The wild Forststeig – 7 days in the remote sandstone mountains

Hiking Collection by
komoot

Far away from popular tourist destinations in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains such as the Bastei or the Schrammsteine, this forest trail winds its way over 60 miles (100 kilometres) of secluded mountain tops, summiting 13 panoramic peaks. With bizarre rock formations, wide, deserted forests and sweeping views, the Elbe Sandstone Mountains on the left bank of the Elbe are spectacular, rivalling the Saxon Switzerland National Park. Having only opened in April 2018, the trail is one of the newest long-distance hiking trails in Germany. Here, you will find unique peace and solitude, just a few miles from the German border. You can even make a detour to the Czech Republic.

The Sachsenforst, an organization responsible for the forests, offers several forest huts where you can enjoy rustic charm around a log fire. You will also find bivouac sites where you can pitch your tent in secluded nature. All you have to do beforehand is buy some trekking tickets. With these, you pay for your overnight stays in the cabins and bivouacs. You can get the tickets at the Globetrotter branch in Dresden as well as at Bad Schandau and Schöna S-Bahn stations.

We have created a Collection that lets you enjoy the forest trail in seven days. Each stage ends at a forest hut or at a camping/bivouac site. You may find yourself alone on many of the stages: the trail's wilderness and remoteness mostly attracts only experienced hikers. In view of this, it makes perfect sense to carry a water filter with you, as you are more likely to find crystal-clear mountain streams and springs than running water from a tap.

To reach the start of the fairytale-like wild forest trail you only have to sit down on the S-Bahn line S1 from Dresden, which takes you directly to the starting point Schöna. Alternatively you could leave your car at the S-Bahn station Bad Schanda and take the S-Bahn for only one stop. This is the easy part, from here the adventure begins.

You can find more information about trekking tickets, here: forststeig.sachsen.de/tickets-4123.html

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

  • Intermediate
    04:43
    9.66 mi
    2.0 mph
    1,975 ft
    1,025 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Already the first stage of the Forststeig takes you deep into the wonderful forests of the Saxon Switzerland and felt far from civilization. You can expect a great view from one of the highest mountains of your entire tour and a cozy evening in a rustic forest hut.Your adventure begins at S-Bahn station Schöna. From Dresden, the S-Bahn line S 1 will take you directly to the start of the Forststeig. If you were not able to pick up your trekking tickets for the overnight stay in the forest huts and bivouacs in Dresden, then you have the last opportunity here at the station to provide you with them. Ready to go. Already on the first meters, a gentle ascent to the silent woods awaits you. You follow the picturesque Elbe slopes and reach the Gelobtbachtal.A steady climb through the rocky landscape brings you to the highest mountain in Saxon Switzerland on the German side - the Great Zschirnstein. The magnificent panoramic view over the Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland invites you to stay for a few minutes, before you dive deep into the forest again. The Forststeig now leads you along numerous moss-covered landmarks.Just before you turn into the narrow path to your bivouac bedside camp, you can once again replenish your water supplies at a fabulously located spring. You will spend your evening in the cozy forest hut by the fireplace and recover in the spacious camp from your first demanding kilometers.

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  • Difficult
    04:16
    9.14 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,125 ft
    1,000 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    With the second stage you will leave behind the German border for the first time and discover the beauty of Bohemian Switzerland. Even today, an imposing mountain is waiting for you and one or the other opportunity to stop.Leaving the leisurely night in the Grenzbaude behind you again enter the Grenzweg, which visually separates Germany and the Czech Republic only on the basis of low, weathered landmarks. Are you curious, then take a side path that leads to the idyllic bivouac Pigeon Pond. A small sign shows you the way. Another great opportunity to replenish the water supply before turning south and finally crossing the invisible border.You follow a barely traveled country road, which soon turns into an alpine-like rise on the Schneeberg. Huge boulders line the path through the birch grove, while in the distance you can already see an old stone tower from the time of the knights. On the highest of the 13 table mountains of the Forststeig, there is a great view over the wooded landscape and - if time permits - you order one of the typical Czech garlic soups in the cozy restaurant.From here, the Forststeig slopes gently. You do not expect any more uphill today. Your destination of the day, Ostrov campsite, is now not far away. A semi-open wooden hut offers itself again for a last breather, then you follow an old forest road. A delicious, warm meal in the restaurant of the campsite is just the right reward, before you come to rest in one of the rustic huts or pitch your tent in the meadow.

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  • Intermediate
    04:01
    9.00 mi
    2.2 mph
    675 ft
    825 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Today is a day of relaxation. The third stage waived almost entirely on positive altimeters. Great views and delightful landscapes are still guaranteed.Before leaving, you should fill up your water containers again. Strengthened by breakfast at the Ostrov campsite, the only serious increase of the day begins. Via stone steps you follow the Forststeig into a fairy-tale canyon with towering rock massifs. Delicate birch trees contrast beautifully with the deep-riven sandstone giants.At the halfway point of your daily stage, a rocky monolith rises in front of you into the sky. The Zeisigstein is well hidden in the midst of mixed forests, away from mass tourism. The few rungs of the metal ladder have climbed up quickly, because above offers an unexpected vision.On your way to the prey forest, you probably will not meet anyone or a few people. This section of the Forststeig is one of the most remote. Over a few kilometers you roam deserted forests and find yourself just before the Kamphütte, your present night camp, on a forest road and thus in civilization again. Roll out your sleeping bag on one of the brand new loft beds after stretching out your wandering feet in front of the quiet crackling fireplace.

