The Werra flows almost 190 miles (300 kilometers) from its source in Thuringia through rolling hills and wooded valleys. It crosses the states of Thuringia and Hesse and finally flows into the Weser in Hann Münden in Lower Saxony. Along the course of the river, you can explore the varied landscape and history of the region on the Werra-Burgen-Steig X5 and the Werra-Burgen-Steig Hessen X5H. The name "Burgen-Steig" (castle trail) is rightly given to these long-distance hikes. The Werra, which today meanders so peacefully through the countryside, has always been a borderland. Principalities clashed here in the Middle Ages, religious wars broke out during the Reformation, and in the Thirty Years' War the conflicting parties reduced entire villages to rubble and ashes. The climax was then the inner-German division and along the Werra the GDR government drew its inexorable border fences. Countless ruins, castles, manors, fortified churches and even GDR border towers bear witness to this history today.
The two hiking trails Werra-Burgen-Steig X5 and Werra-Burgen-Steig Hessen X5H roughly follow the course of the Werra and lead you on their stages not only to the most important castles of the region but also through picturesque and secluded nature. In Hann Münden, the Werra finally flows into the Weser and the city is therefore also the link between the two long-distance hiking trails. While hikers have reached their destination here on the Werra-Burgen-Steig X5, the city also marks the beginning of the Werra-Burgen-Steig Hessen X5H. Only on a 25-mile (40-kilometer) long section before Hann Münden do the hiking trails run together, then the paths separate.
The Werra-Burgen-Steig X5 consists of 17 daily stages and runs from the Werra source near Eisfeld in the Thuringian Forest to the mouth of the Werra in Hann Münden. You will cover about 230 miles (370 kilometers) and hike through the Thuringian Forest, the Werra Bergland, the Eichsfeld and the Osthessische Bergland. Many of the stages are over 12 miles (20 kilometers) long, so this Tour is aimed primarily at endurance long-distance hikers.
If you're not only interested in hiking but also in visiting the castles, you should take a closer look at the Werra-Burgen-Steig Hessen X5H. It starts in the opposite direction in Hann Münden. From here it goes upstream along the Werra and finally off the river through Hessische Schweiz and the picturesque Werra-Bergland. The stages are generally shorter and the focus is particularly on exploring the individual castles and idyllic stage destinations with their historic half-timbered houses. The Werra-Burgen-Steig Hessen stretches over eleven stages and over a distance of almost 90 miles (140 kilometers). Therefore, it is equally suitable for both regular and occasional hikers.
If you want to get to know the varied landscape of the Werratal in all its facets, then you can, of course, combine both hikes and spend a whole month on the banks of the Werra in Thuringia, Hesse and Lower Saxony.
Of course, the first stage of the Castle-Werra-Trail X5 starts at the Werraquelle in the Thuringian Forest. From here, the long-distance hiking trail meanders through the densely forested mountain landscape. From the Bleßberg the Werra-Burgen-Steig leads you downhill into the wide Werratal and over wide meadows to the stage destination Eisfeld.On your way to Eisfeld you will visit the peaceful village of Friedrichshöhe. Here you can take a rest at the inn and visit the information center of the Thuringian Forest Nature Park in the former school building. Another stop is worth it on the Bleßberg. Here is a wooden observation tower on whose platform you can get a great overview of the Thuringian Forest and the Werratal.In Eisfeld, the stage destination, there are various, cozy accommodations. A selection can be found at stadt-eisfeld.de/verzeichnis/index.php?mandatstyp=8.The Werra spring, starting point of today's tour, is about two and a half kilometers from the village of Masserberg, which is directly served by the bus line 209 from Eisfeld. Eisfeld itself can be reached from Erfurt using the railway lines of the South-Thuringia Railway. All timetables can be found at sued-thueringen-bahn.de and werrabus.de.
The second stage follows the course of the Werra, which flows through a wide valley here. The trail leads you over rolling hills and along wooded hills, from which you can enjoy a great view of the valley.Before starting the tour, you can still visit the castle Eisfeld, which today is home to an extensive regional museum. If you would like to take a break in an inn on today's hike, then we recommend a detour to the center of Harras. There you will find the quaint "castle restaurant". Your stage destination Hildburghausen awaits you then at the end of your hike with a lovingly restored old town, numerous restaurants and also with cozy accommodations.
