It’s not every day that you get to take on a truly long-distance hike; the kind that makes you proud just for being there. Many hikers dream of such an adventure, but don’t know where to begin. First, you have to decide where to go, then you need to plan the route in detail, choose where to sleep, where to eat...
In the beginning, this can seem quite overwhelming. However, I have a wonderful Tour for you to test the waters of long-distance hiking. This route is not so difficult that you need alpine experience and just challenging enough that you feel very proud of your achievement at the end.
The route in question is the Nordwaldkamm trail, the oldest long-distance hiking trail in Austria. On 24 June 2020, the trail celebrated its 60th birthday. But this old-timer has not lost any of its charm over the years. On the contrary, the classic Nordwaldkamm trail was even extended in 2012 to include a return route – the Nordwaldkamm trail II. Following its 330-km (205-mile) length, you explore the wonderful border between the Czech Republic and Austria.
I’ve summarised the trail in 14 stages for you here. With the help of this Collection and by following the blue and white ridge markers, you can’t get lost. On the Nordwaldkamm trail I, you hike from the distinctive rocks of the Dreisesselberg mountain in Bavaria, through the forest to the Nebelstein peak in the Waldviertel region of northwestern Austria. If you still have the legs afterwards, you can continue along the Nordwaldkamm trail II on the Czech side of the border. Otherwise, you can catch public transport home from the Harbach municipality, below the Nebelstein (and still give yourself a good pat on the back).
So the inspiring stages and route planning are now clear, but what about accommodation? At the end of each stage, I introduce you to a place to stay if camping is not your thing. You can travel to and from the start and finishing points (Dreisesselberg or Hochstein) by car or public transport, but you do have to factor in a short walk to reach the trail. All that is left is to pack your bag and your adventure on the Nordwaldkamm trail can begin!
P.S.: Don't forget to collect stamps on the way to receive your well-deserved badge at the end.
Your Nordwaldkammweg adventure begins on the original part of the path and also directly with a summit, the Hochstein. From the large parking lot below the Dreisesselberg you make your way up here. And you are officially at the starting point of your long-distance hike.The view up here is correspondingly solemn: the high forest that once grew here can only be guessed at and the view of the surrounding landscape is wonderfully clear. If you have enjoyed it long enough and are ready for your first stage, you start past the Nepomuk Chapel and at the point where Nordwaldkammweg I and II separate, in the direction of Dreisesselberg.The first section of the path runs along the "Adalbert Stifter Weg". Among other things, it lets you cross the so-called Steinerne Meer, a natural granite block dump about nine hectares in size, and soon flows into the “Seesteig”. You now also pass the Little Stone Sea, as well as the former trade route from the Danube to the Moldau and the border crossing between Bavaria and Austria. Always high up and with fantastic views you hike until the course finally leads you towards the valley for the first time.You have just reached the Hochficht winter sports center. During the cold season, it is teeming with winter sports enthusiasts. At the moment, however, it is comparatively quiet and you can wander through it undisturbed. At the “Gasthaus zum Surleben” you turn your back on civilization and climb up through a high forest towards the Stinglfelsen. Of course, 1,260 meters won't go by itself - but every effort pays off for the striking rock group.And it’s not far from here: There are only about an hour and a half to go before you reach your final destination. It goes over forest roads, meadows and finally a road. Then you are already standing in the middle of the sunny plateau of Schöneben. There is both a hotel and a hut village where you can recover from your first stage. In the local shop you can fill your backpack with regional delicacies. So that you are safely ready for stage 2 tomorrow.
Well rested and full of vigor, you start day 2 of your long-distance hike. Today it’s not going as high as yesterday. After a short ascent from Schöneben up to the Sulzberg, you stay more and more down in the valley with leisurely ups and downs. From Sulzberg you first hike over the wooden meadow and soon afterwards dive into a beautiful forest until you reach the scattered settlement Grünwald. Here you have the opportunity to stop at the Gasthaus Pany and fill up your energy reserves. In addition, you can build a dangling to the approximately 25 minutes and very promising bear stone.Otherwise, you will continue walking through the varied surroundings without noticeable differences in altitude. A relatively wide goods path leads you to the Haagerhof, from where you can enjoy a wonderful view of Aigen / Schlägl and the wide valley basin to the distant Alpine chain. Here in Oberhaag, the path first takes you east - almost to the Czech border - and then south and through beautiful forests to the village of Wurmbrand.You cross the village and shortly afterwards find yourself in untouched nature. First over open terrain, then through the forest and finally over a bike path you will soon reach the Galgenberg, a historical site that offers you a wonderful view. Next you hike to St. Oswald and it is not far from here.But you only cross this charming town today. After the Furtmühle and crossing the Große Mühl, you will stroll through the villages of Gattergaßling and Spielleiten and sooner or later you will arrive at your destination, the old weavers' market in Haslach an der Mühl. In the local "Gasthof zum alten Turm" you can make yourself comfortable and get in the mood for tomorrow.
