Most beautiful paths through the Elbe Sandstone Mountains
© Sebastian Kowalke
The Elbe Sandstone Mountains have much more to offer than the Bastei Bridge: The further you venture into the narrow valleys and into the heart of the Saxon Switzerland National Park, the more lonely the paths and paths and the more pristine nature becomes. Sometimes you follow creeks and rivers through canyon-like valleys, sometimes it goes on steep paths up to the promising table mountains and again and again you see the gently flowing Elbe, which has so unmistakably left its mark on the region.
Our national park guides present you their favorite tours in this collection. It goes through the Uttewalder Grund and through the Polenztal, to venerable castles, through the Schwedenlöcher, along the course of the Kirnitzsch and of course up to numerous promising rock towers. And of course, a detour to the world-famous Bastei Bridge and the striking Schrammstein view should not be missing in the collection!
Leave the narrowness of the city with us and go to the most beautiful places in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. What are you waiting for?
The tour starts at the train station in Wehlen. You take the ferry across to the other side of the Elbe and climb up to Wehlen Castle. Then you follow the marking red point through the Wehlener Grund, Zscherregrund and Höllengrund to the stone table and on to the bastion.
The secret, quiet highlight of the hike, however, is the approach through the typical, U-shaped grounds. We hike through sandstone gorges with almost vertical rock walls. Cool moisture envelops us, a paradise for mosses, ferns and lichens. The nuances of the color green and the variety of shapes are overwhelming. 452 moss and 367 lichen species thrive in Saxon Switzerland. A wealth of a special kind with a focus on details.The most famous bridge in Germany - the Bastei bridge - lies almost 200 meters vertically above the Elbe. The most famous sight of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains is a magnet for visitors. This stone bridge was built in 1851, before the rugged rock reef was accessible through a wooden bridge.
The way back is via the Malerweg / Schwarzbergweg to Wehlen.The tour is suitable for children, but not for dogs. Caution: on summer days it can be very crowded, especially on the Bastei bridge.
Deeply cut grounds run through the sandstone of the Upper Saxon Switzerland. They have an almost mystical atmosphere and a cool cellar climate.
It is a world of its own that we can immerse ourselves in on this hike; in seclusion and a little bit detached from reality.From the Kohlberg car park (road between Lohmen and Dorf Wehlen) or from the nearby bus stop in Uttewalde, after a few meters, turn into Buschholzstrasse, an unmarked field path that leads into the forest.From Buschholzstrasse, turn left onto an unmarked path and then follow the signs “Rundgang Teufelskammer”.
The moist green rock walls of the Teufelsgrund move closer and closer to the path. Suddenly you are in the narrowest, darkest place in the middle of the devil's chamber. On the sides we see fairy-like sculptures of lichens and ferns, shadow plays, dripping water and mosses that soak up the moisture like sponges.For the particularly adventurous, there is a little extra loop: Follow the signs to the right from Teufelsgrund and then keep to the right so that you can descend again into Teufelsgrund with the “Teufelskammer” tour.After the Teufelsgrund, our hike goes to the left into the Wehlener Grund (red dot) and further (green line) into the Utterwalder Grund until we reach the Waldidylle inn.
We follow the path marked with the green dot until we reach Uttewalde, where we turn left to reach the starting point of the hike via Alte Uttewalder Straße.The tour is suitable for both children and dogs.Arrival by public transport:
From Pirna with bus 238 towards Stadt Wehlen to the Uttewalde stopArrival by car:
- from the direction of Lohmen: follow the signs to Uttewalde or Wehlen. Pass the junction to Uttewalde and then park across from the next field on the left.- Via Dorf Wehlen: In Dorf Wehlen turn to Lohmen (to the left, past the church), follow the road over Feld and park on the right at the parking area (across from the large field trees).
