An adventure trail through the Eifel National Park
The 85-kilometre Wildnistrail (Wilderness Trail) leads hikers through unspoilt nature in the Eifel National Park.
The Wildnistrail (Wilderness Trail) lives up to its name: this approximately 86-kilometre route from Monschau to Hürtgenwald-Zerkall crosses through North Rhine-Westphalia’s only national park, the Eifel National Park. In a place where nature is again being allowed to exist as it once did centuries ago, hikers can follow sometimes challenging stretches through all the landscapes and habitats in the conservation area.
From easy to challenging
The Wilderness Trail offers both one-day and multi-day hikes. It is divided into four stages which range in difficulty from easy to challenging. The stage between Monschau-Höfen and Simmerath-Einruhr requires the most stamina. Not only is it the longest stage at 24.5 kilometres, it also requires hikers to conquer significant climbs to reach their destination. However, along the way lie romantic meadow valleys, which are transformed into a yellow sea of wild daffodils in spring and offer up the enticing fragrance of wild herbs in the summer. Before beginning, it is also worth taking a wander through the former cloth-making town of Monschau, which impresses visitors with its historic half-timbered houses along lively watercourses.
The stage between Einruhr and Gemünd will particularly delight with magnificent views across the open Dreiborn Plateau and the lake landscape. Ordensburg Vogelsang, the former Nazi elite school, which was in operation until 1944, is also worth a detour. It is now home to a visitor and information centre. Those with an interest in history can take a tour with a certified guide.
The third stage from Gemünd to Heimbach heads past such sights as the Mariawald Abbey, the only male Trappist monastery in Germany. Upon reaching the final destination, it is worth taking a trip to the Art Nouveau power plant in Heimbach. Once the largest pumped-storage power plant in Europe, it offers tours to view the historic machinery and multi-storey switching stations. It also now serves as a concert venue.
The stage from Heimbach to Hürtgenwald-Zerkall is the easiest and also shortest of the Wilderness Trail at just under 18 kilometres. It passes through the Hetzinger Wald forest with its gnarled oaks, and the beautiful Schliebach Valley. Reassuringly, there is little chance of getting lost in the wilderness: the entire trail is signposted with a stylised wild cat symbol.