Altenberg Sports & Outdoors

  • ski lift/main run in Altenberg from parking lot
    ski lift/main run in Altenberg from...
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    Directions for cross-country trails
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Best Rated Sports & Outdoors in Altenberg

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    Cross-country skiing: Kahleberg plateau

    by german_eagle Written Mar 17, 2013

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    The most popular cross-country skiing area is the region around the Kahleberg plateau. Reason is that it is easily accessible from Altenberg, Zinnwald or Rehefeld (parking in each, bus stops, train station in Altenberg), the trail network is very dense, and it is very snow reliable.

    The best starting point is IMO in Altenberg, vis-a-vis the train station (and 100 m from the big parking at the skilift, fee!) See pic 1! From there the trail slowly ascends toward Kahleberg. I personally prefer to ski in direction Zinnwald first (left trail on pic 2), then head down to Rehefeld if time allows, or go straight to the top of Kahleberg (view back to Zinnwald on pic 3). The detour to Rehefeld is somewhat strenuous as it has the lowest elevation in this area - 700 m. This means the ascent to Kahleberg can be a challenge for skiers that are not in best shape.

    Between Zinnwald and Kahleberg is the Biathlon training centre for the professionals (pic 4), you will ski right by it.

    The trail back to Altenberg is all downhill, but not steep at all, so it's a pleasant end of the trip.

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    Cross-country skiing: Schellerhau

    by german_eagle Written Mar 17, 2013

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    Another favourite area of mine for cross-country skiing is from Altenberg and the Kahleberg plateau north toward Schellerhau. You can start again in Altenberg vis-a-vis the train station, follow the trail toward Kahleberg first (pic 1) - if you want you can make the detour all the way to the Kahleberg top viewing point - and turn right (marked and signposted) toward Schellerhau.

    You pass the sanatorium "Raupennest" with public spa (highly recommended!) and restaurant, see the frozen Galgenteich lakes, follow the trail that winds through the forest (pic 2) until it runs over meadows along the mountain crest that stretches to the north (pic 3, view back to Kahleberg, and pic 4), Schellerhau village spread on the eastern slope half way up. Be prepared it can be windy on that crest, trees are scarce there. In return it is very sunny (weather permitting) - the upside is you can enjoy the sun during a rest on the many wooden benches along the way, the downside is that the snow quality suffers in late winter.

    The daily groomed trail ends at the top station of the skilift Schellerhau, a short minor street leads down to the centre with bus stop, hotel/restaurant, cafe and parish church. From there a trail to Bärenfels continues, this trail is only occasionally groomed. I wouldn't recommend it for beginners - it has two a bit more challenging parts downhill through the woods (pic 5, end of trail) and they are not easy to manage if the conditions are not perfect. For me it is a *must*, though, since my favourite restaurant in the area is in Bärenfels - see restaurant tip "Gasthof Bärenfels".

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    Winter hiking: Mt. Geising

    by german_eagle Written Apr 13, 2013

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    A very popular destination for a hike is Mt. Geising, with an elevation of 824 m one of the few real "peaks" that are landmarks above the plateau-like landscape of the Erzgebirge mountains. If the weather co-operates you can even see Mt. Geising from Dresden.

    The meadows around the mountain are famous for the flora, thus it attracts most hikers in spring and summer. However, it is also a worthwhile hike in winter - there is a charming, inexpensive mountain hut on top (pic 2, also separate restaurant tip) and there is also the viewing tower. You can see the nearby Erzgebirge landscape with Kahleberg mountain, Komari hurka on the Czech side, the towns Altenberg and Geising, the "Pinge", the mountains in Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland, even the Upper Lausitz hills - weather permitting.

    When I was there in early April 2013 they still had lots of snow - so it was a winter hike :-) The sky was overcast, viewing conditions not exactly exciting, it only cleared up when I left the mountain top. :(

    Equipment: Good hiking boots are a must. Windproof clothing is highly recommended. Sunglasses also.

    The hike starts at the train station in Altenberg e.g., leads through the upper town (not toward the skilift), then over fields to the mountain. The ascent to the top is quite steep and often slippery - think snow and ice. I continued with the trail down to the town Geising (train station), south-facing and sunny, conditions better there (no ice, but snow). There are also other trails that lead to Bärenstein e.g. or the train stop "Hartmannmühle".

