TourNatur Hike - tough but worth it.
This hike was probably one of the best hike’s I’ve been on since coming to Germany. Although it is a pretty strenuous one with two steep hills (to include steps), some rocky stretches and a length of 11.5 miles, the views and interesting sites along the way are well worth the effort. I found the trail on the city of Bad Kreuznach’s tourist web site click here to bring up the site. Their page lists numerous activities you can do in and around the city to include a number of hikes ranging from the fairly easy to the arduous. It’s too bad the site is only in German. To pull up the actual map of the TourNatur hike as well as a description of the hike in German Bad Kreuznach web site.
The best place to start this hike is in the parking lot in front of the Brauwerk Brewery Restaurant. Not only is it easy to locate the trail from here but this restaurant’s beer garden is a great place to rest your weary legs when you are finished. After paying for the parking (2 Euro) go to the side road next to the parking lot (opposite from Brauwerk) and head toward the RV camp grounds. You should start seeing signs for the TourNatur trail with it green leaf (see my pictures). You will turn left up the hill before you get to the bridge so be looking for the sign.
When you get to the top and follow the trail to the right you will see new home construction in the area. Stay to the right of the construction and follow the trail along the fence and up into the woods. You are now heading up the river and up in altitude. Along this section of the trail you will have gorgeous views of the river, Bad Kreuznach and Bad Münster an Stein Ebernburg. After a long steady climb and some nice scenery you will start heading back down to the river valley. Along the way you will come across some partially rebuilt ruins of a castle that are worth a look (the vantage point is pretty impressive). From there continue heading down the trail which now included a bunch of steps which made me glad I was hiking the other direction.
When you get to the river you will need to use the ferry to cross to the other side. I did not know this when I arrived so I started heading along the only trail available and ended up heading back toward the castle along a different route. It was only once I figured out my mistake and backtracked back down to the river that I noticed the wire going over the river, a small sign advertising the going rates for using the ferry and a man get the boat ready to cross over that I figured out there was a ferry. The ferry costs 1 Euro per person and doesn’t run all year or even every day so make sure it is running before you start your hike or you will taking my mistake trail back up the hill. (Probably still a good hike).
After crossing the river, you will see some watermills and may want to wonder around the park to take some pictures and possible stop for a bite to heat. The TourNatur trail continues left along the river and you will end up crossing the river two more times but there are actual bridges you can use.. After the 2nd one you will start your climb to your next scenic overlook which you may have noticed as you were walking along the river gazing up at the cliffs on your right. At the very top you can see a small set of ramparts - this is the overlook and your next destination. The climb is fairly tough but doable if you are in decent shape. Along the way you will walk through vineyards and then some scrub oak forests.
After stopping at the overlook to take it all in and then continuing the walk along the cliff face, you will head back to Bad Kreuznach along a nicely wooded path.
There were a couple of places where the trail signs were not where they needed to be or were a little confusing. The first one was after the ferry. You need to go left on the trail along the river. 2nd One - when you cross the river at the first bridge and turn right you can take the larger pathway (for bikes?) or you can bear to the right and take a smaller trail along their sports area. 3rd - After you cross the 2nd bridge and head up the hill into the vineyards I suggest you follow the viewpoint signs when you are in the midst of the vineyard. It will go up the hill to the right and then to the right again before heading around the hill for excellent views of the valley below. The last area I was a little confused on was the last leg of the trip as you are coming down the hill and almost to the bottom. Just keep heading straight along the trail until you hit a road. Bear right on the road and head up to the main road where you will again see a TourNatur sign pointing your back across the river for the last time.
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Italy and some more legends and stories
I can only highly recommend not only to visit the two spa towns while in the region, but also to spend some time exploring the region itself. The part of Rheinland Pfalz east of Bad Kreuznach is being called Rheinhessische Schweiz (= Switzerland of Rheinhessen) and it is a very lovely landscape with rolling hills and fields, enchanting little valleys, meadows and forests – perfect for hiking and bicycling. And, it is here where several strange structures can be found in the vineyards: trulli (photos 1-3). Yes, you have read properly, these are trulli, similar structures like the famous ones in Alberobello, , Puglia, Italy (UNESCO heritage). They were built in 18th century and it is said that it were in fact workers from Puglia who came here to work in the quarries nearby, who built these houses as their storage and meeting points. Today several of these trulli are dotted in the landscape around Flonheim, west of Alzey. The one I have in my photos is located next to Geistermühle (“ghost mill”), west of Flonheim, a winery and old mill, which offers wine tours and also sells wine. I will definitely visit this one during my next trips.
We found another special sight while we continued on our way to Bad Kreuznach: a lovely tower also inmidst the vineyards (photos 4 and 5). It is called Ajax Turm and goes with a lovely legend: a vintner was in love with the daughter of the local mill owner and always met her here, together with his trustful dog Ajax. But this love wasn’t meant to be, the daughter had to marry another miller and so the vintner had this tower built in memory of his dog Ajax. There is a statue on top of the tower (photo 4).
I didn’t take any photos of the landscape (the disadvantage of tarevlling by car, because inside the little valleys was no place to stop for a while), but for a good idea of how it looks like, look at the website with photos of this amazing landscape around Flonheim.
The website below is in German only, unfortunately :-(
Trullo on Google Maps
Ajax Turm on Google Maps
Coordinates on GoogleEarth (Trullo near Geistermühle):
Coordinates on GoogleEarth (Ajax Turm):
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Meisenheim an der Glan
Germany, as is Europe, is full of little hidden gems like this little town. To find them, you need a good map and a sense of adventure. German road maps - especially the 1:200000 scale variety - are a great way to discover them. Towns with sites to see are usually denoted in some way on the map, so that you can deploy a local itinerary to reach them. From Bad Kreuznach, you go out through the Nahe canyon through Bad Muenster am Stein and beyond underneath the magnificent cliffs of the Rotenfels to Norrheim. Then past the Neustadter Stausee crossing the river towards Odernheim. Along the way, views opens out over the whole Nahe valley as it widens out in the vicinity of Sobernheim. This being Germany, the view has an official name - Hindenburgblick/Hindenburg View, though how the old Field Marshall comes into play actually, I don't know. You are now going up the Glantal/Glan rive valley - a tributary of the Nahe. Follow the signs to the Altstadt once you reach Meisenheim. One of the entries is through a big door in the city wall - a house is sited above the door. Houses are half-timbered and gasses/alleys are scenically narrow in a small-scale emulation of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The late gothic parish church is the centerpiece of the town's ancient glory dating back to the turn of the 15th century, hidden away, far off the beaten path.
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