Culture and nature from Rheine to Marsburg – Hermann Heights Trail
© Teutoburger Wald Tourismus | Foto: I. Bohlken
Giant sandstone rocks, legendary caves where dragons are said to have lived, castles that were once home to powerful commanders, narrow forest paths that wind gently up and down hillsides – the Hermann Heights Trail leads through wonderful landscapes and history. If you are looking for a hiking adventure that’s longer than a day, then pack your rucksack and set off to the Hermannshöhen (Hermann Heights). The 230-kilometre (143 mile) Hermann Heights Trail connects the classic Hermannsweg and Eggeweg ridge trails. With an abundance of cultural monuments and nature en route, the trail is a hike to remember.
From the tranquil town of Rhein, you explore the northwestern part of the long-distance trail and all its sights. At the so-called ‘Nasses Dreieck’, where the Dortmund-Ems canal and Mitteland canal meet, in Hörstel, you can relax and watch boats navigating the locks. Further south, the Dörenther Cliffs will impress you with their breathtaking views over the Münsterland’s lowlands. The route takes you to numerous castles, as well as the famous Hermann Monument which commemorates the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Equally as famous, but for different reasons, are the Externsteine. These beautiful sandstone formations reach up to the sky and reveal the earth’s geological history. You also hike over high plateaus, through deep green forests, flowering heaths and fragrant meadows.
The further south you go, the more natural the trail becomes. Around the Egge Hills, you leave civilisation more or less behind you as you walk along a green mule track over the Hermann Heights. Natural monuments appear suddenly along the route time and time again such as the impressive Teutonia Cliffs in the heart of the forest, which are sure to leave you speechless.
You can easily reach both the starting point in Rheine and the endpoint in Marburg by train. It’s up to you to decide which direction to walk the Hermann Heights. You can find local and long-distance public transport along the trail, for example in Halle (Westphalia), Bielefeld and Bad Driburg. This makes it convenient to hike the long-distance trail bit by bit.
By the way: the Hermann Heights Trail has been nominated in Wandermagazin’s quest to find the most beautiful hiking trail in 2021. The winner won’t be decided by a jury of experts, but by hikers and outdoor enthusiasts like you. You can increase the trail’s chance of winning by voting too. Votes can be cast until 30th June.
For a taste of the beauty that awaits on the Hermann Heights Trail, watch this video:
If you like the landscape around the mountains but don’t have time to hike the entire trail, you can explore the Teutoburg Forest‘s nature and culture on a series of day hikes. Check out 18 wonderful circular Tours, here: komoot.de/collection/1069742/dem-hermannsweg-ganz-nah-18-rundtouren-im-teutoburger-wald
Your first stage on the Hermannshöhen begins in Rheine. From here you hike a bit upstream along the Ems, which you cross at the so-called soldiers bridge. You have already left the city behind you and the Hermannshöhen meander through wide fields and small wooded areas in the direction of the Teutoburg Forest.Soon you will pass the town of Bevergern and a little later you will be standing on the banks of the Dortmund-Ems Canal. The Dortmund-Ems Canal and the Mittelland Canal converge at the Nassen Dreieck near Bevergern. On the opposite bank you can already see the westernmost foothills of the Teutoburg Forest.From Bevergern you can make a detour to the Kunsthaus Kloster Gravenhorst or you can go straight to your accommodation. There is a good selection of different accommodations in Bevergern and in the nearby neighboring towns of Riesenbeck and Hörstel.
The first mountain stage is on the second day of hiking. From the Nassen Dreieck, it goes parallel to the Dortmund-Ems Canal up to the ridge of the Teutoburg Forest. The name is deceptive here: This is not just a forest, but above all a pronounced and elongated low mountain range.From the bank of the canal it goes gently uphill to the Kammweg. The ridge is densely forested here, but you can enjoy the wide view of the Münsterland at various vantage points. After you have hiked a few kilometers through the quiet forest, a great highlight awaits you: The Dörenther cliffs are exciting sandstone rocks that rise on the edge of the Teutoburg Forest. Individual rocks have names like "The Squatting Woman" or "Dreikaiserstuhl". Two inns invite you to take a break around the cliffs.After you have explored the cliffs extensively, you continue on the edge of Brochterbeck over the ridge to the stage destination Tecklenburg. In the medieval town you will find several cozy hotels and pensions.
