This trading route was used to transport salt, which originated from the area of Salzburg, and other commercial goods from the harbours of the Danube in Linz and Passau into Bohemia and transport mainly grain back out of the country. The „Gold“ in the name of the trail had nothing to do with the actual products that were traded but with the value of these products. Not to mention the wealth of the towns along the trail as a result of all the money what was spent by the tradesmen.
In the early middle ages the salt of Reichenhall, nowadays a spa town, was considered one of the most powerful in the eastern Alps. Originally the salt was transported from Reichenhall by water, the rivers the Salzach, the Inn and the Danube, to Linz and from there it was transported over land to Budejovice. After the 10th century however Hungarian military invasions increased the need for a less dangerous route directly from Passau to Prachatice.
Through the ages the gold trail was developed into 4 different routes. 1. The Linz route
This route was the authentic route from the early middle ages to Budejovice. In the 19th century the first railroad of the European continent was build along this route. This route is no longer considered as one of the Gold Trails. 2. The lower Prachatice route
The route from Passau to Prachatice. This is the oldest of the 3 newer routes. The route passes Röhrnbach, Waldkirchen and Bischofsreut on the German sections and in Bohemia it went from České Žleby, passing Volary and then to Prachatice. Waldkirchen played an important part in the trade. The trip from Passau to Waldkirchen took the tradesmen already a day and so the travelers had to spend the night there. The bishop of Passau honoured the town with a city wall. The remnants of these city walls are still present. 3. The center Vimperk route
This route leaves the Prachatice route between Deching and Ernsting vor Röhrnbach and goes from there via Philippsreut and after crossing the border onward to Vimperk. This route was first described in 1312 but probably is was a lot older. To protect this section of the trading route 3 castles were build. The still existing castle of Vimperk, the castle Kunžvart which is now a ruine and in Germany the castle Wolfstein where in later times the town Freyung arose. When you enter the Czech Republic at the Philippsreut- Strážný border you will follow the original Gold Trail to Vimperk. 4. The upper Kašperské Hory route
The upper route left the original route nearby Vendelsberg. The route crossed the border at Bučina and then crossed the plains near Kvilda before descending into the valley of Kašperské Hory.
The Gold Trails can be walked again so you will be able to step in the footsteps of all those tradesmen.
From Prachatice you follow the yellow-black marked instructional path all the way to border crossing of České Žleby. The trail is 33 km long and there are 12 informative boards along the route. The point of departure is in the park in Prachatice. Getting back to Prachatice is possible by train from the Nové Údolí railway station which is an additional 6 km walk from the endpoint of the pathway. From Vimperk you can take the also yellow-black marked instructional path with a length of about 30 km. The trail leads you along the ruines of Kunžvart castle. There are still some remainders of the original path in the surroundings of Kubova Huť. Your return to Vimperk can be done by bus. From Kašperské Hory the Gold Trail is not easy to follow, there is no instructional path. When you follow the green marked trail in the direction of Filipova Huť. After 19 kilometers, at the crossing „Pod Březovou Horou“, turn left and follow the yellow markings to Kvilda. In Kvilda continue on the blue marked trail and see the source of the river Vltava. Then continue on the blue marked trail and turn left on the red marked trail not even a kilometer further. After 4 km. you reach your destination Bučina. This route is about 33 kilometers. During the summer season you can take a bus back to Kašperské Hory with a transfer in Kvilda.