Sprawling meadows, rolling fields, deep, dense forests and tiny villages. Welcome to the Upper Palatinate, one of the most northerly provinces in all of Bavaria—and one of the prettiest. To see it all, there are few better options than the Upper Palatinate Castle Trail, a route that takes you 182 kilometers (113 miles) from north to south in nine days. On the hike, you'll pass the nine most impressive and best-preserved castle ruins in the Upper Palatinate, while you wind your way through glorious mountain ranges. And even though you'll be forced to conquer a total of 3,600 meters (12,000 feet) of elevation as you ascend the mountains, the route is not one to fear thanks to the elevation being spread out evenly along the entire route. Hiking the Upper Palatinate Castle Trail is a real pleasure hike—and with numerous cozy guesthouses awaiting you at the end of each stage, you'll always have somewhere charming to retreat to when it's time to have a rest.
Hardly any other region in Germany is so sparsely populated and so dominated by the presence of old-school farming. However, the Upper Palatinate was not always so sleepy and peaceful. In the Middle Ages, Slavic groups repeatedly invaded the Bavarian territory and attacked the all-important trade routes that transported goods to Bohemia. Therefore, princes and dukes had countless castles built to protect the townsfolk and trade missions from the raids, leading to its contemporary reputation as the region in Germany with more castle ruins than anywhere else.
If you are looking to get a little distance from the chaos of your everyday life and would like to dive into the idyllic and historic landscape of the Upper Palatinate, then this hike is just the thing for you. On the lonely paths between the small villages, you can really relax and leave the stress of modern living behind you, while you take in the glorious landscape and get a snapshot of a time gone by.
Your tour through the Upper Palatinate begins in the small town of Marktredwitz. You leave the station, stroll through the streets and soon you can enjoy the view of the picturesque hills on your hiking trail.On the first half of today's tour, you can leave your worries behind you and wander through comfortable hiking trails without ascents.But in the second half your first castle awaits you. The castle ruin Weißenstein stands on the summit of the mountain of the same name and on your way there you have to cope with about 300 vertical meters.On the way to the castle, you can still have a perfect rest in the Marktredwitzer house to strengthen you. With fresh energy, it goes up to the castle. From the well preserved keep you have a spectacular view over your hiking area of the next days.From the castle, it goes down comfortably to the stage destination Friedenfels.
After a restful night in the peaceful village of Friedenfels you will feel freshly prepared for the second stage.With a steady step, you wander through the lovely landscape and soon reach the land of 1,000 ponds. The area around Wiesau has been used for hundreds of years for fish farming. The peasants once planted ponds to breed carp. With the carp, they cared for the entire area during Lent. To date, farmers are earning most of their revenue from fish farming, even though many of the ponds are no longer used for agriculture.Before you have crossed the land of the 1,000 ponds, it is worth a detour to Schönhaid. There are various rest stops, where you can strengthen yourself for the further hike.Here you walk on narrow paths between the ponds. Shortly before your destination, you cross the A93 motorway before you can marvel at the impressive castle in Falkenberg. If you have planned your tour accordingly, you can even take part in a castle tour on Sundays.
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The third stage is a real dream tour, because it holds a great highlight of the Upper Palatinate ready for you. Shortly after Falkenberg you enter the wild and romantic Waldnaab Valley.The Waldnaab has created an incredible landscape here over the millennia, as it has flowed through the numerous rocks of the Upper Palatinate. Huge granite rocks line the path, unique boulders were cut through the course of the water to exciting shapes. Many of the special rock formations have been named, so you can find the anvil, the Tischstein, the Kammerwagen or the butter churn. Here, the trail leads you through the sometimes narrow and deep and sometimes open valley and you can enjoy nature to the fullest.On the way you also reach the log cabin, a friendly inn in the middle of the forest. Here you can stop for a leisurely stop before continuing on to the stage destination Windischenbach.
The fourth day of your hike on the Burgenweg starts directly with a castle tour. Through the impressive, renovated Schafferhof with its inn, you will reach the castle courtyard of Neuhaus Castle. The former hunting lodge now houses the Waldnaabtalmuseum, which is open from April to October on Sundays and public holidays. But even on the other days worth a visit to the castle, because a round over the castle courtyard is always worthwhile.You leave Windischenbach and wander again along the Waldnaab. Here, the river has cut no such dramatic valley from the landscape, but the trail leads right along the shore through an idyllic forest landscape.Halfway along, you reach Neustadt an der Waldnaab, where you can take a break in one of the cafés or restaurants. Passing the pilgrimage church, we drive over fields and along the edge of the forest to the stage destination Oberhöll. Shortly before your finish is worth a short detour to the Fischerberg. Above is the Vierlingsturm, from where you can enjoy a great view of the surrounding landscape.
