A beautiful stretch of landscape between the Rhine, Neckar and Odenwald – welcome to the Bergstraße. You can get to know this beautiful strip of earth in southwestern Germany especially well on the Burgensteig. Steep vineyards, flowering orchards and green hills accompany you on the 90 mile (about 144km) hiking trail from Darmstadt to Heidelberg. And, as if the dreamlike landscape was not enough already, you can also discover 30 castles, palaces and places of worship along the way. In this Collection, you can explore the area the Romans called the „Strata Montana“ in all its glory.
The Burgensteig Bergstraße follows the course of a trade route, which was founded by the Romans over 2000 years ago. As, for a long time, the Rhine plain was too damp for the construction of a permanent road, the Roman settlers built a road where the slopes of the Odenwald and the Rhinish lowlands meet. This road, which would later be called Bergstraße, became the most important trading and military road between Heidelberg and Darmstadt – and today offers excellent hiking opportunities.
In this Collection, we have divided the trail into nine stages. Each section ends in one of the tranquil villages along the mountain road where you can spend the night. If you do not want to hike all the way at once, or if you just want to pick out a few day trips, you can reach all the start and ending points by public transport. We guide you along the Burgensteig from Darmstadt to Heidelberg, but you can also walk it in the opposite direction, from south to north.
With more than 14,700 feet (about 4500 meters) of elevation, the Burgensteig Bergstraße has some tough climbs, but the beautiful landscape rewards you at every turn. You can look forward to varied hikes with lots of nature and culture. While the northern part runs mainly through the forested area around Frankenstein Castle and Melibokus, the southern part leads you through the idyllic vineyards of Bergstraße. A quarter of wine tastes particularly delicious after an eventful hiking.
Do you want to discover more of the Odenwald and Bergstraße? More long-distance hiking trails and day routes can be found in these Collections:
Your first stage begins in Darmstadt in the Eberstadt district. You follow the marking of the Burgensteig, the blue castle on a white background, out of the city and into the Odenwald.You follow the trail through the forest up to the highest point of today's stage. On a 370 meter high mountain you will find here the well-preserved and well-kept castle Frankenstein. After a visit to the keep and the defensive wall, from which you have a great view of the surrounding landscape, you can have a rest in the restaurant or at the castle kiosk.Near the castle are the so-called magnet stones. With your compass you can check if the stones are really magnetic. According to legend, this was an important witch dance place and when they came together the witches magnetized the stones. Modern theories, on the other hand, assume a tremendous lightning strike.On a wooded ridge path it goes in the connection over the Langenberg and down into a narrow valley. From here you climb up to Tannenberg with its impressive castle ruins. After you have explored the castle, it goes through the Stettbacher valley to the last highlight of the stage.The castle Heiligenberg has a special history, as here the widely ramified European royal families and noble families were always guests.Your stage destination is today in Jugenheim, a district of Seeheim.
On the second stage, two outstanding castles await you on the Burgensteig.The first destination is the Alsbacher Schloss. The medieval fortress was probably built as a defensive fortress against the castle Auerbach. You can visit the castle the whole year from Wednesday to Sunday. After visiting the castle, the castle tavern awaits you where you can have a good break.The further hiking trail leads you above Zwingenberg and below the mountain Melibokus. Here also cross the Burgensteig, which runs from north to south, and the Nibelungensteig, which in turn crosses the Odenwald from west to east.The second big highlight of your hike today is the impressive Auerbach Castle. The well preserved towers, walls and castle buildings give you a great impression of the former splendor of the large castle complex. The castle ruin is open daily and is the backdrop for numerous events. In addition to a princely apartment you will find in the castle a castle tavern with good, regional cuisine.After you have explored the castle ruins extensively, the trail leads you down to the final destination, the train station Bensheim-Auerbach.
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On your third hiking day, the Burgensteig leads you first into the state park Fürstenlager.The princely camp is located in a park of more than 40 hectares and elegantly landscaped. In the heyday of the landgraves of Hesse-Darmstadt, the counts built a lush summer residence with various mansions, stables, garden temples, pavilions and jewelery. On the extensive hunting trips here also the guests were royally hosted and accommodated.After you have walked through the well-kept park, continue on the Burgensteig to Kirchberghäuschen above Bensheim. Here you can take a leisurely break and enjoy the great view before you set off again.A short detour into the streets of Bensheim is followed by the ascent to Hemsberg. Above is a Bismarck tower that awaits you with a small café and a great all-round view.Afterwards, the Burgensteig winds up the mountain Lindenstein, which you circle below the summit, to get over a ridge path to Starkenburg.After this last stage highlight, you will hike down to Heppenheim and to the station of the same name.
The fourth stage does not await you with castle ruins, but with peaceful nature and great views.After strolling through the picturesque old town of Heppenheim, the Burgensteig leads you into the Odenwald. On today's stage you will always have great views of the small towns and the Rhine plain beyond.Your path leads on natural forest paths below the mountains Steinkopf and Taubenberg continue south to Laudenbach and Hemsbach. Above Hemsbach, today's stage destination, you can once again expect historical sights, the hallmark of the Burgensteig.On the Kreuzberg you will find next to the sanctuary, which was built here peacefully in the forest, also a large boulder, which is known as "Steinerner Gaul".About the observation tower Waldnerturm, which is also called the Four-Knights Tower, it goes down to the stage destination Hemsbach.
