Hiking in the National Park
On most parking sites where you can start to walk into the National Park you'll find a map and recommended hiking tours. There are lots of signed hiking trails, and everything is really great signed. At every crossing, there’s a direction sign, and in some cases it even gives information about how long it will take to go somewhere which fit pretty well in our cases. The signs are also found sometimes on the trees so that you know that you're still on the correct path. I've never been in an area that had so much well-signed hiking trails! There are also cycle tracks through the National Park, which is street-like.
The National Park has a "core zone", signs will show when you enter one. In this core zone, you are only allowed to walk on signed paths.
Bring Proper Shoes For Hiking
If you plan hiking the national park, bring proper hiking shoes with soles that have a good grip. Sneakers, trainers, running shoes are by no means suitable for these trails. Wear hiking boots or good trekking shoes.
Grosser (Big) and Kleiner (Small) Zschirnstein are located on the left bank of the Elbe. This region is less frequented than the right bank.
Grosser Zschirnstein is with an elevation of 560 m the highest "mountain" in Saxon Switzerland. In spite of its relatively low elevation it has an impressive shape and is a landmark, well visible from far distance. Grosser Zschirnstein offers excellent panoramic view southwards, far into the Czech Republic in particular, while Kleiner Zschirnstein offers views to the North.
The best starting point for the hike is Kleingiesshübel, a small village on the northern foot (15 minutes by car or bus from Bad Schandau).
The elevation difference to the top of Grosser Zschirnstein is about 300 m, the hike (round trip) takes about 2 hours. You cannot get lost, take the Hirschgrundweg from the upper end of the village upwards and hike back via the eastern side of the Zschirnsteine (Wiesenweg).
Elbleitenweg - parting of the ways
I knew that when I had climbed a certain amount I would reach an intersection where I had to turn left and that became fact some time after the trail flattened out (pic 3).
You might think that the national parks body have signs everywhere and you'd be right. The problem is not the signs but finding a map with the trails on them. So far I've found it well nigh impossible.
You can obtain maps with some tracks on them but an up-to-date one with all the trails is rare indeed.
Anyhow, I'd worked out that Elbleitenweg would be a good track to follow, so when I reached a green and white sign that said Kliene Bastei - Elbleitenweg (pic 5) I was relieved and moved in a northerly direction. I hadn't gone far when the first of the ramparts greeted me (pic 4).
It was the beginning of a wonderland of natural beauty and awesome scenery.
Neumann's Mill is the only of the many mills in the Kirnitzschtal valley which is originally preserved. It was first mentioned in the 14th century.
The creek provides the power for sawing the boles. In the 19th century the local engineer Friedrich Gottlob Keller invented a method for making paper of wood. Upon request you can see a show of this technology.
Opening times: Easter holidays, 1 May - 30 Oct 10-18 h