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
Romantic artists came from Dresden to Saxon Switzerland on foot. With the sketch pad "back to nature" in the 18th century was not an easy undertaking, but at the time it was an expression of a new attitude towards life. The wild grounds in the Upper Saxon Switzerland were among the first impressions of painters, poets, writers and composers. The rock gate in the Uttewalder Grund was a highlight of the long, strenuous march. Richard Wagner, Carl Maria von Weber, Caspar David Friedrich, Hans Christian Andersen and many others were enthusiastic about the wild nature.Today we can make the journey much more pleasant than it was back then: We can take the bus to the “Meißner Hochland” stop in Lohmen. From here we follow the markings green line and M (Malerweg), first a piece through the village, then along the edge of the forest down to the Uttewalder Grund.It's cool and humid in the Uttewalder Grund, the gorge is wild and romantic. Fallen trees and boulders lie across, countless ferns hang from the rocks and mosses overgrow the rock. The Uttewalder Grund is one of the most moss-rich grounds in Saxon Switzerland. If you look closely, you can recognize different types by their different shapes and color nuances. Sometimes it is only the smallest differences that make a different species. A magnifying glass is an advantage here!The paths branch out in the valley, here we turn right and walk along the bottom. Further down in the valley the gorge narrows and large boulders are wedged between the walls - this is the Uttewalder Felsentor. We continue hiking and go through the famous gate that has been immortalized on many paintings. At this point, at the latest, it becomes clear to us what fascinated artists then and now about the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. A few minutes after the Uttewalder Felsentor we come to Gasthaus Waldidylle, a really idyllic place that invites you to take a leisurely rest, outside or inside. From here we continue to the next intersection, where we keep to the right (red point). The wide path leads us to Stadt Wehlen, where a visit to the castle is worthwhile. When you arrive at the market square, turn right past the church to the Elbe. We take the ferry and turn right to the train station.The tour is suitable for all-terrain strollers and smaller children, as well as dogs.
Ideal in hot weather, as it stays pleasantly cool in the valley. It can also be done in winter.Starting point: Bus stop »Meißner Hochland« in Lohmen (Bus 237 in the direction of Sebnitz from Pirna)End point: Stadt Wehlen train station
The starting point of the hike is the train station in the health resort Rathen or the parking lot (on the left bank of the Elbe). The historic Gierseilfähre takes us across the Elbe. In the village we branch off to the left between the houses into the Amselgrund and reach the Amselsee in a short time.This idyllic, dammed lake lies between steep, overgrown slopes and rocks.
A special experience, especially on hot summer days, a boat trip on the Amselsee with a wonderful rocky backdrop is u. a. made of a locomotive, lamb, stork's nest and valley guard.At the end of the lake, turn right over the Höllgrund (green line), Pionierweg (green line) and the junction path that turns right (not marked in color) into the Koppelsgrund. Here we turn left onto the Füllholzelweg (red line) and shortly afterwards right up to the Gamrig (not marked in color).After the short and steep ascent, you will be rewarded with a magnificent view: the Elbe Valley lies at our feet, Stadt Wehlen, Pirna, the fortress Königstein, the Lilienstein, behind them the Schrammsteine and the Bohemian Switzerland. Caution: In contrast to most viewpoints, there are no railings! The originality of the weathered sandstone peak with the all-round view should be preserved.Back from the summit it goes down the same way. Before we start our way back, it is worth making a detour to the nearby Gamrig Cave. For the way back we choose the way back to Rathen (Aspichgraben) which branches off to the right just before the road.The tour is suitable for children. Warning: there is no railing on the Gamrig!