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Right at the beginning of the third leg of the Werra-Burgen-Steig, it goes up high. On a hilltop here is the Bismarck tower, which spoils you with a magnificent view. From here the trail leads you above the river over wooded ridges. Again and again, the forest opens and spoils you with beautiful views of the Werra and the Thuringian Forest.At today's stage you will find some very special vantage points. These include the Reuriether rock and especially the so-called invaded mountain. It is a ridge of porous limestone, in the course of the centuries repeatedly penetrated water. Frozen this water in winter, formed deep cracks, until it finally came on April 3, 1595 to a huge landslide. Since then, a steep cliff above the valley rises up. From the invaded mountain is also worth a visit to the monastery ruin Veßra, which is located on the opposite bank of the Werra.If you want to hike without provisions, you can stop halfway down the track in Reurieth at the Zum Hirsch inn. In the stage target Themar you have a good selection of restaurants and simple guest houses and pensions. More information can be found at themar.de/public/tourismus/tourismus-gastgeber.aspx.
On the fourth stage, the Werra-Burgen-Steig lives up to its name. Several old walls are on your route today. From Themar you climb up to the ruin "Steinerne Kirche", visit the ruin of the Osterburg and walk along the Werra river to the fortified church in Einhausen. Following the trail leads you over a densely wooded ridge to the stage destination Meiningen.From the castle ruin Osterburg today only few wall remainders as well as the reconstructed, quadrangular keep are preserved. You can even visit the previous, telephone registration and enjoy the view of the Werratal. If that's too much trouble for you, you can admire the tower only from the outside and instead look forward to the viewpoint Krayenblick above Vachdorf.Refreshments are on today's stage in the villages Einhausen and Vachdorf and of course in the stage destination Meiningen. In the picturesque old town of Meiningen you will also have no problem finding a suitable place to stay.
From Meiningen, the Werratal becomes noticeably narrower and the mountain ranges on both sides of the valley higher. On today's stage, the Werra-Burgen-Steig leads you up the left bank and through the forest to Schloss Landsberg. Afterwards it goes downhill and at Walldorf you cross the Werra. The trail climbs a bit and winds its way down a wooded mountain to the stage destination Wasungen.The Schloss Landsberg is not a medieval castle, but an impressive mansion from the late 19th century. The castle is currently being converted into a hotel, but you can also admire the building from the outside. A real knight's castle you will find a few miles before. Here, hidden away from the road in the middle of the forest, the heavily ruined ruin of the Habichtsburg - a great destination for amateur archaeologists.Hungry hikers can take a detour to Walldorf before crossing the Werra River and stop off in one of the inns. Accommodation in the well-kept half-timbered and carnival city of Wasungen can be found at wasungen.de/tourismus/schlafenessen/uebernachtung/pensionen. Especially stylish is of course an overnight stay at the Burghotel Maienluft above the city.
From Wasungen, the Werra-Burgen-Steig leads you first up to the picturesque castle ruins Maienluft, which today houses a hotel and a restaurant. After the castle visit, it goes back down to the neighboring village Schwallungen and over the Werra. In a wide loop, you now hike over the wooded hills and mountains on the edge of the valley to the castle ruin Frankenberg. From here you follow the Werra-Burgen-Steig up to the stage destination Breitungen.On today's stage you cross the peaceful half-timbered villages of Schwallungen, Zillbach and Helmers. In the first two villages there are also inns and cafes, which are perfect for a rest. At Breitlingen, you will not only find several guesthouses and inns, but also supermarkets where you can stock up on supplies.
In Breitungen you cross the Werra again on the seventh day and then wander with a wonderful view through a hilly meadow and field landscape. The path climbs gently up to the flat summit of the Saarkopf and then meanders along the Farnbach stream to Bad Liebenstein. Here you visit the castle ruins of the same name, which towers above the village and then traverses the magnificent park of the castle Altenstein. From here, the last section leads you across wide meadows to the stage destination, the spa town of Bad Salzungen.For the castle park Altenstein with its natural lookout rocks and picturesque paths you should definitely plan a little time. Maybe you'll bring your provisions with you and take your break here in the park under the open sky. Alternatively, you can find numerous restaurants in Schweina and Bad Liebenstein.Since your stage destination Bad Salzungen is a traditional spa, you will find numerous accommodations in all price ranges here.
In continuous up and down the Werra-Burgen-Steig takes you on the eighth stage through the Werratal and over the surrounding mountain ranges. From the top you will always enjoy fantastic views, which have already made the lords of the castle in the Middle Ages to advantage. On a narrow, wooded ridge, which rises on the current section of the Werratal, you visit the ruins of the Krayenburg. Then you cross the Werra and a ridge that separates the Werra valley from the valley of the Felda. On its shores you will find the former moated castle Feldeck, which is however today privately owned. From the Feldatal you hike across meadows to the stage destination Vacha.Of the medieval Krayenburg, only a small ruin is preserved, but right next to it there is a castle-like inn from the late 19th century. The inn has been lovingly decorated and completes your visit to the ruins with a delicious meal and a leisurely break.Accommodation in Vacha can be found at vacha.de/unterkuenfte.html.