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Stage 3 of the Nordwaldkammweg has a good 28 kilometers and a nice steady up and down waiting for you. Let's go in Haslach - depending on your mood, you can of course take your time for the sights there or get yourself a delicious snack at the market. Then you tackle the first ascent directly and march over Haid and Innenschlag to the Czech border with a wonderful look back into the valley. If you are thirsty after the ascent, the Helfenberger Hütte comes in a little later - there are always cool drinks for thirsty hikers in its fountain.Past the Stelzer Chapel with a view of the Sternwald wind farm and over the bridge of the "Steinernen Mühl" the path now leads you directly to the border. You follow it a long way, where you can find out more about the history of the Iron Curtain at the memorial. Via the scattered settlement "Sternwaldhäusel" you come to a forest path that leads you along the northern flank of the Hirschenstein to the "Roten Marterl". Several beautiful details like this await you as you continue hiking through the beautiful nature to the observation tower on the Sternstein. It gives you a wonderful view of the Bohemian Land - in clear weather you can even see a piece of the Northern Limestone Alps chain.While you are descending from the Sternstein, you still have the opportunity to stop at the “Zur Waldschenke” inn. Varied paths through wooded areas, across fields and clearings then finally bring you to your destination: Bad Leonfelden. Ideally, you have already booked accommodation in advance, because there are enough of them here, from elegant hotels to cozy guesthouses. Take a break! And review your experiences today.
Day 4 of your Nordwaldkammweg adventure begins with making your way out of the city and back into nature. Via the south-eastern exit of the village you march briskly towards the valley of the Große Rodl and then always towards Schenkenfelden.And because it has been so leisurely so far, the first ascent will soon follow: past the Kalvarienbergkirche and over spice fields up to the Thierberg. While you are already at the height, you also build a dangling to the Hirtstein, because it not only consists of impressive rocks, but also offers a unique summit cross.Back on the main path, you go through the forest down to Oberdorf with its herb fields and then to Guttenbrunn, where the rustic, cozy Gasthaus Pammer is at your service. After the well-deserved break - you have already completed more than half of the hike - there are a few more villages to hike through before you reach your destination.To be precise: Harruck, Waldburg and the idyllic St. Peter with its pretty church. It was once the cemetery church of Freistadt and you can see it from the back on which it is enthroned. Along the stations of the cross you hike steeply downhill towards the destination. Freistadt shines with a wonderful old town, a beautiful brewery and several rustic inns in the city center. You should also secure overnight quarters here - tomorrow it’s going to go on.
At the Wanderstein in Freistadt you start stage 5 of the Nordwaldkammweg. You march east along the city moat. At the Feldaist Bridge, you can then choose between two route options: You can either hike over the Zelletau and St. Oswald or over the Alm to the Braunberg.This tour describes the variant over the Zelletau. To do this, you march out of the city, past a beautiful chapel with a worth seeing wayside shrine, over meadows and through forests in the direction of Reikersdorf. From here you follow the road to Etzelsdorf and soon cross St. Oswald.You follow the well-known ridge trail marking past the late Gothic church in the village and initially gently, then uphill to the Braunberghütte. As the "harbinger" of the mountain of the same name, it welcomes you (and many other hikers and non-hikers) for a snack. You can also enjoy a clear view of St. Oswald, the Feistritz valley towards Florenthein, Lasberg, the Hussenstein and the Viehberg. This is where the two route variants meet again.And so you march on, of course you also pay a visit to the Braunberg east summit and then make your way steeply downhill to the village of Witzelsberg. This is followed by Stiftungsberg and a little later Rosenau. You go uphill again over a forest path - to the Raphaelshöhe - then you've already made the steepest.You finally reach the Lambartau via the Holzmühle, Obermairreith and Pürstling. The high moor turns into Hochwald and soon the church tower of Sandl rises up in front of you. You have achieved your goal for today.
