On its journey to the Rhine, the Neckar flows through the southern foothills of the mountainous Odenwald. Here, between the densely wooded mountain slopes, trillions of liters of passing water has forged out a romantic valley over time. And this is exactly what you're going to explore over these nine stages of the Neckarsteig. The varied hiking trail not only runs along the steep slopes of the Neckar Valley, it also leads you through enchanted forests, to impressive castle ruins, to unspoilt streams and small half-timbered towns.
The Neckarsteig runs in nine stages from the winding old town of Heidelberg through the wooded mountain ranges of the Odenwald to Bad Wimpfen. It follows the meandering course of the Neckar river, but also leads through small side valleys and over extensive high plateaus. If you are interested in old castles and medieval town centers, you will have a lot of fun on the Neckarsteig. Along the Neckar valley, there are fantastic knight's castles and the small villages and towns along the river look back on centuries of history. Your special Highlights will be the Heidelberg Castle, the Hirschhorn Castle, the old town of Bad Wimpfen and the perfectly preserved Guttenberg Castle.
No single stage exceeds 12 miles (20 kilometers) and, due to the moderate differences in altitude, even comfortable hikers and families with sporty children can easily master the Neckarsteig. If you don't have nine days in a row, or if you're just interested in a single stage, that's no problem either: all stage locations can be reached quickly and easily by bus and train from Heidelberg. As there are hardly any inns or restaurants along the individual stages, however, it is best to take provisions and plenty of water with you on your hikes.
The first stage of the Neckarsteig takes you from the enchanting Old Town of Heidelberg up to the Königsstuhl, one of the two local mountains of the city. From here, the trail meanders leisurely through the forest downhill to the stage destination Neckargemünd, where you stand again on the banks of the Neckar.Starting point of the first stage is the Old Bridge in Heidelberg, which spans the Neckar. From here, the Neckarsteig winds a little through the streets of the old town and then leads you up to the world-famous castle. Since the castle opens its doors already at eight o'clock in the morning, you could even pay a visit to the old walls before you continue your tour.From the castle, follow the road for a short stretch of the Molkenkurweg until the ladder from the sky branches off the road. The has earned its name honestly: over countless stone steps, it goes straight and steadily uphill to the king chair. But the ascent is worth it, because at the top you can expect a fantastic view over Heidelberg, the Neckar valley and out onto the broad Rhine plain - a sublime sight.Especially nice: At Königsstuhl you have also reached the highest point of today's tour and thus the highest peak of the entire Neckarsteig. From here you follow natural, comfortable hiking trails over the wooded ridge. The path meanders gently downhill and away from the hustle and bustle of the Königsstuhl you will enjoy a wonderful peace here.Soon, the trail becomes a little steeper and you can see the Neckar in the valley below you from time to time. After you have crossed the narrow Kümmelbach, a small climb to the wooded summit of the Neckarriedkopf awaits you again. From here it goes down in a few bends down to the destination Neckargemünd.If you have planned the hike only as a day trip, then you can drive from the station Neckargemünd Altstadt with the S-Bahn S1 and S2 back to Heidelberg. The timetables can be found at s-bahn-rheinneckar.de/s_rheinneckar/view/fahrplan/uebersicht.shtml.
The second stage is a real pleasure hike, because you can expect not even nine kilometers of track and only moderate 300 meters in the up and down. It's a good day, because on today's tour you have enough time to explore the well-preserved festivals and the picturesque old town of Dilsberg. From Dilsberg it then goes downhill comfortably to the stage destination Neckarsteinach.At the beginning of your today's hike you leave Neckargemünd and ascend in some bends on the wooded slopes of the Neckar valley. Although you are hiking through dense forest most of the time, nice vantage points have been prepared for you. Already on the ascent, a first great view awaits you at the Bockfelsenhütte.The Neckarsteig leads you from here uphill and over a wooded ridge. The descent is also in some wide bends. Soon you have reached the edge of the forest and in front of you opens a beautiful view of the festivals Dilsberg.This is where the Neckarsteig leads you. The festival is located on a ridge and so you wander again uphill a bit. The festivals are well preserved and the adjacent, medieval old town is really worth a visit. After you have strolled extensively through the streets, it goes from Dilsberg downhill to the stage destination.Here you cross the Neckar on one of the numerous barrages and you are already standing in Neckarsteinach.Neckarsteinach is also connected to the Heidelberg train station via the S-Bahn lines S1 and S2. All timetables can be found at s-bahn-rheinneckar.de/s_rheinneckar/view/fahrplan/uebersicht.shtml.