Starting point of the ninth stage is the medieval town of Vacha. On an old stone bridge you cross the Werra and then wander - off the river valley - over an extensive, wooded ridge. The next destination is the town of Heringen, which is known for its potash salt industry. From Heringen, the Werra-Burgen-Steig snakes up to Monte Kali, a huge waste dump of salt mining. After you've rounded the mountain, you hike across wide meadows and the nature reserve Rhäden over to the finish Berka.Even though potash mining causes considerable damage to nature, a visit to the Potash Mining Museum in Heringen is extremely informative and interesting. If you are interested, you can even head up to the heap, which is almost entirely made of salt, and enjoy fantastic views from the top. In addition to the museum you will also find many places to rest in Heringen.In the stage destination Berka there is a small selection of overnight accommodations, as well as supermarkets and restaurants.
At the beginning of the tenth stage, the Werra-Burgen-Steig runs on the banks of the river Werra. But already behind the neighboring village of Gerstungen the trail leaves the river and meanders along a forested hilltop with beautiful views. Shortly thereafter, the path bends to the north and you wander through dense forest. After crossing the Elte, a tributary of the Werra, it goes past the ruins Brandenburg to the stage goal Lauchröden.Strictly speaking, Brandenburg consists of two different castles and, accordingly, the complex has very large proportions. Castle lovers should bring some time here to fully explore the old walls.In the tiny village of Lauchröden there are only a few places to stay, including werrapension.de and ferienhaus-werra.de. Alternatively, you can also take bus line 93 from Monday to Friday to Eisenach and look for accommodation there.The timetable can be found at vgwak.de/index.php/fahrplan/fahrplantabellen-141214menue.
The eleventh stage leaves completely the Werratal and leads you on the tracks of the Rennsteig to the landmark of Thuringia: the Wartburg. This perches on a ridge above Eisenach in the middle of the green mountain landscape of the Thuringian Forest. The Werra-Burgen-Steig takes you on this detour through beautiful forest landscapes and great viewpoints. After visiting the Wartburg, Eisenach awaits you with its lovingly restored Old Town and numerous cafes and restaurants.The Wartburg is inseparably linked to German history due to Martin Luther, who wrote his Bible translation here. On the Wartburg you can visit the farm, climb to the keep and explore the interiors as part of a guided tour. The visit to the Wartburg is rounded off with an overnight stay at the Burghotel, which is located in close proximity to the castle complex.
The starting point of the twelfth stage is not Eisenach, but the village of Lauchröden in Werratal. You take the bus 93, which brings you from Eisenach to Lauchröden. From here it goes for a long distance directly along the banks of the Werra. You visit the villages Neuenhausen and Hörschel, which also offer a small break. After you have also crossed Spichra, you wander across beautiful meadows and fields on the edge of the Werra to the final destination Creuzburg.Arriving at the destination, you can expect a real highlight of the Werra Castle Trail. In the middle of the small town with its medieval half-timbered charm, the perfectly preserved castle Creuzburg towers into the sky. The castle now houses a museum, a restaurant and even a hotel - perfect for all hikers on the Werra-Burgen-Steig.The bus line 93 runs only from Monday to Saturday. If you have scheduled the twelfth stage for a Sunday, you can also order a taxi for your arrival to Lauchröden. The bus timetable can be found at vgwak.de/index.php/fahrplan/fahrplantabellen-141214menue.
Starting point of the 13th stage is the picturesque old town of Creuzburg. Today's section runs off the Werratal and you wander through a beautiful hilly and mountainous landscape. The Werra-Burgen-Steig will lead you over dirt roads and forest paths in the direction of the stage goal Treffurt, where you will meet the Werra again.The highlight of today's stage is the Heldrastein, a barren rock formation above the village of Heldra. For many years a wooden lookout tower has been providing you with a fantastic view.On today's stage you will not find any refreshments, so you should stock up on provisions for your tour in advance. It's best to ask your accommodation if they can pack you a packed lunch.Although your stage destination Treffurt is rather small, you will find various pensions and even a cozy hotel.
