Prettiest German Hiking Trail – The Saar Hunsrueck Steig

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Hiking in Germany

 

The Prettiest German Hiking Trail

The Saar Hunsrueck Steig

Trail

Easy Hiker clambering on a steep and stony trail in the Saar-Huensrucksteig in Germany"

The Saar-Hunsruecksteig in southwest Germany features 12 stages with a total length of 180 km. consists of two older and somewhat less high-profile trails (the “Saar-Steig” in the west and the “Hunsrück-Steig” in the east). Because of its Y-shape, however, you cannot hike the entire trail in a single stretch.

Profile

The Saar Hunsrueck Steig is the bright new star among the many hiking trails in Germany, the epitome for everything that the “new style” of trails represents.

"Part of a Saar-Hunsruecksteig the prettiest German hikingl"

The Deutscher Wanderverein (the Association of Hiking in Germany) has given it top marks, making it the highest rated of all German long-distance trails, and recently, it has won a prize as “the most beautiful German hiking trail ”, although the landscape is generally undramatic and unassumingly pretty rather than spectacular.

How did the people who laid out the trail then manage to capture all these awards?

Well, by using clever routing and their knowledge of what the contemporary hiker expects to make the most of what they got. The Saar Hunsrück Steig features frequent changes of terrain: rather than making you walk through long, uninterrupted stretches of woodland, it takes you out of the forest and then back again. This German hiking trail never lets anything – a castle, a prehistoric cult site, a small hill – lie by the wayside but always guides you to, or in the case of the hill, straight across it.

"Prehistoric cult site in the Saar-Hunsruecksteig the prettiest German hiking trail"

Wherever feasible, they have cut holes into the dense forest to open up vistas across the surrounding landscape; and rather than taking you across small rivers and creeks on bridges, they have laid out crossings made of stones and tree trunks, always trying hard to keep the hiker entertained and amused.

The Saar Hunsrueck-Steig also features a large number of “dream loops” along the trail, circular day hikes that start and end in the trail’s main stage posts.

These “trail ornaments” encourage the hiker to pick and choose rather than hike one continuous section of the trail. This is another feature of the “new model hiking trails”, but no other trail has carried it to such extremes or done this as successfully as the Saar-Hunsrueck-Steig.

"Easy Hiker crossing a wooden bridge on the hiking trail in the Saar Hunsruecksteig in Germany"

Several of these loops are consistently rated among Germany’s most popular day hikes, 2 have won the Gold Medal in the annual competition, and 10 have been rated as “premium” trails by the Deutsches Wanderinstitut.

What we did

"Felsenweg written on stone on the Saar HunrueckSteig the prettiest german hiking trail"

We “picked and chose”, in the true spirit of the Saar-Hunsrueck-Steig, and jumped from Stage 1 to the “Felsenweg”, one of the trail’s dream loops (the “Hiking Trail of the Year” in 2005) which is largely identical with the latter half of Stage 2 and the first section of Stage 3.

What we liked

The Saar-Hunsrueck-Steig starts with a bang. The hilltop view of the Saarschleife, a huge U-bend of the river through dense forest, is probably the most spectacular feature of the trail’s entire western section.

"Saarschleife seen from the Saar hiking trail in Germany"

For the first 5 km after that, as you slowly descend to the river level, you get views of the Saar from a range of different angles, and that is a very pleasant way of starting your hike.

The town of Losheim is the perfect hub for many of the “dream loops” along the Saar-Hunsrueck-Steig. It has 600 hotel beds, which is a lot for such a small town (and that’s not counting the camping site near the artificial lake which is the other focus for the town’s tourism industry).

"Losheim Stausee in Saarland hiking trail in Germany"

Curiously, it only has one restaurant on its high street, an Indian-Italian-German “fusion” outfit where elephant deities and six-armed goddesses charmingly rub shoulders with classical statues, pillars and wall paintings of Venetian gondolier.

Both the trailhead near Orscholz and the town of Losheim, by the way, can only be reached by bus. In either case, you should first take the train to “Merzig Bahnhof” (“Merzig Station”) – NOT to “Merzig Stadt” (“Merzig town centre”) – and then walk to the coach terminal directly behind the station.

To Losheim, take line R1 (app. 25 minutes), to Orscholz, line 210 in the direction of Nennig and ask the driver to let you off at “Orscholz-Reha-Klinik” (app. 20 minutes).

Right at the bus station, there is also a Pizzeria with a few tables on an outside terrace where you can take a last cup of coffee before you hit the trail. Then cross the road straight into the municipal park: the Saarschleife is right at the end of it.

What we liked less

"Losheim gateway to the Saar-Hunsruecksteig hiking trail"

The Felsenweg, our trail for day two, left me a little in two minds. As pretty as it undoubtedly was, I found it also over-engineered and blurring the line between a hiking trail and a theme park – a fairly important line, I think. But maybe that’s only me.

Towns to explore

The town of Trier is the natural entry point for the Saar-Hunsrueck-Steig. Less pretty, perhaps, but also younger and livelier is the state capital of Saarbrücken in the Saarland’s industrial south, also about a 30 minute train ride away from the trail.

And then there is Mettlach, the HQ of the porcelain manufacturer Villeroy & Boch and the site of a huge factory outlet where they sell their stuff – seven days a week – at heavily discounted prices.

And no: they did not sponsor us. Although they would be welcome to do so, for a return journey. That would certainly make Mrs. Easy Hiker very, very happy.

"Villeroy&Boch outlet in Mettlach Germany"

The Wider Scene

Ever been to Luxembourg? If not, this is the best chance you may ever get to complete your set of Central European country destinations. Be aware that Luxembourg is a real little country with 2500 km², twenty times as big as Liechtenstein and more than 2000 times as big as the Principality of Monaco. Trains from Trier take 15 minutes to the nearest border town and app. 1 hour to Luxembourg ville.

France is just around the corner, too. From the outskirts of Saarbrücken, you can literally walk across, although the more interesting places are a little further away: Metz 1 hour, Nancy 2 hours and Strasbourg 90 minutes. (From Trier, add app. one hour each.)

How to get there

Trier is well connected to the German intercity rail network. The nearest major international airport is Luxembourg.

More Information

The Saar-Hunsrueck-Steig – German and English. A good site, although they call the Saar-Hunsrueck-Steig, irritatingly, the “Saar-Hunsrück climb” despite the fact that it is nearly totally flat.

6 comments to Prettiest German Hiking Trail – The Saar Hunsrueck Steig

  • Thanks for this great tip, Francois. We shall certainly look into this. And glad you dropped by.

  • François

    If in Luxembourg again, try download free national walking trails (100+) on
    http\\tourisme.geoportail.lu

    Thanks for the article,
    François

  • François

    I found your article while looking for new trails in the area. Very true and very interesting ! If you land in Luxembourg I would highly recommend to spend few days walking some of the 100+ “Sentiers autopedestres” in the country. They all can be loaded free onto your GPS, as well as “Sentiers Nationaux”, Luxembourgish part of the St Jacques de Compostelle trail and many other things. You will find all on the national geographical site: http\\tourisme.geoportail.lu

    Keep walking,

    François

  • I really like the idea of “dream loops” as most of the hiking I do are one day hikes. I love that this trail has so many of them.

  • Please feel free to share the link in your Facebook community. Thanks for dropping by.

  • Sounds very exciting. I enjoyed the virtual hike :)

    We’d love for you to share this experience on our Offbeat Travel facebook community – http://www.facebook.com/NotYourUsualTravel

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