Deep gorges and sunny hilltops – Hessen’s hiking trails

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The leaves are changing colour and transforming nature into a magnificent sea of colour:

Autumn is the most beautiful time of year for hiking in Hessen’s diverse countryside. From the Bergstraße and Odenwald to Lake Edersee, from the Rhön and Vogelsberg to the Lahn Valley – visitors can actively experience Hessen’s regions along numerous hiking trails. HA Hessen Agentur presents some tips for autumnal walks in eleven walking regions in Hessen You can also order a hiking map with an overview of selected quality hiking trails in Hessen.

++ Autumnal Rothaargebirge Mountains: the Uplandsteig trail near Willingen in the Sauerland ++

The fascinating Uplandsteig trail is characterised by adventure and natural romance. The trail takes you along 66 kilometres of extremely well-kept yet natural hiking trails that lead you past moorland, hillsides and riverbanks, through deciduous, conifer and mixed forests, and up to the highest peaks in the Sauerland. Walkers can enjoy an unprecedented variety with sensory experiences for the eyes, ears and nose. The Uplandsteig trail near Willingen in North Hessen, the home of the Brothers Grimm, is challenging as it takes you up a total of around 1,500 metres. There is an elevation of around 450 metres in the first 15 kilometres alone. Certified as a quality hiking trail by the German Hiking Association, the path is marked with a white “U” against a black background. Kilometre markers are provided on the hiking map and on the path itself to aid orientation. The Uplandsteig combines a wide range of the Upper Sauerland’s natural landscapes with over 40 beautiful viewpoints and unforgettable natural monuments. Besides the marshes and moorland with their native orchids, the Hochheide nature reserve is a real highlight. It is one of the most impressive in Germany.

++ Legendary walk through the Odenwald: the Nibelungensteig trail ++

Don your walking boots and immerse yourself in a world of myth and legend: The Nibelungensteig – a 130-kilometre long-distance hiking trail certified as a “Wanderbares Deutschland quality trail” – allows walkers to follow in the footsteps of Siegfried through the Odenwald. The trail begins at Zwingenberg on the Bergstraße Mountain Road and takes you up 4,000 metres across the peaks and valleys of the Odenwald, and past the spa towns of Lindenfels and Grasellenbach. The constant climbs and descents makes this one of the most challenging hiking trails in the entire region. Walkers are rewarded with geological, natural, cultural and historical sights along the route, as well as amazing, picture-postcard views, combined with shaded forest along the soft pathways. The summits provide fascinating views, and thrilling sections of the path take you past legendary rock formations and small and large seas of rocks. The Nibelungensteig trail is marked with a red “N” against a white background. In addition to the main route, there is also a 28-kilometre version with a climb of over 620 metres. This runs from Hüttenthal to Erbach and then meets the main trail near the village of Bullau.

++ Through the Kinzig Valley on the Spessartbogen trail ++

The 90-kilometre Spessartbogen premium hiking trail takes you along well-marked natural paths and trails from Langenselbold to Schlüchtern and impresses walkers with its lovely views. The trail begins at the Buchberg car park near Langenselbold train station. The trail is marked with the logo of the Spessartbogen – a yellow triangle with a blue line and green semicircle. You can discover the Spessartbogen trail on your own or with a guide, and it can be split up into four sections, which can be walked in either direction. Walkers pass numerous attractions on the route, including Germany’s longest barefoot path in Bad Orb and the free wildlife park of Eidengesäß. One of the most picturesque sections of the trail takes you from Mernes through the Rohrbach Valley with its distinctive canyons and numerous beaver lodges. The “Waldkunst” project allows nature lovers to see the forest from a whole different angle with three temporary tree paintings by Faxe M. Müller. The trails’s final destination is the 1000-year-old, state-recognised climatic health resort of Schlüchtern with its picturesque old town. In addition to the Spessartbogen, there are also six round walks – the so-called “Spessartfährten” – which round off the walking trails available in this picturesque landscape with a distance of between 10 and 16 kilometres.

++ Panoramic views across the open plains of the Rhön: the Hochrhöner trail ++

Walkers have been enjoying the varied landscapes, impressive panoramic views, pristine nature with basalt cones, raised bogs, streams, forests and mountain meadows on the 180-kilometre Hochrhöner hiking trail, which opened over ten years ago. The Hochrhöner is a certified premium hiking trail and one of the most picturesque long-distance routes in Germany. Marked with an “Ö”, it leads you through the Rhön UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Walkers can choose between two different versions: The East Route takes you over the plateau of the Langen Rhön, while the West Route leads you over the Kuppenrhön. Special highlights along the route include the panoramic loungers on the Wasserkuppe with views of the open distances of the Rhön hilltops. The trail achieved international renown when it was crowned a “Top Trail of Germany”. It is one of 16 premium hiking trails offering impressive diversity, walking experiences and enjoyment.

++ North Hessian fjords: the Urwaldsteig trail in Edersee ++

The main route of the Urwaldsteig trail takes you through 68 kilometres of untouched nature along the steep slopes around Lake Edersee, which runs like a fjord through the valleys of the Ederbergland region. Narrow paths take adventurous walkers over hills and dales, past mossy boulders and gnarled oak and beech trees. South of Lake Edersee, the Urwaldsteig, which has won the “Wanderbares Deutschland quality trail” seal four times, takes you through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park with its old, wild beech forests. Walkers can enjoy spectacular views of the 27-kilometre Lake Edersee – one of the largest reservoirs in Europe. The Urwaldsteig trail is marked with a blue circle with white lettering.