Right at the beginning of the 14th stage, you can dive deep into the Middle Ages in the Normannstein Castle. Then you hike far away from the Werratal over a wide hilly landscape. Here was until 1989 the inner German border. An old GDR watchtower reminds of this time. From the village of Katharinenberg the comfortable hiking trail leads you through an open field and meadow landscape. The goal of today's hike is the Hülfensberg, which has been a pilgrimage site for many centuries. Since the middle of the 19th century, there is a chapel and a small Franciscan monastery.In the museum of Normannstein Castle, you can visit an exhibition about the castles and their history in the Werratal - a perfect exhibition for all Werra-Burgen-Steig-Wanderers. Suitably in Katharinenberg the detour to the church ruin is worthwhile. The church construction was never completely finished due to wars and feuds, and you can read the changeable history of the region at the church at first glance. You will also find two guest houses in Katharinenberg for a well-deserved break.In the monastery on the Hülfensberg hikers and pilgrims can stay in a simple accommodation. However, there are only limited places, so you should inform yourself in advance about the availability. If there is no free space for you, you can take the bus 8 from the nearby villages village to Ershausen. There are various pensions and hotels. Unfortunately, the bus drives only very irregular. Alternatively, you can also order a taxi for the ride at 05655-245.The timetable can be found at eichsfeldwerke.de/bus/fahrinfo/fahrplaene
With almost 800 meters in the ascent and almost 900 meters in descent, it becomes the end of the Werra-Burgen-Steig again really hilly. On this stage, you will hike over the easternmost foothills of the Werra-Berglands. Since the path only partially through the dense forests on the mountains runs and leads along fields and meadows, expect stunning views of the surrounding mountain and valley landscape. Your stage destination Vatterode lies in the valley of the Walse, nestled between densely wooded ridges.On today's stage, two romantic castle ruins await you again. Although the castles of Altenstein and Greifenstein have deteriorated greatly, their special location amidst the dense forest gives them a very special charm. Here you can admire especially beautiful, as nature slowly recaptures the places claimed by man.In Vatterode and also on the entire 15th stage there are no restaurants or guesthouses. For your meals on the tour, you should therefore prepack food in advance. From the stage destination Vatterode from Monday to Friday you can take the bus line 13 to the nearby Bad Sooden and stay overnight. On Saturdays there is a Rufbusverbindung, on Sundays you should order under 05652 - 25 68 or 05652 - 46 46 a taxi.
The 16th stage spoils you with quiet and picturesque forest trails that run on a high mountain range above the Werratal. Most of the time you enjoy the wonderful peace, but at the latest at the vantage point Teufelskanzel a fantastic view awaits you. Far below you, the Werra meanders through the valley. You wander past the castle Hanstein to the stage destination, the youth castle Ludwigstein.The two castles on this stage are among the most beautiful of the entire hike. Hanstein Castle is considered to be the largest castle ruin in Central Germany and impresses not only because of its huge size. The castle rises from the medieval village center of Bornhagen and is a dream destination for castle lovers. The castle Ludwigstein, however, is no longer a ruin today. It was renovated in the 1920s and expanded as a hiking center. Today, there is a youth hostel, where you can of course spend the night.
With a length of more than 35 kilometers, the last is also the queen stage of the Werra Castle Trail. On this hike, the Werratal presents itself from its best side and pampers you again with picturesque castles, palaces and of course the old town of Hann. Munden. The trail leads you from the castle Ludwigstein through the half-timbered town of Witzenhausen and then over wooded ridges to Hann. Münden in Lower Saxony. Here you can reach the destination of your journey at the Weserstein. On the stone you can read this poem: "Where Werra and Fulda kiss, they must renounce their name. And here, through this kiss, German is created right down to the sea, the Weser River. "With these lines, you too finish your walk and look with satisfaction at the confluent rivers. As a conclusion, before you start your journey home, you can still a bit through the picturesque half-timbered old town of Hann. Walk around Münden.If this stage is simply too long for you, then you can easily divide it into several days. You can also orientate yourself to the first four stages of the Werra Castle Trail Hesse X5H, which we will introduce below. So you can complete this stage in two, three or four days to explore the sights along the way.
At the end of the Werra-Burgen-Steig X5 - at the Weser-Stein in Hann. Münden - begins your hike on the Werra Castle Trail Hesse X5H. In addition to the impressive Town Hall and the large St. Blaise Church, the entire Old Town of Hann. Münden an attraction in itself. The old street scene, parts of the old city wall, the old pier and the countless winding half-timbered houses take you on a journey into the Middle Ages and into the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.From the picturesque half-timbered old town of Hann. Münden meanders the trail out of the city. You cross the Werra and on the other bank, it goes gently uphill - panoramic view included. First, you wander through the forest, but as soon as you have passed the meager remains of Lippoldsburg, the path leads you across wide meadows to the stage destination Lippoldshausen.On the short first stage can be found along the trail no rest stops. For this you will find two guesthouses in Lippoldshausen where you can spend the night.
