The 15 stages of the Eifelsteig Trail — Between rocks and waters
© Rheinland-Pfalz Tourismus GmbH | Foto: Dominik Ketz
The Eifelsteig leads you in 15 daily stages from north to south through the entire Eifel. The Eifelsteig has a lot to offer you: Views that will take your breath away, wide valleys full of dense forests in which chilly streams flow, climbs that will make you sweat and landscapes like you have never seen them before.
On your hike through the westernmost German low mountain range you will get to know the cultural heritage and the diverse geological history of the region at the same time. Even the Romans settled west of the Rhine and you can still discover the traces of their towns, villages and castles. The most famous Roman building on the Eifelsteig is of course the Porta Nigra, the black city gate in Trier. On the Eifelsteig you will also find numerous castle ruins, historical handicraft workshops and buildings from the early industrialisation.
But the main protagonist of your hike is and remains the varied landscape of the Eifel: in the north, densely wooded mountain ranges and quiet reservoirs enchant you, you walk through hilly plateaus, visit picturesque volcanic meadows and in the very south, rugged sandstone rocks and ancient caves await you. No matter what time of the year you go, the Eifel is always dressed beautifully. In the spring, you’ll be witness to colorful meadows and flowering shrubs, while the summer brings deep green valleys and rippling streams. As the nights grow longer, fall reveals colorful pots and horizons of sparkling gold, before the winter slows everything down: cool, clear and crystallized.
On the Eifelsteig you cover a distance of about 313 kilometres in 15 stages. With a total of around 6,700 metres of altitude difference on the ascent, the Eifel proves to you that it is a genuine low mountain range. But you don't have to worry - the climbs and descents are evenly distributed over all 15 stages. Thanks to good bus and train connections, you can also plan only one section of the Eifelsteig or divide the entire tour into several hikes. The cities of Urft at the end of the fifth stage, Blankenheim at the end of the sixth stage, Hillesheim after the eighth stage, Gerolstein after the ninth stage and Kordel at the end of the 14th stage are the best starting or finishing points for a section - all five cities have their own railway station and can therefore be easily reached by Deutsche Bahn regional trains.
Your hike begins in the tranquil Kornelimünster near Aachen, through which the small river Inde flows. From the former Benedictine abbey in the historic town center, it starts along the Inde. On the Itertal Viaduct it goes out into the world and also over the first meters of altitude. Up over narrow paths you get to the towns of Hahn and Friesenrath, past the St. Bernhard chapel and into the woods, where it is best to take a break at the weather mushrooms.You cross the wonderful nature reserve Struffelt on wooden walkways - an absolute highlight in the middle of the blooming heather. Soon afterwards you will enjoy the view over the Dreilägerbachtalsperre and make a few more meters in altitude before you look at Roetgen, your destination for today.
From the tranquil Roetgen it goes over the Vennbahntrasse. Soon you will leave Germany behind you for most of the hike and dive into the moorland of the High Fens in Belgium. The hike through the rugged and unspoilt landscape of the Fens is a real adventure. After about half of the way, the Steling refuge invites you to rest. Soon it goes back over the border to Germany and you can learn a little history about the Vennbahn before you walk into the pretty old town of Monschau a little later.
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Today you hike out of Monschau into the valley of the Rur. After a good ascent, you circle around in a wide arc, always looking at the roofs of the city, the place you have just left behind. Narrow paths lead through the Perlenbachtal.Walking along the eastern bank of the Perlenbachtalsprre, you will soon get a glimpse of the Eifel National Park, because in the village of Höfen there is the National Park Gate and an information center. Through the Monschau hedge landscape further into the Kluckbachtal, you will come back to the Rur valley, where you can enjoy great views. The rest of the hike runs mainly above the Rur to the stage destination Einruhr am Obersee.
