The Bastei, the Königstein Fortress, the Neurathen Castle and the Malerweg (Painter’s Path) – hiking in Germany's so-called 'Saxon Switzerland' and the Elbe Sandstone Mountains takes you along well-trodden paths through spectacular places. Perhaps you are looking for something new? Then I have a secret tip for you – a little-known long-distance hiking trail through Lusatia along the German, Czech and Polish border.
It’s hard to find any information about this adventurous long-distance hiking trail that is barely signposted. It winds through Saxon Switzerland, the Lusatian Highlands, the Zittau Mountains, the Upper Lusatian heathland towards the magnificent Lusatian Lakeland. Far away from any crowded tourist destinations, you can enjoy these idyllic landscapes in peace and quiet.
The trail takes you 285 miles (460 km) from Dresden-Bühlau to Lake Senftenberg through diverse nature, culture and history. You will discover romantic castles and idyllic valleys around Dresden, bizarre rock formations and picturesque stone gorges in Saxony Switzerland and the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. In the Lusatian Highlands, you can enjoy fantastic views from imposing observation towers and hike through gently rolling countryside. Extinct volcanoes and enchanted rock labyrinths characterize the Zittau mountains. In the Lusatian Lakeland, you will stroll past rippling streams, sprawling ponds and shimmering water and large lakes, formed during mining in the area. When you get hungry, you can tuck into hearty Upper Lusatian cuisine and rich cream puffs.
I have divided this varied long-distance hiking trail into 20 stages that are quite demanding, with varying distances and altitudes. At each end of the day, you will find comfortable accommodation. I’ve noted in the stage description if places have limited choice so that you can book in good time. If you would like to spend the night under the open sky, you can set up your camp in one of the so-called Boofen in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Just don’t forget to pack your sleeping bag and camping mat.
This Lusatian hiking trail leads through many villages that have train connections. This way you can shorten your stages or even divide the whole route into several small adventures and only walk parts of it. It’s up to you to decide how to discover this exciting region, following the Lusatian Snake.
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The Lusatian snake takes you further south on today's stage and to the Saxon Switzerland-Eastern Ore Mountains. You walk long distances through extensive field landscapes and forest to one of the heart towns of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains.In the morning the train will take you back from Radeberg to where you left the Lausitzer Schlange yesterday: to Arnsdorf. Here you scurry directly into the dense Karswald. Listen carefully, you might hear it squeak in the forest every now and then. As soon as you meet the old train tracks, you also know why - funny bicycle drains and hand lever drains in the style of old pioneer cars use the tracks through the Karswald for their tours. At their main stop, you leave both the tracks and the forest and hike along dirt roads to Dittersbach with its fairytale tower castle.
In the middle of the unique Elbe Sandstone Mountains, you are on the fourth stage of the Lausitzer Schlange. Since the long-distance hiking trail is looking for peace and nature, you leave tourist strongholds like the Bastei rock formation in the truest sense of the word. For this you can expect a less frequented but no less spectacular part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains and a few vertical meters.If you took the ferry to the Pötzscha district yesterday, you will have to climb the first few meters in altitude towards the Bärensteine. Otherwise you start the day with a ferry ride. The tour leads through the rock formations of the Great and Small Bearstone. An ascent is definitely worth it, because from up here you have a fantastic view of the surrounding table mountains, such as the Lilienstein with its obelisks. Past the Rauenstein, the ferry takes you back across the Elbe to Rathen with its pretty half-timbered houses.
With the eighth stage you reach the highest point of the Lusatian highlands. But not only that, you are literally going through “hell” - but admittedly an absolutely beautiful one.The first six kilometers of the day take you on gentle hills to the edge of the forest. The forest area surrounds the highest point in the Lusatian highlands, the Valtenberg. After you are immersed in the forest, the path climbs properly. The task now is to overcome around 250 meters of altitude. Once at 587 meters, the mountain hut and the lookout tower are two great rewards for the strenuous ascent. From the tower you have a great view to the Lusatian Mountains, which connects to the Lusatian Mountains.Now you descend down to "hell". The valley between Weifaer Höhe and the opposite mountains near Wehrsdorf collects the annual rivulets of snowmelt from the mountains until they become the river “forest water”.
In the semicircle, the Lausitzer snake first winds to the north on the ninth stage, then meanders out of Bautzen to the south. Only two ascents await you today, but the second one is all the more crunchy on Mount Czorneboh. You will also meet the Spree for the first time.Start the day with a short climb and hike past the densely overgrown Mönchswalder Berg. When descending out of the forest, you can already see Obergurig with the inconspicuously winding Spree. At the Old Bohemian Bridge made of natural stone you cross the river, which appears to be very delicate, and follow its shores in the middle of the picturesque, rocky Spree Valley in Humboldthain. Suddenly you are in the middle of Bautzen city center and walk past the train station - a good place to start or end if you do not have enough time for the entire route.
Wide fields, fragrant forest areas with babbling brooks and small villages also accompany you on the 14th stage of the Lausitzer snake. You already have the mountain world behind you, but two climbs to beautiful panoramic mountains still await you today.You leave Herrnhut on small roads heading north and you will soon find yourself again on Wolfsberg. From up here you have a beautiful view of the Strahwalde district of Herrnhut. You descend on the other side of the mountain and stroll along wide dirt roads. In front of you you can already see the Löbauer mountain. Right, it also goes up here - and with a crisp climb. The effort is absolutely rewarded, because the only surviving cast iron lookout tower in Europe sits enthroned on the almost 450-meter-high extinct volcano. In the associated inn you can fortify yourself with a refreshing drink.
There is a hint of Christmas in the air because today you are following part of the ecumenical pilgrimage route that takes you directly to the gingerbread museum. In addition, a lot of nature is waiting for you in the Upper Lusatian heath and pond landscape.You leave Niesky in a westerly direction and dive into the surrounding forest. Soon the thick forest opens up and gives you a unique view of the sea-like banks of the Quitzdorf dam. The lake is the largest reservoir in Saxony by area and, until a few years ago, was the largest inland water. On a picnic bench you can listen to the sloshing of the waves for a few minutes. You circle the lake a little away from the north shore and come back to the water in Kollm. Guest houses and an East Algae campground invite you to linger.
The 17th stage of the Lausitzer Schlange takes you deep into the Upper Lusatian heath and pond landscape. It is all about the waters and their inhabitants. Numerous footbridges and viewing platforms make their observation possible. Since there is a lot of distance waiting for you again today, it makes sense to have the alarm ringing very early. Then you still have enough time for nature.It goes out into the fields. With the Ruprechttümpel and the Schafberg lake behind it you meet the first smaller bodies of water. You follow a part of the Oberlausitzer Ringweg, then the Lausitzer serpent winds along a very narrow path through a small sea of dozen pond systems. In the middle of the path you will find a wooden lookout tower from which you can watch the water birds. In the House of a Thousand Ponds in Wartha you can learn more about the life of all aquatic inhabitants.
The day of a thousand lakes, that's what I would call the 18th stage on the Lusatian snake. You are on an almost flat route for around 31 kilometers. Sorbian settlements keep popping up in front of you, but you mostly hike through extensive forests and cultivated land. Pack up enough food because there are no places to stop for refreshments today.From Uhyst, you first follow the same path on which you left the long-distance hiking trail yesterday. You pass the large street pond, the test pond with 14 other small ponds around it and come through the settlements of Mönau and Rauden. Then you turn into the forest. And so it continues. Ponds, small settlements, forest. The villages are so small that you will be back at the end within a few minutes. All the better you can let the nature of the Upper Lusatian Lakeland work on you and soak it up.