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The third stage begins in the "Four Castle Town" Neckarsteinach. Here not only the Steinach flows into the Neckar, but around the city you can also admire four imposing castles. Of these, the central castle is still inhabited today and the Vorderburg is the seat of the forestry administration. The castle Schadeck and the Hinterburg are however well-preserved ruins and can be visited today. The Neckarsteig will take you right past the Hinterburg - but if you are interested, you can also take a detour to the Ruine Schadeck. From the castles, it goes up to Darsberg and past the same place. Afterwards, you continue on quiet forest trails until you reach your destination.You start your hike at the station in Neckarsteinach. From here you stroll past the waterfront and cross the Steinach at its confluence with the Neckar. Above the promenade towers the impressive Mittelburg. Soon the trail climbs a bit and leads you to the Hinterburg. The is freely accessible at any time and above all worth a climb to the keep. From the covered spire you have a spectacular view of the Neckar valley and the Dilsberg on the other shore.The Neckarsteig then leads you in a loop through a residential district of Neckarsteinach and then in numerous bends up to Darsberg. Under high trees, you hike on to the Goetheblick, where you can enjoy a fantastic view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The Neckarsteig continues from here through the forest. Without major differences in altitude, it leads you over the plateau, until it goes downhill in some hairpin bends to the stage destination Hirschhorn.Hirschhorn has a train station from where you can take the S-Bahn S1 and S2 trains back to Neckarsteinach or Heidelberg. Timetable information is available at s-bahn-rheinneckar.de/s_rheinneckar/view/fahrplan/uebersicht.shtml.
Above Hirschhorn sits the castle of the same name. This was spared in the centuries of major destruction and is now considered one of the most beautiful and best-preserved castles in the Neckar valley. After a visit to the castle, you hike on comfortable trails over a wooded ridge to the stage destination Eberbach.From the old town of Hirschhorn it is only about ten minutes walk to the impressive castle complex. Burghof and Bergfried are freely accessible and a must for lovers of old walls. From the castle, a romantic, but rather steep forest path leads uphill to the Stöckberg. Here, hikers have used their breathers before you to build small stone pyramids along the way.The Neckarsteig leads just past the wooded summit of the Stöckberg and on to the Hoppe Hütte. From the benches in front of the small refuge, you have a great view down to the Neckar and to Ersheim, which lies here on a headland in the middle of a picturesque river loop.After a short rest at the hut, you will hike on through the dense forest. The Neckarsteig runs here on a comfortable, gentle downhill hiking trail. At leisure, follow the signposted path that leads down to the Neckar in a long loop. From the confluence of the Gammelsbach in the Neckar, it is only a short distance to the stage destination Eberbach.Like the previous stage locations, Eberbach is also located on the tracks of the S-Bahn lines S1 and S2. So you can easily return from here to the starting point or even to Heidelberg. More information can be found at s-bahn-rheinneckar.de/s_rheinneckar/view/fahrplan/uebersicht.shtml.
With a distance of over 18 kilometers, the fifth stage is also the longest on the Neckarsteig. After four completed hiking days until you have already broken in and will master this beautiful stage easily. From Eberbach the trail leads you over a promising ridge and back down to the banks of the Neckar. After you have crossed the river, of course, is also the visit of a beautiful castle ruins on the program. From the ruin Stolzeneck it then goes up to Neunkirchen, the only stage destination, which is not on the banks of the Neckar.At the beginning of the tour, you stroll along the shore road until the Neckarsteig leads you from Eberbach in long bends and serpentines through the forest up to the Scheuerberg. There are only a few trees on its broad summit and you have a nice view of the surrounding landscape. The view is even more beautiful at the Ernst-Hohn-Hütte, which you reach a little later. The refuge is on the edge of wide meadows and you can enjoy a wonderful panorama here. Below you meadows and forests extend down to the Neckar.Also spectacular is the view from the vantage point Teufelskanzel. The is located on a natural mountain spur on the valley slope and this reveals you a great view of the Neckar valley. On the slopes you hike downhill to the riverbank. At the barrage and lock Rockenau you cross the river and climb on the other bank to the castle ruins Stolzeneck.If you can not get enough of the views of the Neckar valley, then you're in the right place here: Via a steel staircase you can climb the shield wall, which gives you a great view of the ruins and the picturesque river valley.After visiting the castle, the Neckarsteig leads you steadily uphill to the stage destination Neunkirchen.Neunkirchen does not have its own S-Bahn connection, but with the bus lines 822 and 839 you can easily reach the train stations Eberbach, Neckargerach and Neckarelz. So you can also plan this stage as a day tour or end here your multi-day hike. All timetables can be found at vrn.de/index.html and s-bahn-rheinneckar.de/s_rheinneckar/view/fahrplan/uebersicht.shtml.
On the edge of the Neckar valley, the sixth stage takes you over the village Neckarkatzenbach down to Neckargerach. On the way, the trail runs around the Mittelberg. It bears his name rightly, because the flat and long ridge rises in the middle of a wide valley. The Neckarsteig leads you almost completely around the mountain and so you can admire it from all sides.Starting point of today's stage is Neunkirchen. The signposted hiking trail leads you from here through the forest to the slopes of the Neckar valley. Above the valley, the Neckarsteig meanders through the forest to the picturesque Minneburg. The romantic ruined castle stands on a bare mountain spur above the Neckar valley and spoils you with fantastic views. Although you can see from the castle wall already your stage destination Neckargerach on the other shore, the Neckarsteig branches off at this point from the shore.It runs here at the edge of the forest around the Mittelberg. The mountain was still flown around by the Neckar during the last ice age and this explains the special form of the landscape. Soon you will reach the sleepy village Neckarkatzbach. From here you continue your hike and continue along the former course of the river Neckar below the Mittelberg.On the banks of the Neckar, the trail leads around Guttenbach and finally on a bridge over the river to your destination Neckargerach.If you want to end your tour here, you can either take the bus line 839 back to the starting point or take the S-Bahn lines S1 and S2 to Heidelberg. All timetables are available at vrn.de and s-bahn-rheinneckar.de/s_rheinneckar/view/fahrplan/uebersicht.shtml.