++ From Darmstadt to Heidelberg Castle: the Burgensteig Bergstraße trail ++

“This is where Germany starts to become Italian” enthused Kaiser Joseph II, when he travelled along the Bergstraße Mountain Road in the 18th century. The Burgensteig Bergstraße trail is marked with the symbol of a blue castle on a white background and is one of the longest and most challenging trails in Germany. It spans 115 kilometres from Darmstadt to Heidelberg, featuring excursions in the Lower Odenwald. The route is lined with castles and palaces, offering unforgettable views of the Rhine valley and the tributary valleys of the Odenwald. The trail involves a great deal of physical exertion with a climb of 3,650 metres. Previously overgrown and forgotten trails were cleared and made accessible in 2015, and charming, quaint and challenging parts of the landscape were included. Mathildenhöhe lies along the northern Bergstraße and is worth a visit. Art and art nouveau is still very much alive in the city of Darmstadt. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lorsch monastery is another treasure of human history that lies directly on the Bergstraße Mountain Road.

++ Valuable history and landscape: the Einhardweg trail ++

The Einhardweg trail is the old route between Seligenstadt and Michelstadt. The trail passes through fascinating countryside and is of historical significance, connecting two romantic timber-framed towns. The 60-kilometre route is marked with a white “E” against a red background and can be walked in both directions. The rediscovered route was used in 828 AD by the scholar Einhard, who was born near the River Main and wrote the biography of Charles the Great amongst other things. He used secret paths to smuggle relics that had been stolen from Rome from Michelstadt to Seligenstadt. The two Hessian towns are not just related in terms of their timber-framed houses along picturesque old town streets and two famous Einhard basilicas; they are also linked by their beer brewing – a treat that walkers can enjoy along the route. The Einhardweg splits into two in the Odenwald: One path leads you over the tops of the Mümling Valley away from the busier paths and through a varied landscape; the second path takes you over Höchst and is shorter and easier. The two paths rejoin in Mosbach and lead walkers on to Seligenstadt.

++ A historical journey of discovery: the 3BURGENWEG trail through Hessian Taunus ++

The 3BurgenWeg trail combines three of the most important castles in the Taunus in a three- to four-hour walk. The Königstein Castle ruins, Falkenstein Castle and Kronberg Castle are all open to the public. The eleven-kilometre round walk is a great way of experiencing the medieval landscape. Walkers can look forward to seeing special plants and animals, some of which are protected and numerous lovely viewpoints offering breathtaking views of the Rhine-Main region, Frankfurt Airport and the Odenwald.


++ Through the wildly romantic Margaret Gorge in the Odenwald ++

The Margaretenschluchtpfad trail takes walkers across rocky ground, up steep walls and through the wildly romantic gorge, and along the banks of the steeply dropping Flursbach stream, which has cut a narrow path through the sandstone. The water flows into the Neckar River via eight waterfalls. The four-kilometre tour takes you past impressive views over the Neckar Valley and Mittelberg mountain. If you have a bit of luck, you might even see a fire salamander. These animals are indigenous to the special vegetation of the canyon forest. Ten displays along the round walk provide information about the geology of the Neckar Valley and Margaret Gorge, as well as about the geological development of the 250-million-year-old layers of sandstone. 

++ The Habichtswaldsteig trail: 85 kilometres of walking pleasure ++

The Habichtswaldsteig premium hiking trail lies in North Hessen and in the centre of Germany – depending on your perspective. The 85-kilometre trail begins at Lake Edersee and takes you through the Habichtswald nature reserve with its diverse landscape, castles and timber-framed villages. Highlights along the route include the Weidelsburg – the largest castle ruins in North Hessen; the Hercules – Kassel’s most-famous landmark; and the impressive grasslands and basalt formations of the Hoher Dörnberg. The Habichtswaldsteig trail is marked with a white hawk head against a purple background. It can be combined with eight extra tours, which can be booked as day tours and half-day tours. Visitors can get to know the region better as they walk. It was home to the Brothers Grimm and is where they collected the ideas for their fairytales.

++ At the gates of the Main metropolis: the Taunus Schinerhannes Steig trail ++

The Taunus Schinderhannes Steig trail takes walkers through a unique mountain range right at the gates of Frankfurt, and in doing so combines nature with hospitality and accessibility. The 38-kilometre premium hiking trail begins in Kelkheim. It takes you through forests and meadows over the Taunus ridge and incorporates historical highlights like the Limes and Eppstein Castle. The hiking experience includes plenty of expansive views and reflects the Taunus, which reveals its great diversity along the entire length of the trail.

You can find more information about special experiences and offers in Hessen for night owls and nature fans at:
About tourism in Hessen:

Situated in the centre of Germany, Hessen’s regions and cities offer attractive holiday destinations and leisure activities for walkers, cyclists, culture vultures, nature lovers, families and those looking to relax and unwind. Idyllic timber-framed towns and big city flair, over 3,300 kilometres of long-distance cycle routes, numerous cultural events, 31 spas and health resorts, over 3,000 kilometres of certified hiking trails, a large selection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and an abundance of castles, palaces and museums − Hessen is a land full of contrasts.

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HA Hessen Agentur GmbH is responsible for marketing tourism and conventions on behalf of the Hessen State Government.