Rocks, volcanic lakes and imperial city: the Eifelsteig

Rocks, volcanic lakes and imperial city: the Eifelsteig

The starting point is Altenberg-Geising in the Eastern Ore Mountains, the end point is Blankenstein in Thuringia. Three quarters of the long-distance hiking trail are in the Erzgebirge-Vogtland Nature Park. The basalt fan on the Hirtstein near Marienberg is a geological attraction. The Schneckenstein near Klingenthal is also a rarity as one of two topaz rocks that exist worldwide. With a little luck, hikers might see badgers, black grouse and kingfishers. Not to be missed is the nutcracker museum in Neuhausen, the Seiffen toy village, and the incense candle factory in Neudorf. And of course the famous ski jump in Oberwiesenthal am Fichtelberg and the steam-powered narrow-gauge railway there.

It doesn’t get any longer: the Goldsteig

Through the Upper Palatinate Forest and the Bavarian Forest from Marktredwiz in the border triangle of Bavaria, Bohemia and Saxony to Passau – that’s a total of 660 kilometers of hiking. Of course, you don’t have to put them all under your hiking boots. Coming from the north-west in the Upper Palatinate Forest, the Goldsteig is divided into two variants: the south route runs over the charming mountain ranges of the Upper Bavarian Forest, the north variant lines thousands of thousands and leads through the national park along the Bohemian border to Dreisessel and on to Passau. The south variant is a colorful alternation of shady forest paths and lush meadows, grandiose views, atmospheric sunsets and a wide view over the Gäuboden and on clear days even as far as the Zugspitze. Tips for those tired of hiking: At Windischeschenbach you should "Zoigl" try a bottom-fermented beer that is only available here. In Neustadt an der Waldnaab, it is worth taking a detour to the Schauglashütte. And on the way to the gold mining town of Oberviechtach you pass the Leuchtenberg Castle.

At a high level: the Westweg

It goes through seemingly endless forests, over mountain ranges with wonderful views. You cross deep valleys and towering mountains. Lakes and moors lie on the way through Germany’s highest low mountain range, the Black Forest with the Feldberg (1493 meters) as the highest elevation. The Westweg is rightly one of Germany’s most beautiful hiking trails. However, it is also a demanding hiking trail with medium to difficult stages between 15 and 32 kilometers in length. It leads over 285 kilometers from Pforzheim on the northern edge of the Black Forest to Lake Titisee, where it forks into a western and an eastern route – both end in Basel, where Germany, France and Switzerland meet. Highlights along the way: the center of the jewelry and watch industry in Pforzheim, Neuenbürg Castle, the Murg Valley with its hayloft valleys and forest lakes, the observation tower on the 945 meter high Brandenkopf and of course the view from the Feldberg summit.

Rocks, volcanic lakes and imperial city: the Eifelsteig

Under the motto "Where rock and water accompany you" the Eifelsteig leads from Aachen, the coronation city of Emperor Charlemagne, to the Roman imperial city of Trier. From the flat north near Aachen, the 313-kilometer hiking trail stretches across the "High Fens" through the lonely Rur valley, past imposing reservoirs, the Eifel National Park and over the limestone and volcanic Eifel to the southern Eifel. Natural paths, magnificent views and complete signage make hiking a real experience. These are the tops along the way: the Aachen Cathedral, the Struffelt Heide, the high moorland Hohes Venn, the Dreimühlen waterfall in the Ahbachtal, the waterfalls in the Butzbachtal and of course the Porta Nigra in Trier. Between Daun and Manderscheid, the Vulkaneifel has three special highlights: the fabulous "blue" Eyes of the water-filled maars.

Further information and hiking packages:

All the hiking trails presented belong to the Top Trails of Germany, Am Sonnenhang 2, 87629 Füssen, Tel. 01805 872457 (14 cents per minute from German landlines), www.toptrails.de;

Hermannshöhen: Teutoburger Wald Tourismus, OstWestfalenLippe Marketing GmbH, topadultreview.com Jahnplatz 5, 33602 Bielefeld, Tel. 0521 / 96733-25, www.hermannshoehen.de; The seven-day medium-difficulty hike from Rheine to Horn-Bad Meinberg (156 km, daily stages: 16 to 26 km) costs seven nights in a three-star hotel and packed lunches from 359 euros per person in a double room (www.verkehrsverein-rheine.de)

Rheinsteig: Rheinsteig office c / o Romantischer Rhein Tourismus GmbH, Loreley visitor center, 56346 St. Goarshausen, Tel. 06771/959380, www.rheinsteig.de; the hiking package "All about carefree on the Rheinsteig" from Wiesbaden to St. Goarshausen (intermediate, 117 km, daily stages between 15 and 22 km) including eight overnight stays, luggage transfer, hiking map and directions, costs 490 euros per person in a double room (www.kleines-wanderreisen.de).

Kammweg: Tourismusverband Erzgebirge e.V., Adam-Ries-Straße 16, 09456 Annaberg-Buchholz, Tel. 03733/188000, www.kammweg.de; Tourismusverband Vogtland e.V., Göltzschtalstr. 16, 08209 Auerbach, Tel. 03744/188860; The seven-day hike from Altenberg-Geising to Schöneck, for example, costs six nights including breakfast, luggage transport, route description, maps and the Erzgebirgs-Card from 298 euros per person in a double room.