The fifth stage is a real mountain stage.Right after your start in Hemsbach it goes up to the Bocksberg. At the top of the summit you can find some clear spots in the dense forest and take a look at the landscape below you.The Burgensteig leads you back down to Bergstraße, then steeply up to the Hirschkopf. A stone lookout tower awaits you at the top. Even after the strenuous climb, it is worthwhile, if you still climb the stairs to the observation deck, because above you will be rewarded with a great all-round view.From Hirschkopf head down to the Six Mills Valley. In this narrow valley flows through the Weschnitz and you will find six historic mills. These include flour mills, oil mills and paper mills, all of which have harnessed the river's water power. On your way out of the Weschnitztal valley to Weinheim, you can see clearly at the Hildebrand mill that the owners of these mills have brought considerable wealth.After a short walk through the streets of Weinheim you reach your destination, the Weinheim train station.
On the sixth stage, there are again two mighty castles, which, however, have a completely different story.First goal is the medieval castle ruin Windeck. Despite the advanced decline, it still offers a great sight. In recent years, large parts have been restored to preserve the current state of the castle for posterity. From the castle walls you can already discover the second Weinheimer castle, the Wachenburg.When visiting the Wachenburg you will be impressed by the condition of the building. But appearance is deceptive. The castle dates back to the 20th century and was built in the style of the former castle. Burgherren are various student corps who have financed the construction exclusively with donations. Today, the castle is still used and administered by the student associations, but a visit to the castle courtyard and castle tavern is also possible for non-members.After visiting the two castles, the Burgensteig leads you deep into the Odenwald. About natural trails and narrow forest roads, it goes under dense forest leaves on the wooded summit of the Goldkopf.The Burgensteig continues to meander along the slopes of the Odenwald, and shortly before your destination you reach the former silver mine Grube Marie. After a Siberader was discovered here in the late 18th century, a tunnel was drilled into the mountain. But there was a disappointment: barely three kilograms of silver and 1.3 tons of lead could be mined and the mine shut down. Today you can visit it from May to September on the fourth Saturday of every month.From the mine, the hiking trail takes you to your stage destination, the railway station in Großsachsen.
From Großsachsen the path leads over vineyards up into the Odenwald. After entering the forest, you will find the two ruins on the Hirschberg and the Schanzenköpfle at a short distance. Even with the first ruin, the castle structure can only be guessed, but the second castle is barely to be discovered on the Schanzenköpfle. However, when you realize that the castles have been abandoned since the 14th century, it is amazing how well the remains of the wall have been preserved.The Burgensteig continues through the dense forest to Spatschlucht, a former open pit for feldspar. Then it goes over the Mount of Olives to Strahlenburg, the third ruin of today's stage.Unlike the other two castles, this castle is still in great shape. You can even climb the keep to enjoy the impressive view of the vineyards and the wooded slopes of the Odenwald from above.From the ray castle it is only a short way to the train station Schriesheim, today's stage destination.
You start your eighth stage in Schriesheim and wander through idyllic vineyards, while you have a great panorama of the city, the countryside and especially on the towering Strahlenburg.The Burgensteig today leads along the edge of the forest between vineyards and dense trees to the impressive ruins of Schauenburg. Although the buildings, the walls and the towers are already far removed, the floor plan and the extent of the large castle can be seen wonderfully. In the form of trees, shrubs and grasses, the nature conquers the area back and you can make a cozy break up here. Although there is no castle tavern here, the view from the old walls to the Rhine plain is simply magnificent.The trail then climbs over cozy forest trails to the mountain Hartenbühl. He snakes past small valleys and surrounds the mountain below the summit. Shortly afterwards you pass the overgrown ruins of Kronenburg.Through the former prophy quarry Leferenz you reach the stage destination in Dossenheim.
The ninth stage is the grand finale of your hike on the Burgensteig.The first half of today's hike passes through vineyards and natural forest trails. Time and again beautiful views open up as the trees clear and clear the view of the Rhine plain.After you have crossed the Mühlbachtal it goes up in a steep climb to Heiligenberg. Up here, exciting historic sites await you.Impressive are the well maintained ruins of the Stephanskloster and Michaelskloster. In both you can visit the foundations and individual towers. Especially at the Michael Monastery, whose foundation walls can be explored on an open meadow, you can imagine the former structure particularly well.In addition to the monasteries, there is also the Thingstätte, which was built by the Nazis as a place of worship in Germanization mania. After the Second World War, the amphitheater was abandoned to decay and only in the late 20th century recognized its historical value and placed it under monument protection.The path continues to Bismarck's Column, from whose viewing platform you can take a first look at the famous castle. From there it goes over a serpentine path down to the Neckar. When you cross the Old Bridge, the old town panorama of Heidelberg builds up in front of you.Of course, at the end of your hike on the Burgensteig, you should not miss your visit to Heidelberg Castle. Allow yourself enough time to explore the huge and impressive castle complex extensively.After nine days of medieval castles, dense forests and small towns, the picturesque old town of Heidelberg is the perfect way to end your hike. You simply block out the tourists who snap the ancient buildings as you imagine life from times gone by. The visit of the many castles has given you a new look at the Middle Ages in Germany.