    The trails are well marked and the host of the mountain hut does a good job maintaining/grooming them. For example, the trail down to Geising was freshly groomed that morning.

    town Geising; Komari hurka in background Pinge (foreground), Altenberg and Kahleberg Mt. Geising seen from town Geising
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    Cross-Country Skiing

    by german_eagle Updated Mar 17, 2013

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    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 trails are mostly flat, ascents and descents are not too hard to manage.

    The elevation of 700 - 900 m and the very eastern location in Germany make the Altenberg region very snow reliable. As long as I can remember - with the exception of the mid 1990s maybe - there has always been enough snow for cross-country skiing from mid Dec through mid March. In 2006 e.g. we had an average snow depth of 3 - 4 ft.

    They groom more than 100 km cross-country skiing tracks in the area. In addition, the locals draw their own trails on remote paths in the forests and across fields; you can use those as well. The most popular trails are southwest of Altenberg towards Zinnwald and Rehefeld around the Kahleberg mountain, where you also find the trails for the professionals (German Biathlon centre). But there are also tracks groomed southeast of Altenberg in the direction Geising, north/northwest to Schellerhau and Oberbärenburg. From Rehefeld the tracks extend further west toward Frauenstein and Holzhau. Of course there are links to the cross-country tracks on the Czech side of the Erzgebirge, too. If you want you can even do a multi-day tour along the main crest of the mountains, following the German/Czech border, and end up in the Vogtland region (Schöneck).

    No charge for using cross-country skiing trails. Tracks are well marked and signposted. A special map is available at the tourist information (in the train station Altenberg) and at hotels for 1.50 Euro.

    Equipment: You can rent equipment in every town and village. I prefer to bring my own.

    a cross-country skier cross-country skiing trail Zinnwald-Kahleberg View from Kahleberg plateau to the Czech mountains Directions for cross-country trails Fresh snow!
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    Downhill Skiing

    by german_eagle Updated Feb 7, 2014

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    Please don't expect dimensions as in the Alps! The region around Altenberg doesn't satisfy the downhill skiing cracks ... it is good for beginners, families and for a day or two good for intermediates. I mentioned previsouly that peaks do not rise up high above the plateaus and the valleys are not too deep - so the elevation difference is not really much.

    There are skilifts in Altenberg (2), Geising (2), Hermsdorf (1), Schellerhau (1), Oberbärenburg (1). The most popular and extensive downhill skiing is in Rehefeld, about 7 km west of Altenberg. They have a chair-lift and two small skilifts.

    In Altenberg they have three downhill runs, the main one (see pics 2, 3, 4) is wide and not very challenging - doable for any skier who is past the bloody beginner stage (these have an area on the lower part of the slope, to the right side.) The other two runs are through the woods, rather steep in parts and narrow - a bit more challenging (pic 5).

    Most runs are not longer than 600 m. Prices for lift tickets are inexpensive, though. You must calculate 6 Euro for a 4-hour-ticket and 10 or 12 Euro for a day. Tickets for Altenberg are valid in Geising, too.

    For more challenging and extensive ski resorts have a look at Oberwiesenthal, further west in the Erzgebirge, or the Bournak in the neighbouring Czech Rep. only a few km from Rehefeld (border crossing station for cars).

    Equipment: You can rent equipment in the towns, but I prefer to bring my own.

    Downhill skiing in Schellerhau skilift in Altenberg skilift in Altenberg ski lift/main run in Altenberg from parking lot more challenging ski run in Altenberg
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    Winter Hiking

    by german_eagle Updated Feb 7, 2014

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    If you're not into x-country skiing or any other more or less challenging activities you can just walk or hike. The local authorities use to groom plenty of trails for hikers. Just make sure you don't walk on x-country trails - they (especially skating trails) look inviting ... but you will definitely get annyoed looks from the x-country skiers.

    Again, the best area is between Altenberg, Zinnwald and Rehefeld. However, Schellerhau, Oberbärenburg/Waldidylle also offer hiking trails with little elevation difference. Trails are marked and signposted, no chance to get lost :-)

    Buses or the train take you back to the starting point if you're too tired.

