The Rothaarsteig from the town of Brilon in Hochsauerland leads southwards to Dillenburg in Mittelhessen. Starting at the edge of the village of Brilon, whoever walks along the main ridge of the Rothaargebirge always moves along borders. The trail leads from the Sauerland over the Wittgensteiner Bergland, to the Siegerland and the Hessian Lahn-Dill-Bergland. And as the Rhine-Weser-Wasserscheide runs over the Rothaar Mountains, for long distances you wander back and forth, ever crossing the border between North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse. Many areas on the Rothaarsteig are secluded and natural—so much so that even European Bison have been released in the area and can now be seen wandering freely through the woods.
That being said, even in the seemingly remote regions of the Rothaarsteig you can always find traces of human creativity: you pass the heights of the hills, lead through the railway tunnels and aqueducts built at the beginning of the 20th century and stroll along the historic Eisenstraße that dates back to the Middle Ages. And as an extra bonus, around resort areas such as Winterberg, cozy huts are aplenty—and they are of the type that coax you ever further along the journey as you enjoy your new life on the road.
Well-signposted, not far from the center of Germany, and with gentle ascents and descents, the Rothaarsteig is the ideal path for those who are looking for genuine natural experiences. The perfect introductory experience, it’s also perfect for anybody who just wants to find out whether long-distance hiking is for them.
The Rothaarsteig starts at the historic town hall on the market square in the old town of Brilon. From there, the official route leads first to the Drübel with a beautiful view of the city and the Propsteikirche St. Peter and Andrew. You can also shorten the hike through the nature reserve Drübel by simply walking along the Möhne through the spa gardens.In any case, you will pass the Möhnequelle after two to three kilometers, one of the highlights of this stage. From there it goes through meadows and forests to Gudenhagener Poppenberg. Then the path continues in the south-east direction past the Hiebammenhütte to Borberg with its beautiful chapel. From there you go, mostly through forest, cira two kilometers to the east and around the mountain Schusterknapp around.After you have passed the Schusterknapp, the path on the ridge of the Rothaargebierges runs back to the south. On the summit path follow Habberg and Ginsterkopf with beautiful views of the Upper Ruhr Valley. After passing the Ginsterkopf, the trail leads through forests along the Feuereiche past to the Bruchhauser stones. From this highlight, it's still a good two kilometers to the destination Bruchhausen.
Today is high! After the start in Bruchhausen the path leads through wooded area up to the 843 meter high Langenberg, the highest point of the Rothaargebirge, the Sauerland and the whole of NRW.The approximately eight-kilometer-long ascent to the summit offers again and again very beautiful views of the Hochsauerland, the summit itself is wooded and the view from there therefore relatively unspectacular. The area in the next few kilometers after the Langenberg is then determined by the rare natural landscape of the Niedersfelder Hochheide. You have a rest stop in the Hochheide hut in the area of the nature reserve Neuer Hagen. This is already south of the winter sports resort Willingen (Upland), which is also a milestone for many hikers on Rothaarsteig.After about 18 kilometers of walking through forests and heaths, you finally arrive in the village of Küstelberg surrounded by fields. From here, it takes another nine kilometers - and past the Ruhr source - to the stage destination to Winterberg.
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From the center of Winterberg, the path leads past the St. Georgs ski jump and the ski mountains Poppenberg and Bremberg with their lifts up to the unspoiled mountain Kahler Asten, which you reach after about six kilometers. With more than 840 meters and a magnificent panoramic view, it is the highest point of this stage.A few hundred meters further on the Kahler Asten and through heathland, you pass the Lennequelle. Then it goes mainly through meadows to the village Langewiese in Wittgensteiner country. From here, the path leads up to the Albrechtsberg, which you reach after 14 kilometers of the stage with some wonderful vantage points.After the Albrechtsberg, the Rothaarweg divides into a valley and a ridge variant. If there are several diversion possibilities in the area of the Friedensquelle or the so-called Heidenstock you have to decide, if you want to follow the official main route (Kammvariante) south to the small hamlet Kühhude, or if you want to use overnight accommodations in the two and a half kilometers distant ski jump - which is our suggested route equivalent.
