For the exploration of Hrubý Jeseník, we selected the village Branná as our base. Our accommodation was in the castle Kolštejn (founded in 1325). The castle has a mix of gothic styles but is chateau-like primarily. It had gone through at least 14 different owners in 600 or so years. Both nights we had dinner at the minibrewery Kolštejn where the local beer was excellent. There is a wellness hotel near the castle and brewery as well if you decide you don’t want an old castle room.
Polly wanted to “bag” some of the mountain peaks in this area during those two days we stayed, so we made attempts to reach Praděd, Velké Bradlo, and Šerlich.
As the starting point for the first ride, we selected the tiny “parking” across the river Bělá behind the Obecní úřad of Bělá pod Pradědem. If there is no space, you can probably park at the restaurant „U Cimbury“, where you can have your refreshment after arrival from the loop through the east part of Jeseník. The ride from Bělá pod Pradědem through the forests of Velké Bradlo is using very reasonable roads and did not require much riding skills. The views along the way gave a good impression of the majesty of Jeseník. Just before point 2, you should not miss the opportunity to taste the cold water from the spring of Zaječí Potok.
If you arrive back at the starting point with some power in your battery, you can attempt to ascend to Šerák on the opposite slope of Jeseník. As you see from the elevation profile, you would be riding uphill continuously for 10 km. On the other hand, you can let your battery go to 0 since the way back to the car would be completely downhill. We ran out of power a little bit after point 7 where the ascent started to be really brutal and the road was very rough. On the side of the road, you may visit a little forest cemetery (point 6) where the prisoners of war working in the local camps during the war are buried.
Making it all the way to Šerák you would ride 55 km and climb 1595 m, which for us would be a record elevation gain. Let us know if you made it!
For the second ride, we started from a large parking lot in Kouty nad Desnou. The first 16 km uphill all the way to the top of Praděd took about 70 % of the battery capacity, but then the next 21 km did not take almost any as we went only downhill. The only slightly challenging part was between points 2 and 3 going both up or down, so pay attention there. Švýcárna (point 4) is a good place to take a break and enjoy your favorite beverage with a good view with fewer tourists than on the top of Praděd. From points 5 to 6 you can expect a lot of pedestrians who made it up there from Ovčárna accessible by car or bus from Karlova Studánka. Avoiding hordes of tourists was the main reason for us to come from Kouty by a much longer route.
From the top of Praděd, you can see the Jeseníky in their splendid majesty. Look for the water reservoir Dlouhé stráně which is the part of Hydro Power Plant, a large pumped storage plant. It has 2 turbines with a nominal power of 325 megawatts (436,000 hp) each. It has the largest reversing water turbine in Europe. The lower reservoir you will see on your way down after passing point 8.