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Heidschnuckenweg is a 223 km long hiking trail in Germany that stretches from the Hanseatic City of Hamburg to the charming town of Celle in Lower Saxony of Germany. It features a whopping number of small and large heaths, pastoral scenery and breathtaking views that extend for miles on end across heather-blanketed landscapes.
Known for being an easier hike as compared to the Rheinsteig or the Eifelsteig, Heidschnuckenweg is dubbed as the most ‘beautiful hiking trail in Germany’ and was awarded the Quality Trail Wanderbares Deutschland award from the German Hiking Association for the second time in 2015. Due to the variety of landscape and ease, the trail remains a popular choice for hikers of all levels.
- Exploring the romantic village of Müden, the “pearl of the heath”, and its half-timbered houses
- Admiring the sea of lilac formed by heather blossoms interspersed with wild juniper trees in the Südheide Nature Park
- Discovering spectacular views of the heathland from the top of Wilseder Berg
- Walking though the lush wetlands of Pietzmoor in the Lüneburg Heath Nature Reserve, which is one of Germany’s oldest and largest nature reserves
- Hiking through serene scenery with a backdrop of grazing Moorland sheep
- Not the ideal choice for hikers who prefer challenging trails with plenty of ascents.
- Not suitable to hike between late fall and winter (November to March) due to cold weather.
- It takes 13 days to complete the full trail, so hikers pressed for time might want to opt for another route or hike only a section of Heidschnuckenweg (recommendation given below).
|Trail difficulty:||Easy. Trail remains in low altitudes with very few ascents.|
|Hike duration:||13 days for the entire hiking trail|
|Best seasons:||From April through September. The nature is at its most spectacular from early August to early September, when the heather is in full blossom|
|Remoteness:||Not very remote. The trail never strays too far away from towns and villages, although be prepared to walk for hours at a time without any refreshment stops.|
|Maximum altitude:||169 m at Wilseder Berg|
|Total distance covered:||223 km|
|Accommodation:||Guesthouses and B&Bs are located in quaint villages dotted along the trail.|
|Start / end locations:||Hamburg-Fischbek / Celle|
Day 1: Hamburg-Fischbek – Buchholz in der Nordheide, 26 km
The path starts in the Fischbek quarter of Hamburg, one of the best cities in Germany worth visiting, and continues into Fischbek heath. It trails through thick pine forest and reaches Langenrehm, the first rustic village on the hike. The path goes through the forest, among hills and meadows and into Nenndorf. This stage of the trail ends in the town of Buchholz.
Tip: Make sure to duck into one of the charming cafés in the city centre to unwind after a long day of hiking.
Day 2: Buchholz in der Nordheide – Handeloh, 15 km
The path moves on from Buchholz into a loose mixed forest, then onto the steep sandy embankment and into a valley. From here, you will get to the Brunsberg hill, where there are spectacular views of the surrounding region. The walk continues through the forest, where the trail is lined with blueberry bushes. The trek goes straight into Handeloh, where this stage of the trail ends.
Day 3: Handeloh – Undeloh, 17 km
This portion of the path takes you through Lüneburg Heath lush wetlands, marshy valleys and moss-covered trees. It continues to the gorgeous village of Wesel, where you can grab a bite in an old rustic bakery. The path continues through the forest until it reaches Handeloh.
Tip: While in Undeldoh, make sure to visit the Heide-Erlebnis Zentrum, a museum in which you can learn more about the history of the heath.
Day 4: Undeloh – via Wilsede, Niederhaverbeck, 14 km
This stretch of the path takes you through the Radenbach valley, where you can see the Wilseder roten (a breed of cow) grazing in the fields. It continues into Wilsede, a picture-perfect car-free village. From the Wilseder berg, the highest point of this trail, you will unveil a spectacular panorama of the region. A descent follows, and this stretch of the trail ends in Niederhaverbeck.
