The region around Oberwiesenthal is excellent for cross-country skiing. They offer ca. 75 km of trails in the vicinity of the town alone. Some tracks start on the northern end of Oberwiesenthal, in walking distance from the base station of the cable car, others start at the top of Mt. Fichtelberg (access by cable car or bus A) and extend on the plateau into the Czech Republic, where you have access to several dozens more groomed tracks. All these tracks are interconnected.
Marked and groomed cross-country trails also lead to small towns and villages near Oberwiesenthal: Neudorf, Bärenstein and Crottendorf some kilometres north (bus or steam train back), Tellerhäuser, Rittersgrün and Markersbach in western/northwestern direction (back by bus). These trails mostly run through vast forests, are less frequented and thus offer wonderful experiences in the nature - you might spot deer or other wildlife occasionally.
For example, in 2013 I did the trail to Neudorf (about 15 km). I started with a cable car ride from town up to the top of Mt. Fichtelberg (pics 1 + 2), where I took track #5 (pic 3) to the ski stadium (pic 4). Finding directions was a bit tricky in the fog, but since the tracks are signposted and marked well it all worked out in the end. I took track #4 to Waldeck restaurant (pic 5 was taken along the way at "Hirschfalzhütte", a wooden shelter at 1067 m.) where I turned left toward Neudorf on track #1. I finished at Neudorf, stop Vierenstraße of the steam train, and had lunch at the hotel-restaurant there (see restaurant tip).
There is a service centre for cross-country skiers on the southwestern plateau of Mt. Fichtelberg, close to the road and bus stop, where the tracks for the professionals start. Lockers, changing rooms, showers etc. available.
Equipment: Bring your own (preferred, at least for the clothes) or rent (many shops in town). A map is helpful, available at the tourist office for 1.50 Euro if I recall correctly. Or buy a map that covers the entire Western Erzegebirge mountains by Sachsen Kartographie GmbH Dresden for a few Euros more (my choice). If you plan a trip to other towns/villages, better check schedules for trains/buses in advance. Neudorf and Bärenstein are no problem, the other mentioned above have only infrequent bus service to Oberwiesenthal.
- Skiing and Boarding
A sports activitiy that most of us tourists will only watch, not actively do, is ski jumping. Oberwiesenthal has some ski jumps, the biggest one built in 1974, which are used for training and international tournaments. The best view of the ski jumps is from the cable car (pics 3 and 4).
The most famous native Oberwiesenthal ski jumping athlete is Jens Weißflog, several times World Champion, Olympic champion and winner of the Four-Jumps-Tour. He finished his sports career and runs his own hotel in Oberwiesenthal now. A young ski jumper at present times is Richard Freitag, born in 1991 and already with 3 titles at world cup tournaments.
I am not aware of any international ski jumping tournaments in Oberwiesenthal in the actual world cup tour, but there are certainly European cup competitions and such for juniors, so you might have the chance to watch some.
The ski jumps are also involved in the Nordic Combination competitions - and Oberwiesenthal is home of the probably best athlete in that discipline ever - Ulrich Wehling, three consecutive times Olympic champion (1972 - 80). Eric Frenzel, born 1988, World Cup champion and currently leader of the world cup, follows in his footsteps. You might happen to see him either on the cross-country tracks or in a tournament on the ski jumps.
There is an ice rink right by the base station of the skilifts, only a minute or so from the town. On pic 1 you can see it is well maintained and rather large. A service point with rental shop is right there, too.
Admission is 4 Euro per adult for 2 hours - rather steep fee IMO. Skates rental cost additional 2 Euro.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Another favourite sports activity in winter, especially for families with children, is sledding. There are three official sledding runs in Oberwiesenthal: One in Hammerunterwiesenthal, a village a couple of km down the valley which belongs to the town, another one from the Panorama hotel down to the base station of the cable car - 160 m long, easy, perfect for beginners and very young children, and finally the 1.8 km long sledding run (marked R1, sledding = rodeln in German) from the top of Mt. Fichtelberg through the woods to Hotel Eschenhof, from where you can either sled down the slope by previously mentioned Panorama hotel to the cable car station or walk about 400 m along Vierenstrasse.
The R1 run (pics 1, 2, 3, 5) is really fun. It crosses each the skilift and the ski run once, so caution there, otherwise it is perfectly safe, with quite some curves, alternating between rather flat and steeper parts. It is clearly marked, signs stating that it is not allowed for pedestrians.
You can either walk up to the start of the run, take the bus (infrequent service, # A) or take the cable car.
Equipment: Rent or bring your own. Several shops in town where you can rent for a few Euro per day.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
There are seemingly endless marked and signposted hiking trails around Oberwiesenthal. Most of them are accessible in summer and winter, some in summer only. An exception is Zechengrund area, a protected area (for its wonderful blooming wildflowers) on the border to the Czech Republic.
