Right through the Franconian Alb - the Altmühltal Panorama Trail
© Naturpark Altmühltal
In the middle of the massive limestone plate of the Franconian Jura, the Altmühl has dug its way through a deep valley over the millennia. On both sides of the river, the slopes rise up and rugged rocks throne high above the valley. The Altmühltal Panoramaweg leads you from the Altmühl lake at the edge of the Franconian Lake District through the picturesque river valley as you accompany the Altmühl on its long journey to the Danube. You will climb the wooded slopes, explore fossil-rich quarries, discover Stone Age caves, visit picturesque towns and impressive castle ruins. And, above all, you will be thrilled by the countless vantage points high above the valley, which offer you deep insights into the picturesque landscape.
Over 133 miles (215 kilometers) long, you'll hike the Altmühltal Panoramaweg in ten daily stages from Gunzenhausen at the Altmühlsee along the course of the Altmühl to Kelheim at the Danube. As you go, you'll cross the Altmühl Valley Nature Park, Bavaria's largest nature park. The signposted long-distance hiking trail leads you through varied landscapes of meadows, juniper heath and dense forests on field paths, hiking trails and also on to some narrow climbs.
Some stages are considerably longer than 12 miles (20 kilometers) and are therefore aimed primarily at hikers with great endurance and plenty of experience. However, as there are many cozy villages and towns along the way, you can easily divide the long stages into two or more days. In addition, you can also reach all the stage towns easily by bus or train. So you can put together your personal long-distance hike from your favorite sections of the Altmühltal Panorama Trail or complete individual stages as a day Tour. All timetables for buses and trains in the Altmühltal can be found at bayern-fahrplan.de.
Whether you hike all ten stages from the Altmühl lake to the Danube or just want to enjoy individual sections, the Altmühl valley with its picturesque nature will always fascinate you.
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Your hike through the Altmühltal begins in Gunzenhausen, south of the extensive Altmühlsee. From the train station you follow the path through the historic old town and soon a wide landscape will spread in front of you. In its middle course, the Altmühl meanders as a small meadow river through an open hilly landscape - only a few kilometers further downriver the dramatic valley slopes and rock formations await you.On this stage, you stroll on roads that are rarely used, quiet field paths and beautiful hiking trails over the gentle hills of the Franconian Lake District. In summer, endless seas of rapeseed blossoms bloom here and give off their unmistakable scent.After a while you can already see a striking ridge towering over the fields in the distance. These are the first offshoots of the Franconian Jura plateau through which the Altmühl flows on its journey to the Danube. Your destination for today is Spielberg. The village and the castle of the same name are located directly at the transition to the Franconian Jura.Arrival: From Munich, Nuremberg or Würzburg by train to Treuchtlingen. There, change to the regional train to the Gunzenhausen stage starting point.Departure: Bus line 646 directly from Spielburg to the starting point Gunzenhausen. Here you have a connection to the regional train again. Note that the bus only runs from Monday to Saturday.
Spielberg, the starting point of the second stage, is right on the edge of the Franconian Juraplatte. Accordingly, it will slowly get more mountainous from today. Right at the beginning you can expect a gentle ascent on a wooded mountain range. You follow the course of the ridge to the Yellow Mountain. It is a striking and unforested mountain top. From the dry meadows on the Yellow Mountain you therefore have a fantastic view of the hilly landscape below.When you have seen enough of the panorama, follow the signposted Altmühltal Panoramaweg further south. The path runs right along the edge of the forest and you can enjoy the beautiful view over an open field landscape. After a small section of forest you will reach the community of Wolfsbronn, where you can take a break in an inn.A unique experience of nature awaits you shortly afterwards. In the middle of the forest you will find the stone channel. On a moss-overgrown stone wall just under a meter high, a watercourse rushes downhill in a channel. The amazing thing about it: The stone channel was created without human intervention. The very calcareous water leaves tiny limescale deposits every year and so the wall grew over centuries to its present size.On your further path you hike through quiet forests and along hilly meadows with a beautiful view. Arrived at the stage destination Treuchtlingen you will also meet the Altmühl again, which moves peacefully through the valley here.If the stage of more than 30 kilometers is too long for you, you can split it up over two days. Auernheim, which you pass after around 20 kilometers, is a good stopover.Getting there: Regional train from Munich, Nuremberg or Würzburg to Treuchtlingen. Here you change to the regional train to Gunzenhausen. From there, bus line 649 runs from Monday to Saturday to the starting point Spielberg.Departure: Treuchtlingen train station offers rail connections to the starting point Gunzenhausen as well as to Munich, Ingolstadt, Würzburg and Nuremberg.
