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Písek Mountains

This is a mountain ridge covered with mixed forest growth that extends from the eastern edge of town southeastwards towards Albrechtice nad Vltavou and Temelín. This geological formation is properly known as the "Mehelnická vrchovina", or Mehelnice Highlands, and is part of the Central Bohemian Highlands. Its highest peak is Velký Mehelník (632 meters). Most of the Písek Mountains are close to city of Písek and are a favourite place for rest and relaxation. The mountains are interwoven with plenty of paths and trails, especially in the areas close to the city itself, and many of them are suitable for cycling as well. The most sought-after areas are Velký Mehelník and Jarník with its observation tower (see further), the lakes Němec and Nový Rybník, the U Vodáka valley, Živec hiking cottage, and more. A large part of the Písek Mountains was declared a nature park in 1973.

Educational trails in the Písek Mountains

The oldest educational trail in the Písek Mountains is the one named "Jewel Trail". It's 7 kilometers long, begins in the "Amerika" forest park, and covers many points of interest close to the town. The trail finishes at the Živec hiking cottage.

Another interesting trail is the educational trail "From Ptáčkovina to Živec". This one is 8.5 km long and leads along the northern parts of the Písek Mountains.

The "Great Circle through the Písek Forests" begins at the intersection Na Trubách, is 18 km long, and leads to the highest peak of the Písek Mountains, Velký Mehelník (632 m), as well as to the former Havírka gold mine. This route's distance and difficulty (steeper climbing at Velký Mehelník) makes it more suitable for experienced hikers.

Gold wasn't just panned in Písek, but it was also mined from the ground. The best known preserved remnant of gold mining in the Písek Mountains is the Havírka Gold Mines. The old mine shafts are still visible today, even though they're mostly filled in or flooded. Silica containing gold was mined here from the 14th to 17th centuries, and the mined minerals were taken to mills along the Otava River for processing. There were attempts to revive the mining industry in Havírka in the 18th and 20th centuries, but they proved unsuccessful.

Hůrky

This is a circular educational trail passing through the nursery forest of Hůrky near the village of Smrkovice (ca. 3 km south of Písek). The area is bordered by the villages of Smrkovice, Selibov, Putim, and Heřmaň.

This 6 km long trail with 17 stations with information panels is designed for both hikers and cyclists and acquaints visitors with the challenges of taking care of the forest, with forest management, and with breeding animals.

The starting point is the station U Dubu, accessible from Smrkovice along the blue trail. Bicyclists can hook up along bike trails No. 1043 and 1044.

Jarník observation tower

This steel observation tower standing on a hill of the same name (606 meters) is nearly 60 meters tall and was ceremonially opened on 9 October 1997. After conquering 182 steps, you find yourself on an observation deck at a height of 34.6 meters where you can enjoy a beautiful view onto the city of Písek. In clear weather, you can see the Central Bohemian Highlands, Brdy, the Czech/Moravian Highlands, Blanský Forest, and the peak of the Šumava Mountains. The tower is unique in its double spiral staircase – one goes up, the other goes down.

Getting there and opening times: The observation tower is open year round. Heading eastwards from Písek, go to the Živec cottage, then follow the blue trail about 700 meters to the tower.
GPS: 49°18'28.727"N, 14°11'32.816"E

Velký Kamýk observation tower

This tower was built in 2002 and serves both cellphone operators and hikers. The construction is formed by a central tube and four side supports shaped like a hyperbola. The tower is located below the peak of Velký Kamýk at an altitude of 515 meters, is 65 meters tall, and the observation deck is 30 meters above the ground. The view to the west is blocked somewhat by trees, but to the other directions we can see the Šumava Mountains, Brdy, Písek, and the Písek Mountains.

Getting there and opening times: The observation tower is freely accessible every day, but you might have to ask for the key at house No. 22 in Velké Nepodřice. You can drive a car right to the base of the tower, then walk the route from Písek through Velké Nepodřice.
GPS: 49°18´49.5036´´N 14°3´58.7988´´E