June 1888: founding of Czech Hiking Club by Vojtěch Náprstek
The Czech Hiking Club was born 135 years ago in June 1888, established by a group of travel enthusiasts. Its chairman, Vojtěch Náprstek, came up with a unique hiking trail network that serves tourists and hikers to this day.
Today the unique network of hiking trails is over 43 000 kilometers (or 25 000 miles) long. The trails are very well marked out and regularly maintained by members of the Czech Hiking Club. The marking system is easy to understand and unified around the country. Ski enthusiasts have a special network of ski trails more than 4,000 kilometers long.
Trail marks must be easily visible
The trail marks must be very visible and there are strict rules about their placement, size, and distances from one mark to another. In forests and mountain areas you will find them most often on trees or large boulders, in the cities, they will be painted on walls or traffic signposts. If needed they have special posts of their own.
Red, blue, green and yellow colours distinguish different types of trails
The red colour is reserved for the long trails that connect different regions of the country, lead down valleys or across mountain ridges. Blue trails mostly connect some significant or scenic spots but only within a certain region. Green is used for shorter trails usually within a county. And yellow signs mark shorter trails connecting other more significant and longer trails.
Czech hiking trails used elsewhere in the world
The Czech ski trails have inspired other countries to set up similar networks. The same signs and colour distinctions are now used by tourists in parts of Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany and Austria. The typical tourist signs can also be seen in the Romanian Banat area, where a Czech minority has lived since the mid-19th century. And Czechs have also left their mark in Brazil - in the vicinity of the town of Bataypora, in the form of hiking trails developed by descendants of Czech immigrants who came to the Latin American country to work in Bata's shoe factories.