At 14 kilometers, the fifth stage is one of the shorter tours on the Oberpfälzer Burgenweg. Today's tour takes you past small villages, across wide meadows and through dense forests.You start in Oberhöll and after a short wooded area you reach the chapel on the Dreifaltigkeitsberg. From here you can enjoy the view over the wide, green pastures. You follow the castle path and wander long distances over peaceful fields.After half the distance you reach the Elm. The dense forest with its dark trees used to be full of dark, gloomy tales, but today it is a popular hike destination. The last section of today's hike leads through the natural Lerautal valley with its bubbling stream. Again and again you cross the stream on narrow bridges until you reach your destination Leuchtenberg. At the end you will find the largest castle ruins of the Upper Palatinate. The castle is open from April to October from Wednesday to Sunday from 10.30am to 5pm. If you leave early in the morning, you'll have plenty of time to visit the castle. Otherwise, you'll look at the castle the next morning.At this stage you can not expect refreshments. It's best to provide yourself with enough provisions in advance.
On the sixth stage a few meters of altitude come together. But expect you again and again great views of the countryside of the Upper Palatinate.Leave Leuchtenberg and follow the castle path along extensive woodland. Again and again, the trees give your view of the soft hills. Soon it will pass through a tunnel under the A6 motorway, but you can leave the noise of the cars behind you quickly and immerse yourself in nature.After Döllnitz you reach the Pfreimd and you follow the meandering river through the dense forest to Trausnitz. In addition to a visit to the castle, you can also take a rest at the Gasthof "Das Landhaus". The castle is now used as a youth hostel, but on certain dates a visit is possible. The exterior appearance of the castle alone is simply impressive.At the Trausnitzer artificial lake along the Burgenweg leads you finally to your stage goal Tännesberg.
On your seventh stage, you will pass through the beautiful and densely covered Oberpfälzer forest. You start in Tännesberg and soon you leave civilization behind you and immerse yourself in the romantic nature of the Upper Palatinate. Here in the forest you can forget all the hurry and follow the castle path on comfortable forest paths.Soon you will reach the castle ruin Wildstein. It takes a lot of imagination to introduce you to the original castle, because apart from a few remains of walls, there is nothing to be found on the summit. However, you have from the bare rocky ridge of the mountain a unique view of the Upper Palatinate hills.From the ruins of the Burgenweg leads you on cozy dirt roads and through small villages. Outside the village of Fuchsberg, the Castle Trail and the Way of St. James come together and you will find a lovingly maintained chapel along the way.In a small forest you cross the Murach and wander the last section to the stage destination in Oberviechtach.
On the penultimate stage, the castle path once again shows its best side. Although you can expect a challenging 25-kilometer route and a climb of over 600 meters, but there are three castles on your way.After just a short distance, you will reach the impressive Burg Obermurach. Its distinctive keep and the mighty defensive walls stand out prominently above the small village.From there, the trail meanders through dense forests to the idyllic Prackendorfer Moos, a nature protected moor area. In the small village Thanstein you will meet the next castle. In Thanstein you can also take a break in Café Wintergarten.Afterwards you walk again through a dense forest to the third castle. In the middle of the forest, on top of the Schwarzwihrberg, stands the exciting ruin of Schwarzenburg. In the meantime, large parts of the castle have been repaired and from the refurbished keep there is a unique panorama. If you visit the castle on Wednesdays or Sundays, even the Burgschänke has opened.From the castle, it is only a short distance to the stage destination Rötz.
The last stage is also the longest stage on the Burgenweg. But as every seasoned hiker knows, you finally immigrated to life. With fresh energy you start in Rötz and get on your way.The ninth stage is all about the Schwarzach, which you will encounter again and again on your hike. Shortly after your start the way leads you into the Schwarzachtal, but you leave after a short distance.Along the edge of the forest, the path leads you past small villages and so you stay most of the time completely for you. Slowly you have to say goodbye to the lovely landscape that spreads around you once again. Fields and green hills as far as the eye can see.Since the last stage rather avoid the small villages, you will again find no rest stop on the roadside. Worry best with supplies in Rötz, then you are independent.After crossing the Schwarzach at Thurau, you will return to civilization via a narrow, wooded ridge. You cross the railway tracks and soon get up in the peaceful market square of Waldmünchen. The sleepy city is a good ending after nine days in the idyllic nature of the Upper Palatinate, their cosiness is now exactly what you need. Take a seat in one of the many cafes or restaurants and slowly get to the city.