Tip: From Wilsede, you can also make a detour to Totengrund, one of the most beautiful heath valleys on this trail.
Day 5: Niederhaverbeck – Bispingen, 17 km
The path goes straight into the heath and onto the watershed between the rivers Weser and Elbe. The trail continues through heathland, then a forest before reaching Behringen. It moves on to Hützel, from which it’s only a short walk to Bispingen.
Day 6: Bispingen – Soltau, 23 km
From Schäferplatz in the centre of Bispingen, the path moves over the Luhe bridge and into the heath. There is a stopover at the Heide Park Resort. The path moves onto Böhmetal, then Soltau, where you can rest your weary legs in the town’s relaxing spa.
Day 7: Soltau – Wietzendorf, 18 km
The trail goes through an exciting change of landscapes between forests, meadows and fields. The path then follows the River Aue through Wittenmoor and Katzenmoor before reaching Wietzendorf.
Tip: Make sure to grab a cup of tea or coffee at the town’s quaint square.
Day 8: Wietzendorf – Müden (Örtze), 14 km
The trail continues along the edge of the forest, then climbs up the Häteler Berg. The path reaches Wietzer Berg, which has a massive boulder dedicated to Hermann Löns, the “Poet of the Heath”. The sandy path goes through the forest before reaching Müden, one of the most idyllic villages on the trail.
Tip: In Munden, you can admire the colourful cottages, relax in a court café or pick up a couple of regional health products.
Day 9: Müden (Örtze) – Fassberg, 7 km
The trail goes through the trees along the Örtze, a portion of the trek that’s covered in luscious greenery. It continues across the fields and into a forest before reaching Fassberg and its massive air base. Here, you can visit the Memorial Berlin Airlift.
Day 10: Fassberg – Oberoher Heath, 19 km
The path meanders between juniper trees and reaches Schmarbeck, a village with gargantuan oaks. It continues into heathland, then a deciduous forest. The trail goes up the Haußelberg, which opens up impressive views. Walking down the sandy path, you will reach Oberoher Heath.
Day 11: Oberoher Heath – Weesen, 12 km
The trail continues through Oberoher Heath, one of the most stunning stretches of this route. It passes many birches, juniper trees and small ponds. It continues down to Lutterloh, then west through pine trees before reaching the village of Weesen.
Day 12: Weesen – Dehningshof, 13 km
The path goes through Misselhorner Heath, followed by a diverse forest. At some point, you will encounter the Angelbecksteich memorial stone, which commemorates the big forest fire that struck this region in 1975. Finally, the trail reaches Dehningshof, where this stage ends.
Day 13: Dehningshof – Celle, 27 km
The path trails through the forests of Südheide until reaching Severloher Heath, then ascends to Citronenberg. It continues along the forest edge until finally reaching the lovely town of Celle and its majestic moat-surrounded castle.
The section of the trail from Niederhaverbeck to Bispingen (day 5) can also be completed via an alternate route that goes through Schneverdingen and the Pietzmoor in Lüneburg Heath Nature Reserve.
If you are looking to walk only a portion of the trail, we recommend hiking from Undeloh to Niederhaverbeck (day 4). Along this path, you will be able to see picturesque valleys and the quaint village of Wilsede, but also visit the viewing point on Wilsede Berg.
The city of Hamburg is serviced by a large international airport which operates flights from a host of European destinations.
When in Hamburg, head to the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (main railway station), from which you can board the S3, a train that will take you directly to the Hamburg-Neugraben stop. From there, it’s only a fifteen-minute walk southwest to the quarter of Fischbek and the beginning of the trail. The Heidschnuckenweg trail is marked with a yellow “H” sign.
- Comfortable hiking boots are a must.
- Make sure you pack food and water as sometimes you will walk for long stretches without any shops, inns or restaurants.
- Since a good portion of the Heidschnuckenweg entails walking through open spaces with little shade, it is advisable to pack sunscreen during peak summer months (July and August).