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Treuchtlingen is located right at the beginning of the Altmühltal and so you can look forward to the fantastic landscape on the third stage. First it goes over the open meadow landscape on the valley floor, before you climb steeply on the valley slope near Dietfurt.High above the valley you hike on forest paths and you can always look down through the trees down to the Altmühl. Soon you will see a striking castle on the river bank: Pappenheim Castle.Here the hiking trail leads you down to the castle and the town of the same name. Fortunately, today's stage is not that long at 16 kilometers, so you have enough time to explore the castle ruins and the castle museum. There are also various inns in Pappenheim that are perfect for a lunch break.Then it goes back up on the valley slope and with a wonderful view to the stage destination Solnhofen.Getting there: You can reach Treuchtlingen directly with the regional train from Nuremberg, Ingolstadt and Munich.Departure: Solnhofen has its own train station. From there, the regional train will bring you back to the starting point in Treuchtlingen or on to Nuremberg, Ingolstadt and Munich.
On the fourth stage of the Altmühltal Panoramaweg, the long-distance hiking trail lives up to its name: On the way between Solnhofen and Dollnstein you will be spoiled with countless views of the romantic valley.Right at the beginning, one of the greatest highlights of the entire hike awaits you. Immediately after Solnhofen the path leads along the Twelve Apostles. In a wide bend in the river, twelve huge, white limestone cliffs rise from the green slope and appear as silent guardians of the Altmühltal - a sublime sight.After you have crossed the river near Eßlingen, you walk along a quarry and over an impressive range of mountains. On the other hand, in the narrow Gailach Valley, the tranquil Mörnsheim awaits you with various inns and an exciting castle ruin.There is a great view over another ridge before you reach the Altmühltal again at Altendorf. Here the hiking trail continues along the valley slope to the stage destination Dollnstein.Arrival: Solnhofen is located directly on the Altmühlbahn railway line and is approached directly from Munich, Nuremberg and Ingolstadt.Departure: The Altmühbahn also stops in Dollnstein and either takes you back to the Stratpunkt Solnhofen or continues to Munich, Nuremberg and Ingolstadt.
The fifth stage of the long-distance hiking trail follows some picturesque bends in the Altmühltal and leads you to other geological highlights. Just a few meters from the Dollnstein starting point, you can admire rugged dry slopes. From here you hike close to the Altmühl over beautiful river meadows.The path climbs slowly and leads you on picturesque forest paths through the steep valley slope. In many places there are vantage points where you can enjoy the view of the narrow Altmühltal. Only at Obereichstätt does the signposted path leave the valley and lead you up to an old quarry. Countless groundbreaking fossils have been discovered in this limestone quarry over time. Therefore, after its closure, it was turned into a visitor quarry. You can go looking for fossils here on your own - and with borrowed tools. With a little luck, you might find a fossilized ammonite or trilobite that swam across the Jurassic Sea millions of years ago.After your visit to the quarry, you hike on the Eichstätter Höhenweg with a wonderful view to the stage destination Eichstätt. Once here, a stroll through the city and a visit to the castle are worthwhile.Getting there: From Nuremberg, Munich and Ingolstadt, the Altmühlbahn regional train goes directly to Dollnstein.Departure: From the Eichstätt Stadt station, the Bavarian regional train takes you to Eichstätt Bahnhof, where you can change to the regional train to Dollnstein, Munich, Ingolstadt and Nuremberg.
The sixth stage of the Altmühltal Panoramaweg begins in picturesque Eichstätt. From here it goes uphill over an extensive high plateau on the edge of the Altmühltal. Soon the trail leads back down into the valley and you hike along the edge of the forest above the river.The hiking trail finally branches off from the valley and after you have strolled through a wide juniper heather, you enter a dense forest. First it goes steeply uphill and then gently up and down through the forest. After a while the forest opens up into an open field landscape and it goes down to Rieshofen, which lies in a flat, wide bend in the valley. The rustic Gasthof Bauer invites you to take a long break with hearty home-style cooking.With fresh energy you continue to hike along the river and then climb to the Gungoldinger Heide. The nature reserve is now one of the largest juniper heaths in the Altmühltal. In the past, such heather areas covered the wide river plains and plateaus around the valley.From the heather, the hiking trail leads you down, over the river and up to the Arnsberger Leite, one of the most beautiful rock formations in the entire Altmühltal. The view from the rocks down into the valley is simply magnificent. After crossing the river again, you will finally reach the stage destination Kipfenberg.With a length of 30 kilometers, the sixth stage is one of the longest tours on the Altmühltal Panoramaweg. If the route is too long for you, you can split it up over two days and plan an overnight stay in one of the villages along the route.Getting there: Take the regional train from Munich, Nuremberg or Ingolstadt to Eichstätt train station. Here you change to the Bayerische Regionalbahn BRB, which will take you to the starting point in Eichstätt Stadt.Departure: The 9232 bus takes you back to the Eichstätt Stadt train station, where you have a connection to the Bavarian regional train BRB.
