Buchenparkhalle car park, south of Hinterhermsdorf, 01855 Sebnitz
APR to OCT daily 9:30-16:30.
Last barge trip 16.
Adults EUR 5, Children (7-15) EUR 4, Disabled EUR 4, Families (2+*) EUR 10.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 4.50.
|Address:||Kirnitzschklamm, 01855 Sebnitz, Tel: +49-35974-5210.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1580||First wooden dam erected.|
|1816-1817||Replaced by stone dam.|
|25-MAY-1879||Ferry service for summer visitors started with a single wooden barge.|
|1952||Operation taken over by the municipality of Hinterhermsdorf.|
|1964||Last rafting of wood.|
|1990||declared a National Park core zone.|
The Kirnitzsch or Czech Křinice is a right tributary of the Elbe, which rises in the Lusatian Mountains. It flows through the Czech Republic and Saxon Switzerland and finally into the Elbe. For a short stretch of its way, about 10 km, it even forms the border river between Germany and the Czech Republic, and has done so since 1451. The sandstones of the region form rock gardens, entire labyrinths of columns with gorges and caves. This weathering also happens without a stream like the Kirnitzsch, so the gorge is not directly a result of erosion by the stream. Rather, the stream uses one of the many crevices in the rock labyrinth to flow through. The Kirnitzsch does this by flowing completely through Bohemian Switzerland from Kyjov to its mouth in the Elbe from east to west.
The Kirnitzschklamm gorge is difficult to reach but easy to navigate. It takes 45 minutes to walk from the Buchenparkhalle car park to the upper lock. The gorge, on the other hand, is visited on a 700m barge trip from the upper lock. The length of the section is 700m, the water depth is 1m at the entrance and 7m at the dam wall. The water temperature does not rise above 8°C even in high summer, so bathing is not particularly popular. If you find that you are not seaworthy after casting off, you can get out at the emergency exit after 100m. The boat trip ends at the other end at the dam wall, over which the water plunges thunderously into the depths. You have to return on foot, either via the Flößersteig (raftsman's path) along the river or via the Hermannseck, a crevice about 20m long and only about 50cm wide, in which iron steps are fixed.
The dam has a centuries-old tradition. As early as 1580, the first wooden dam was set up. The reason was simple: the area was mainly used for timber and rivers were used for floating transport. Unfortunately, the Kirnitzsch was somewhat too small, and so the volume of water was increased by damming it. This allowed the Kirnitzsch to be used for rafting for centuries. In 1817, the wooden dam was then replaced by a stone dam.
Nowadays, rafting no longer has any significance; timber is harvested and transported away with heavy equipment. This was different in the 19th century, when tourism was already establishing itself in the scenic region. In the middle of the century, it was even massively intensified by the increasing construction of railway connections. New sights began to be established to pass the time of the tourists and at the same time generate money. On 25 May 1879, a wooden barge began operating on the Upper Lock for "summer visitors". The idea came from the head forester of Hinterhermsdorf at the time, Hermann Schlegel, and the members of the Vaterländische Gebirgsverein Saxonia. The first barge was then also christened Saxonia. Just one year later, a second barge was added. Until today, barge operations were only interrupted during the two world wars. The Gebirgsverein operated it until the Second World War, and after all the clubs were dissolved at the end of the war, the Hinterhermsdorf municipality took over in 1952.
Since 1990, the area has been a core zone of the National Park on both the German and Czech sides. This means that nature is left to its own devices here. Only the navigation channel and the raft trail are kept free of fallen trees. The Flößersteig begins at the Obere Schleuse (Upper Lock) and continues along the Kirnitzsch River for 27 km to Bad Schandau. So if you want to hike a bit more, you can start a recommended day hike of 8 hours here. In addition, of course, you can take a break at one of the seven inns along the way.