Forest bathing in a sea of beech trees sounds wonderful, and it is. The Kellerwald, a low mountain range in Northern Hesse, has one of the largest contiguous beech forests in Germany and is one of the best destinations for forest bathing. The Kellerwald-Edersee National Park spreads picturesquely over 57 square kilometres (35 miles) of hilltops, cliffs, gorges, streams, valleys, and farmland. The deciduous forests are no longer forested and are allowed to develop wildly. In some places, they even have similar characteristics to primeval forests.
The national park is part of the Kellerwald-Edersee Nature Park, which covers an area of about 600 square kilometres (372 miles).The 156-kilometre (96 miles) Kellerwaldsteig trail showcases all the sights and natural beauty of the Kellerwald-Edersee Nature Park. In the north, Lake Edersee and rustic stunted forests await. In the central area, you hike under huge beech trees and past bizarre growth formations in the national park. The south offers a harmonious combination of forest, fields, and meadows. Time and time again, you’ll be surprised by the wide views over the Waldecker Land’s, especially from the Kellerwald Tower on Wüstegarten peak at 675 metres (2,214 feet), the highest point in the nature park.
The route alternates between wide and well-maintained hiking trails and narrow and overgrown paths. Sturdy hiking boots are the best choice for this terrain. You should also bring a picnic and plenty of drinks as you won’t always find places to stop for refreshments or they may be closed when you pass by.
I have divided the entire route into eight stages, including an additional leg that divides the Kellerwaldsteig into a northern and southern half. This way, you can easily decide on a full hiking week or a long weekend. You find accommodation at each stage destination, but it is always advisable to book in advance (waldecker-land.com/planing-and-staying-overnight.html).
Regardless of whether you start the multi-day hike from the town of Frankenau or prefer day Tours, the train stations Frankenberg/Eder, Korbach, Bad Wildungen or Wabern are ideal to arrive by train. From there, you can continue your journey with the buses or shared taxis of the Nordhessischer Verkehrsverbund (nvv.de).
You can look forward to a wonderful time ahead in a place where you can forget everyday life and let your soul breathe.
Your first stage on the beautiful Kellerwaldsteig starts in Frankenau and is a good 20 kilometers long. It challenges you with a few short but steep climbs, but rewards you with wonderful views.The picturesque little town of Frankenau is known as the gateway to the Kellerwald National Park. It is believed that it was founded as an agricultural town at the beginning of the 6th century. Today Frankenau is one of the holiday centers in the district and a recognized resort.You leave Frankenau in a north-westerly direction and soon meet the Lengelbach. Through the romantic Lengelbachtal, you first pass the Lengelmühle and the Bärenmühle and then the Huhnsmühle. Before the stream flows into the Eder, you climb to the late medieval Hessenstein Castle. The first youth hostel in Hesse was set up here in 1922. It is still a youth castle and educational establishment and therefore not open to the public. But the location is great and makes up for the climb. The further path leads you very close to the next hilltop castle, the Keseburg. Even if it is only a ruin today, you can still see how imposing it must have been.At Ederbringhausen you cross the Eder and now follow the beautiful Orke valley to Reckenberg Castle. In the first mention of Reckenberg in 1350, there was talk of a moated castle. What remains are the two round corner towers that flank today's manor house. Behind it are the farm buildings and the manager's house of an estate that operates the entire facility.It's not far to Fürstenberg, your destination for today, and you can end the beautiful day of hiking in this pleasant place.
The first few kilometers of today's hike lead you over meadows and pastures with wide views over the Waldecker Land. A little later you follow the Mombeck valley through a beautiful forest area and finally reach one of the largest reservoirs in Germany, the Edersee, near Herzhausen. It is believed that people lived on the surrounding heights as early as the Bronze Age, as the discovery of numerous barrows indicates this.The reservoir begins at the impressive Eder Bridge. You are now in the middle of the national park and circle the lake on the northern side. If you like, you can take a short detour to the Kellerwald National Park Center, which opened in 2008 at the Eder Bridge, in the south of Herzhausen.The Kellerwaldsteig now leads you in a north-easterly direction. First with a very nice view of the Ederseeufer near Herzhausen and then up and down through the wonderful cellar forest with its old trees. Sometimes the path is a little steep, but the views are incomparable and always worthwhile.There were around 30 farms near Asel before the dam was built. The population was resettled and today hardly anything can be seen of the original place. Except for the Aseler bridge. It is the best preserved structure in the old Edertal. You may be lucky enough to see it because it reappears when the water level is low.A few kilometers further, in Basdorf, it is worth visiting the small church and the neighboring court square with the court linden tree planted in 1527.In the vicinity of today's stage destination you will see another trace of the Edersee-Atlantis, the small, sunken church tower of Nieder-Werbe. Even if the tower is a replica, it is an impressive reminder of the great changes for people and nature during the construction of the dam.