Hiking trails start right in town (Markt square) or a minute away at the cable car base station (pic 1). An easy way to manage the elevation difference of 300 m to the top of Mt. Fichtelberg is taking the cable car. The views from up there are fantastic - a must! Easy trails lead back to the town, along the slopes of Mt. Fichtelberg and more or less in the woods. Other, longer trails lead to towns and villages in the surroundings, like Neudorf, Bärenstein and Crottendorf, Tellerhäuser and Rittersgrün. These trails run mostly through forests, so not many good panoramic views there. On the other hand, you'll hardly meet many other hikers there and might have nice encounters with wildlife - deer, birds etc.
More rewarding IMO are the trails along the steam train route (special flyer with infos available), which offers good views of the trains as well as the scenery, the trails in the Zechengrund glen (mentioned above, only in summer), and the trails leading into the Czech Republic. You can easily explore the town Bozi Dar and hike as far as Klinovec and Spicak, two mountains with panoramic views.
Equipment: In winter make sure you have proper clothes that keep you warm and dry and are wind-proof. Hiking boots are highly recommended. Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat are also recommended. Maybe take some hiking poles with you (can be rented in shops in town).
A map is a must, not because trails are not well signposted/marked (they are), but because of the sights along the way or nearby and the views - you'll want to know what it is that you see in the distance. Get info on bus / train schedules in advance.
- Hiking and Walking
Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding
Oberwiesenthal has a nice skiing and snowboarding area with 10 well groomend, classified runs - from easy (blue marked) over intermediate (red) to challenging (black), adding up to 15.5 km in total. The cable car, a quad chair-lift, an old single chair-lift and four skilifts take the skiers and snowboarders up to the start of the runs on top of Mt. Fichtelberg without any remarkable delays. The elevation of the skiing/snowboarding area is 900 - 1214 m, thus it is quite snow reliable from December to end of March. They also have extensive snow-making facilities, in case there's not enough of the natural white stuff on the ground. Skilifts start right at the edge of town in walking distance.
Nightskiing on the main slope (2 skilifts) on Fridays and Saturdays, during school holidays additional days, from 16.30 - 21.00 h (750 m long run.)
Lift passes are 25 Euro for one day (hourly passes available), single rides available as well: For the main skilifts 2 Euro e.g. Lift passes for 1.5 days and longer are valid in the neighbouring Czech skiing area Klinovec, too (skibus connection), which offers another 12 km of groomed runs, 4 chair-lifts and 6 skilifts. A 2-day pass is 46 Euro, 6 consecutive days cost 113 Euro (examples - many options available.) For info on both skiing areas Klinovec and Fichtelberg/Oberwiesenthal see http://interskiregion.com/ please.
The Klinovec runs are facing north, thus are less sunny and sometimes icy, while the Fichtelberg runs are mostly facing east and thus are sunnier, but suffer in snow quality late in the season when the sun gets more intense.
Among snowboarders the Fichtelberg area is very popular, due to the wide, sunny slopes, the halfpipe and obstacles. Both quad chair-lift and cable car make for a convenient transport up.
Equipment: Bring your own or rent. There are several shops in town where you can rent equipment. Prices are reasonable, much less than in the Alps.
I highly recommend wearing helmet, too. Sunglasses, sunscreen, gloves and wind-proof clothes are a must anyway.
- Skiing and Boarding
Hiking Trails on the Slopes of Fichtelberg
Fichtelberg - and in fact most of the rest of the Ore Mountains, too - is covered in a dense network of makred hiking trails. They are well signposted, so you have to try really hard to lose your way. Hiking is a great way to experience the landscape, the forests and the changing views. The higher you get, the more the forest opens up, but there are views already at lower altitudes. Spruces are the typical trees of these forests.
Distance from Oberwiesenthal to the top of Fichtelberg is, depending which trail you choose, 2.5 to 3.5 kilometres. In other words, seems like a piece of cake. However, don't underestimate the ascents and descents, the slopes are steeper than they look from afar. The locals are somehow related to the chamois or the ibex, it seems, judging from their attitude towards steep paths and hiking in general - better add some extra time to the estimated duration of a hike.
Equipment: Good shoes, soles with a good grip. Ankle-high hiking boots are not absolutely necessary but if you have them with you, wear them.
Hiking: Some General Tips
This cute sign provides and illustrates some useful tips about the basics of hiking in Ore Mountains dialect:
"Who wants to hike,
walk at a steady pace
and carry little along."
Otherwise you'll be dragging yourself and your load along just like the guy on the sign.
Equipment: Good shoes, otherwise: as little as possible...
- Hiking and Walking