Today it's almost 26 kilometers from Sandl to the Nebelsteinhütte, the last destination on the Austrian side for the time being. You start from your overnight accommodation in Sandl in the direction of Rosenhofer Teiche. They are a particularly idyllic piece of earth. Bathing is unfortunately forbidden in the large pond, but you are welcome to refresh yourself in the small (or lower) pond.You are already close to the border and will stay there for the time being. Forest roads, meadows and forests lead you to the Schanzberg, then past isolated farmhouses on the Stadlberg. The small elevation is home to a chapel for expellees - a good place to pause for a moment.Next on the route? Karlstift. A pretty little town with a church worth seeing and one or the other opportunity to stop off and regain strength. Almost half of the route and a crisp ascent just before the stage destination are still ahead of you. First, however, you hike into the saddle valley, then along the Einsiedelbach through the Einsiedeltal, to finally reach the Joachimstal. To get to your destination, the Nebelsteinhütte, you march once more along the forest, then over and a bit next to the Lainsitz. You follow her to the ironworks. There you turn left and after a short detour through Friedental, three houses in size, you dive into the forest.Things are looking up. On a ridge, the houses of old huts suddenly open up in front of you. To the left of this you can already see your goal, the fog stone. You reached his hut after about ten more minutes. You will sleep here today. Before you devote yourself to the delicious food and your comfortable hut bed, you can of course tackle the few more meters up to the summit. And at the end of the day, enjoy the wonderful view.Tip: The last part of the Nordwaldkammweg I is due tomorrow. If you want to tackle part 2 of the adventure another time, you can hike from Nebelstein to Harbach and from there take public transport home. Alternatively, you can also complete stage 7 and then get on the train on the Czech side.
Stage 7 is the first time we cross the border into the Czech Republic. The last part of the Nordwaldkammweg I is in front of you. But don't worry: when you arrive at Gratzen, the Nordwalkammweg II follows directly. If you like.It starts in the cozy Nebelsteinhütte. If you haven't done it at the end of stage 6, you can make a detour to the Nebelstein summit before you start walking. Otherwise, you start straight away by climbing steeply downhill to the east and then walking over Sagberg and Holzmühle to Harbach.You can finally leave the asphalt road that has now accompanied you for a while and climb through a forest to the Mandelstein. This is a mountain that deserves attention. So make sure you plan a little time to thoroughly explore it and its new viewing platform. Then it's downhill again and straight towards the border.At Pyhrabruck near Gmünd and the southernmost point of the Nordwaldkammweg you cross the border to the Czech Republic for the first time. From here you can already see part of what awaits you on the next stages: the Gratzener Bergland, for example, but also the Green Belt and your today's destination, the old South Bohemian town of Gratzen. You are now heading towards it vigorously - after about three and a half kilometers you will have reached it. There are several ways to celebrate stage 7 - half of your long-distance hike. But you should also rest, because tomorrow it’s going straight on.
Time for part 2 of the Nordwaldkammweg. Well rested and ready for the 22 kilometers that are on the plan today, you should perhaps take a moment to take a closer look at Gratzen. His castle or the baroque pharmacy from the 17th century, for example, are always worth a visit. Then the way will lead you out of the city.What follows is a particularly beautiful and green section of the long-distance hike. It goes through the natural monument Theresiental. The large park impresses with beautiful nature, a waterfall here, a beautiful castle there - and with the latter you leave the valley again.Over meadows it goes to Strobnitz and then always beautifully towards the Gratzener Bergland. At the pilgrimage site "Dobra Voda" you can fill your bottles with healing water again, then you go uphill to Kühberg. There is a control room up there that gives you a magnificent view. Over a saddle and the "Kuni Hora" it goes a little downhill again. Here you could plan a detour towards Heilbrunn, where there is an inn where you can strengthen yourself. Otherwise, continue south on fort roads.Attention: Please follow the route guidance here, because for the first (and only) time on the entire Nordwaldkammweg there are no markings. This is how you will arrive safely at your destination for today's stage, the village of Sofienschloss. In the Lesovna guesthouse (lesovnazofin.cz) you can check in for the night and eat something tasty before that. From here there is also the option of taking a trip to the “Zlata Ktis” reservoir or to the Zofin jungle. Either way: have a good rest. Stage 9 is on the program tomorrow.