Suitability for dogs: noArrival and departure: With the S-Bahn to Kurort Rathen
On this hike you have the opportunity to get to know several valuable, largely natural habitats between the Elbe and Polenz.The starting point is the S-Bahn stop in the health resort of Rathen or the parking lot on the left side of the Elbe. After the ferry ride we go through the health resort Rathen, we keep to the left and walk along the stream to get to the Amselsee. Then we branch to the right and follow the marking green line. After climbing the stairs, we keep left and follow the green markings to the Hockstein.The Hockstein is an exposed rock spur high above the Polenztal. Opposite is Hohnstein Castle. Not far from here is the Lusatian thrust - the transition from granite to sandstone. This is clearly visible through the different valley shapes: V-shaped in the granite up the valley and U-shaped in the sandstone down the valley.Through the Wolfsschlucht, a very narrow crevice, it goes deep into the noticeably cooler Polenztal. The Polenz Valley is one of the first areas to be declared a protected area long before the National Park. It is the habitat of many rare animal and plant species, such as black stork, dipper, kingfisher and otter, but also silver fir and ostrich fern.After the descent, we turn right and hike along the path marked with a red dot along the Polenz. After about 2.5 km we take the path leading uphill to the right (red line). Once at the top we cross the Ziegenückenstrasse again and hike on the Füllhölzelweg (red line) in the direction of Rathen. Later we come to a fairly wide, unmarked path that branches off to the left. We follow this a short distance and take the next path leading uphill to the right. At the next intersection we keep left and continue uphill in a curve. After another bend, a sign shows us the ascent to Gamrig. We follow this path and climb steeply to the top of Table Mountain. Go down the same path to the signpost and from there to the left.A detour to the Gamrig Cave is possible just before the road. To do this, take the stairs up the street on the left (same way there and back). Otherwise we take the small path to the right (Aspichgraben). It leads us downhill to Rathen, it goes through the village and on to the starting point.The tour is suitable for children. At the Wolfsschlucht numerous lattice stairs have to be overcome and it gets quite narrow, so the tour is only partially suitable for dogs.Starting and ending point: Kurort Rathen (train station)How to get there: With the S-Bahn to Kurort Rathen
This hike leads to the fire view, the "balcony" of Saxon Switzerland. Here the edge of the terrain plunges vertically into the deep Polenz valley. The location is exposed and from the terrace you have a direct view of the Polenz valley and the vastness of the landscape.
The starting point is Hohnstein Marktplatz. From here we first take the narrow Rathausstrasse downhill - the castle to our right - and then turn right into the “Bärengarten” path. The blue line marks us down into the Schindergraben.The name comes from the original profession of the "slayer" or skinner, who gave sick animals the edge and dumped the carcasses in lonely areas - an important task for disease prevention. The Schindergraben flows into the Polenztal. After crossing the Polenz we hike to the right (red dot marking). After a few minutes we take the path up to the left to the Hockstein (marked blue and green lines). It goes through the Wolfsschlucht - a very narrow and impressive gap between the rocks. At the top we reach the Hockstein, with its resting pavilion and impressive vantage point.There used to be a castle on the Hockstein. The only access was a narrow crevice - the Wolfsschlucht. This made it easy to guard the fortress and to defend it optimally in the event of an attack.The further path leads over the stone Teufelsgrund bridge. At the next crossing we keep left and follow the junction (green line), which later crosses a street. We continue to follow the junction path (at the next crossroads without colored path markings left downhill) to the Koppelsgrund. Here we go left (Füllholzelweg, red line), later cross the street again and descend into the Polenz valley. At the bottom we hike to the right to the Waltersdorfer Mühle, behind the mill we cross the bridge and continue left to the Neuweg (red line). We hike uphill on it, through the forest to the beginning of Hohnstein and further back to the market. A visit to the impressive Hohnstein Castle is recommended on the way there or back.Hohnstein Castle was built in 1236 and has risen 140 meters above the Polenz Valley since then. The rock faces drop steeply into the valley from three sides. The only access is via the market square in the town of Hohnstein. As a fief of Emperor Charles IV, King of Bohemia, the border fortress was passed on to Hinko I Berka von der Duba in 1353.The tour is suitable for children. At the Wolfsschlucht numerous lattice stairs have to be overcome and it gets quite narrow, so the tour is only partially suitable for dogs.Arrival by public transport:
With S1 to Pirna, there on bus 237 (direction Sebnitz) to Markt, Hohnstein.Arrival by car:
Several, partly Paid parking is available at the Eiche car park, at the car park of the former train station in Hohnstein or the hiking car park below the castle near the sewage treatment plant
Renovated half-timbered houses characterize Schmilka, the last village before the Czech border with less than 100 inhabitants. This climbing tour begins here.We go uphill through the village; past the historic mill, into the forest and up the root path (yellow line marking). At a large crossroads at the Zwieselhütte, we take the second path to the right with the green dot mark. After about 300 meters we branch off to the left into the Lehnsteig. Wooden planks, to protect against erosion of the ground, and many steps now lead us towards the rocky world. Sometimes it goes up steeply. Once at the top, it goes a bit along the reef. Later we meet on the Reitsteig. Here it goes to the left (blue line). Some beautiful views in between invite you to linger. At a large fork in the road we turn left, it goes a little downhill and soon we turn left again (yellow line) to the Holy Staircase.