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  • Difficult
    05:33
    12.0 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,450 ft
    1,475 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    There are already many miles on the Forststeig behind you. Today, however, the longest of the seven stages awaits you. Past the bizarre rock formations that make the Elbe Sandstone Mountains so popular, the Forststeig is like a long-drawn roller coaster. Ascents and descents change steadily on your way from hut to hut.The sleeping bag is rolled up, the backpack laced up. It goes on. Only 700 meters away from the Kamphütte is the Sophien-Quelle, a tiny natural reservoir of water. But as you cross the River Biela a few times today, you do not have to take the entire daily ration with you.It becomes mystical, because shortly after the first river crossing you are in the area of Hercules. Hercules head, stone and son are right on your route. The Herkulessäulen look like rock towers with their slender shape particularly bizarre. But the Bielatal has even more to offer. You climb the Bielewächter from the right side and then the Johanneswacht with its breathtaking view of the coniferous forests below.From here begins the exhausting part. Via steep forest paths you ascend to the border plate and look back at the part of the adventure that is already behind you. Below you is the small town of Ostrov with its campsite. On the next 3 kilometers, you can enjoy a few more views over the Bohemian Switzerland, before you finally turn your back on the border.After the long day, the Rotsteinhütte finally appears in the forest above you. Quickly filled out the trekking ticket and thrown in, then you can put your legs up by the fire.

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  • Intermediate
    04:48
    10.3 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,200 ft
    1,500 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    On the fifth stage you can let off steam. An enchanted rock labyrinth is waiting to be discovered by you. Not a few lookout points to be climbed table mountains are on the way there, each of which is absolutely unique.From the Rotsteinhütte it is only a few hundred meters to the rock of the same name - the Rotstein. The Forststeig winds as a narrow path through the moss-covered rock formations. Here it can be hard to follow the yellow markings that have been showing you the way since the beginning of the hike. It does not take long before the forest opens in front of you and gives you a fantastic view of the Kleiner Schneeberg. Next door you climb a few meters further up. The steep metal ladder on Katzstein takes you to a small viewing platform. Her landmark is a life-size cat figure hewn in the katz rock.Now it goes once again a long way downhill until you hit the Lampertsbach. The clear mountain stream piles up next to a picnic bench in a pretty pond. The Neuteich is an ideal opportunity to take a short break and let the water filter work. Only a few steps later, things are going up again. You have reached half of the day's stage at the Lampertsstein viewpoint. A great place for a snack.The absolute highlight of the stage you reach after about 14.5 kilometers. A rock labyrinth, unparalleled on the Forststeig, invites you to unrestricted climbing and discovery among the rugged blocks of stone. Remember your way into the labyrinth well, it bears his name not without reason.After finding your way out of the labyrinth, you head for the final spurt to the bivouac square in Nikolsdorf. Here you will find a picnic bench and a composting toilet. For your tent is a generous lawn area available. Or maybe you decide to sleep under the stars and count shooting stars.

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  • Intermediate
    04:35
    9.97 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,175 ft
    1,275 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The penultimate stage of the Forststeig brings you closer to civilization, without losing any of its natural character. Castle Königstein and the Pfaffenstein repeatedly appear between the treetops, while the roller coaster ride continues over the table mountains.At the beginning of the day a long descent to the valley of the Biela awaits you. Here you will also find your daily ration water, before you go over the Lower and Upper Kohlweg to the ascent to the plateau of the whorl. The Forststeig here often consists of small, overgrown trails. Again and again you can look at Castle Königstein to your left and you have arrived on the Quirl even at the same height. Once you cross the whorl, you will be rewarded with a great view of Pfaffenstein.The steep but fairytale canyon trail takes you down to the Niedere Kohlweg. You circle the majestically towering Pfaffenstein in the south, before the path leads you into the contemplative Gohrisch. The "Alte Gärtnerei" is a partner of the Forststeig and offers hikers accommodation in their lovingly prepared Schäferwagen. If these are already occupied, you can set up your tent in the meadow of the bivouac place.

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  • Difficult
    02:43
    5.16 mi
    1.9 mph
    725 ft
    1,250 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Your last leg on the rustic Forststeig has begun. With just over 8 kilometers to the end in Bad Schandau it is by far the shortest and most relaxed and gives you enough time to leave once again on one of the most beautiful views.As soon as you leave the last night camp in the quiet Gohrisch, you climb the few meters on the Gohrischstein. An early departure is worthwhile, because the sunrise from Table Mountain is breathtaking. When climbing, you should not be confused, because there are several ways up. From freestanding stairs to narrow crevices everything is there. Which way you take up is up to you.On the descent, you follow the signs of the Malerweg, which brings you over a trail parking lot on the popular Papststein. Especially at the weekend you will meet many day trippers and day hikers. Today you can take it easy, therefore, offers a stop in the only mountain inn along the Forststeig.Climb down over mossy stone steps back from Table Mountain and follow the Forststeig to the left, while the Malerweg branches off to the other side. Your last Table Mountain is now in front of you. The Kleinhennersdorfer Stein is your gateway to Hell, a path lined with ferns along imposing cliffs that are surpassed in their height only by the surrounding coniferous trees.Two bends further you already see the Elbe under you. Bad Schandau is now not far away. The Forststeig ends after about 100 kilometers directly at the S-Bahn station Bad Schandau. The line S 1 brings you along the Elbe back to Dresden.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    65.2 mi
  • Duration
    30:38 h
  • Elevation
    8,325 ft

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