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In the course of today's stage, the Kellerwaldsteig will repeatedly meet the Urwaldsteig (komoot.de/collection/495), where you hike on narrow paths through forests with old gnarled beeches and oaks.Today it goes up and down again and one of the highest places is Waldeck Castle on the northeastern edge of the Edersee. It is about 120 meters above the Edersee and the view from there is unique. The complex was laid out in the 11th century and served the Counts of Waldeck as a fortress. It has been publicly owned since 1920 and the museum is well worth a visit.The path now leads you further south to another place with a magnificent view, the pulpit. A wonderful place for a little break and a picnic. A little further on the Kellerwaldsteig you have the next fantastic view, now of the Edersee dam.The 48 meter high dam was built from 1908 to 1914. In May 1943 it was severely damaged by an aerial bomb. A six to eight meter high tidal wave then poured into the lower Eder valley, tearing houses, factories, roads and bridges with it and turning the valleys of the lower Eder into lakes. The wall was rebuilt that same year.You are now leaving the Edersee and continue to hike south to Kleinern, to your destination for today. It is a magical little place, embedded in the Wesebach valley and with a church from the 13th century and the village fountain from 1904.
Today you leave the core area of the national park and now mainly hike through forest, field and meadow corridors. From smaller ones you follow the Wesebach until you meet the Dreisbach in Gellershausen. You follow it a short distance and then climb up to paradise. Before you reach it, you have a beautiful view of the Dreisbachtal and beyond, far over the Waldecker Land.Shortly afterwards you will reach the Paradies nature reserve with its imposing old trees. The name probably comes from the park-like appearance of the former hut forest. The village pigs used to be herded into a hut forest, predominantly made of beech and oak, in autumn so that they could eat the winter fat. Village pigs can no longer be seen here today, but many of the old trees are still standing. But you can also clearly see the decay of the old stock, although here in paradise one tries to save many of the old giants by clearing them. A visit with a small round on the sometimes narrow and overgrown paths is worthwhile.In the course of the hike you will soon pass the next hut forest. This forest, called Halloh, is also worth a little detour with its old trees and the unique atmosphere.A little later you have reached Hüddingen, a small place surrounded by forest with a pretty church. It is believed that it is one of the oldest churches in the Eder area.From Hüddingen you continue hiking through the beautiful Kellerwald to Odershausen, your stage destination for today. Take a little more time to visit the Living Museum, where a local association brought the old days to life. On action days, you can see demonstrations of old craft activities here.
You leave Odershausen and first hike a few kilometers through field and meadow corridors before you dive back into the basement forest. On this section you will find the rare Süntel beeches, a variant of the common beech. They grow more in width than in height and form tent-like crowns with their drooping branches. The trunks are twisted and the branches are twisted or grown together. Definitely worth seeing.Soon you will meet the Urff valley. You accompany the brook past the small towns of Armsfeld and Fischbach and finally reach the former miners' village Berg Freiheit. In addition to the beautiful half-timbered church, you can also visit a former copper ore mine. And you will inevitably meet Snow White and the seven dwarfs. Because they live here. For fairy tale fans, the place is known as Snow White's village.The rest of the way to your final destination now leads mainly through the beautiful basement forest. Shortly before Bad Zwesten you will notice an elegant life-size figure made of larch wood on the side of the path. An art trail run by the ArsNatura Foundation has this nice surprise in store, which runs parallel to the Kellerwaldsteig in sections.Shortly afterwards you will reach the destination of your today's stage. Bad Zwesten is a cozy little spa town in the eastern foothills of the Kellerwald with charming half-timbered houses and a former castle. Here you can still stroll a little and end the hike in one of the beautiful spa facilities.
