Top Trails of Germany
The Altmühltal-Panoramaweg Trek and Its Loop Trails
ALTMÜHLTAL NATURE PARK (Bavaria) - The soft ground damps down the steps of the hikers who walk in the wood, while sunbeams filter through the tree canopy. A rocky crag invites to rest for a while in front of the gorgeous scenery of the wide valley with the silver stripe of the Altmühl River and fields dotted with junipers. The quietness of the very ancient natural and cultural landscape of the region gains the upper hand and the hectic pace of modern life seems to be miles away. On the panoramic trail Altmühltal-Panoramaweg (200 km), everyone can find his own rhythm. The German hiking club "Deutscher Wanderverband" has bestowed its quality certificate on this long-distance walking trail (again in 2018) that is also one of the "Top Trails of Germany". This status guarantees that this route runs close to nature among ever-changing nature landscapes and it has both first-class signposts and excellent transport connections. The Altmühltal-Panoramaweg winds its way through the wonderful landscape of the Altmühltal Nature Park from Gunzenhausen to Kelheim and connects cultural highlights, historic towns and cosy resorts.
Hikers can choose whether they want to cover the whole Altmühltal-Panoramaweg’s length quietly or just some of its legs with functional packages including overnight stay, cartographic material and luggage transportation (www.naturpark-altmuehltal.de/gepaecktransport). Each leg of the Altmühltal-Panoramaweg has its own highlights. After its start in Gunzenhausen, the route soon rises on sweet hills across green meadows and orchards to the Spielberg castle. Then, it crosses the wood nature reserve "Spielberger Leite": here, hikers can experience the nature’s quietness accompanied by the gurgle of a stone gully (Steinerne Rinne) before relaxing in the spa town of Treuchtlingen. Then, the Altmühltal-Panoramaweg runs on narrower trails among green meadows on the Altmühl’s riverbanks, it enters the wood and reaches a panoramic viewpoint that offers great views of the town of Pappenheim and its striking castle. The following leg leads through juniper heaths, passes impressive rock formations such as the "Twelve Apostles" (Zwölf Apostel) and the "Burgsteinfelsen", and stops in Solnhofen, Mörnsheim and Dollnstein and in the Baroque town of Eichstätt. Walking downriver along the Altmühl one can discover the most beautiful side of the juniper heaths near Gungolding and Kipfenberg. During the summer, here it is possible to meet some itinerant shepherds pasturing their herds. Sheep both preserve this precious natural environment from afforestation and supply the delicious meat that you find on the menu of many restaurants with the quality certification "Altmühltal Lamb" (Altmühltaler Lamm).
On the Altmühltal-Panoramaweg hikers also discover traces of the Roman presence in the Altmühltal Nature Park. In fact, 2,000 years ago the Limes crossed the whole region as the northern border of the Roman Empire. In Kinding, hikers pass under an imposing arch of rock just before they make the Hirschberg castle out in the distance: this is the right way to the town of Beilngries. Leaving Dietfurt later on, the trail follows the Main-Danube Canal, either running directly along it or following it in on the hills. Over there, mighty buildings testify to the history of the region: the Eggersberg castle, the Rosenburg castle in Riedenburg, the feudal Prunn castle and the ruins of the Randeck castle over Essing. Just before reaching Kelheim hikers cross the Danube on a barge, which is the typical boat of the big river’s fishers, and reach the Benedictine Weltenburg Abbey with its open-air beer garden. This is an ideal place for taking a well-earned rest before stepping aboard of the ships to Kelheim that cross the terrific Danube Gorge (Donaudurchbruch) with overhanging rocks high up to 70 m.
Besides the Altmühltal-Panoramaweg, in the Altmühltal Nature Park there are also many other trails, shorter and always of high quality: 20 loop trails are perfect for those who prefer a half-a-day or a one-day tour and lead to places of great nature and historic-cultural interest not far from the main route. Their detailed description is available on the website of the Altmühltal Nature Park or in the flyer "Die schönsten Rundwanderwege" (in German), which can be ordered for free.
In the Altmühltal Nature Park, those who like camping can stay overnight in traditional campsites and designated tenting spots as well in campsites with truly unusual accommodations. In Eichstätt and Beilngries, for instance, it is possible to stay overnight in big wooden barrels. The shepherd’s wagon village "Schäferwagendorf Hammermühle" near Mörnsheim lies on the Altmühltal-Panoramaweg and offers the opportunity of knowing the ancient tradition of sheep farming close-up. The wagons built with local wood are very comfortable and – after a day devoted to open-air activities – they make you feel like a shepherd who goes back home after pasturing his herds on juniper heaths all day long.
FOR PICTURES AND MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
INFORMATIONSZENTRUM NATURPARK ALTMÜHLTAL
Notre Dame 1 / D-85072 Eichstätt
Phone no. 0049-(0)8421-98760 / Fax 0049-(0)8421-987654