Börzsöny is a popular destination due to its proximity to Budapest. About its most beautiful routes I have already written about in an earlier blog post (read HERE). However, it is worth going a little further on the largest ex-volcano in Hungary, as there are fantastic treasures waiting for us near the Slovak border. Such as Kemence and the Valley of Csarna Stream, with the abandoned and legendary forest railway trail.
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And if all these are not tempting options, there is also a breathtaking panorama from Salgovar, Holló-kő and Jancsi Mountain and Jancsi Hill to the surrounding mountains and valleys. Now I share the guide of a real wild destination and hiking spot from one of the most beautiful and secluded corners of Börzsöny Mountain.
The small village on the northwestern foot of Börzsöny has been inhabited for thousands of years, as evidenced by the remains of stone tools, bronze and ancient tools found here. The name of the village is explained by many people of Slavic origin, but the old scripts also have the name shape known and used today. From 1293 until 1945 the landlord of Kemence was the archbishop of Esztergom, but the village also played the role of the seat of Hont County throughout history.
Today, the village mainly serves touristic purposes and has several attractions that are worth exploring. As well as the remains of the 15th-century Gothic church in the parish garden, the forest school named after Pál Domszky, the Calvary of Szőlőhegy, a folklore museum in the highland longhouse, or the former county house built in baroque style. I started my hiking and discovery at the Kemence Forest Museum Railway and from there I got into the wild forests of Börzsöny.
The starting point was the building of the Kemence Forest Railway Museum, from where we walked 3 kilometers through the village until we reached the forest. If you would like to shorten the distance, drive all the way to the Feketevölgy Pension, to where a narrow, fragmented asphalt road leads from the village. In this case, Strázsa Mountain’s nature trail will not be on the hiking trail however you will see the Csarna Stream of unparalleled beauty together with the trail of the forest railway and the wild cliffs towering above it.
The hiking route is relatively simple and well-signposted. Although the total elevation is 450 meters, there are no steep uphills during the 15 km tour, shown on the enclosed map. It is worth preparing suitable hiking boots, since the Feketevölgy including Csarna Stream, can surprise you after rain. There are several places where you have to walk across the stream, so hiking sticks are also recommended. Water is not available from a nearby spring – there is no water in it -, so prepare a sufficient amount of drinks and food for the trip.
Forest railways in the Börzsöny
The history of the railways built in the area of North Börzsöny has long been related to logging. In 1913 the Csarnavölgy Forest Railway was built in Feketevölgy, on which the cut-off trees were initially transported in horse-drawn carriages. The railway was used to move timber until the mid-1900s, the last time a train rolled through it was in 1992.
In the three decades since the floods and frosts that have devastated the railway, the former track is almost unrecognizable. The sight of rails leading to nowhere or staring into the sky is a very special sight. It seems as if nature, showing its true power, reclaimed the damage man has done to the valley.
Light rail construction is still underway in Kemence. When I was there, a new pair of trails was being put down in the forest, which extends the 3.8 km section of Csarnavölgy to Feketevölgy Pension. The development for passenger transport is not yet affecting the forest ghost line, so the rails are slowly becoming part of the serenity.
Special places and viewpoints
After the wild railway adventure, continue our journey on the blue hiking sign of Börzsöny, next to which a beautiful house will soon appear. The talkatively named Ash House was once used as a place for loggers and is now a resting place for hikers. Leaving the house at an altitude of 372 meters, turn right at the next intersection onto the red cross-signed road and begin the slow ascent to the Börzsöny cliffs.
The road leads through a beautiful hornbeam and beech forest to Vár-Bérc (715 m). On its top there are the ruins of Salgóvár, which are barely different from the cliffs. Not to be confused with the place of Salgo Castle in Nograd County, about which I wrote HERE. The road continues along the red line trail, which takes you back to Kemence. The trail, which runs along the enchanting ridges, is followed by the Kövirózsás (696m) and then the Holló-kő cliff.
The 685-meter high Holló-kő offers a stunning panorama of the High Börzsöny, and as far as the eye can see, everything is covered in dense forest. Standing on top of the rental, one can truly feel free and wild, which is such an uplifting natural experience.
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The trail continues on Jancsi Mountain (571m), whose ridge, called Ökör-orom, has been once a home of a hillfort. I must confess they did not remind me of the remains of the castle, but of course, it didn’t deduct anything from the value of the place. After the Ökör-orom, the road turns onto the Strázsa Mountain nature trail, through which you get back to the starting point, the Kemence Forest Railway Museum.
Strázsa Mountain’s nature trail
The trail can be explored independently, regardless of the above hiking tour, in 1.5 -2 hours. Its total length is 2.5 km, during which you can learn about the importance of intermittent watercourses, the typical plant associations of rock grasslands, and the characteristic tree species of the forests of Mount Strázsa in the Börzsöny.