Sunday, February 20, 2011

Trail Marker Treasure Hunts in the Czech Republic

I went on a little hike last weekend in the middle of Phoenix, Arizona.  Thunderbird Park is a mini wilderness in a sea of subdivisions on the northwest side of the endless metropolis.   From the top of the desert hills I could see all the way to the skyscrapers of downtown, the stadium in Glendale, and the smog-skirted mountains that surround the valley of the sun.  I saw a chipmunk and a strange fat lizard I believe was a chuckwalla.  Lots of rocks.  Lots of cactus.  But what I didn’t see were trail markers.  I just sort of followed the trails, trusting them to eventually circle back to the parking lot.

In the Czech Republic—a nation of mountain bikers, hikers, and cross country skiers—the trails are all color coded and carefully marked.  Hiking clubs periodically repaint the blazes you find on tree trunks, rocks, and fence posts.  Every kilometer or so you find a sign telling the distances to various destinations, color-coded too, and usually capped with a little hat to protect it from the snow and rain.  The trails criss-cross each other, and merge with roads and unofficial paths, so it wouldn’t always be obvious where to go without those trail markers.  Every time I hike—and I hike a lot—it feels like a treasure hunt.  Spotting those markers gives me the strangest little thrill.  So I thought I’d let you hunt for some on your own.  All photos by me.  Click to enlarge, just in case you can't pick out the trail markers.  
Here's what you're looking for.  This one's freshly painted.



You'll have to look a little harder for this one.

Can you see it?
More Czech treasure hunt to come in the next post.  Keep your eagle eyes open.    



  1. Beautiful photos, and fun to find the markers. I would love to hike in that area.

  2. I wish we had trail markers like that in the states. What an easy, yet effective way to keep people safely on the trail.
    Keep up the great photos, too!

  3. Thanks. I spent many hours on those trails, and at least half the time I would think, "This is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen." Such superlatives obviously can't be true, but it's the way I felt.

  4. beautiful! Where are these pictures from exactly?

  5. All but the last one and the fall picture are from the trails around Vsetin, a small town in the eastern part of the country, near the Slovak border, an hour or so east of Olomouc. I lived in Vsetin, and I'd go hiking all the time. The spring photo is literally 10 minutes from my apartment on foot. The last picture's from Adršpašsko-Teplické Skály, one of the Czech "rock towns," north of Hradec Králové, almost on the Polish border. Fantastic place. The fall pic is around Znojmo, near the Austrian border, equidistant from Brno and Vienna. Hiking in the Czech Republic is one of my favorite things.