epic hikes Along germany's wine route
START: BAD DÜRKHEIM
FINISH: TRIFELS CASTLE, ANNWEILER
5 days, 90 KM
The route follows the Mandelpfad all the way. You might want to check out the gigantic barrel in Bad Dürkheim (just a novelty gag really), but make sure to rest in the grounds of the Wachtenburg ruin above the village of Wachenheim. There is a small restaurant with great views across the Rhine valley. The path also meanders through the pretty villages of Forst and Deidesheim; the latter the scene of the infamous visit of UK prime minister Margret Thatcher, who was hosted by Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the restaurant Deidesheimer Hof. He tucked in with gusto; she apparently was busy hiding her slap of Saumagen (the Palatinate version of Haggis) under a salad leaf. Bless. Stage 2: Neustadt an der Weinstrasse to Sankt Martin20 km, 6 ½ hoursWeinsteig Leg 5https://www.tourenplaner-rheinland-pfalz.de/en/tour/long-distance-hiking/pfaelzer-weinsteig-stage-5-neustadt-an-der-weinstrasse-st.-martin/1544885/
Today is a tougher hike, leading you into the Palatinate Forest following the Weinsteig, and onto its highest peak (the Kalmit at 673 metres). Make sure to stop over at the Hambacher Schloss, a symbol of German democracy when locals marched on to the castle in 1832 to protest against repressive measures imposed by the ruling Bavarian administration. From the castle, a narrow path leads you to another enticing lunch stop: The Klausentalhütte, once again with far-reaching views.
Stage 3: Sankt Martin to Burrweiler17 km, 5 ½ hoursWeinsteig Leg 6 https://www.tourenplaner-rheinland-pfalz.de/en/tour/long-distance-hiking/pfaelzer-weinsteig-stage-6-st.-martin-burrweiler/1513953/#dm=1
Drifting in an out of the forest, make sure to check out Rhodt unter Rietburg and the charming Theresienstrasse which should get your Instagram account buzzing. Worth a visit is also Villa Ludwigshöhe, an Italianate mansion built for King Ludwig I of Bavaria (and grandfather of eccentric Ludwig #2, who topped his relative by commissioning Schloss Neuschwanstein; a copycat of which graces every Disneyland). You will also come across a ski lift (though no ski slopes) which – if you must - carries you from Rhodt to yet another castle, the Rietburg with fine and far reaching views. Along the way another Hütte/small restaurant the briskly named Waldgasthaus zur Siegfriedschmiede should satisfy your culinary cravings.
Stage 4: Burrweiler to Dernbach17 km, 5 ½ hoursWeinsteig Leg 7https://www.tourenplaner-rheinland-pfalz.de/en/tour/long-distance-hiking/pfaelzer-weinsteig-stage-7-burrweiler-dernbach/1481451/ And back into the forest. Today is hut day. One of the charming quirks of this trail are the preponderance of Hütten (huts) which offer local gastronomic delights at reasonable prices. Make sure to wash the food down (at least once) with a Schoppen (a pint of dry white wine, usually Riesling, watered down ever so slightly). And today you will be passing four of them: St. Anna Hütte, Trifelsblick Hütte, Ramberger Waldhaus, and Landauer Hütte. In between you will come across a massive castle ruin called Neuscharfeneck; destroyed, like a lot of stuff in this area, during the Thirty-Year war. Easy on the Schoppen, please: one ruin is enough for the day.
Stage 5: Dernbach to Annweiler15 km, 5 hoursWeinsteig Leg 8https://www.tourenplaner-rheinland-pfalz.de/en/tour/long-distance-hiking/pfaelzer-weinsteig-stage-8-dernbach-annweiler-am-trifels/1558710/ Still in the forest, interspersed by the odd meadow and another tall hill in the shape of the Grosser Adelberg. But the real target for today is the majestic castle Trifels, which you will get a glimpse of at the end of this tour. The Trifels is a medieval giant, restored in the 18th and 19th century, which was used as a glorified prison for people who did not meet the approval of several German emperors, including amongst others Richard the Lionheart. Built in the local red sandstone and positioned rather impressively on top of a cliff, it offers an eerily-apt backdrop for your average WWII movie. If you still have the energy, make the 1hour hike up the cliff from Annweiler. If not, the castle will still be there in the morning.