The wooded mountains of the Palatinate Forest rise steeply on the western edge of the Rhine plain. On the gentle, sun-drenched hills below the slopes there are endless vineyards. Here, always alternating between vineyards and forest paths, the Pfälzer Weinsteig meanders through the idyllic landscape. On eleven daily stages, the route leads you from one wine village to the next, you can enjoy dense forests, visit observation towers on the peaks of the Palatinate Forest and browse through ancient castle ruins. The Highlight of each Tour is an evening glass of wine from the region.
Over eleven stages, the Pfälzer Weinsteig leads from the "House of the German Wine Route" in Bockenheim along the transition from the Pfälzerwald to the Rhine plain to the "German Wine Gate" in Schweigen-Rechtenbach at the southern end of the wine route. With forest paths, magnificent vantage points, cosy forest restaurants and of course wide vineyards, the hiking trail is very varied. You will find an extensive selection of accommodation and refreshments at each individual stage destination – from a simple guesthouse to an elegant spa hotel. Since the region is a popular holiday destination, however, you should always reserve your overnight stays in advance. Many hosts also offer luggage transfers. You can find out more when you make your booking.
Most stages are less than 12 miles (20 kilometers) in length and are therefore also suitable for occasional hikers. If the entire route is still too long for you, or you would prefer to avoid a particular stage, that's no problem. Since all stage locations are well connected to the train and bus network, you can also choose your favorite stages or plan individual day trips. The best way to reach the respective stage locations is via Neustadt an der Weinstraße station, which in turn is served from Mannheim, Kaiserslautern and Heidelberg. Various regional trains and buses will take you from Neustadt to the start of your hikes.
Your hike on the Weinsteig starts at the house of the German Wine Route in Bockenheim. The small community is located in a vast landscape of sun-drenched vineyards and marks the northernmost point of the German wine route. You can easily reach Bockenheim with the regional train R45 from Neustadt an der Weinstraße.From Bockenheim today's stage meanders through the rolling hills and along endless vineyards. The route runs over a low ridge and so a magnificent view is guaranteed.On weekends and public holidays, a stop at the cultivated Weinwanderhütte Asselheim is worthwhile. With a glass of wine and good Palatine cuisine you can enjoy the wide view into the Rhine valley. If you are traveling during the week, this is not a problem - the Weinwanderhütte then closed, but instead you can make a little detour to Grünstadt for a break.Afterwards the vineyard will take you past vines and fields to the stage destination Neuleiningen, where you can still look at the impressive castle.If your tour ends here, you can take the bus lines 454 and 457 into the neighboring Grünstadt and there take the train R45 back to the starting point Bockenheim.Timetables can be found at vrn.de/index.html.
Neuleiningen, the starting point of the second stage of the Pfälzer Weinsteig, lies on the northern edge of the Palatinate Forest. From the small town the signposted route leads you on the edge of the forest over wide vineyards and then up to the castle Battenberg, the first highlight of the day. On the old, well-kept castle ruins, you can take a break in the castle tavern and let your gaze wander from the walls to the Rhine plain.After the castle visit it goes into the forest. Beautiful forest trails lead you along ancient trees further south. Again and again, the dense forest opens up and gives you wonderful views of the surrounding landscape of picturesque valleys and wooded mountains.After about eleven kilometers, you will arrive at Forsthaus Lindemannruh, which is perfect for a well-deserved break. Just a few meters from the forester's lodge, the Bismarckturm Kallstadt awaits you on the summit of Peterskopf. The monumental building has been standing here for over 100 years and spoils you from its highest point with a fantastic view.From the tower, the trail meanders past several vantage points, continues through the forest and leads you to the stage destination Bad Dürkheim.If your hike is to begin with the second stage, then you can take the R45 train from Neustadt an der Weinstrasse to Grünstadt and from there take buses 454 and 457 to the starting point Neuleiningen. Bad Dürkheim, the end of the second stage has its own train station and is connected directly to Neustadt via the R45 railway line.All timetables are available at vrn.de/index.html.