On the fourth stage you can expect interesting history, places worth seeing and a picturesque nature - not to forget the fascinating views of the lakes of the Eifel. You walk across the Obersee to the Eifel National Park.Here Urft and Rur meet and you follow the bank over hill and dale to the dam wall of the lake. Then it goes up to the Dreiborn plateau. In the midst of this area, the Wollseifen desert with its former St. Rochus Church tells of the sad but interesting history of the place. You have wonderful views of the Urftsee while you hike to the former Ordensburg Vogelsang.From the viewpoints Kickley and Modenhübel, it goes down into the Urft valley out of the national park. Now you leave the national park and hike down into the Urft valley, to today's stage destination in Gemünd.
About a third of the day the hike takes you through the valley of the Olef. You hike steadily uphill to Kuckucksley and can enjoy a break at the refuge there and the beautiful view over the wide Oleftal. Then it goes down to the small town of Olef. The second third of the day begins with a gentle ascent. You leave the Oleftal and walk comfortably through the quiet forest.Behind the Golbach settlement, the Eifelsteig still runs along the Kallbach. The last third of the tour is then more agricultural. Soon you will have the impressive Eifelkloster Steinfeld in view as the truly crowning end of the day.
Today you are walking in the footsteps of the Romans. Before you come across it, however, you cross the Gillesbach and hike along the western flank of the Königsberg with the towers of Steinfeld Monastery in view. After a leisurely hike in the dense forest, you will come back to the Urft valley, which you left yesterday at the beginning of the fifth stage.Here you get an interesting insight into the Green Pütz. This contained source of a water pipe was used by the Romans to supply Cologne with water from the Eifel. Continuing along the Urft you get to Nettersheim. Shortly beforehand, it is worth visiting the Mannenberg Caves and the Eifel Nature Center.Then it continues on a flat stretch parallel to the Urft. It goes past the Roman pond to the end of the valley. Then the hiking trail runs through dense forests again until you stand in front of Blankenheim Castle and see your destination for the day below.
From Blankenheim you hike up and down through the wooded region and follow the historical "bread path". There is a rustic refuge here for a quiet break. Immediately afterwards, the forest path leads slightly downhill into the Schaafbachtal near Ripsdorf. Past the church, you cross an agricultural region to Alendorf.Between isolated juniper bushes on poor grass, the Eifelsteig takes you up to the summit cross on the Kreuzberg. There you can enjoy the all-round view of North Rhine-Westphalia again, because shortly after the descent you will cross the border to the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Over a small wooden bridge you leave the lonely juniper landscape in the Lampertstal and follow the Mirbach to the village of the same name. At the end of this stage you can still enjoy the peace and quiet in the Erlöserkapelle, which rightly deserves the title Eifeldom.
You start your hike at Mirbach's impressive Erlöserkapelle. It's worth taking a look inside and marveling at the golden mosaic. We continue on pleasant paths through green forests and meadows. Soon you will catch the first glimpses of the volcanic landscape of the Eifel. On your way you will pass a striking refuge. After about half of today's route you will reach the Dreimühlen waterfall in the Mühlenbachtal.Before you get to the crime town of Hillesheim, you can visit the Niederehe monastery and the Kerpen castle, which rises on a dolomite spur above the village. Here you can enjoy the great view again before you go to the Café Sherlock, the crime house or even the crime hotel to spend the night. Hillesheim is a stop on the "Eifel-Krimi-Wanderweg", which is based on books by crime authors Jacques Berndorf and Ralf Kramp. Look forward to an exciting visit!
On the way out of the crime town of Hillesheim, you immediately walk to the remains of the historic city wall. A short visit is worthwhile here, just for the great all-round view. We continue to the lakes, limestone cliffs and the Hillesheimer Bach in the Bolsdorfer Valley - pure nature.Then you come to the Kyll River, which you cross and then hike steeply up the forest to the ice and millstone caves on the Rother Kopf. After a visit, you continue with wide views over the gentle hilly landscape of the Eifel. Soon the Auberg will be crossed and at the foot of the mountain you will already see the stage destination Gerolstein.Before the day ends, however, you will hike through the so-called Gerolsteiner Dolomites. Spectacular limestone cliffs with many worthwhile viewpoints. After this fantastic day it goes down serpentines in the Kylltal to Gerolstein.