At the beginning of the seventh stage, the Neckarsteig holds an adventurous gem for you. South of Neckargerach, the Flursbach on its way down to the Neckar has cut a wildly romantic gorge into the red sandstone of the Odenwald. On metal stairs and jetties you climb up through the valley. Afterwards you will hike over a gently undulating plateau and on the edge of the Neckar valley to the stage destination Mosbach.From Neckargerach, the Neckarsteig leads you parallel to the railway tracks for a while, until the hiking trail branches off into the Margarethenschlucht. These you explore on narrow trails, metal stairs and jetties. At the top of the ravine, you stand on a wide plateau characterized by open fields and meadows. Dirt roads and forest paths alternate now and in different places expect beautiful views.Slowly, the trail approaches the Neckar valley again. Below the Schreckberg, the path runs along the steep valley slopes and you enjoy a magnificent panorama. In a loop, it goes up to the residence Schreckhof, where you can also find the homonymous country inn. Here you can take a well deserved rest. However, since the inn has irregular opening hours, you should check the times on the website schreckhof.de for your planning.From here you follow the Neckarsteig past the glider Schreckhof to the stage destination Mosbach.This stage is also perfect as a day trip, because you can easily drive from Mosbach with the S-Bahn S1 and S2 back to Neckargerach. Timetable information can be found at s-bahn-rheinneckar.de/s_rheinneckar/view/fahrplan/uebersicht.shtml.
The eighth stage takes you through the southern foothills of the Odenwald. The low mountain range is characterized by gentle hills and extensive open plateaus. Also, the Neckar has cut not too deep into the landscape here and its banks are surrounded by wide meadows and fields. The Neckarsteig runs on this stage over the gentle slopes of the valley and continues to spoil you with beautiful views.At the beginning the Neckarsteig leads you for a short distance through the city of Mosbach and then up to an open plateau. Here you walk along the edge of the forest and enjoy a beautiful view. After you have crossed the wooded and narrow valley of the Luttenbach, it goes back closer to the Neckar valley.Above Neckarzimmern you can enjoy the view of the valley and hike on a panorama trail to the castle ruins Hornberg. The castle was once the seat of the famous knight Götz von Berlichingen and is today very well preserved. You can visit the castle daily and also take a break in the panoramic restaurant.Then the path meanders through the Steinbachtal and then follows the course of the railway tracks below the valley slope. After about one kilometer, the trail branches off to the left and leads you serpentine steeply up to Michaelsberg. On the sprawling mountain ridge, there is the organic farm of the same name, which is known above all for its first-class products from the meat of the farm's own Angus cattle. In the courtyard restaurant and in the farm shop you can convince yourself of it.From Michaelsberg, the Neckarsteig finally leads downhill to the final destination Gundelsheim.If you plan this tour as a day hike, at the end of Gundelsheim you can take the S-Bahn line S41 back to the starting point Mosbach. From here, there is a direct connection to Heidelberg with the lines S1 and S2. Timetables can be found at h3nv.de and s-bahn-rheinneckar.de/s_rheinneckar/view/fahrplan/uebersicht.shtml.
The ninth and last leg of the Neckarsteig will be the culmination of your hike. The trail leads you leisurely over gentle hills and wide meadows. Comfortably you walk towards your destination and enjoy one last time the picturesque views of the Neckar. The valley opens and wide meadows and small towns lie on the river. The last kilometers of your walk are right on the shore, so you can say goodbye to your wet companion.At Gundelsheim, the starting point of the ninth stage, you cross the river on the barrage and climb the other bank to the last castle ruin of your hike. Through a small forest the Neckarsteig leads you to the castle Guttenberg. The castle is in perfect condition and you can visit a castle museum, a tavern and the birds of prey show of the German Greifenwarte.From the castle you first hike through the forest and finally across open fields and meadows to Heinsheim. The village is located on a flat slope above the Neckar and the trail leads you through the village down to the shore.You follow the Neckarsteig directly along the shore - first on a quiet dirt road and then on a paved foot and bike path. Comfortably you put so the last distance back to the stage destination Bad Wimpfen.Before you finally head home in Bad Wimpfen, a visit to the medieval old town is worthwhile. Dreamlike half-timbered houses, the perfectly preserved city wall and the old watchtowers invite you to complete your hike for an extensive exploration tour.From Bad Wimpfen you can then take the S-Bahn line S42 to Steinsfurt and from there take the S5 line to Heidelberg. If you want to come back to the starting point Gundelsheim, you take the S42 in the other direction to Bad Friedrichshall and from there the S41 to Gundelsheim. All timetables can be found at h3nv.de and s-bahn-rheinneckar.de/s_rheinneckar/view/fahrplan/uebersicht.shtml.