The seventh stage of the Altmühltal Panoramaweg runs through the narrowest and most rocky part of the Altmühltal. From Kipfenberg, the hiking trail initially winds over a wooded ridge. Especially on hot summer days, the trees provide cool shade and in winter you will be enchanted by the unique silence of the sleeping forest.After a few kilometers it goes downhill again and after crossing under the A9 motorway you reach the cozy town of Kinding with its various inns and restaurants. After a first, short break, the path leads you across the valley and up to the Kindinger Klause. This is a rock canopy under which Stone Age people sought protection. You continue on narrow forest paths to another geological highlight: the Felsentor near Emmendorf. Around the Felsentor you will also find other exciting caves in the valley slopes.Then it goes down into the valley. A wide meadow landscape opens up in front of you and you walk directly along the river to the Kratzmühlsee, which is perfect for a swim stop. In addition, the restaurant on the bank invites you to take a break. The last section of the day takes you up the valley slope and with a beautiful view to the stage destination Beilngries.Arrival: It is best to drive from Munich, Nuremberg or Ingolstadt to Eichstätt Bahnhof and change to the Bavarian Regionalbahn BRB, which will take you to Eichstätt Stadt station. Here you take the bus line 9232 to the starting point Kipfenberg. You can also find more bus connections at bayern-fahrplan.de.Departure: From Beilngries the bus 9232 takes you back to the starting point Kipfenberg. If you want to end your tour here instead, you can take various bus lines from the ZOB directly in the direction of Ingolstadt and change to the train here.
The eighth stage is a real pleasure tour with its length of twelve kilometers. From Beilngries you climb comfortably to the Arzberg and enjoy beautiful views of the city and the Main-Danube Canal.The Arzberg is a wide ridge around which the Main-Danube Canal flows in the north and the Altmühl in the south. So you always have beautiful views of the canal and the river on the hiking trail. A particular highlight of today's tour is the disused Köttingwörth quarry. Here you can admire the different rock layers of the Franconian Jura plateau like at hardly any other place in the Altmühltal. The quarry is accessible at all times, you should just stay away from the crumbling edges.From the quarry you hike down from Arzberg into the Altmühltal and follow the course of the river to the stage destination Dietfurt, where the Altmühl flows into the Main-Danube Canal. From then on, the canal and river continue their journey to the Danube together.Arrival: The ZOB Beilngries is served by numerous bus lines from train stations in neighboring cities. It is best to choose your favorite connection at bayern-fahrplan.de. One of the fastest connections is the regional bus 9226, which takes you from Ingolstadt to the starting point.Departure: From Dietfurt the bus line 515 takes you back to the starting point. Alternatively, bus 515 takes you to Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz or bus 547 to Parsberg, where you can change to the train.
Even if the course of the Altmühl and Main-Danube Canal was heavily straightened in the further course, the landscape on the ninth stage is no less impressive. From the starting point in Dietfurt, the watercourse winds through a narrow valley with towering valley slopes.First you hike on beautiful river meadows right along the shore. Soon the hiking trail leads you steeply uphill through a forest and on to the viewpoint on the Rosskopf. From up here you have a wonderful view of the picturesque valley and the meadow-lined canal.After a short detour down into the valley, the Altmühltal Panoramaweg runs uphill again to the tranquil Obereggersberg. The visit is worth it twice: On the one hand, the castle with its extensive park and cozy café-restaurant invites you to take a long break and, on the other hand, the Kirchberg awaits you with a romantic church ruin and an impressive view of the valley.In a wide loop, the path then leads you down into the valley and just above the canal to Röthen. On a bridge it goes to the other bank and steeply up to the devil's rock. The jagged rock rewards you for your ascent with a dramatic view of the bend in the valley below. In lofty heights it then goes to the stage destination Riedenburg.Arrival: From Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz train station, which is served by the S-Bahn from Nuremberg, the regional bus 515 takes you to the start of the stage. Alternatively, there are various bus connections from Ingolstadt train station.Departure: From Riedenburg, bus 6022 takes you back to the starting point in Dietfurt. Alternatively, the regional bus 9221 will take you to Ingolstadt, where you can change to the train.
On the tenth day of your hike, the last stage on the Altmühltal Panoramaweg is on. At the end you will be spoiled again with fantastic views, impressive rocks, idyllic villages and a detour to the Danube Valley.The tenth stage begins in Riedenburg and the route takes you along a narrow hiking trail along the steep valley slope. It goes up to the nature reserve Klamm, a rocky summit ridge, which is characterized by exciting sections of the path and wonderful views.Then it goes steeply downhill into the valley and on the other bank straight back up to Prunn Castle. The well-preserved castle stands on a steep limestone cliff and can be visited. After crossing a wooded ridge you descend into the valley and cross the Main-Danube Canal on the Tatzelwurm, the second longest wooden bridge in Europe.Soon the hiking trail branches off from the valley and leads you through a dense forest to the neighboring Danube valley. On your way to the stage destination you hike through the Weltenburger Enge, the dramatic breakthrough of the Danube through the Franconian Juraplatte.
In Kelheim, at the end of the Altmühltal Panoramaweg, the Altmühl and Main-Danube Canal finally join the Danube. Enjoy the view of the confluent water masses in peace and quiet and accompany them on their long journey to the Black Sea.Getting there: From Ingolstadt central bus station and from Saal train station there are direct bus connections to the starting point in Riedenburg. You can find the exact bus connections at bayern-fahrplan.de.Departure: From Kelheim the bus 6022 takes you to the starting point Reidenburg. Alternatively, there are various bus connections to the Saal train station, where you have a connection to the train network.