This distinctive feature of the Giant Mountains – a stone pyramid shaped by a glacier during the ice ages – is a popular destination for hiking. From the top there are beautiful views far to the region on the Czech and Polish side. At the top is the circular chapel of St. Vavřince from 1665, a Polish hut from 1976 with a meteorological station and a new Czech post office built in 2005-2006. Between 1899 and 2009, the building of the original post office stood nearby, which was the highest place in the Czech Republic where a postmark could be obtained. The old post office was dismantled in 2009 and transported to Javorová skála (about 7 km southwest of Sedlec-Prčice), where it was later reassembled.
Since 1850, the old Polish (originally Silesian) hut, which was replaced in 1976 by the current modern Polish hut, and the Czech hut, demolished in 2009, were also at the top.
The first ascent recorded in history is from 1456, when a Venetian was looking for precious stones in the mountains. In the years 1563–1566, the Silesian scholar Kryštof Schilling tried to measure the altitude of the mountain. He measured an incredible 5880 m (1000 meters more than Mont Blanc). In 1569, Mr. Jiřík of Řásno measured 2035 m. Even with its actual 1602 m, Sněžka is the highest mountain in the Czech Republic.
From Špindlerův Mlýn you can get to Sněžka only on foot by several paths (the shortest is about 10 km). The old cable car from Pec pod Sněžkou also leads to the top of Sněžka (approx. 45 km by car or bus around the mountains).
The source of the Elbe
The source of the Elbe is the designation of a place on the ridge of the Giant Mountains, symbolically modified for tourist purposes as the beginning of the river Elbe. It is located at an altitude of 1387 m in the Elbe meadow. The actual source of the Elbe is located in peat bogs about 150 to 300 meters away and is inaccessible to the public due to nature protection.
In 1968, a stone wall was built here with the colored emblems of 26 important cities through which the Elbe flows on its way to the sea. The author of the wall was Jiří Škopek. There is also a pair of memorial plaques. The first is dedicated by the Czech Tourist Club to the 70th anniversary of the Czech tourism promoter Jan Buchar, the second to the 80th anniversary of organized tourism and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jan Buchar. After Jan Buchar, the red-marked route from Jilemnice is also named, which ends at this place.
The place is one of the most popular destinations for walks on the Czech side of the mountains, its importance was appreciated as early as 1684, when it was visited and blessed by Bishop Jan František Kryštof of Talmberk.
Snow pits (Schneegruben in German, Śnieżne Kotły in Polish) are one of the most famous and photogenic places in the Giant Mountains. The dominant feature of the charter building will reliably lead you to them from a distance – a hut called Wavel at the top of the High Plain. In the past, it served as a tourist cottage, but today it only serves as a television transmitter for Poland.
The main ridge here falls steeply through the rock walls to the Polish side into deep pits – boilers once excavated by glaciers – at the bottom of which there are small glacial lakes. As in other glaciers, the botanical jewels of the Giant Mountains are located in them.
In addition to the natural beauties, the nature trail hides especially the exceptionally well-preserved fence work on Čertova strouze, which is more than 100 years old. After a series of devastating floods at the end of the 19th century, extensive fencing work was carried out here, as well as in the entire Elbe, Jizera and Úpa river basins. The example of the Devil’s Ditch, the enclosure of which has been preserved almost completely and fully functional to this day, is evidenced by the high architectural skills of our ancestors, achieved by very modest technical means. 43 transverse and 194 longitudinal stone fence buildings were built here. With regard to the round shapes of the stones in the riverbeds of the Krkonoše streams and the disproportionate complexity of their stonework, approximately half of the stone was obtained from a quarry established for this purpose above the mouth of Červený potok.
The educational trail through Čertový dol begins at the hut near Bílý Labe and leads upstream of Čertova ditch. You will follow it to the place where the remains of the old smithy are located. Then he goes back the same way. The whole circuit measures about 2.5 km.
Elbe Waterfall is a 35 meter high rapid waterfall on the uppermost river Elbe. It falls into the Elbe mine below the Elbe hut, approximately 1 km southeast of the source of the Elbe.
In 1859, the owner of the nearby Labská bouda, Josef Schier, set up a smaller reservoir above the waterfall in 1859, in which he retained water. After reaching a sufficient number of paying tourists, the sluice gate of the reservoir was raised and the waterfall was opened – it looked much more powerful. This tourist attraction was later abandoned for reasons of nature protection. Today, only very good observers will find the remains of the reservoir below Labská bouda.