Eifelsteig Hiking Trail: All You Need to Know
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The Eifelsteig hiking trail in Germany travels a distance of 313 km, along which it successfully manages to pack in the very best of German landscape of the Eifel mountains. Stretching from the rustic city of Aachen in the north to the Roman town of Trier in the south, this trail features all kinds of eye-appealing sceneries — from the picture-book countryside just outside Kornelimünster to mesmerizing crater lakes in Daun to high moorland and volcanic rocks of the Eifel National Park. Due to its dynamic and ever-diverse backdrop, the Eifelsteig is considered one of the best hiking trails in Germany.
- Exploring the beautiful volcanic lakes or maars, also known as “the eyes of Eifel”
- Discovering the enclosed spring of the River Ahr in an old, timber-framed house
- Visiting old pilgrimage sites and abbeys, some of which also operate as breweries and printing houses
- Admiring the hilltop-perched medieval castles of Manderscheid
- Getting lost in the thick beech forests of the North Rhine-Westphalia region
- Not suitable for hiking during winter months (from November to March) due to unfavourable weather conditions.
EIFELSTEIG HIKE FACTS
|Hike difficulty:||Moderate. Hikers are expected to walk between 15 and 20 km a day and certain sections of the trail involves steep slopes.|
|Hike duration:||15 days for the whole trek|
From April to October is favourable due to lack of rain and warm temperatures. Late March to early June allows you to witness nature in full blossom. July and August guarantees warm weather. While September to early November will allow you to experience the woodlands of the region in their full autumnal splendour.
|Remoteness:||It also passes through many smaller towns and villages, you will never be too far from civilization.|
|Maximum Altitude:||662 meters at the Nerother Kopf.|
|Total distance covered:||313 km|
|Accommodation:||Holiday homes, hotels, campsites or youth hostels|
|Start / end locations:||Kornelimünster (southeast of Aachen) / Trier|
EIFELSTEIG TRAIL: DAY TO DAY ITINERARY
Day 1: Kornelimünster – Roetgen, 14 km
The trail starts in Kornelimünster and goes through the Inde Valley. It then enters the Struffelt Heath, after which it follows the Dreilägerbach River dam, reaching the the town of Roetgen, which is also referred to as the “Gateway to the Eifel”. Be sure to duck into one of its restaurants to get a taste of the regional cuisine.
Day 2: Roetgen – Monschau, 17 km
The trail starts from the town of Roetgen and goes through the nature reserve of High Fens, following the border with Belgium. After a short stop in Mützenich, the trail goes into Monschau. Due to its rustic, 300-year old architecture, Monschau is the perfect place for soaking up the idyllic atmosphere of the Eifel region.
Day 3: Monschau – Einruhr, 24.3 km
Setting off from Monschau, the trail goes to Sonntagsley, which offers spectacular views of the town. It continues through the Monschau Hedge Land before reaching woodlands above the Rur River. It finishes in the village of Einruhr, which is a popular weekend destination for visitors from Cologne, Aachen and Bonn. The place offers a great variety of accommodation, and restaurants. Take a dip in the outdoor pool in Obersee, a famous reservoir in Einruhr.
Day 4: Einruhr – Gemünd, 21.2 km
The path follows the rocky road around the lakes of Obersee and Urftsee. It then ascends to the Dreiborn plateau, which opens up a panorama of the surrounding scenery. The trek continues into the Urft Valley and finishes in Gemünd. Once there, do try the Spa Centre in Gemünd that offers various physiotherapeutic treatments if you are suffering from aching feet.
Day 5: Gemünd - Kloster Steinfeld, 17.4 km
The trail goes into a forest, then an idyllic countryside going towards Olef – a picturesque village perfect for snapping a couple of photos. It goes into deep woodlands, then reaches Golbach. Passing through the meadows, then woodlands, the hikers finally reach the Steinfeld Monastery. This abbey is home to one of the most fascinating church organs of the Rhineland Baroque era.
Day 6: Kloster Steinfeld – Blankenheim, 23.4 km
The path moves from Steinfeld and goes into the floodplains of the Urft Valley. It goes through Nettersheim and the Eifel Nature Centre. The trail ends in Blankenheim. Fun fact: the source of the River Ahr is located in a cellar of on old house in central Blankenheim. You don’t believe us? Visit Blankenheim and find out more! ;)
Day 7: Blankenheim – Mirbach, 17.7 km
The path starts in the historic centre of Blankenheim. The trail continues through the villages of Ripsdorf and Alendorf, passing the Lamperts Valley before reaching Mirbach. This village is the home of the gorgeous Chapel of the Redeemer and its ornate mosaics.
