“After a day’s walk, everything has twice its usual value.” G.M. Trevelyan
Article by: Damien Smethurst, writer and city explorer
Photos by: Michal Dziendziura, founder and licensed guide at Free Walking Tour Prague
With spring rapidly approaching, what better time of year is there to get out the walking boots, give them a bit of a dusting after a long winter of neglect, and head outside to explore some nature? With the flowers starting to bloom, and temperatures beginning to rise, getting out and about in the fresh air can be the perfect tonic and help raise the spirits, not to mention the obvious health benefits of getting some exercise.
Today I’m going to write about one of my favourite walks in the Prague area. It’s easy to get to, and although the start of the trail is often crowded, there are rarely many people along the second half of the route, so there is plenty of time to just relax and be at one with the great outdoors.
The Prokopské údolí valley, whose canyon reaches a depth of up to 70 meters in places and was formed by erosive activity over the last million years, is a clear example of the geological development of rocks from the Upper Ordovician to the Middle Devonian periods. Steep limestone rocks, abandoned quarries and dark caves that hide the remains of prehistoric animals and people - these are just some of the attractions of this fascinating place.
The trail starts at tram stop Hlubočepy (lines 20, 5, 12 & 4), just a few stops down the river from Smíchovské nádraží. From there, walk along Hlubočepská steet, past zámek Slovanka and continue along the green trail heading towards Prokopské údolí.
After a couple of minutes you will pass under a picturesque viaduct called Prague Semmering (like the famous Semmering Railway in Austria). It is 115m long and 23-25m tall.
Follow the marked green tourist trail, past Praha- Hlubočepy train station and some village buildings, into Prokopské údolí proper. Soon, part of the trail will deviate to the right to the picturesque lake surrounded by cliffs, where people like feeding ducks. Bring some fresh lettuce, rice or other food suitable for water birds and enjoy your contact with nature in this serene place.
Not far away, on the the right hand side, there will be a small zoo with a couple of sheep and goats. There is a food dispenser installed on the fence, so feel free to feed them, too, if you like, all the animals are very friendly.
From now on, the path mostly follows the train line, and this section can be very popular with other walkers and cyclists on days with nice weather.
As you walk along the trail, you will soon pass a cliff with a wooden cross at the top, marking the place where the 18th century church of Saint Procopius once used to stand. Right behind it on the right side, you will find a deep cave, which is really cool. If you are not afraid of walking a couple of dozens of meters in the complete darkness, try walking it through. You can then easily return to the green trail.
After approximately 4km you will meet a second trail, the yellow one. This will initially branch off to the right and go up the hill, and if you have time it is definitely worth the diversion on a nice day to see the view from the top of the hill.
If you are visiting Prague with a dog, this hike will be just perfect for you. The itinerary isn't too challenging even for very small dogs. Michal's chihuahua Ronny adores visiting Prokopske udoli 🙂
However, this particular route is more interesting in the second place where the trail branches off, which is to the left hand side underneath the Klukovice viaduct. If you take this path, you can follow the yellow trail a couple of hundred metres along, and you will come to Pivovar Prokopák, which is a great place to stop for a beer and a rest before continuing along the trail.
After the break, go back down to the viaduct and rejoin the green trail, and follow it along as it meanders past Praha-Holyně. From this point onwards there will be very few people on the trail, so it's a great chance to just idle along at your own pace and explore the flora and fauna as you walk.
Once past Holyně, the path makes its way past some quarries, where you can find fossils lying around quite easily, and where you might sometimes see rock climbers in the summer. After the quarries the path splits, and you have a choice of the green trail or the pink bicycle trail. Both are great options, but my personal preference here is to follow the bike path as it takes you past some abandoned buildings, which I personally like to explore.
The green trail is slightly steeper at this point, so if you are having issues with mobility this can be another reason to take the pink trail. But either trail is good, and they both meet again a short time later, so whichever route you choose you will end up in the same place.
From here, it is just a short walk the rest of the way into Řeporyje, where the trail comes to an end just a few metres from Pivovar Řeporyje. This is a fantastic restaurant, and I can highly recommend the food there, which makes it a perfect place to end the day's walk.
Once you are suitably refreshed from the restaurant, it is then just a few minutes walk to the train station, where you can take a train back to the center of Prague (or bus to the nearest metro) with ease.
This is a trail that is suitable for everyone, as there are no really steep or difficult parts at all. As always when going out hiking, check the weather first and make sure you are dressed appropriately, but this is a gentle stroll and should be quite manageable for anyone who is not suffering from severe mobility issues.
If you want to check out the route for yourself, you can find it at the below link. I hope you have a fantastic trip, and maybe we’ll even see each other on the trail at some point!
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