At 313 kilometres (194 miles), the Eifelsteig trail leads right through the Eifel, from Aachen to Trier, and passes a changing landscape of rolling fields, rivers, moorland, and volcanic crater lakes. The trail is sectioned into 15 daily stages, each between 14 and 28 kilometres (eight and 17 miles) long. The regional tourism board and tour operators arrange multi-day hikes, including luggage transport, accommodation, and lunch packages. But if you’re just looking for a day trip, the following sections are considered the most beautiful.
Length: 14.1km (8.8miles)
The starting point of the first leg of the Eifelsteig is the Kornelimünster neighbourhood in Aachen. The former Benedictine abbey used to be a pilgrimage site and is also passed by people on the Camino de Santiago trail.
The trail ahead is relatively easy. A set of stairs and a narrow path lead the way past a chapel and through the Rott forest. One of the highlights is the boardwalk through the nature reserve Struffelt. Here, heather and purple moor grass cover the marshland. Once you arrive at the high viewpoint over the Dreilägerbach dam, it’s not far to get to the Eifel’s gateway, Roetgen.
Length: 24.5km (15.2 miles)
From Monschau, a steep climb takes you around the spa town and rewards you with views over its half-timbered houses. Through the overgrown slopes of the Perlenbach valley, the trail arrives at a dam and follows the shoreline to Höfen. The small village marks the entrance point to the Eifel.
The following parts of the trail are dotted with lookouts over the river valleys below. From the last vantage point, Wolfshügel, you can already see the end of the day’s hike.
Length: 17km (10.5 miles)
The last leg of the Eifelsteig is varied and has a lot of sights worth seeing. After an initial up-and-down path to the Ramstein castle, the trail steadies and leads through the scenic Butzerbach valley with its small waterfalls. Suspension bridges cross the stream a couple of times, and the route takes you past ancient Roman mines and two notable caves.
Take some time to explore the interior of the Genoveva cavern. Tools from the Old Stone Age have been found here and indicate that the cave was already used as a shelter back then. After a few vantage points, Weisshaus at the top of the cliffs has the best view over the Moselle valley wine region. Take a seat at one of the benches before ending your hike in Trier.
Apart from the renowned Eifelsteig, die Eifel has a huge variety of walking trails on offer. The following four are circular paths for a day of exploring some of the highlights the region has to offer.
Length: 15km (9.3 miles)
This round trip starts and ends at the parking lot in Biersdorf am See, and is a great trail for the entire family. You can combine a walk around the Bitburg reservoir with watersports activities. Rowing boats are available for rent at the dock.
A highlight of the hike is the outlook over Hamm castle – you could rent rooms here and admire the vast views you reach after a steep climb up to the Buresberg point. The valley is also home to beavers, so keep an eye out when you pass the river loops.
Length: 20.3km (12.6 miles)
At 20 kilometres (12 miles), the path combines scenic landscapes with cultural and historical sights. Plan a full day for the hike: inclines are steep, and there’s a good number of interesting stops along the way.
From the first incline you can look down on Echternach, the oldest town in the region. From there, the path leads into the rugged maze of the Wolfsschlucht. Another prime spot of this trail is the Weilerbach Castle, with its beautiful baroque gardens.
Once you reach the plateau at Ferschweiler and the Liborius chapel at the top, the path winds back down to Echternach. It’s worth spending some time in the town itself, and the medieval market square has some restaurants you can relax at after the demanding hike.
Length: 11.2km (6.9 miles)
You start at the car park of the Pyrmonter Mühle and follow the trail through a small grove and then into open fields.
Forests which are crossed by small rivers dominate the second part of the hike. Around a river bend, you will see the impressive cliffs of the so-called ‘Teufelskammer’, not far from the medieval Pyrmont castle. Watch your step in the following section, as vines grown over the cliffs and boulders and rocks might block the path.
The entire walk back down to the starting point offers great vistas of the castle.
Length: 9.8km (6 miles)
The relatively easy trail starts in Virneburg, and should be possible to complete within three hours. The scenery changes between forest and heathland, typical for the region.
From the town centre, the green trail first takes hikers up to the 13th century Vineburg ruins, and then steadily climbs up into the forest. Towards the Schafberg, meadows reveal panoramic views. You can take a break at one of the rest areas along the trail, or even dip your feet into the cold water of a small stream on the way back to Virneburg.