Autumn hike: These are the ten most beautiful hiking trails in Germany
Brightly colored forests, warming sunlight and the finest distant views: the golden autumn is considered the best season for hiking. We show the ten most beautiful hiking trails in the republic – from Lower Saxony to Chiemgau.
Please, dear autumn, don’t stop so quickly! Because hiking in the rush of colors works like a miracle cure for body and soul. Walking in the fresh, clear air makes you fit, lowers your blood pressure, the beauty of nature dispels everyday worries and a lot of niggles – and all that without incurring great costs. So just put on sturdy, weatherproof shoes, dress according to the onion principle and off you go on Germany’s most beautiful hiking trails. These are the ten most colorful autumn tours.
1. Willingen in the Sauerland: Uplandsteig in the Rothaar Mountains
A 300-kilometer network of trails: In northern Hesse, around 60 kilometers west of Kassel, the community of Willingen is located with its many hiking trails in the Rothaar Mountains. The Uplandsteig stands out among the 42 circular hiking trails. Over a length of 66 kilometers, ambitious hikers can smell the foliage of beech forests, enjoy the colorful leaves of the mixed forests, march through fields, meadows, marshland and enjoy views from the high heaths.
The challenging Uplandsteig is suitable as a 3-day tour with stages of 22 kilometers each, because the loop around Willingen is peppered with larger ascents and steep descents: 1555 meters of ascent and 1526 meters of descent.
2. Pfälzer Weinsteig: Enjoyment through vines, forests and rocks
In the southwest lies the largest contiguous forest area in the republic: the Palatinate. The wine region is particularly attractive in autumn. Because along the hiking routes, not only the leaves of the Palatinate Forest shine, but also the vines in shades of red and gold, and Federweisser is available everywhere.
The most varied tour is the 170-kilometer Weinsteig, which leads in eleven stages from Bockenheim via Bad Dürkheim, Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Burrweiler, Dernbach, Klingenmünster to Bad Bergzabern and finally to Schweigen-Rechtenbach.
What is special about the Weinsteig: The many castles, ruins and picturesque villages that lie along the hiking trail also contribute to the ultimate pleasure experience. If you don’t have that much time and prefer day tours, try the 18.5-kilometer Hauensteiner Höhenweg, the 20-kilometer lake hike in Maimontland or the tour over the Großer Almersberg.
3. Hainich National Park in Thuringia: Treetop path in the Unesco World Heritage Site
A primeval forest in the middle of Germany: the largest contiguous deciduous forest in the country stretches between the cities of Bad Langesalza, Eisenach and Mühlhausen. Ash, red beech and maple trees shine in the autumn and can easily keep up with the play of colors of the famous “Indian Summer” on the North American continent. The Hainich National Park with its ancient beech forests has been on the Unesco World Heritage List since 2011.
The coronation in the truest sense of the word is a walk along the treetop path – a nice autumn excursion for a few hours. The 44 meter high path winds in two loops around a tree tower. From up here the view sweeps to the heights of the Harz Mountains and the Thuringian Forest. There are also several species of birds, bats and even 60 wild cats to discover on the circular paths down in the forest.
4. Chiemgau Alps: highlights on the high plateau
Bavaria at its best: A few kilometers from the Chiemsee is the 1568 meter high plateau. A neighboring mountain of the Kampenwand, which because of its jagged rock ridge, the largest summit cross in the Bavarian Alps and the shaking rhyme “I like to go on d’Kampenwand when I know my Wamp’n ‘” is known.
The special thing about the two- to three-hour ascent to the Hochplatte is the view: From the hiking car park in Rottau, it goes through meadows and colorful forests and suddenly the Chiemsee lies in the north. To the east, the Berchtesgaden giants rise up into the sky after the Chiemgau mountains, to the west, the Kampenwand enchants.
And if you stop in the Piesenauer Hochalm after climbing the summit and sit on the south terrace, you have the Austrian Kaiser Mountains in front of your nose. The view wanders in the clear autumn air as far as the Hohe Tauern, to the snow-covered Großglockner and the Großvenediger.
If the 1000 meters in altitude are too much for you, you can take the Hochplattenbahn from Marquartstein and shorten the tour to an hour’s walk.
5. Teutoburg Forest: 13 colorful stages on the Hermannshöhen
The Teutoburg Forest with its two quality hiking trails, “Hermannsweg” and “Eggeweg”, which are certified by the hiking association, stretches across the Lower Saxon mountainous region. The two ridge trails form the Hermannshöhen and lead over 226 kilometers of long-distance hiking trails through the low mountain range.
