Hiking in the Odenwald – Discover Your Home And Have Fun in the Outdoors
The Odenwald is so close to my home town Frankfurt, but apart from a single excursion with my primary school class – about 25 years ago – I have never really made it to this area in the past. Now I’m changing that, because of the new situation with Corona I want to get to know the region better where I grew up. In addition, a possibility has opened up for me, because of which I am traveling a lot in the region of Odenwald and Spessart.
So, these are my favorite places and routes for hiking in the Odenwald!
The Odenwald is a low mountain range in southern Hesse, Lower Franconia, and northern Baden, which offers a fabulous landscape. Castles and palaces offer the perfect basis for numerous legends and stories that entwine around the places. Rough rocky landscapes alternate with wide, romantic valleys and gentle hills with peacefully rippling streams… The small towns in the Odenwald such as Michelstadt and Erbach are no less idyllic and live from the picturesque old towns, which are known nationwide with their colorful half-timbered houses.
You will find all this in the Odenwald, making the area interesting and exciting for holidaymakers, day-trippers, and photographers alike.
Hiking in the Odenwald
The Felsenmeer (German for Sea of Rocks) is probably the best-known spot for hiking in the Odenwald. It is located directly at the Nibelungensteig, a well-known long-distance hiking trail over 130 kilometers, and offers you an insight into the history of the earth, the history of the last 2000 years, and the world of legends and myths. Sore muscles are guaranteed, making the day trip perfect.
You can either walk up once and then walk back the same way, or you can take the hiking trails around the sea of rocks for one stretch. You can plan about 1.5 hours for the hike one way.
This is my blog post with a detailed description of the hike: The Felsenmeer – The Sea of Rocks in the Odenwald.
The Himbächel-Viadukt is a 250-meter-long stone arch bridge in Oberzent-Hetzbach, which was inaugurated in 1882 and is still in use today. So you can watch the Odenwaldbahn ride along here once an hour. Around the viaduct, there is a beautiful hiking trail. This leads on a short detour through Hetzbach and then, after an underpass, under the tracks. On the other side, you are almost in the field. Following a footpath, you then walk in an arc away from the viaduct and then towards it. Depending on your speed, it will take you about 1.5 hours to complete the loop.
Although the Marbach reservoir was built at the beginning of the 1980s to protect against flooding, it has also been officially used as a local recreation area since 1986. It is the largest still water of the Odenwald. A hydroelectric power station with a capacity of 80 kW was attached to the reservoir.
A hiking trail has been created around the reservoir. You can plan about one hour for the tour itself. But the lake offers even more: It is suitable for swimming and from May to September there are even lifeguards. Outside this time, you can go swimming at your own risk. In the bathing area, there is also a lawn with tables and benches. There is also a bird sanctuary and an area where you can surf and sail.
And now we’re taking a trip to Thailand… Oh, no, wait! We’re in the Odenwald. In this place, you can easily forget where you are.
In the 300-meter long Margarethen Gorge, the highest waterfall of the Odenwald is waiting for you. Here the waterfall plunges ten meters into the depth. But it’s not only the waterfall, the Margarethenschlucht itself is also worth the tour: the rough and exotic surroundings give the impression as if you had been beamed to another country. The hike takes about 2.5 hours, depending on how many photos you take.
Situated between Höchst in the Odenwald and Rimhorn, the Obrunn Gorge is home to a hiking and fairy-tale trail that has been attracting hikers from the surrounding area and even from the Rhine-Main region for many decades. The gorge is about three kilometers long and lies up to 17 meters below the road that runs parallel to the hiking trail. You have to cross the peacefully rippling stream several times over wooden bridges. Along the way and on small islands in the course of the stream, miniature models have been lovingly built, depicting figures and buildings from the world of legends and fairytales.