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The third stage on the Hermannshöhen begins in Tecklenburg. In the south you leave the city. The path leads you past the Königsseen, over the motorway and you are back in the middle of nature.With small ascents and descents, the Hermannshöhen meander over the ridge of the Teutoburg Forest. In this section it is far less forested and therefore you have great views of the surrounding landscape in many places. A special highlight is the old Lengerich limestone mining area, now known as the Blue Lagoon.Along today's stage you will also come across three large, still active limestone mining areas - the view is impressive in any case. Before you go down to the stage destination, you can take a rest in the cozy Malepartus Waldschänke.Bad Iburg welcomes you with a beautiful old town, a castle, an exciting treetop path and a good selection of hotels and inns.
On the fourth stage, the Teutoburg Forest lives up to its name: starting from Bad Iburg, the Hermannshöhen run through quiet forests for almost the entire route. The first section takes you through the unspoilt Freeden nature reserve.Afterwards you hike a bit along the edge of the forest and then climb quite steeply to the ridge path. From here it's soon downhill over the next motorway and straight back into the dense forest. You will soon forget the noise of the cars when you wander through the trees here.But so that panorama lovers also don't miss out, you still have two observation towers to choose from today. The first tower is located directly on the Kammweg above the village of Dissen and offers you a great view of the wooded mountains of the Teutoburg Forest. Today's stage ends here and you can comfortably descend to Dissen.
You start your hike freshly relaxed in Dissen. First it goes uphill again and to the pretty town of Borgholzhausen - sun lounger with a view included. Then you follow the Hermannshöhen to Ravensberg Castle, the first big highlight of the day. The well-preserved small castle with its Hofschänke is located on a foothill of the Teutoburg Forest and is a nice place for a first break.From there it goes up and down over the peaks and through the valleys of the mountain ridge. The ridge is unevenly forested here and so you always have beautiful views of the surrounding landscape.After about 19 kilometers you will reach today's stage destination Halle (Westphalia). Before you descend from the Hermannshöhen, you can again enjoy the beautiful view of the surrounding lowlands.
At the beginning of the sixth stage, you first climb uphill from your accommodation in Halle (Westphalia) to the signposted hiking trail. After one last look at yesterday's destination, the tour can begin right away.Today's route runs entirely on a very narrow ridge. Without any significant differences in altitude, you can hike comfortably through the forest. You will pass various viewpoints and you can take a rest in the Peter auf'm Berge restaurant before you follow the Hermannshöhen downhill to Bielefeld, where the sixth stage ends.
The seventh stage of the Hermannshöhen begins in the city center of Bielefeld. After a detour to Sparrenburg on the mountain of the same name, it goes over a narrow green strip out of the city.Bielefeld is soon behind you and you are walking gently uphill to the ridge of the Teutoburg Forest. The next destination is the Iron Anton. This observation tower was actually called the Bismarck Tower, but due to its unique steel construction it is only called Iron Anton today.Incidentally, here you have also reached the highest point of today's stage and so from now on it's mainly downhill. You cross another motorway and then continue on the slopes of the Teutoburg Forest to the stage destination Oerlinghausen.
On the eighth stage, the Teutoburg Forest shows itself again from its most beautiful side. As in the days of Arminius the Cheruscan, dense forests cover the ridge and its wide slopes. From Oerlinghausen it goes right at the beginning up to the Kammweg.Then it goes slowly downhill through dense forest. In small clearings along the way, you can always take a look at the surrounding hilly landscape and the Weser and Wiehen Mountains some distance away.The goal of today's hike is the huge statue of Arminius, the Hermannsdenkmal on the summit of the Grotenburg. With a height of 26 meters, Hermann is the tallest statue in Germany. The raised sword alone measures seven meters. The base of the statue is just as high again and so the entire monument is really very impressive. Its creator, the artist and sculptor Ernst von Bandel, saw this monumental statue as his life's work. Right from the start he made it clear that he would forego an artist fee so that all donations could benefit the building. The small hut in which von Bandel lived next to the statue during the last years of construction can still be visited today. He worked on his dream for over forty years until the monument was ceremoniously opened in 1875.From the Hermannsdenkmal it is only a short distance to the beautiful town of Detmold, where you can easily find accommodation.