Day 8: Mirbach – Hillesheim, 26.1 km
The path goes through the volcanic scenery of the Eifel and continues southwards. The trek passes through the villages of Niederehe, Kerpen and Berdof. It ends in the centre of HIllesheim. If you want to unwind after a long day of trekking, make sure to visit the Bolsdorfer Tälchen recreational area, where you can relax by the lake or grab a drink in one of the pubs.
Day 9: Hillesheim – Gerolstein, 20.2 km
The trail begins in Hillesheim and continues to the Eishöhle and Mühlsteinhöhle caves in Roth. It reaches the Munterley plateau and passes the Buchenloch Cave and the Papenkaul Crater before finally reaching Gerolstein. The impressive ramparts of this town are especially worth seeing.
Day 10: Gerolstein – Daun, 23.7 km
The trek passes the ruins of the medieval castle of Löwenburg, then ascends to the Dietzenley, the highest hill in the Gerolstein region, which offers breath-taking views. The trail ascends further onto the Nerother Kopf, passing the Mühlensteinhöhle Cave and the Freudenkoppe Castle. It continues past Neunkirchen Mill and ends in the town of Daun. While there, make sure to visit the Volcano Museum if you would like to find out more about volcanic activity and geological history in the Eifel mountain region. Don’t stress, Daun does not have any active volcanoes but is home to crater lakes and mineral springs! Don’t forget to visit the old War Memorial and a 13th century Romanesque crypt at the St. Nicholas Church.
Fun fact: Daun hosts the bi-annual Krimi (Crime) Festival where crime fiction writers (writing in German) come together to compete and win the coveted prize.
Day 11: Daun – Manderscheid, 23.4 km
The trail first explores the crown jewel of the hike, the three maars (shallow volcanic crater lakes) — Schalkenmehren, Gemünden and Weinfeld in Daun. They are also called the ‘eyes of Eifel’ due to their close proximity to each other. Take a look at them and you are sure to know why. It then passes the crater village of Schalkenmehren and ascends past the Hoher List Observatory. It goes down into the Lieser Valley. The trail goes into the woodlands for about 10 km. The path goes up past a hillside above the River Lieser before reaching the castles of Manderscheid. The town holds the Maar Museum, which is dedicated to the Eifel’s volcanic lakes.
Day 12: Manderscheid – Kloster Himmerod, 18.2 km
The initial section follows the Lieser trail, then ascends up the Großlittgen. The trail continues on the steep slopes of the Lieser Valley — be careful while walking this portion. It finally reaches the Himmerod Abbey. This 12th Century Cistercian monastery also operates its own publishing house. It has published over 50 works by various authors and monks. The Abbey also contains a museum, a book and art shop, a café, a guesthouse and retreat-house and a fishery. Sounds like a cool way to spend a day!
Day 13: Kloster Himmerod – Bruch, 20.5 km
The trail mainly follows the River Salm, going past many mills and intriguing rock formations. This section of the trek ends in Bruch. This quaint little village is the home of a majestic moated castle, Brucher Castle, with two rising towers that dates back to early 14th Century. The origin of the Bruch itself is believed to date back to the ancient Roman times.
Day 14: Bruch – Kordel, 27.8 km
The path initially follows the course of the Rivers Salm and Gladbach, then ascends to the plateau above the village of Zemmer. The trail continues into the valley of the River Kyll and ends in Kordel.
Day 15: Kordel – Trier, 17 km
The path goes towards the Ramstein Castle, then continues into Butzer Valley. The trail passes by the Klausen Cave and Genoveva Cave, both located in the south of Kordel. It crosses the Kutbach stream and goes along the cliff trail, which overlooks the River Moselle and the city of Trier – the final destination of your hike. Make sure to pay a visit to the ancient Porta Nigra gate, but also the Karl Marx House, birthplace of one of the world’s most influential philosophers.
Note: If you wish to hike a easy to moderate trail in Germany but for a longer period of time then check out the Rheinsteig hiking trail.
GOOD TO KNOW
The Eifelsteig route can also be divided in smaller sections, allowing hikers or visitors pressed for time to explore the trail at their own pace. If you only want to experience the best of the Eifelsteig trail then hike from Daun to Manderscheid to view the three maars.
HOW TO GET TO THE TRAILHEAD
Aachen can be reach via train from Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. It is also connected via rail with various German cities, including Berlin, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Frankfurt. Aachen is also serviced with both domestic and international flights through the Maastricht Aachen Airport. Kornelimünster, where the trail starts, can be reached via buses 35, 55, 65 (regular) and 135, SB66 (express) – all of which depart from the Aachen Bushof (central bus station).
WHAT TO BRING AND WEAR
- Make sure to wear comfortable and durable hiking boots.
- Always keep a water bottle by your side during the trek.
- If you’re trekking the Eifelsteign during months of July and August, bring sunscreen.
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