Vast juniper heathlands with bleating flocks of sheep, a mysterious stalactite cave, a valley where mammoth hunters once roamed, a deep meteorite crater, a cliff covered with shells and hugged by turquoise water – this may sound like dreamland but will become reality as you hike the Albschäferweg (Alpine Shepherd’s Trail) in the Swabian Alb.
This long-distance hiking trail leads you 160 kilometres (100 miles) in a large circuit through the entire Eastern Alb. You will roam through wonderful forests and pretty meadows, passing various rock formations which tell the tale of incredible history. You will meet shepherds and their peaceful sheep many times along the trail. But, should you miss them in real life, you will find steel sculptures of shepherds marking the Albschäfer Trail along the way. They tell stories about the everyday life of traditional shepherds.
Shepherds have been wandering with their herds through the valleys and plateaus of the Heidenheim Brenz region since the 15th century. The Albschäfer trail (Alpine Shepherd's Trail) follows the tracks of the wandering shepherds and takes you past sheep farms, juniper heaths and rocky outcrops as it winds its way through the gently hilly landscape following picturesque, near-natural paths and stopping at idyllic villages and magnificent castles en route.
The official starting point of the Albschäferweg is in Giengen an der Brenz. To get there, take the Brenztalbahn train which runs between Ulm and Aalen. Free parking is also available at the station if you decide to travel by car. Since the Fernwanderweg is a circular route, you can start at any point along the route. Heidenheim is a great alternative starting point as it also has good rail connections.
If you want to shorten the hikes, you can divide the circuit into smaller routes or try out one of the 10 circular day routes known as the ‘Albschäfer-Zeitspuren’ (Shepherd’s historical footsteps.’
Each stage of the Albschäfer Trail except one ends in a village with good overnight accommodation. Here you can choose between guesthouses, holiday rentals and hotels. Along the trails, you will also find a few places to stop and replenish your drinks and snacks. With your rucksack full of goodies, you can relax on a bench and enjoy a break in wonderful places with great views. What could be better than enjoying this together with the happily grazing sheep? This is peaceful hiking at its best.
Ready to get going? Create and customize your own version of this adventure using the full Tour below as a template.
Last updated: December 21, 2021
Your first stage starts in Giengen an der Brenz. You start your hike at the train station, first follow the path along the Brenz and then cross the river to the south.
Immediately you leave the small town behind you and you are in peaceful nature. The Albschäferweg leads you over wide fields and along…
After a restful night, you start your second day on the Albschäferweg in Stetten ob Lontal. After a few steps you have left the village and will soon cross the Lone Valley and the Lone. The path leads you on the other side of the valley up into a dense forest and you continue walking on leisurely paths…
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
On the third stage, the quiet and secluded nature of the Swabian Alb awaits you. You leave Anhausen and follow the Albschäferweg over comfortable forest paths and along extensive pastures to Heldenfingen.
Right on the edge of the path you will find the Heldenfinger Kliff, a remnant of the steep coast…
On the fourth day you follow the Albschäferweg through picturesque mixed forests and over narrow heather areas. With the Steinheim basin at the end of today's stage, a unique nature experience awaits you.
You start in Gerstetten, leave the Egleen Lakes behind you and walk past the water tower. On Sundays…
On your fifth stage, you leave the Steinheim Basin in the morning and climb to the northern edge of the crater. With a beautiful view of the crater, you walk comfortably along the edge of the forest and soon after you reach the Wental.
In the Wental there are countless large and small rocks and stone…
After your relaxing night in the small Albdorf Zang, you stroll a few more steps through the village. If you feel like it, then the detour to the small village pond is worthwhile. The pond is idyllically located between the small houses.
Then you leave the village to the east. The Albschäferweg leads…
The seventh stage on the Albschäferweg is quite short with a distance of around nine kilometers. Therefore, the detour to Hellenstein Castle is definitely worthwhile. The detour is already included in the tour and it extends the distance from 9.1 kilometers to 14.5 kilometers. If you want to save yourself…
On the eighth stage on the Albschäferweg you hike over the plateaus of the Härtsfeld. The Härtsfeld has a considerably more rocky subsoil than other regions in the Eastern Alb and therefore the agricultural yields used to be considerably lower here. This made the landscape particularly popular for the…
The penultimate and ninth stage on the Albschäferweg leads you to three historical buildings.
Only a few minutes from your starting point in Neresheim you get to the huge Benedictine monastery complex Neresheim. Today only ten monks live in the large buildings, but you can take courses here and spend…
The last stage of the Albschäferweg is also the longest tour of this long-distance hike. So you have enough time before you have to say goodbye to her.
You leave Ballmertshofen heading west and you will soon reach the Bavarian border. The Albschäferweg meanders through dense forest and across meadows…
Hiking Collection by Schwäbische Alb
Hiking Collection by Schöffel Sportbekleidung
Hiking Collection by Advnture
Hiking Collection by MySwitzerland