It is one of the most famous climbing systems in Saxon Switzerland. It leads breathtakingly steep and seemingly endless from the rugged and weathered rocky world down into the Heringsgrund and the Schmilkaer Kessel.We follow the holy stairs steeply back down into the valley and stick to the yellow line marking. We get back to Schmilka through the Heringsgrund and on the Wurzelweg.The tour is suitable for children, but not for dogs due to the numerous stairs.Directions: by S-Bahn to the Hirschmühle, Schmilka stop. Ferry ride to Schmilka or parking lot in Schmilka at the ferry terminal (subject to a charge)
We start at the Markt, Hohnstein bus stop and follow the Pechhüttenweg north through the town above the town church. Soon we come into the forest and now walk along the slope on the Klötzerweg. After a while we come to a small stream, branch off to the left and walk slowly down the Kälbersteig into the Polenz valley (yellow line). We come to Polenztalstraße, turn left here (red dot) and walk a bit along the street, past the Rußigmühle, to the next intersection. At it we go to the right, over the bridge and immediately to the left again on the Polenztalweg (red dot and diagonal green line).In the deep, canyon-like Polenz Valley, the dipper can be observed with a little luck. It is the only songbird able to dive in running waters: the brown bird with the white patch on the chest hops from stone to stone, dives, runs upstream underwater with slightly spread wings and searches for small aquatic animals.It goes a little further along the Polenz to the restaurant Polenztal. Shortly after the bar we branch off to the left and hike up the Schindergraben / Malerweg (blue line, diagonal green line). On the way we pass the remains of the former bear garden.The remains of the wall were originally part of a bear pen, created for the breeding and care of bears, which were used for hunting at the Saxon Court - in the royal seat, in the castle courtyard, on the Altmarkt and in the Großsedlitz Garden. Bears kept breaking out. The garden existed until 1756.Once at the top we keep to the left in the direction of Hohnstein (blue and yellow lines) and walk again, this time above, past the remains of the wall of the bear garden until we finally reach the first houses of Hohnstein. Here we turn left and walk below Hohnstein Castle until we reach the parking lot at the sewage treatment plant. We keep to the right and go uphill, crossing Dresdener Straße, back to the starting point of the tour.The tour is suitable for older children and dogs.Starting point: Hohnstein market
Arrival by public transport:
With S1 to Pirna, from here with bus 237 (direction Sebnitz) to Markt, HohnsteinParking: Paid parking lot at the Hohnstein sewage treatment plant below the castle
The Schrammsteinbaude in Zahnsgrund is the starting point of the hike. Our path branches off about 200m below the inn. We follow the slatted base steeply upwards (blue line marking). It is a narrow valley, bordered by rock walls and lush greenery.
At the top, at a fork, we keep left and walk to the large national park information board. From here we follow the marking to the Großer Schrammtor, which we traverse on a sandy path (additional marking M (alerweg)).The Great Schrammtor is one of the mighty cuts in the Schrammsteine. The hiking trail leads narrowly between eroded rock faces.Then we take the next junction on the left, the Wildschützensteig. The Wildschützensteig is a staircase secured with metal stairs, ladders and wooden planks as well as railings through a cool, damp gorge that leads us almost up to the Schrammstein view. After the ascent, we keep to the left and hike in the direction of the Schrammstein view. The ridge path leads directly to the well-known Schrammstein view, which is exposed on the rugged Schrammstein and offers a wonderful all-round view of the rocky world.Back from the view we stay on the ridge path and hike to the next path branching off to the left (middle angle, green point). We're going down here. At the bottom of the next big crossroads we keep straight ahead (towards Wildwiese) and then take the next wide path to the left. Before here we follow the green line in the direction of Ostrauer Mühle. The tour ends in the Kirnitzschtal at the Ostrauer Mühle.The tour is suitable for children, but not for dogs.Starting point: Bus stop "Schrammsteinbaude, Ostrau (Bad Schandau)": take bus 252 in the direction of Schmilka border crossing from Bad Schandau National Park StationEnd point: Ostrauer Mühle (campground) in Kirnitzschtal. From here bus line 241 and the Kirnitzschtalbahn go back to Bad Schandau