The unique, unspoilt landscape of the Rhön is shaped by its woodless hills, valleys and moors. It is home to the valuable habitats and rare flora and fauna that have earned it the title of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife in this region and you might spot, amongst others red kites, black grouse, a wildcat, a fire salamander or even a mountain shrew. There are over 6000km of marked hiking trails in the region, which spills over Hessen’s borders into its neighbouring states of Thuringia and Bavaria. Here are two of the Rhön’s hiking trails to whet your appetite.
From the Bavarian town of Bad Kissingen to the Thuringian town of Bad Salzungen, the Hochrhön Trail makes its way through all three federal states. It Hochrhön splits and rejoins in the middle, offering two options of different lengths. The eastern route, the Lange Rhön, is 20km shorter than the western Kuppenrhön route: if you don’t fancy hiking the length of the entire 119.5km Hochrhön Trail, the two can be combined to create an 86km circular route instead. Taking hikers over some of the Rhön’s highest elevations including Hessen’s highest mountain, the Wasserkuppe (at 950m, Hessen’s highest), the Hochrhön Trail offers some challenging stages that reward hikers with wonderful views of the Rhön’s distinctive landscapes.
The 80-kilometre Milseburg Trail is a true highlight for walkers. Starting at Fulda train station, the route takes hikers past beautiful Baroque and half-timbered buildings before leading them out of the city in the direction of the 835m Milseburg mountain. The hike up the Milseburg’s is challenging, but from its summit, the panoramic views of the Kuppenrhön hills are breathtaking. Between here and the route’s destination, a Baroque palace on the edge of the Thuringian town of Meiningen, the gently undulating landscape is peppered with traditional villages, mysterious-looking rock formations, spruce forests and castle ruins.