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In Bad Dürkheim begins the third stage of the Palatinate vineyard. The spa is located directly at the transition from the Rhine valley to Haardt. The Haardt mountain range is part of the Palatinate Forest and runs from Bad Dürkheim in the north to Alberweiler in the south. From Bad Dürkheim, the trail leads you gently up the slopes of the Haardt and into the dense forest.Here you walk on quiet forest paths, traversing the valleys of the Schwabenbach and the Wachenheimer Bach before you reach the edge of the Rhine plain at the Wachtenburg. The small ruin sits enthroned on an upstream ridge and from the old watchtower you have a wonderful view over the vineyards.From the castle you follow the vineyard again into the forest. Pines and sweet chestnuts line your way to the pagan holes. It is a heavily ruined ruin of an early medieval Fliehburg. From here it goes over the Michaeliskapelle from the Haardt down into the Rhine valley and along vineyards to the stage destination Deidesheim.Since both the starting point and the finish line are approached by the R45 line from Neustadt an der Weinstraße, this tour is also perfect as a day hike.The timetable can be found at vrn.de/index.html.
From Deidesheim the fourth stage on the edge of the Haardt takes you south. At the same time, you will hike from the stage point without much difference in altitude through endless vineyards and enjoy a magnificent view.After a little dangling over wooded mountain slopes, you can even learn something about winegrowing near Königsbach: there is a short but very informative wine educational trail. From Königsbach you then hike along the banks of the Mußbach river through the densely wooded valley of the same name.It goes gently uphill and in the valley lure both the hunting lodge Looganlage and the forest house Benjental to a cozy rest. Take a little time here, because afterwards it goes up high. Almost 300 meters ascent separate you from the summit of the Weinbiet. In some hairpin bends it goes on narrow ways up. Once there, you can treat yourself to another rest in the Weinbiethaus - or you scramble a few steps to the lookout tower. The effort is worth it, because the view over the Palatinate Forest and the Rhine plain is terrific.As a reward for the firm ascent it goes from the Weinbiet then only downhill. You wander past the viewpoint Bergstein and the remarkable ruins of the Wolfsburg, until you finally reach your stage destination Neustadt an der Weinstraße.Deidesheim and Neustadt an der Weinstrasse are both served by the R45 railway line. In addition, the stage destination is perfectly connected to the S-Bahn network of Mannheim and Heidelberg. Thus, Neustadt is well suited as an end or as a starting point, if you only want to hike a part of the vineyard.Timetables can be found at vrn.de/index.html.
On the fifth stage between Neustadt and St. Martin you can expect a particularly varied forest hike. From Neustadt, the Weinsteig winds its way right at the beginning of the tour in numerous serpentines to the Nollkenkopf, a striking peak of the Haardt. Thanks to a swath in the trees, you can take a breather on the wooded summit down to Neustadt.From here, the trail follows the course of a ridge and leads you back to the edge of the Rhine plain. Hambach Castle, which is the cradle of German democracy, stands at the top of a hilltop. In a detailed exhibition, you can find out how this honorary title came about.Always along the ridge, the vineyard leads you away from the Rhine plain and back into the dense forest. Via the Hohe Loog we continue uphill to Kalmit, the highest mountain in the Palatinate Forest. From the viewing terrace of the Kalmithaus you can enjoy a fantastic view over the tree-lined mountains of the Palatinate Forest, to the Vosges and even to the Black Forest.Then you hike gently downhill to the stage destination St. Martin.Thanks to the connection to the S-Bahn network from Heidelberg, Mannheim and Kaiserslautern, Neustadt an der Weinstraße, the starting point of this stage, can be easily reached by train. The stage destination St. Martin does not have its own train station, but bus lines 500 and 501 will take you to neighboring Edenkoben. From here the railway line R51 continues to Neustadt.The timetables can be found at vrn.de/index.html.