The path is one of the “Top Trails of Germany”, one of the 16 most beautiful and eventful hiking trails in the country and leads past palaces, castles, monasteries, spectacular rock formations, the famous Externsteine and forests that shine in golden autumn colors.
The lowest point of the hike, which extends over ten to 13 daily stages, is 32 meters above sea level, the highest 468 meters.
The paths can also be done individually, the Hermannsweg stretches for around eight days, the Eggeweg with 73 kilometers for six days. Less ambitious hikers explore the enchanted Silberbachtal, go to the impressive rock formation of the Externsteine or climb the Velmerstot, at 468 meters the highest point in the Egge Mountains.
6. Karwendel Mountains: Big cinema in the Großer Ahornboden
Admittedly, the beautiful piece of earth that we are talking about now is no longer in Bavaria, but already in Tyrolean territory. After all, most of the Karwendel belongs to Tyrol and only a small part of the rocky peaks extends on Upper Bavarian soil. The hiker shouldn’t care if he reaches the plateau called Großer Ahornboden at the end of the Risstal.
Surrounded by the distinctive, steep rock walls, a grass plain with 2000 maple trees spreads out there. These maple trees, some of which are several hundred years old, shine in the autumn in bright yellow and gold tones in contrast to the blue of the sky and the gray rock walls.
This unique natural spectacle can be experienced on a one-hour walk to the Bimsalm. But also as part of a larger tour to the almost 2000 meter high Lamsenjoch or in two and a half hours to the spectacularly situated Falkenhütte, which incidentally belongs to the German Alpine Association.
7. Frankenwald: “Steigla” Petersgrat – listening to the silence in the quality-assured idyll
“Quality region for hiking in Germany” is the name of the seal that the hiking association awarded the Franconian Forest as the first region in Bavaria. In the nature park region in northern Bavaria, hikers will find 32 “Frankenwaldsteigla” with lengths between five and 18 kilometers, which revolve around the themes of “hearing the silence”, “breathing space” or “understanding the forest”.
The “Steigla” Petersgrat from Joditz follows the loops of the Saale through the Auental up to the Petersgrat viewpoint. 100 meters above the bank of the Saale, it becomes clear why the motto of the tour is “listening to silence”. Up here you can only hear the quiet babbling of the tributary of the Main, the view sweeps over the colorful canopies of the forest area Leuchtholz and sticks to the Auensee, which is embedded in a loop in the Saale. It couldn’t be more idyllic.
8. Between Hamburg, Hanover, Bremen: Flatland hiking on the north paths
There are many people who like to walk, but they don’t like steep climbs or even mountains. Those who belong to this type of hiker will find their paradise in the lowland hiking region of the Rotenburg (Wümme) district in Lower Saxony. Nordpfade is the name of the 24 circular hiking trails that lead through the gently undulating landscape between the cities of Hamburg, Hanover and Bremen.
From the six-kilometer half-day hike to the 32-kilometer multi-day hike, everything is offered according to the motto: flat, wide, idyllic – enjoyable hiking the North German way. The trails certified by the hiking association lead through large forest areas, moors, heather areas, river valleys natural lakes and in small farming villages. This is a leisurely hike.
9. Black Forest: Kaiserstuhlpfad – vineyards and wild romance
Getting up early is worth it: if you set off at dawn in the small wine-growing town of Endingen in the southern Black Forest, you will experience a superlative autumnal natural spectacle on the 22-kilometer-long Kaiserstuhlpfad. At sunrise, the valleys are still hidden in the dense side, while the sun is already shining on top of the Eichelspitzturm.
In the clear autumn air there is a distant view as far as the Alps and Strasbourg. The highest peak of the Kaiserstuhl is the Totenkopf with its 557 meters, which protrudes from the Rhine plain. Now it goes downhill through Lösshohlwege and the terraced vineyards so typical of the Kaiserstuhl, which show their most colorful side in autumn. The entire tour takes almost eight and a half hours.
10. Altmühltal: Panorama trail through the fairy tale world
The “Altmühltal Nature Park” is one of the largest nature parks in Germany. The 200-kilometer Altmühltal Panorama Trail leads through the river landscape with its gently undulating plateaus, steep valleys and rugged cliffs of the southern Franconian Jura from Gunzenhausen via Eichstätt to Kelheim.
The hike through a kind of fairytale world takes a good ten days. Past juniper heaths, through autumn forests, along bizarre white limestone formations, to spectacular viewpoints and to the famous Danube breakthrough, the “Weltenburger Enge”. Because of its diversity and beauty, the Altmühltal-Panoramaweg is one of the “Top Trails of Germany”, the most beautiful long-distance hiking trails in Germany.
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