After spending the night in Schanze, you can choose between the ridge and valley variant of the Rothaarsteig. If you choose the Talvariante, you go southwest through the gorge-like Grubental and over the village Latrop to the so-called million bank, where the two variants reunite. If you want to continue on the main path, the ridge variant, you start in a southeasterly direction past the Kyrill path in the direction of the hamlet of Kühhude. Somewhat after brushing Kühhude, you'll find the Forest Sculpture Trail and a 40-foot suspension bridge that you can easily wander if you get shaky knees.The Rothaarsteig-Grenzweg then goes through dense forests and on ridges to the million dollar bank, where the main path with the valley variant unites. In the forests around the millionaire bank, it is not uncommon to encounter wild bison. The wisents are used to hikers on trails, but a certain respect distance should be strictly adhered to - especially if you are traveling with dogs or if you meet mother animals.After about 13 kilometers total route (main variant) you reach the small hunting lodge, where the Wisent path branches off to the nature discovery center Wisent-Welt Wittgenstein. In the wisent world, a bison herd can be observed relatively well in a delimited area. If you stay on the proposed route, after sixteen kilometers you will reach Somborn Spring. Up to the Rhein-Weser-Turm, the stage destination with a magnificent panorama, it is five kilometers from the Somborn spring.
Schwarzbach. After about six and a half kilometers you wander through the landscape of the Heinsberger Hochheide. A detour down to the Heinsberg aqueduct and a bricked-up, since 1945 disused railway tunnel may be of particular interest to railway enthusiasts.A short distance after visiting the Heinsberg aqueduct (or lying right), you come to the Dreiherrenstein, and after three and a half kilometers you reach the Ferndorf spring. From the source of the official Rothaarsteig good four kilometers leads to the ruins of Ginsburg from the tower you have a magnificent view and where you can also stop. From the Ginsburg it is then still about three kilometers in the center of Lützel. The way there leads over the ski mountain Giller with the famous Gillerberg tower.
The stage from Lützel to Lahnhof takes you through the headwaters of the rivers Eder, Sieg and Lahn. The path is mainly determined by forests and heathlands. From Lützel, it's just two kilometers to the southeast. Then the path follows the Eder for six kilometers to its source in a moor. Then leads a gravel road, the coal road, east to the small village Waldheim and from there mostly through forest about two and a half kilometers further to the source of victory with refreshments. From there it is still six and a half kilometers to the Lahn spring and the Lahnhof, the destination of this stage.
From the Lahnhof the Rothaarsteig leads on the penultimate stage once around four kilometers in the direction of the southeast to the Ilsequelle. From there we continue on the Eisenstraße, a medieval trade route, through forests, heathland and on ridge always towards the southwest. The route follows in many parts of the border between NRW and Hesse. You reach the source of the Dill after about twelve kilometers, after another six kilometers you come to the Tiefenrother Höhe, which offers a wonderful view over the southern Siegerland with the viewing platform "Nose in the Wind". From there it is still three kilometers to the penultimate stage destination Wilgersdorf.
If you start from the village in Wilgersdorf, the last stage starts as the penultimate ended: You go back about two kilometers the way you came back and then continues your tour on the Rothaarsteig in the direction of the southeast. After a kilometer on new paths and through forest and heathland you come to the Kalteiche, where the Rothaarweg in the border area between North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse divides into the dill variant and the Westerwald variety. Both roads ultimately lead to Dillenburg, but the Westerwald variant over the Fuchskaute is more than 50 kilometers long. On the proposed route, the dill variant, there are still 20 kilometers down to Dillenburg. The closer you get to Dillenburg, the more the landscape of the Rothaargebirge merges with that of the Lahn-Dill-Bergland.At the latest after you have reached the town of Manderbach after 14 kilometers, you will come to a more densely populated area and the forests will increasingly make way for fields and settlements. After leaving the lyrics to the right, you enter more or less urban area around Dillenburg. In the new, now official version of the Rothaarsteig, you initially wander around Dillenburg in a northwesterly direction - which is the more scenic but also longer way. Here you come in the forest near the city, among others, the Bismark monument with a beautiful view of Dillenburg over. In the shorter version, which is marked here, you move in the city area at first along the heavily traveled B 253 and then go up to the Wilhelmsturm, the landmark of Dillenburg. The old town northwest of the Wilhelmsturm is nice to see. From there you hike through the courtyard garden to the train station of Dillenburg - the official end of the Rothaarsteig. From Dillenburg train station you can take regional trains in around 60 minutes to Frankfurt / Main.