The sixth stage on the Pfälzer Weinsteig begins in St. Martin. After leaving the tranquil wine village, you ascend on some hairpin bends on the slopes of the Haardt. On rustic forest paths you continue hiking. Today, most of the trail winds its way along the edge of the Rhine plain - so you will always have wonderful views of the plain and the endless vineyards.Soon you will reach a pompous monument that was once built as a monument of victory in memory of the Franco-Prussian War. Luckily, the keepsake has changed a little bit since then and now bears the name "Peace Memorial". From his foot you have a great view over the vineyards and right next to the monument you will find a cozy forest restaurant.After a detour through the Triefenbachtal you stand at the Villa Ludwigshöhe again on the edge of the vineyards. The villa was built as a summer residence for the Bavarian king when the Palatinate was still under Bavarian rule. Today you can visit the castle.On the wooded slopes of the Palatinate Forest and along the vineyards you continue to the stage destination Burrweiler.Start and finish are both approached by the bus line 500, so you can easily go back to St. Martin at the end of the tour. Alternatively, the bus will also take you to Edenkoben station. From there the railway line R51 goes to Neustadt an der Weinstraße.Train and bus schedules are available at vrn.de.
Starting point of the seventh stage is Burrweiler. The small village is located directly below the dense mountain forests of Haardt in a vast landscape of picturesque vineyards. However, you turn your back on the vines and step right up over the wooded slopes.Today's stage winds deeper and deeper into the dense forest. On forest roads and forest paths, the Palatinate Vineyard leads you to rustic forest restaurants and beautiful views. Especially for your retreat you have today the agony of choice: Should it still be the beginning of the Trifelsblick hut, you prefer to hike to the Waldhaus Drei Buchen or you put your rest just before the end in the Landauer hut?No matter how you decide, hearty Palatinate cuisine and regional wines are guaranteed. Between the huts you walk through the forest and visit the impressive castle ruin Neuscharfeneck. Another highlight of the day is the stunning view on Orensfels. To do this, you hike from the crossroads at the Landauer Hütte in a round around the Orensberg. The Orensberg rises high above the Dernbachtal and marks the southern end of the Haardt.Afterwards you hike comfortably downhill to the stage destination Dernbach.From the well-connected Neustadt an der Weinstraße you can take the R51 to Edenkoben and from there take bus 500 to the starting point Burrweiler Mitte. If you want to end your hike after this stage, take bus 521 and 522 from Dernbach to Albersweiler station. With the railway line R55 you continue to Landau, where you can change to train R51 to Neustadt.All timetables can be found at vrn.de.
After crossing the quiet Haardt mountain forests on the first seven stages of Bad Dürkheim, you will reach the Dahn Rockland at the beginning of your eighth stage. This is characterized by impressive Buntsandsteinfelsgruppen, which sit on the back of the mountains, and through countless castle ruins.From Dernbach you hike over a wooded ridge and down into the valley of the Eußerbach. Here you will find the monastery church of the former Cistercian monastery Eußerthal. The rest of the monastery was destroyed in the Palatinate Peasants' War, but the sandstone church was spared by a miracle.From the narrow Eußerbachtal we continue through the forest to Gräfenhausen. This is located in an open, sun-kissed valley. Therefore, here, framed by wooded mountains, wine is grown. The view of the vines and the surrounding landscape is picturesque.Afterwards, you will climb steeply again: in serpentines you will scramble up to the Krappenfels, which will then reward you with its stunning view of the Queichtal for your ascent. If you've had enough, you follow the winery down to the final destination Annweiler.To get to the starting point of the eighth stage, take the best from Neustadt an der Weinstraße from the train R51 to Landau and get there in the R55, which brings you to Albersweiler. From here the bus lines 521 and 522 take you to Dernbach. The intermediate destination Annweiler, however, has its own train station and therefore you can simply jump directly into the R55 to Landau. If you just want to go back to the start of the stage, bus line 522 will take you directly to Dernbach.Timetable information is available at vrn.de.