Before you start, you can fill up your drinking bottle with mineral water at the Gerolsteiner Helenenquelle. The water comes from the depths of the Eifel, the carbon dioxide is natural and has not been added. Then it goes uphill straight away, to the ruins of Löwenburg. From here you have a wide view over the city of Gerolstein.After the castle it goes idyllically on a narrow forest path a little further up. Arrived at the wooden observation tower on the Dietzenley, you have made the toughest climb. Then it goes on comfortably to Neuroth. Another climb awaits you in the valley of the Kleine Kyll.This stage is tough, but it is also beautiful and varied. The altitude meters show up one last time just before your destination for the day in Daun. You can take a break at the Neunkirchener Mühle before a last, wooded hill with a good 80 meters of altitude is waiting for you - done.
From Daun today it goes first to the Liesertal and further up to the Gemündener Maar, the first of three maars that you will encounter on the Eifelsteig. It goes up to the Mäuseberg and the Dronketurm. From here you can already see the next maar.The Totenmaar, actually called Weinfelder Maar, you will then go around completely and then hike down a narrow path to the Schalkenmehrener Meer. After you have left the wonderful maars of the Vulkaneifel behind you, you go through dense forests into the green Liesertal.Only nature awaits you on the second half of this stage. You won't find any towns or streets here. After the idyllic hike through the green valley, you will reach your destination below the Manderscheider castles. A great sight.
Just like yesterday, it continues today: quiet, lonely, through untouched nature. You hike on narrow paths through the forest, the slopes of the Liesertal become narrower and narrower. On the way there are some shelters that invite you to take a break. Here you can let the silence affect you again.Later the path winds its way out of the Liesertal. You follow the Ilgenbach, on which the Eifelsteig is now oriented. Here and there the forest clears and you have a great view over the fields and Eifel landscape with its hills. As soon as you see the village of Großlittgen, it's not far. If you still have some energy, it is worth visiting the Himmerod Monastery, which was built in the 12th century.
You are now in the Salmtal and follow the Salm river through an idyllic landscape on a winding path without much incline. Historic mills greet you at the edge of the path, you continue on lonely to the outskirts of Landscheid, and then dive straight back into the Salmtal. The river leads you to the village of Bruch, your destination for today.
The penultimate day will be crisp again; it is the longest section and also has some short but steep climbs. After you have left Bruch, the Salmtal also ends a little later. The first notable ascent is on well-developed forest trails up to the high plateau near Zemmer.Now it's getting idyllic again: Forests and fields alternate, here and there you cross a small town. In between there is a wooden observation tower, from which you can look into the Hunsrück in good weather. From here it goes further down into the Kylltal. Before today's stage destination in Kordel, it goes up again over serpentines. Bravo! You have more than earned the ice cream for dessert today.
Today is your last day on the Eifelsteig and it shouldn't be difficult for you to enjoy it again to the fullest. Today the long-distance hiking trail shows everything it has. It starts with a slight up and down through the Kylltal, you pass the Ramstein Castle and the picturesque Butzerbachtal.Waterfalls splash on the way, you cross suspension bridges and you can marvel at the relics of Roman miners in the Pützholes. But not enough. This is followed by two impressive caves, the Klausenhöhle and the Genovevahöhle. If you have a little extra energy, a detour to the Geyersley viewpoint is very worthwhile.Then things really start. As soon as you reach the Moselle valley near Biewer, you go on narrow rocky paths with magnificent views on a steep cliff to Weisshaus, where your hike ends. To slowly get used to civilization again, you can take the access road to Trier downtown and travel home comfortably from there.