischtor we do encounter difficult changes of the altitude. After a U-turn toward right we leave the wing rock wall behind us. The proof for our location at the wing rock wall is the distinctive shape of the rock cone "Zuckerhut". We now hike around the ravine Prebischgrund, which is located on our left handside. On the right side of the trail, steep rock walls raise up towards the German side of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. On top of these rocks runs the state border, along the currently closed trail Entenpfützenweg. After another right turn we can already see the highly elevated Prebischtor rock gate. Unfortunately the dense trees do not allow for a perfect photo of the gate. Despite the wonderful nature, at this point our main focus only lies on the arrival at the main goal of our hike. You should plan to arrive at the Prebischtor until 17 o'clock, because after 18 o'clock the restaurant as well as the access to the rock are closed! Fortunately, all railings and stair constructions around the Prebischtor and the restaurant are completely renovated and improved. Now we do not want to miss the opportunity to climb to the lookout points directly opposite of the rock gates. The panoramic view there is fantastic! Southeast behind the rock arch is situated the mountain Rosenberg. The almost circular shape of the cone is typical for the mountains of northern Bohemia. The upper part of the mountain consists of basalt, whereas the base is of sandstone. The southern horizon is characterized by further basalt hilltops. To the west we see the rocks Zschirnsteine, the Zirkelstein and the Kaiserkrone. Nearby in the north are located the southern cliffs of the Great winter mountain (Großer Winterberg). At a closer look, we also recognize the tower of the restaurant Großer Winterberg. From the winter mountain tower you have from a perfect panoramic view over the entire Elbe sandstone mountains. From the front observation deck (with the permanently installed binoculars) raises the rock "Kleiner Prebischkegel", which was first climbed in 1905. From the look-out point we can barely guess our way back to Herrnskretschen through the dense spruce and beech forest. The trail (red waymark) is rather unexciting and after about 2 km it turns into a road. We finally follow this road until we reach the starting point of our hike.