From Lippoldshausen the second leg of the long distance hiking trail X5H leads you first over open meadows and then uphill through sparse forest. After this ascent the Werra-Burgen-Steig Hessen follows a dead straight forest path through the dense forest to the summit Hohe Schleife. Here the forest opens and along fields it goes downhill. You cross the motorway A7 and a little later you are standing at the stage destination Schloss Berlepsch.The focal point of the Berlepsch Castle is still a medieval castle, but in the late 19th century the building was modernized and extended into a castle. In its present form, it could have sprung directly from a fairytale or knight film - a perfect photo opportunity. You can not only visit the castle, you can even spend the night here.If the prices of the castle hotel are too high for you, you can also spend the night in the neighboring Baumhotel. Here hang various tree houses and tents in lofty heights in the forest and promise a unique experience. More information at robins-nest.de/de/home.
The third stage begins at the picturesque Schloss Berlepsch. From here you follow the Werra-Burgen-Steig Hessen over a wooded ridge and then wander across wide meadows in the village of Albshausen. Shortly afterwards, it goes back into the forest and the path meanders around the flat summit of the Kobelsberg. Soon it goes gently downhill to the stage destination on the Werra, the half-timbered town Witzenhausen.On today's stage you will not find any refreshments along the route, but above all quiet and secluded nature. Since the route is quite short, you can simply plan your lunch break in Witzenhausen and enjoy the picturesque old town there. Here you can easily find accommodation in different price ranges.
The fourth day of hiking out of the cozy old town of Witzenhausen. The path takes you from the city limits with great views around the Sulzberg around. In a wide loop you walk through a light forest back to the Werratal, where you enjoy the view of the castles Ludwigstein and Hanstein. On the bank of the river it goes to the stage destination, the youth hostel in the castle Ludwigstein.If you wander here in the spring, you can experience a unique natural event: Around Witzenhausen is one of the largest, contiguous cherry orchards in Europe and in spring, the whole landscape is dipped in a magnificent sea of flowers.As a hiker on the Werra-Burgen-Steig Hesse, you spend the night at the Jugendburg Ludwigstein not only in style, but also at fair prices. As on the previous stages, you should pack food for the fourth stage, as there are no inns along the way.
From the Jugendburg Ludwigstein, you follow the Werra-Burgen-Steig Hessen along orchards and wide fields, which extend below a wooded ridge. Soon the path bends into the forest and a little later you reach the lookout point Habichtstein, a bare rocky outcrop with a great view. From here, the Werra-Burgen-Steig meanders on natural forest paths over the green mountain ranges. After a break on the outdoor terrace of Gasthof Ahrenberg you will reach your stage destination Bad Sooden-Allendorf.Since wide views are sown in the dense forests of today's stage scarce, you will be particularly pleased about the lookout tower on the Rosskopf. From the viewing platform you have a fabulous panoramic view of the vast mountain landscape.Bad Sooden is an old spa and therefore you will not have any trouble finding a cozy place to stay.
From Bad Sooden, the start of the stage of the sixth stage, the Werra-Burgen-Steig Hessen runs for several kilometers on the wide meadows directly on the bank of the river. Soon, the valley slopes are a bit steeper and the trail leads through the forest at the romantic castle Rothestein over and continue uphill to the Hörnegipfel. Here you can enjoy a picturesque view of the Hessian Switzerland and the Werratal. From here, the path follows the course of the wooded ridge and leads you down to the stage goal Hitzelrode.On the ridge of today's stage, the Werra-Burgen-Steig Hesse is not exactly stingy with phenomenal vantage points: Hörne, Hohestein and the Wolf Table are just three of them. In return for the picturesque landscape, it is also true today that you pack provisions in your backpack before the start of the hike - there are no inns in the dense forests.In Hitzelrode you can stay overnight in the cozy Naturhotel Hessische Schweiz.
The seventh stage of the Werra-Burgen-Steigs Hessen follows the ridge of the nature reserve Hessian Switzerland. The trail runs on a summit ridge above the village of Kella, also known as the "Silver Cliff". The inner-German border once ran directly over this ridge. Afterwards you hike downhill, cross the village of Neuerode and follow the Schambach up to the Meinhard lakes, which lie on the banks of the Werra. On the shore of the Baggerseen you walk to the stage destination Eschwege.Eschwege enchants its visitors with the great, historic cityscape and the idyllic location on the banks of the Werra. If you hike on a warm summer's day, you can jump into the water and swim in several places in the Meinhard lakes. There is also an inn here, perfect for a relaxing break.In Eschwege there is a good selection of hotels and guesthouses where you can stay overnight.