From the forested paths of the Rothaar Mountains and rough pastures of the Westerwald to the diverse parklands of the Lahn-Dill-Bergland and gently rolling hills of the northern Taunus, the peaceful Lahn Valley offers landscapes that are as diverse as they are charming. The extensive network of trails here offer a variety not just of scenery but also difficulty levels, meaning there’s something for every hiker in the Lahn Valley, and you’ll easily find your perfect route. Here are five Lahn Valley hiking trails to get you started.
The Burgwald Trail begins not in Nordhessen but the Lahn Valley, in the charming university town of Marburg. Sandwiched between the Lahn and Eder rivers, the Burgwald Trail spans the length of the Burgwald, Hessen’s largest contiguous forested area. For your efforts on this 51km-long trail you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Rothaar mountains and the landscapes that inspired artist Otto Ubbelohde, the illustrator of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Cultural highlights along the way include the ruins of Mellnau Castle and Christenberg Hill, a popular destination on the site of a former Celtic fortress that today consists of a 12th century church, a small museum and a restaurant for daytrippers. The route ends in the historic Nordhessen town of Frankenberg (Eder).
To fully explore the new Lahnwanderweg trail, you'll need plenty of time. Beginning at the source of the Lahn river in the Rothaar Mountains (in Hessen’s neighbouring state of North Rhine-Westphalia), the trail quickly leads you into Hessen, all the way to the confluence of the Lahn and the River Rhine – a daunting 295km away. It’s not only the length of the hiking trail that’s impressive, however: the diversity of the landscapes it winds through is extraordinary, too. From mountains to valleys and forest and floodplains, past cities and through delightful timber-framed villages, this trail makes for a truly memorable hiking experience.
This gorgeous trail through the Lahn-Dill-Bergland Nature Reserve offers seamless connections to numerous other hiking trails from both its start in the historic town of Dillenburg to its destination, the charming university city of Marburg. Taking its visitors on a journey through both gentle and dramatic landscapes, hikers can expect panoramic views of expansive forests, glittering lakes, heaths, fields and meadows over a distance of 89.5km (or 84.5km, should you choose to depart from half-timber town of Herborn instead). And you’ll be sure to spot a castle or two along the way.
The 36-kilometre Lahn Heights Trail is a circular hiking path that’s a great way to explore central Hessen. The trail starts in the charming half-timber town of Biedenkopf, which was mentioned in official records in the 12th century and is well known for its imposing hilltop castle. (You can alternatively join the trail at Buchenau train station.) The route will take you through the Lahn-Dill-Bergland Nature Reserve, between its wooded mountains and the River Lahn. Hikers looking for a challenge can try completing this relaxing two-day hike in one day instead.
The premium 154-kilometre Rothaar Trail leads hikers through the Rothaar Mountains. Starting in Hessen in the town of Dillenburg, the trail winds its way north to Germany’s most heavily forested city, Brilon, in the neighbouring state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The trail begins in the courtyard of the former Dillenburg Castle, from where it offers two options: a trail along the main ridge of the forested mountains or an alternative route along the 57km-long Westerwald path. The two trails meet again near the viewpoint at Kalteiche, at which point you can turn back to Dillenburg, creating a 77km circular route, or keep on going to Brilon. If you’re continuing north, keep your eyes peeled for European bison along the way!