Your ninth stage begins again at the foot of Hermann, the Cheruscan. Here you descend from the Grotenburg and thus also leave the Teutoburg Forest. From the village of Berlebeck, the lowest point of the stage, the Egge Mountains join directly. You should definitely not be Europe's oldest and most species-rich bird of prey observatory here
miss. The open-air shows are a real highlight at the Adlerwarte.Through forests, over small mountains and hills, until you reach the climax of the ninth stage. On the banks of a large pond, the famous Externsteine tower up into the sky. There are some legends about the four rock towers and people have been making pilgrimages to this impressive place for centuries.From the Externsteinen, the Hermannshöhen meander through the forest up to the summit of Velmerstot. From the rocky summit plateau you can enjoy the beautiful view of the wooded slopes of the Eggegebirge, Teutoburg Forest and Weserbergland, before you descend to the stage destination Leopoldstal.
The tenth stage of the Hermannshöhen takes you gently up and down to fabulous views over the wide grass and forest landscape and right through the picturesque Natura 2000 area of Egge. The Lippische Velmerstot vantage point and starting point is the entrance portal to the extensive nature reserve. After only a few hundred meters, the striking Eggeturm rises up in front of you. Climb the few steps of the wooden tower and enjoy the unique all-round panorama over the Teutoburg Forest and the Egge Mountains.We continue over the densely wooded ridge to Feldromer Berg, 446 meters high and with a beautiful view of the villages below. Once you have reached the Rehberg, you descend a few meters and cross Altenbecker Straße. And then it's back up to the Trötenberg. With the Hake and Bone Hut you will always find inviting places to take a break for your snack along the way.The stage ends at the Iburg castle ruins with their moss-covered stone walls. A tour at the end of the stage is not only worthwhile because of the great view of Bad Driburg. Right next door, the Sachsenklause serves delicious cakes and coffee as well as regional dishes from the local forests. A delicious end to the day!
Ten stages full of unique impressions are already behind you. And yet there is still plenty of new to discover. While dense mixed forests and fascinating ridge views are your constant companions today, small villages with their charm and at the very end an impressive tower beckon on the way.From the ruins of the Iburg you meander leisurely along the Eggeweg and past the Füllenberg. For a first break, the wild and romantic Klusenberg refuge is right on the edge of the path. The path winds its way through low blueberry bushes, very narrow and close to nature.After about eleven kilometers, the next wooden hiking hut appears in front of you. The particularly lovingly designed signpost skilfully steals the show from her. Once you have taken a breather and got an overview in all directions, the last section leads you to the television tower Willebadessen, which is visible from afar. You can find accommodation in the village of the same name around the corner.
The twelfth stage will demand a lot from you. With a length of almost 20 kilometers and around 300 meters of ascent and descent, it is challenging, but since you've already immigrated very well, you master it with your left hand. In addition, some optical delicacies ensure the perfect reward.After you have left Willebadessen behind you, you first walk a little downhill to make up for the meters in altitude immediately after crossing the babbling Riekebach. After four and a half kilometers, the majestic Teutonia cliffs are enthroned in front of you, some of which rise steeply 15 meters.Wonderfully wooded you meander over the Eggeweg, past cozy shelters and rugged cliffs. Before you descend quite steeply into the picturesque Schwarzbachtal, take a few minutes to take a break on the "Nadel" mountain, the top of which is warmed up by the sun. From the Schwarzbachtal the path winds up again to Blankenrode, where you will find an evening quarters.
It feels like you've just started and the final stage along the Hermannshöhen is already on the agenda. Your destination is Obermarsberg on the leisurely flowing Diemel. The way there is characterized by an alternation between deep green forest, open fields and idyllic settlements. And at the very end there is even a real dragon cave waiting for you.You leave the quiet Blankenrode over the southern field landscape, see the cars from a bridge over the motorway below you and immediately disappear into the forest. The cozy Felshütte Oesdorf is exactly the right place for a first break. You stroll kilometer by kilometer along extensive fields and shortly before Niedermarsberg you are once again surrounded by the green of the Hermannshöhen.As soon as you reach the glittering Diemel, you are almost at the end of the journey. Time for a break and, if you like, at the same time to toast your great experiences. Take all the time in the world, because you still need a little energy to climb up to the fabulous Drakenhöhlen. Whether Siegfried really defeated the dragon Fafnir here is entirely up to your imagination.