    Equipment: Warm clothes and boots. A map. I prefer to take a backpack with a thermos bottle filled with hot tea.

    winter hike in Oberb��renburg Hiking between Schellerhau and B��renfels Hiking between Schellerhau and B��renfels Hiking between Oberb��renburg and Altenberg Signpost near Altenberg
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    Cycling

    by german_eagle Written Jul 20, 2014

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    Of course it's not winter all year through in Altenberg and the Erzgebirge mountains. From about ca. May through October one of the favourite outdoor activities in the region - next to hiking - is cycling. The plateau-like landscape with not too much elevation difference around Altenberg is in favour of not too exhausting cycling trips and you'll find endless trails - marked or unmarked, often car-free forest roads, sometimes minor roads with little traffic.

    On a hot summer day (in the flat lands at least) with temps of about ca. 30° C in Dresden and max. 25° C in Altenberg I did a pretty long cycling trip: Train up to Altenberg, cycling around the lakes there, through the vast forests north to Oberbärenburg and Waldidylle (pic 1), via Falkenhain and then taking the historic (car free) "Hohe Straße" in direction Dippoldiswalde (pics 2, 3, 4), through Dippoldiswalde heath and along a small mountain crest (pic 5) to shady and cool Rabenauer Grund valley, finally ending at the train station in Freital-Hainsberg West.

    All in all it was a tour of roughly 45 km. Most of the time (about 95%) I cycled on car free gravel or asphalt roads in forests or over farmland. Although I started at an elevation of 754 m (Altenberg train station) and ended at ca. 200 m elevation in Freital, there were several minor ascents along the trip - but nothing too exhausting. With lots of photo stops, two longer picnics and a coffee break in a restaurant it took me close to 6 hours.

    Directions were clearly signposted, but a map is highly recommended. Due to some construction works around the lakes in Altenberg I had some problems with directions at the start, but then everything went smoothly.

    Equipment: You can rent a bike and helmet, but I prefer to bring my own. Map highly recommended. Taking food is not really necessary as you'll pass lots of restaurants, cafes and snack places, but definitely take (mineral) water with you.

    Between Altenberg and Oberb��renburg At At A historic signpost, still up to date. A modern signpost, also for cycling.
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    Winter hiking: Schmiedeberg - Oberbärenburg

    by german_eagle Updated Feb 15, 2015

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    The vast forest around Oberbärenburg, the romantic village located some km north of Altenberg proper, is ideal for hikes, also in winter. However, after a good dump of fresh snow on the previous day this can turn into a "Warnings and Danger" category tip as I found out.

    I started the hike in the outskirts of Schmiedeberg, a town some km north in the Weisseritz valley. The bus stop "Buschmühle" (#360 Dresden - Altenberg) was perfect, only about 300 m farther ahead on the main road the hiking trail to Oberbärenburg started (pic 1) at an elevation of about 500 m. The previous day about 10 cm of fresh snow had fallen. The trail was not groomed, but obviously someone had driven the forest road and it was easy to walk in the traces of the tyres. It was a sunny day with deep blue sky, not too cold, the fresh and fluffy snow on the trees was beautiful (pics 2+3), occasionally I saw places for feeding the game animals or picnic places (pic 4).

    At one point, however, the traces of the forest vehicle ended, the guy had turned around. Yikes! The fresh snow was about 30 cm deep there. About 2/3 of the hike was done, so turning around was not an option. So I trudged forward, gaining elevation on the steep "trail", the fresh snow piling up to 40 cm in the end (pic 5) ... After an endless seeming time, probably a half hour, the first houses of Oberbärenburg came into view. Finally I reached the street in the village, cleared from snow ...

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    Winter hiking: Oberbärenburg - Schellerhau

    by german_eagle Written Feb 15, 2015

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    If you've read the previous tip "Winter hiking: Schmiedeberg - Oberbärenburg", then you probably think I'm completely crazy when reading that I continued the hike from Oberbärenburg to Schellerhau. But the day was *too* beautiful: a fresh dump of fluffy snow, no wind, blue sky ...

