Walking the Altmühltal Panorama Trail
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|110 km (75 miles)|
|Hiking with backpack|
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On this hiking tour through the beautiful countryside of the southern German region of Bavaria you walk along the meandering river Altmühl. Awesome hiking holiday through romantic valleys, along steep cliffs and hills full of juniper bushes.
Altmühltal: rich history
The Altmühltal has a rich history. The villages and towns are filled with medieval castles and remnants of Celtic and Roman settlements. The walking route runs through Riedenburg and Kelheim kilometers along a wall that the Celts threw up 2000 years ago. It is also loved by Altmühltal (amateur) archaeologists, due to the large number of fossils that are stored in limestone slabs.
And then there is the archeopteryx. The Altmühltal is the first place on earth where the remains of these prehistoric birds have been found. The residents believe that you can’t say that often enough. And so they do: in brochures, leaflets and plaques along the Altmühltal Panorama Trail you meet that bird so often, that in the end you can see him fly across the broad valley of the Altmühl.
Most beautiful hiking stages
The hiking stages between Pappenheim and Kipfenberg I found awesome. The stage I walked between Riedenburg and Kelheim is truly beautiful. All together a very varied tour. No stage is the same: one day you walk mainly through light beech forest, the next day you can enjoy great views on the wide valley, or you pass through a whole range of beautiful villages. The only constant factor is the river Altmühl.
Eichstätt & Castle Willibaldsburg
Very impressive are the last few kilometers to Eichstätt: you walk high above the town through a beautiful old forest. In the depth you see the landscape in a nutshell: the town, the awesome fourteenth century Castle Willibaldsburg and of course the Altmühl. And at the finish of this stage you’ll find a beautiful old town.
Another highlight: the last stage between Riedenburg and Kelheim, where you slowly but surely - hiking across the Celts Wall - approach the river Donau. In Kelheim the two rivers flow together.
Disadvantage: near civilization
What was a little disappointing: the Altmühltal Panorama Trail remains largely close to civilization. Which is frequently visible: buildings on the horizon. And audible: noisy roads and towns. It wasn’t a bummer, but as a stressed city dweller I really love the sound of silence...
Villages & towns
The tour leads through numerous towns and villages which are worth a visit. For me Eichstätt stood out: a lovely old town with beautiful baroque churches and monasteries, broad plazas and the only Catholic university in Germany. And just so you know: in Eichstatt they keep the remains of the archeopteryx...
Pappenheim, Kipfenberg & Riedenburg
Pappenheim also seems to be a beautiful medieval village. But when I was there it was raining cats and dogs, and there wasn’t a sole to be seen. In the pleasant small villages Kipfenberg (relaxed Gasthof Zum Limes has above average food) and Riedenburg (a "Luftkurort”) the sun was back on the menu.
Tips for the Altmühltal Panorama Trail
- The walk is quite light. Of course, some climbing and descending are on the program each day, but the Westweg and Harzer-Hexenstieg I found much heavier hiking trails. So it’s a great walk for less experienced walkers. The signage is excellent.
- A retired woman who passed me by, had arranged that her luggage was transported from hotel to hotel. She walked quite relaxed with only a small daypack. Several local organizations can arrange transport and accommodation for you. See for example www.naturpark-altmuehltal.de
- I’ve walked more than half of the 200-kilometer long path. First from Treuchtlingen to Kinding, and then for the day stage between Riedenburg and Kelheim. The first part of the trail seems to be rather disappointing. Starting in Pappenheim is recommended.
- For hikers arriving by car: if you start in Pappenheim and hike until Kelheim, bus and train easily bring you back to the starting point.