Woke up in the untouched nature of the Czech Republic and today it goes on just as untouched. With the village of Sofienschloss you have also arrived in the European Green Belt. This is a nature conservation initiative through which the border strip of the Iron Curtain, which has largely been left close to nature, is to be preserved across Europe. For you, this means that you can look forward to a lot of green. And also to one or the other ruin that will cast its spell on you along the way.From the Sofienschloss you first make your way through the forest to the romantic place “Huťský rybník”. Between all the forests you are really undisturbed here and you can let the unique nature affect you in peace. When you are ready, you will march on. Initially without noticeable differences in altitude, but with increased attention. Because for a while there are no longer any hiking trails. But as long as you orient yourself on the cycle path boards (and our route guidance), everything is fine.It goes downhill and from the former place with the sounding, German name Glashütten through a beautiful avenue to the Lainsitz, which you accompany almost to its source. Things are always looking up. And so you trundle a crisp 200 meters later in the manageable town of Buchers with its impressive reconstructed church. In the local inn "Baronov most" you can get refreshments if you wish.It's a little bit uphill from here. You now follow the cycle path towards Paulina. Sometimes you march through the forest, sometimes over meadows - in the middle of it you have the opportunity to take a detour to the summit “Kamenec”. While you refresh yourself at the fresh spring at the “Lesnica” rest stop, you get in the mood for the final spurt. Your stage destination is called Sinetschlag and has the nice, small “Penzion Jelení Vyhlídka” ready for you. Here you retreat until you start tomorrow full of vigor on stage 10 of the Nordwaldkammweg.
For the next two nights it's back to Austria. So from your accommodation you are steadily walking towards the border. You wander through beautiful forests. (Almost) always close by: the Maltsch. Sooner or later you will cross it over an old bridge near Mairspindt, which forms the border crossing here.At the customs house Mairspindt, the old Hofwieshammer, the Venetianersäge and the Felbermühle you walk towards Windhaag near Freistadt. In the Green Belt Center, which is located here, you can get a stamp for your collection on the one hand, and learn interesting facts about the European Green Belt on the other.There follows a piece of asphalt road, which you will soon exchange for a path along the bridle path. You pass the watershed with the weather shuttle. Behind it begins a sculpture path that includes 19 works of art by the Windhaag sculptor Gerhard Eilmsteiner. There is also a chapel here. Overall, a nice place to take a breather.At the end of the sculpture path? Pieberschlag, where you can comfortably stop in an inn. Such a strengthening can certainly not hurt, because immediately afterwards you start the ascent to the Reisingerberg. Just a little further you then climb the Leopoldschlägerberg. And from there it goes downhill again.From Leopoldschlag you walk to the banks of the Maltsch and the edge of the Natura2000 European protected area. Here you can marvel at the Maltschauen with their untouched nature and a viewing stand for water buffalo. Then you hike via Hiltschen with the Maria Schnee church to Eisenhut, the destination of your today's stage.
You will stay in Austria a little longer. Today it's 28 kilometers from Eisenhut to Rading. To do this, you switch back and forth between the two countries. From your last stage destination you first march uphill to the national border and then always along it to the height of the Czech town of Böhmisch Hörschlag. Once there, you step back over to the Austrian side.It goes downhill to Grenzbach (Simonsteig), then along the railway line to Deutsch Hörschlag. After you have almost completely hiked through the manageable place, you keep uphill towards Kerschbaumersattel and shortly afterwards you touch the village of Kerschbaum. There is a horse-drawn railway museum here, a visit to which can be a good preparation for what is about to follow. If you leave the village, you follow the horse-drawn railway path on the horse-drawn railway line Linz-Budweis to the horse-drawn railway bridge near Rainbach.Through the Birau you hike to Eibenstein and from there up to the Heidenstein cult site. If your stomach growls now, rescue is not far. And the way there is primarily connected with a descent. It goes down to the old Lorenzmühle, which is now a nice inn. Appropriately, the 10 mill hiking trail also passes here. You follow it to the Grasslmühle - no stopping point, but at least as romantic as its predecessor.Via the Böhmdorf, to which you have to climb a little uphill again, you finally get to Rading. You know you are about to be when you see the fish ponds. Once you have arrived in the small town and thus your destination, you have the opportunity to hike a little further to the so-called Schwedenschanze on the Czech border. Then you have the choice: Either you walk from here on the connecting route V8 to Bad Leonfelden to look for accommodation there or you can be chauffeured there by taxi. But please come back to Rading tomorrow, as stage 12 is already on the agenda.
