The region around Altenberg (as the Erzgebirge in general) is heaven for cross-country skiers. Since the peaks rise only approx. 100 m above the plateau with the villages and the valleys are not too deep the tracks are mostly flat, ascents are not too hard.
The elevation of 700 - 900 m and the very eastern location in Germany make the Altenberg region very snow reliable. In the last years there was always enough snow for cross-country skiing from mid Dec - mid March. 2006 we have an average snow height of 3 - 4 ft. so far.
They groom more than 100 km cross-country skiing tracks in the area. In addition the locals draw their own tracks on remote paths in the forests and across fields which you can use as well. The most popular tracks are southwest of Altenberg towards Zinnwald and Rehefeld around the Kahleberg, where you also find the tracks for the professionals (German Biathlon centre). You can rent equipment in every town and village. I prefer to bring my own.
Altenberg / Erzgebirge
The small town Altenberg is the "hub" for the Upper parts of the Eastern Erzgebige, located at an elevation of 754 m and conveniently accessible by train or bus from Dresden (slightly more than an hour).
Altenberg itself is an old mining town, first mentioned in the 14th century. Due to devastations in several wars there is nothing special about the architecture in town, but the surrounding landscape is very beautiful - a paradise for all sorts of winter sports and hiking/biking etc. in summer.
Nearby you find the famous bob- and sledding run where world cups and other championships take place. Definitely fun to visit - you can even do a ride yourself.
While Altenberg itself doesn't offer architectural gems the surrounding does! There are castles (Lauenstein, Frauenstein, Weesenstein), picturesque small towns like Lauenstein, Geising, Bärenstein and cute villages not far from Altenberg.
Not to forget are the relicts of mining (Erzgebirge means Ore mountains!). A special sight is the "Pinge", a huge hole, a result of extensive mining. When a number of pits crashed in 1620 the hole had a size (surface) of only 1.25 ha, now it is 22 ha!
Of course there are beautiful natural sights in the near surroundings as well: Mt. Geising e.g. with excellent views and rare wildflowers (protected area), the botanical garden in nearby Schellerhau. Well enough to keep you busy for a week of vacation!
This page provides information about the Eastern Erzgebirge, the region south of Dresden, with Altenberg as the central town. I use to visit this area frequently in winter for cross-country skiing. Sometimes I also stay overnight with friends, so you'll also find some accomodation/restaurant tips here.