    So, yes, I hiked the so called "Kirchsteig" from Oberbärenburg to Schellerhau, not groomed, with between 30 and 40 cm deep fresh snow. The trail got that name because the locals in Oberbärenburg didn't have a church in past centuries and had to walk to Schellerhau every Sunday for church service. In any kind of weather - I couldn't be a wimp and skip it on such a beautiful day, could I?

    From 750 m elevation (Oberbärenburg, pic 1) it leads first down to the major road B 170 at an elevation of about 640 m - very steep, through a forest with tall spruce (mostly) and fir trees. From there the trail leads over a small bridge (pic 2) up to Schellerhau - moderately steep through another forest of spruce and firs mostly (pic 3). At the end of the forest you reach a great viewpoint (elevation 760 m) and see the village Schellerhau vis-a-vis (pic 4). Unfortunately the weather had turned cloudy at this point, so the views were not *that* perfect anymore (pic 5, Mt. Kahleberg, the highest peak of the region in the distance.) Again, the trail through the woods was not groomed (yikes!), only shortly after the viewpoint I reached a house, from where a small, snow cleared street led to Schellerhau proper. Calculate about 1:30 h for this hike.

    Don't miss seeing the interior of the ev.-Lutheran parish church and afterward enjoy a piece of cake (or two, like yours truly) and coffee at Cafe Rotter. Finally it started snowing and I was happy I only had to wait about 5 minutes at the bus stop (# 367 to Altenberg.)

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    Sports: Cross-country skiing Rehefeld-Hermsdorf

    by german_eagle Written Feb 15, 2015

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    Another cross-country skiing tour in the western part of this region takes you from idyllic village Rehefeld along the Czech border to Hermsdorf, another quaint village.

    Start is at about 700 m elevation in Rehefeld (bus #373, unfortunately not on weekends! parking available, 3 Euro per day in 2015). The groomed cross-country skiing track leads in southwestern direction, along the Czech border uphill around Hemmschuh mountain to Neu-Rehefeld (800 m). An option is to take the chair lift up to Mt. Hemmschuh (846 m, pic 1, see transportation tip), from where you reach Neu-Rehefeld on a short and easy groomed track - slightly downhill. From here on the groomed cross-country skiing track runs on the dam of the former narrow-gauge railway slightly downhill - for classic style, skaters take a separate track, always parallel a couple of meters away (pic 2).

    The "Skibahnhof" SWF hotel/restaurant (former train stop) provides food and drinks (rustic, rather basic), if you want something more upscale/more choices, then the hamlet Neuhermsdorf with two other hotels/restaurants is only 500 m away (turn right, signposted), see restaurant tips! Short time later the track to Hermsdorf takes a turn right while the track along the Czech border on the former narrow-gauge railway dam heads down to Holzhau. From Neuhermsdorf you follow a - most of the time - groomed ski trail across a wide meadow with beautiful views in western direction (start at Hotel Altes Zollhaus) and soon join the other groomed cross-country skiing track.

    It's slightly uphill now, along a forest (pic 3) and later over farmland, reaching almost 800 m again with panoramic views. The tour ends in Hermsdorf at the parish church/free parking in the centre of the village (pic 4), where you find a bus stop for #373 back to Rehefeld-Altenberg (not on weekends! You must take the same trail back then ... and might take beautiful late afternoon photos, pic 5) and a restaurant and two cafes.

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    Luge and bobsled run

    by german_eagle Updated Feb 8, 2014

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    Altenberg is quite famous for winter sports, probably most for the luge and bobsled run that was built in the 1980s. It was a project of the East German secret service (for whatever reason, probably a personal spleen of Stasi minister Erich Mielke) and cost a huge amount of money - rumours are somewhere in a 3-digit million Mark range. Anyway, the run was opened in 1987 and since then has seen several bobsled-, luge and skeleton European and World Championships.

    Check their calendar of events, maybe there are championships taking place while you're there. Or just have a look at the run (it's free), with some luck you might catch a training session of locals or German professionals. Guided tours every Tuesday at 10 am.

    If you are brave enough, you can even hop on a bobsled and take a ride - with a professional bobsledder. See the website for details.

    start luge ladies a bobsled start bobsled/skeleton/luge men start luge in summer spinner at half way
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