The Meditationsweg (German for Meditation Trail) runs for five kilometers between the Michelstadt districts of Steinbach and Rehbach. Along the way, there are ten stations where the verses of St. Francis’ Canticle of the Sun are presented. The path invites us to reflect. Awe and gratitude are in the focus. The Einhards Basilica, where the walk begins, is a great photo spot and worth a detour.
Follow in the footsteps of the Romans at the Odenwaldlimes on the 17-kilometer long Hubenweg loop. It runs on the high plateau of Michelstadt-Würzberg and therefore has hardly any ascending slopes. The loop leads over fields, along the forest, and through woodland. A Roman fort is on the way as well as the ruins of a bath from Roman times.
The Weg der Kristalle (Path of Crystals)
This geological theme trail is located on the Katzenbuckel – with 626 meters the highest mountain in the Odenwald. The hike is easy and only two kilometers long. Therefore it is also well suited to experience it with the whole family. The observation tower with a fantastic view is the highlight of the tour.
The Römerweg (Path of Romans)
The Römerweg in Miltenberg is a medium-difficult hiking trail with a length of 17 kilometers. It runs for a large part along a Celtic ring wall on which the Romans had built a temple of Mercury. Unfortunately, you can only see the remains in the museum. Otherwise, the two highlights of the tour are the viewpoints. One is right at the beginning of the trail after you have left the main road of Miltenberg. The other one is the Haagsausicht after some three-quarters of the way. Both times you have a fantastic view of the Main valley.
The Pfad der Vielfalt (Path of Diversity)
The (Pfad der Vielfalt) is located in Fischbachtal and is an easy but varied hiking trail of about five kilometers. My highlights were the flowering orchards, the view of Lichtenberg Castle, and the old quarry where a lake has formed. Not only fish live there, but also freshwater jellyfish. I think I should take another trip there and try to get one of them in front of the camera.
Other Destinations in the Area
If you like hiking and want to explore other regions, I can recommend you to visit the Pfälzerwald, the Spessart or the Taunus. Blog posts will follow for these regions. So far, I can only refer you to my blog post about the Staufen in the Taunus.
If you want to make a city trip in this part of Germany, I recommend the following cities:
- Aschaffenburg: Aschaffenburg is nicknamed the gate to the Spessart. Besides the (partly very photogenic) sights like the Aschaffenburg castle, which the town itself has to offer, you can also reach the forest quickly from here and can let off steam on many hiking trails.
- Heidelberg: Heidelberg is located directly at the Neckar and offers a picturesque backdrop with the river, the old town and the castle on the mountain. Here you will also find the ideal mixture of town and countryside.
- Lohr am Main: Lohr am Main was first mentioned in a document in 1295 and is generally known as Snow White town. Although this is not documented, it is quite possible, since the Brothers Grimm lived in Hanau and passed through the Spessart on their way to Bremen.
- Mannheim: The square city is worth a visit at any time. Whether inside or outside, there is always something to do or experience here.
- Michelstadt: The historical old town with the famous town hall and the half-timbered houses is simply enchanting. My tip: Take a photo tour at sunrise when you have the cobblestone streets all to yourself! Near Michelstadt there are a lot of hiking trails so that you won’t get bored.
- Miltenberg: The small town in Lower Franconia is located between Odenwald and Spessart and is a real gem. The old town is picturesque and even the starting point of several hiking trails. The Mildenburg and the museum of the city of Miltenberg offer the culturally interested among us the opportunity to quench their thirst for knowledge.
My Final Thoughts
The Odenwald is versatile and varied. My personal highlights were the Felsenmeer, the Himbächel Viaduct, the Marbach Reservoir, and the Margarethen Gorge. These places are so much more than just hiking trails. They offer a great opportunity for extraordinary photos and give an insight into history in different ways. Whether the history of the earth or the history of modern times … For me, such backgrounds make a place special!
If you like to be outside, go hiking or if you enjoy visiting castles, palaces or viaducts, this region offers you a lot of possibilities. It certainly won’t get boring that quickly.
What is your favorite trail for hiking in the Odenwald?
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