Patience, humour, generosity and helpfulness – these are four positive qualities that are addressed on the Way of St. John (Johannesweg). This special spiritual hike takes you on four stages through the beautiful hilly landscape of the Mühlviertel in Upper Austria. On the way, you can visit 12 places with mottos, wisdom, and unique energy, which invite you to reflect inwardly and look ahead in a positive way. The beautiful nature along the way does the rest.
You will be full of energy again after hiking the Way of St. John, covering between nine and 27 kilometres (5.5 miles 16.7 miles) in four days. The pilgrimage helps you to feel renewed. By constantly walking, you can reach a mellow meditative state, leaving all worries and problems behind you. What counts in the here and now.
As you hike through the wonderful landscapes of the lower Mühlviertel, you can recharge your batteries. The beautiful views, pleasant forest paths, and places with unique energy will do you good and feel you with a sense of genuine satisfaction. In total, the Way of St. John leads you 84 kilometres (52 miles) through the Mühlviertler Alm Freistadt region. The Way is signposted with a lily, the symbol of light.
The hike starts in the municipality of Pierbach. In principle, you can also begin walking the circular route from any other municipality en route. You can also choose to only hike a section of the route in one day. Generally, you can walk the length of the trail in three to four days. However, I recommend taking four days to give yourself plenty of time at the stops. In the Collection, I, therefore, present the longer version. The Way of St. John is only signposted in one direction – clockwise. This helps you to truly switch off as you’ll only come across other hikers once in a while, enjoying the paths to yourself.
By the way: two of the stages are longer than 20 kilometres (12.4 miles). If you get tired of hiking, you can take a taxi to your desired destination. You’ll find plenty of overnight accommodation en route too. You can reach the start of the Way in Pierbach by train via Linz and Pregarten. From there, take the bus 340 to Pierbach. You can park your car in Pierbach or in the commuter car park in Pregarten, as you return here after four days on the round trip.
You can find more information including luggage transport at johannesweg.at.
Your first stage starts in the municipality of Pierbach. Today there are only nine kilometers waiting for you - for that you immerse yourself completely in the spiritual aura of the Johannesweg. If you are arriving today, you can end your day relaxed with the first stage. If you have already arrived the day before, then start your first day with a hearty breakfast. Strengthened and in good spirits you are ready for the route! It starts on the Ramlberg and on to the farm of the Irxenmayer family. The first station of the Johannesweg awaits you here. The Johannesbrunnen and the Angel Chapel in Pierbach are undoubtedly highlights that you should definitely see.The place immediately unfolds its effect. The fountain and the chapel are so picturesquely embedded in the beautifully hilly nature that you will not be amazed. For inner contemplation, enter the Angel Chapel. The fountain will give you a little refreshment. Its water impresses with its high purity. The granite rock through which the water finds its way up has a filtering effect and prevents inorganic minerals from entering the water. You can either drink the water straight from the fountain or take it home in bottles. Because the water is sold under the name irx water. Not far from this wonderful place of power is the ball mill, which you can still visit afterwards.Gently uphill and downhill, you continue hiking across meadows and on forest paths in the direction of Schönau. On the last three kilometers you cover a good 100 meters in altitude until you arrive in the beautiful town of Schönau in the Mühlkreis. Here you still have enough time for a little stroll through the city. The St. James' Church, built in Romanesque style, is worth seeing. After a busy day you move into your cozy accommodation and treat yourself to a hearty dinner at the end. Tomorrow it goes on!
After a relaxing night in Schönau, you start the second stage with a good breakfast and good cheer. Today you can expect pure nature again and a lot of spiritual inspiration. After you have left Schönau, it goes up to the Herrgottsitz. As the name suggests, there is a seat-shaped hollow on this imposing rock formation, on which God is said to have rested after the creation of the earth. Take a seat too and enjoy the peace and quiet and the beautiful views.The next section of the Johannesweg leads you to the Prandegg castle ruins, where you can enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of the Alps from the tower. The next highlight also guarantees you a great view. Because after a good 200 meters of ascent you will reach the Herzogreitherfelsen, which can be seen from afar. Steps, ladders and steel cables carved into stone make it easier for you to climb the impressive granite rock formation.Now you continue to hike to the tranquil town of St. Leonhard near Freistadt. It is worth visiting the pilgrimage church, whose origins go back to the beginning of the 12th century. We continue to the Bründl Chapel - another station on the Johannesweg. This was built in 1728 on the old local road from St. Leonhard to Ennsedt. It goes uphill over the Haiderberg to Langfirling and then to Waldfeld, where the Galgenbühel is soon reached.Downhill, through the forest and along the main road you continue to hike to the Zwischenstromwiese. It is already located in the municipality of Weitersfelden. Here black and white Aist flow together and thereby form the Waldaist. Soon you will reach your today's destination - the beautiful place Weitersfelsen, where you will move into your accommodation. Look forward to a relaxing evening with a good meal and a glass of wine.
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Stage 3 is really relaxed again today with a day's march of 15 kilometers. You start in Weitersfelsen and walk over meadows and forest paths past the village of Nadelbach. You also pass the farms of the Silberberger schnapps distillers.Here you can treat yourself to a fine drop of home-distilled food. After all, you will soon overcome 300 meters in altitude on the ascent to the Kammerer Kreuz. A little courage and serenity can do no harm. The magnificent view of the Alpine peaks also compensates you for the effort.Before you always go downhill to reach the Kaltenberger Marktplatz, the Johannesweg leads you past the original chapel and the Augenbründl. Two more stops along the way that invite you to pause and recharge your batteries. The folk legend says that Our Lady once appeared to a shepherd boy at the location of the chapel. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and reflect on God and the world. You may find answers to questions that have been on your mind for a long time.Via the Kreuzweg with its 14 stone castle chapels downhill, the path continues to Unterweißbach, the capital of the Mühlviertler Alm region - and your today's destination. Incidentally, stone castle is the typical construction method for the Mühlviertel. The structures are made of granite stones. The larger stones remained unplastered, giving the facades the typical look of light and dark areas. The reason for this construction method was that lime was rare and expensive in this area and the farmers therefore inserted larger stones into the masonry and did not plaster it. Exciting!On your way, you will not only discover spiritual and scenic treasures, but also enrich yourself with cultural knowledge. You will return to your accommodation satisfied and reward yourself with a delicious meal!
Today is a tough day. At just under 27 kilometers, stage 4 is the longest on your way. If you still have time after your breakfast, take a look at the local parish church with its fine ribbed vault. It is dedicated to Saint Nicholas. After you have crossed the market, you continue hiking steeply uphill to the Wegererstein. At the highest point in Unterweißbach you have a fantastic view of the market, Kaltenberg and the beautiful hilly landscape.Your path continues to the Hermitage. The entire hill has special energies. It is not for nothing that the heavenly ladder, on which heaven and earth meet, stands very close to the hermit hermitage. We continue through the forest to a nature platform on which the Harlingsedter summit cross stands. From here you have another wonderful view over the landscape of the Mühlviertel before you head downhill on the way to Königswiesen.We continue to the village of Mötlas, where you should definitely pay a visit to the chapel. Then you walk past the Bischofsberg and after a short walk uphill you reach the Ruttenstein ruins. The once huge stronghold with seven ring towers is still one of the most impressive ruins in the country and is considered the largest defense system in Austria. Its history goes back to the twelfth century.Enjoy the wonderful views of the Mühlviertel once again with a glass of cider in the nearby refuge, because now it's back to your starting point - Pierbach. You look back on four very fulfilling days in a beautiful landscape. You start your way home full of strength and new energy.