Goldsteig: Tourismusverband Ostbayern e.V., Im Gewerbepark D04, 93059 Regensburg, Tel. 0800/1212111, www.goldsteig-wandern.de; the three day easy hike "Romantic Upper Palatinate Forest" from Friedenfels to Leuchtenberg (68 km, daily stages between 18 and 30 km) costs 159 euros per person in a double room with four overnight stays with breakfast, information material and hiking maps; Luggage transport for a surcharge of 44 euros for four people (www.wandern-goldsteig.de).

Westweg: Schwarzwald Tourismus GmbH, Ludwigstrasse 23, 79104 Freiburg, Tel. 0761 / 89646-93, www.westweg.info; the demanding thirteen-day tour from Pforzheim to Basel (281 km, daily stages between 15 and 32 km) costs, including 13 nights with breakfast, maps, luggage transfer and visitor’s tax, from 835 euros per person in a double room (www.schwarzwald-tourismus.info, www.westweg .info)

Eifelsteig: Eifel Tourismus GmbH, Kalvarienberg 1, 54595 Prüm, Tel. 06551/96560, www.eifelsteig.de; the seven-day, moderately difficult hike "Enjoy the Eifelsteig" from Gerolstein to Manderscheid (54 km, daily stages between 6 and 13 km) costs including six overnight stays with breakfast, packed lunches, luggage transfer, hiking guide "Eifelsteig – from Aachen to Trier" and entrance fees 369 euros per person in a double room

Walking and Losing Weight? Almost everyone now knows that hiking is healthy. But it is even healthier than expected – this is shown by the results of the study on health hiking initiated by the German Hiking Association and carried out by the University of Halle-Wittenberg. The researchers found scientific evidence that hiking according to a certain concept not only promotes fitness in general after a short time, but also helps with weight loss and significantly lowers blood pressure.

Take a healthy hike – for example here:

Photo show: Hiking paradises in the Alps The best hiking trails in Germany Hiking on the Urwaldsteig: A touch of the jungle in Northern Hesse

Hiking and losing weight: Even on short hiking trails

Even hiking short hiking tours in connection with coordination and relaxation exercises has been proven to promote health. For example, the body weight decreases, the body mass index improves and the blood pressure decreases. Researchers at the Institute for Performance Diagnostics and Health Promotion e.V. (ILUG) at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg have now been able to scientifically prove this in a small study, as Christine Merkel from the German Hiking Association (DWV) in Kassel told the dpa topic service. Under the direction of Professor Kuno Hottenrott, a number of health-related parameters, the development of physical performance and the well-being of the people participating in the study were examined.

Health hiking: a specific type of hiking

The hiking association developed the concept for so-called health hiking together with physiotherapists from the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences and initiated the current study. For seven weeks, 18 working people met twice a week to hike according to the certified concept and under the direction of the certified health hiking guides. The comparison group consisted of 16 inactive employees from the same age group. "The hikes were scheduled for an hour and a half" explained Merkel. Depending on the terrain, the participants covered 3.7 to 5.6 kilometers per hike.

Hiking with specific help

The hikers, who were on average 53.6 years old and otherwise not very active, spent one hour of each appointment in motion. In between, they stopped twice on each hike to do physiotherapy exercises. "These were, for example, exercises to loosen the shoulder muscles or improve coordination, such as standing on one leg with open eyes, sometimes with closed eyes or balancing a stick on the foot." Aspects from progressive muscle relaxation or three minutes of targeted fast walking were also included. In addition, an accompanying, certified health hiking guide gave tips for a healthy lifestyle.

Hiking and losing weight: success after just a few weeks

The researchers recorded the health of hikers and the control group once before the start of the hikes and then after seven weeks. They did not notice any changes in the control group. The body mass index (BMI), which indicates the relationship between a person’s body weight and height, and body weight decreased significantly in the active population. At the beginning of the study, the average weight was 91.8 kg, at the end it was an average of 1.3 kg less. The blood pressure readings were better, the heart rate dropped from 131 to 122 for the same walking pace. According to Professor Hottenrott, the reduction in blood pressure in the hiking group was not to be expected so significantly: “The systolic value fell on average from 151 to 142, the diastolic value from 92 to 84. This change has positive effects on health.” And so-called Endurance, which is determined on the basis of the lactate value and the oxygen content in the blood, was higher, as Merkel explained. In addition, the ability to coordinate, as determined for example when standing on one leg on a wobbly board, has improved.

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A certificate for healthy hiking is being considered

The bottom line is that the head of the study, Hottenrott, is convinced of the effectiveness of health hiking: “The hikes are a really successful intervention.” In addition, the study proves that the health hiking courses meet the core objectives of the prevention principle “Reducing physical inactivity through health-sporting activity”, a project by the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Health insurance (GKV) initiated, meet. The managing director of the German Hiking Association, Ute Dicks, also takes the results of the study as an opportunity to talk to the GKV in order to sound out the possibilities of recognizing the “certified health hikers” as a primary prevention service (according to Section 20 SGB V).

Long-distance hiking trails for hiking. It’s healthy, it’s inexpensive, there’s energy: More and more people are discovering long-distance hiking for themselves. When looking at nature, everyday worries are left behind, the body reduces stress and builds up a good mood. And by the way, you realize what a fantastic holiday destination Germany is. During tours lasting several days on marked long-distance hiking trails, you can discover the country from a completely new perspective. We present some of the most beautiful classic long-distance hiking trails.

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