Back in Rading and full of fresh energy, you start a new stage. Today, almost 31 kilometers and the return to the Czech Republic are on the program. To do this, you first walk from Rading towards Weigetschlag and from there to the extraordinary mushroom stone, for which only a minimal but worthwhile detour is necessary. From the bank of the Dürnau pond, which you will reach a little later, it is not far to the border.From here it gets woody - beautiful paths lead you to a nature park and the former village of Stern. Impressive wind turbines line the path. A detour to the "Hvezdna" can pay off. Otherwise you will continue to be led through a wonderful forest and finally you will be at a crossroads from which you can reach a beautiful moor pond with the help of a minimal dangling. If you turn around, you will again see the wind turbines that you just passed.
You run back to the last intersection and march downhill through old settlement remains to Heuraffl, where you can still your possibly growling stomach. Strengthening yourself a little can certainly not hurt, because to get to your destination St. Thomas, you have to master one last climb.Arrived in St. Thomas, a nice hotel is at your service for the night. If your energy reserves allow it, you should definitely pay a visit to the local castle ruins of Wittinghausen. From their lookout point you have a magnificent view of the Bohemian Forest, the Moldaustausee, the Sternstein and, if it is particularly clear, even the Alps.
Can you believe it Today is the penultimate stage of your Nordwaldkammweg adventure. First of all, it lures you out of your destination St. Thomas yesterday. We head west - next stop: the Vltava reservoir.The Nordwaldkammweg II leads you slightly downhill to the European watershed in "Korunda". This is the point at which the Schwarzenbergsche Schwemmkanal changes from the Baltic Sea catchment area to the Black Sea catchment area. You marvel at the beautiful square, you may find out a little more about the topic on the boards there, but for the time being you leave the floodplain behind you again.The course of the route is now heading straight for the Vltava reservoir. Soon you will be standing at the point where the Moldaustausee reaches Austria. At the time of the Iron Curtain, a bay with a dam and bridge had to be built. And this is exactly what you are doing now.The reservoir will accompany you for the rest of the way. After the bridge, it's a little uphill and you have the opportunity to take a detour to the Bayrische Au nature reserve. Sooner or later the asphalt road turns into beautiful green terrain and you start to keep heading west. Once you have arrived in Glöckelberg, you go looking for your overnight accommodation, the Pension Marie. Before that, however, I recommend you take a little detour to the Glöckelberg Church. And then it's time to take a rest again. Tomorrow is the final spurt.
Well, well rested and ready for the final round of the Nordwaldkammweg? It goes back to Austria, the goal is the impressive Dreisesselberg, which you climbed at the beginning of your adventure. The tour starts relatively leisurely at first.The Schwarzenbergsche Schwemmkanal will pick you up from yesterday's accommodation. For you this means: no noticeable inclines, (from the sun) trees to protect you, lots of cyclists and locks for crossing streams - a really beautiful and exciting section that awaits you here. And so you don't move from his side to a small snack bar in the middle of the forest, where you can strengthen yourself for the upcoming ascent. Before it really goes uphill, a deep blue, glittering highlight awaits you: The Plöckensteinersee, which slumbers so idyllically at the foot of the Plöckenstein, is a wonderful natural spectacle and invites you to take a break. Then it's already going uphill - the final spurt is announced!Via a steep path you reach the Stifter Obelisk, a monument that was erected here in honor of the poet Adalbert Stifter. Wherever it stands, there is a wonderful view of the Plöckensteinersee, which you have just hiked (and also lovingly called “God's Eye”). Then there aren't too many vertical meters ahead of you. Finally you will reach the highest peak of the tour, the 1,378 meter high Plöckenstein and again enjoy wonderful views of the Plöckenstein and Moldau reservoirs. You can also see the Hochstein, your current stage destination, from here. And that is exactly where you are marching now.Over the border triangle and the northernmost point of Upper Austria you change over to Bavaria. First it goes up to the Bavarian Plöckenstein. After a short descent, there is a final ascent on a slope, over which you get straight up to the Dreisesselberghütte and on to the Hochstein. The beginning of the classic Nordwaldkammweg is also the official end of the Nordwaldkammweg II. Either way: You can give yourself a good pat on the shoulder. You did it!