Happy trails: Hiking in Czechia is set to get safer and easier this season

The Czech Tourist Club, which oversees thousands of kilometers of trails, steps into spring with its Walking for Health project.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 23.03.2023 15:00:00 (updated on 24.03.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

Spring brings people from the cities into the countryside. Czechia is filled with marked trails for people to use, and there will be a few innovations this year. The Czech Tourist Club (KČT), which manages the trails, this year celebrates its 135 anniversary.

Thanks to the Walking for Health (Pěšky pro zdraví) project, safer and more comfortable tourist routes will be created in Czechia.

The first routes will begin to be marked this year, and in the future there will be at least 2,000 kilometers of them. The routes must allow comfortable walking on the natural surface of the road, must not include roads with motorized and bicycle traffic, must be interesting, well-marked according to the KČT marking system, and safe.

A woman retouches a trail marker with paint in Prokopské údolí in Prague. Photo: Raymond Johnston
A woman retouches a trail marker with paint in Prokopské údolí in Prague. Photo: Raymond Johnston

The route distance will range from four to 25 km for one-day sections. Multi-day routes would have a combination of at least two consecutive one-day routes with the possibility of an overnight stay at the end and beginning of each of them.

The idea for certifying hiking trails began in 1999 by the German Tourist Institute at the University of Marburg. Hikers there said that they did not like walking on asphalt, dangerous sections on main roads, and boring routes without tourist attractions.

Marked trails lead to Hradiště. Photo: Raymond Johnston
Marked trails in Central Bohemia. Photo: Raymond Johnston

KČT decided to create its own certification system rather than join in on an international one. "In the Czech Republic, we have 44,000 km of hiking trails, of which 20 to 30 percent need to be modernized. These most often have unsuitable sections with an asphalt surface, especially those copying dangerous roads," Zdeňka Šrédlová from the KČT's Council for Modern Pedestrian Routes, said in a press release.

Hiking trails are marked with a colored line on a white background. Red is for difficult trails or ones that lead to a summit. Blue denotes significant trails, while yellow and green point out easy or interconnecting trails. Changes in direction are marked with arrows. More trail symbols can be found here.

Czech trails in numbers

  • 44,101 km of hiking trails and 40,541 km of road cycling trails are marked. There are also 3,860 km of off-road cycling routes, 556 km of ski routes, 2,800 km of horse riding trails, and 149 km of wheelchair routes.
  • 74,531 signposts and tables are posted on these routes, with 3,941 signposts and 1,408 mounted maps.
  • In 2022, a total of 15,698 km of tourist routes were renewed and maintenance was carried out on 145 tourist maps and frames and 816 guideposts. A total of 260 km of routes were canceled or rescheduled.
  • 1,866 sign markers worked 62,938 hours, and 104 new markers were trained.
  • CZK 16.9 million was spent in 2022 on marking tourist routes and other related activities. The Ministry of Regional Development contributed CZK 8.7 million.

Emphasis on responsible tourism and conservation

KČT is increasingly appealing for hikers to show considerate behavior on trips. "We try to educate the public about nature protection and the principles of how a tourist should behave in nature, not only in protected areas. I am referring to not littering, following camping rules, lighting fires only in designated areas, not stepping off marked paths, and so on," Pavel Přílepek, chairman of the KČT Marking Council, said.

Author and traveler Martin Úbl, who runs the Czech Trail (Stezka Českem) Facebook group and website, this year has started a Leave No Trace challenge. "It is up to us whether we manage to keep the trails in such a condition that it is just as nice for others who will follow us,” he said.

His group will have public cleaning of trails on the weekends of June 11–12 and June 25–26, 2023.

Unique network dates back over a century

Minister of Regional Development Ivan Bartoš said the country is in debt to the Club of Czech Tourists for a network of tourist signs that is unique in terms of density and quality. The ministry financially supports the restoration of the trails every year.

“Compared to the benefit for tourism, and especially the tourists themselves, the amount is negligible. Many lookouts were also created and several monuments were repaired,” he added.

KČT was founded in 1888 by a group of enthusiasts around traveler and public figure Vojtěch Náprstek, for whom a museum is now named. KČT’s main activity is managing the network of marked tourist routes. In 2021, had approximately 29,000 members in 400 groups throughout the Czech Republic.

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