Bad Zwesten is located in the valley of the Schwalm and while you are leaving the place, you can look far into the fertile, agriculturally intensively used valley.After about three kilometers you will reach the ruins of Löwenstein Castle, the keep of which was renovated in 2001/2002 and provided with a staircase and a roof. The view from up there of the Schwalm valley and the Kellerwald is great. Below the castle ruins you walk along the small Oberurff lake and a short time later you enter the forest that gave the nature park its name, the Kellerwald.After about five kilometers and an altitude of 400 meters you will reach the desert garden. At 675 meters, it is the highest point in the Kellerwald-Edersee Nature Park. This is where the wooden cellar tower, opened in 2004, stands. The view from the platform is sensational, on some days you can even see the Brocken in the Harz Mountains or the large Feldberg in the Taunus. It is wonderful to rest at the foot of the tower.A little below the desert garden you will notice several large rocks. These rock formations run through parts of the mountain ridge and are made of quartzite. One of them is the Exhelmer Stein. It is marked with a summit cross and you can climb it.Up to today's stage destination, it now goes gently downhill to the fertile valley of the Gilsa. Densberg with its listed church and beautiful half-timbered houses can already be seen. In this idyllic place you can feel the hike and the many impressions again.
From Densberg today we go first south and then in a large arc to the north. The first kilometers lead you to the Hemberg ridge with the extensive forests.The Helenenquelle rises at the foot of the Hundskopf, a characteristic elevation of today's tour. This is where the Sondertal nature reserve begins with its rustic canyon forest. Since the forest is left to itself, it is already primeval forest-like in places and at the right time you will see rare butterflies here.A little further on, the Schönstein castle ruins are picturesquely situated on a mountain spur above the Gilsatal. In the shadow of the imposing ruin, it is more wonderful to rest and picnic. The route continues in a small arc on the northern edge of the Gilsa Valley, always with a view of the cultivated landscape to the south with its fields and meadows.Shortly before you head back into the forest, you will notice a magnificent giant tree. The several hundred years old oak is a registered natural monument and with its trunk circumference of more than eight meters an impressive contemporary witness.Now it goes further north to Battenhausen. The path leads on simple paths mainly through an extensive beech forest.Battenhausen, the destination of your today's stage, is the highest village in the Kellerwald. It lies below the Hohe Lohr - and there are actually winter sports here. But you can also enjoy your stay in this small and charming place without snow.
Your last stage starts in Battenhausen and first leads you through the famous beech forest. After about five kilometers, the valley of the Wohra opens in front of you and you can see the impressive monastery of Haina. The former Cistercian monastery is definitely worth a visit as it is one of the most important early Gothic monuments in Germany.You leave Haina in a northerly direction and find yourself right away on a short piece of a very nicely designed and prepared forest nature trail. If you like, you can follow it a short distance before you come back to the Kellerwaldsteig.It continues northwards through extensive forests to Löhlbach. On this route you also come through commercial forest and in some places you see harvested areas or afforestation.Löhlbach is literally left behind by the Kellerwaldsteig. But you can of course adapt your tour a little and hike through the middle of the village. You can expect a lot of half-timbering, even the church adorns itself with it, and the opportunity to stock up on your provisions a little.The Wesebach is your companion from the village and you follow it through the increasingly narrowing valley. After a few kilometers you turn west and cross a small forest area. In front of you is the valley of Frankenau with its fields and meadows. The view is wonderful and wide.You have now reached Frankenau and your hike on the Kellerwaldsteig ends here. You hiked a great landscape and bathed in a sea of beeches. Take some more time and let the hike end in peace in this beautiful place.
This route can be chosen instead of the fourth stage if you only want to hike the Nordschleife of the Kellerwaldsteig. This is perfect for a long weekend, because your destination today will take you back to Frankenau, your starting point, after a wonderful hike.Today you mainly hike through woods, fields and meadows. Very beautiful views of the Dreisbachtal and the Waldecker Land await you. Soon afterwards you will reach paradise, a former hut forest, where the village pigs used to be able to eat their winter fat in autumn. And shortly afterwards you will pass the next hut forest. This forest, called Halloh, is also worth a little detour with its old trees and the unique atmosphere.Soon you have reached Hüddingen, a small place surrounded by forest with a pretty church. It is believed that it is one of the oldest churches in the Eder area. Here you leave the Kellerwaldsteig main route and follow the alternative route to Frebershausen, a friendly little place, embedded in the Wesetal and surrounded by old fruit trees.You are now back in the core area of the Kellerwald and climb up to the Quernst. Up there you can expect a wonderful view and the small Quernst Chapel, which was built in place of the old Quernst Church. A nice place to rest and pause.From Quernst it goes first through forest and then over fields and meadows to Frankenau. You are now at the destination of your hike. And if you like, you can take a little more time and let the day slowly end in this beautiful place.