Annweiler, starting point of the ninth stage, is located directly at the foot of the Reichsburg Trifels. A steep path leads you right at the beginning to the medieval castle ruin, where the Stauferkaiser resided almost 1,000 years ago. The partially reconstructed ruin sits enthroned on a striking rock and is now home to a museum.From the Reichsburg Trifels, the trail meanders over a ridge crowned by red bunter sandstone cliffs, on which lie the two castle ruins Anebos and Scharfenberg. These two castles were part of the defenses of the Reichsburg and are also worth a visit.On forest paths, the Palatinate Vineyard again runs to the edge of the Rhine valley. Soon the forest opens and you enjoy a picturesque view of the growing areas of the Southern Wine Route. Immediately following the trail leads you gently uphill and into the forest. It goes up to the Madenburg, the fourth medieval castle ruin of today's stage. The castle tavern invites you for a well-deserved break before you continue your hike.Just before you reach the stage destination Klingenmünster, you will be able to enjoy a castle ruin for the last time: directly above the city, Landeck Castle towers into the sky. If you like, you can still climb the keep and enjoy the magnificent view.The start of the stage Annweiler you can easily reach by train. From Neustadt an der Weinstraße take the railway line R51 to Landau and change to the R55. From the stage destination Klingenmünster take the two bus lines 531 and 540 back to Annweiler, if you have planned this stage as a day trip.Timetables can be found at vrn.de.
In Klingenmünster, right at the transition from the Palatine Forest to the Rhine plain, you start your tenth day hike. After the countless castles the day before, today it is a matter of diversification exclusively through contemplative and peaceful nature.At the beginning you wander through vineyards to the idyllic wine village Gleiszellen-Gleishorbach. Here you walk along some half-timbered houses until the Palatinate Vineyard leads you back into the forest. The trail meanders over a ridge and then runs down into the picturesque Hirtenbachtal.You follow the stream downhill to the edge of Pleisweiler, where it opens into a small pond. Right next to the pond you will find a cozy Italian restaurant.After a break you walk along the vineyards to the finish of Bad Bergzabern. Here you can end your evening in a very special way: in the Südpfalztherme you can relax in sauna, thermal bath and outdoor pool.The starting point of the stage you can easily reach by bus and train. Drive from Neustadt an der Weinstraße with the regional train R51 to Landau and from there take bus 531 or 540 to Klingenmünster. It is even easier to leave the stage: from Bad Bergzabern station the bus 540 will take you back to Klingenmünster or the regional train R54 to Winden station. From winds, the R51 also brings you to Neustadt.Timetable information can be found at vrn.de.
In Bad Bergzabern your eleventh and last stage starts on the Palatinate Vineyard. Finally, the trail shows again in all its diversity.At the beginning, you will hike over a hilly winegrowing area and follow the signposted hiking trail through the forest to the picturesque Dörrenbach. Take a leisurely stroll through the streets, visit the impressive fortified church and let the medieval atmosphere affect you.Afterwards it goes uphill to the Kolmerkapelle, where you enjoy a beautiful view over Dörrenbach. Only a little later you reach on Stäffelsberg the highest point of today's tour. If you want to go a little higher, you can climb up to the lookout tower. Above you can expect an incredible view of the Palatinate Forest, over the Rhine plain and in clear weather even to the Black Forest.On your graduation hike, of course, a castle ruin may not be missing. From the Stäffelsberg, follow the hiking trail to the Guttenberg ruins. Although not as well preserved as other Palatinate castles, but still offers a great view from its wall.Now it goes evenly through the forest downhill to the finish line Schweigen-Rechtenbach. Just as your hike on the Weinsteig started at the "House of the German Wine Route", so your journey ends here at the striking "German Wine Gate". Take a stroll through the streets and spoil yourself with a regional wine.The starting point of the stage can easily be reached by train. From Neustadt an der Weinstraße the regional train R51 goes to Winden. Here you change to the railway line R54 to Bad Bergzabern. Also your departure from the stage destination is possible by bus and train. The bus 543 will take you directly back to Bad Bergzabern where you can change to the regional train.All timetables are available at vrn.de.