These trails will truly awaken the love for hiking in children. The ranger tour, adventure trail, or animal hikes can be enjoyed by everyone in the family. A simple walk turns into a memorable family excursion that guarantees adventure. Even the youngest children can discover nature playfully on short paths.
A number of themed routes wind through the entire state, offering glimpses of the worlds of plants and animals or inviting visitors to briefly drop by times long ago – at times following prominent trail patrons or legendary figures. This is made particularly interesting and exciting by guided tours with professional accompaniment by people or animals: While trained forest guides take visitors of all age groups on a journey of discovery in the Eifel National Park, animal companions join them elsewhere. Donkeys, llamas, or alpacas can make a hike a very special experience.
Out and about with llamas, donkeys, and alpacas
We all know that you are never alone in nature. The meadows, fields, and forests are full of beetles, birds, or ants, and at times even deer or foxes. Some entirely different animal companions can make hikes a special experience for children as well, however.
Out with donkeys
Winterberg in the Sauerland region will let you go hiking with a donkey. This is very practical as the patient animals will carry picnic provisions and backpacks without complaint. In order to become familiar with each other, visitors start out by feeding and thoroughly grooming them before going out on a three- to six-hour trip into nature. A special hiking guide can come along if desired. While all this is, of course, great fun for children, even adults can still learn quite a bit of composure from the relaxed animals. Donkeys also join the hikers in the Siebengebirge – high up to Schloss Drachenburg on the Drachenfels, Europe’s most climbed mountain. While children can ride up on the donkeys, adults need to conquer the mountain on foot or take a leisurely ride up on a rustic cog railroad.
www.big-mountain.eu | www.siebengebirge.com
Out with llamas and alpacas
In contrast to the donkeys, llamas and alpacas belong to the family of camels. That makes them no less good-natured and patient, however. Llamas accompany children and adults on a number of tours through the Wittgenstein forests, e.g. on the Rothaarsteig or the Wisent-Welt. Children and adults can get to know both the region and the wide-eyed animals up close along the way. Nature can also be experienced with a llama in the Ruhr area, where families can take Kasimir, Dancer, Diego, and their colleagues for walks through the green coal dumps. By the way, there is no need to fear being spat on: Kept appropriately, llamas will only ever spit at each other. The Eifel region offers opportunities for families to spend time with alpacas on a hike, a leisurely picnic, or at a children’s birthday party.
www.rothaar-lamas.de | www.prachtlamas.de | www.obstwiesen-alpakas.de
Out in the forest with native game
The Vosswinkel Wild Forest in Arnsberg houses a wide variety of animals, including eagle owls, red deer, and wild boars that roam freely without any enclosures and can be spotted at their daily feedings. However, encounters can be expected at any time on two circular trails of 4.5 kilometres each, through the red deer or wild boar hunting grounds. The adventure continues after dark since the Wildwald Vosswinkel also offers overnight accommodation heated with wood and lit with candles. Smartphones will have trouble to connect and even the usual toilet is usually replaced by an outhouse.
Adventure trails and themed routes
Fairytale figures and real adventures
Out and about in the Bergisches Land
The “Mouse” character from television, for example, marks the six mountain trails specifically designed for families with elementary-school-age children that can be covered easily in a half-day or day tour. The hiking trails through the Bergisches Land region, between four and thirteen kilometres in length, come with information boards and audio stations where children and adults can learn plenty about the region. Along the forest myth trail, for example, figures such as Robin Hood tell of themselves and their history; the Wasserweg trail has information boards explaining the function of a dam to hikers on approximately four kilometres; the longest section, the Bauernhofweg trail around Lohmar, teaches about life on a farm.
Out and about in the Sauerland and Siegen-Wittgenstein
Surprising encounters and experiences may be waiting for you in the forests of the Sauerland: Along paths designed particularly for children, tree telephones, forest adventure trails, and swings offer variety as well as mythical creatures such as goblins and fairies. In Brilon, a magical creature will accompany hikers on the approximately two-kilometre-long Forest Fairy Trail, inviting them into the world of the forest at nine experience stations.
Hikers of all age groups will encounter a red-haired leprechaun with a ranger hat on the Rothaarsteig, the first among the “Top Trails of Germany “ to have its own family hiking map with a total of twelve adventure points. One of them is the fairy tale hiking trail of the “Kleiner Rothaar”, covering nearly two kilometres and taking hikers to secret places and treasure chests. It made the top ten among the day tours at the vote for Germany’s most beautiful hiking trail 2020. More than 20 adventure hiking trails are waiting for children and adult hikers alike in the Sauerland.
www.sauerland.com I www.siegen-wittgenstein.info/en
Out and about in the Teutoburg Forest
The Naturpark Teutoburger Wald gives families the opportunity to explore nature and, of course, the forest. The Leistrup Forest Route, for example, leads past cairns and sacrificial stones that are more than three millennia old, as well as to some deciduous and coniferous trees. Six discovery maps can be found in the “family time in nature” section, inviting to a closer examination of specific areas of the nature park. Near Detmold, for example, a GPS trail leads around the Hermann Monument on about five kilometres. Interesting information, short quizzes, and other forest-themed activities are waiting for hikers along eight virtual stations there. A detour to the Hermann Monument itself is worth the time in any case. After all, there is both a treasure chest and an additional rally at the monument to enjoy.
Out and about in the Eifel region
The Nationalpark Eifel offers a number of tours for children. Family days hosted on the first Sunday of every month feature guided three-hour hikes through the forest. Finding animal tracks, solving plant puzzles, and plenty of smells, colours, and shapes turn the approximately four-kilometre-long tour into a special experience.
The EifelSpuren and EifelSchleifen circular hiking trails combine nature with history. In Zülpich, for example, the eight-kilometre-long trail focuses on knights, Romans, and beets; Blankenheim covers “Rustling forests”, and Mechernich has a ten-kilometre-long EifelSchleife trail called “From the mill lake to the Eifel view”.
Other parts of the Eifel have defensive castles, bizarre rock formations, or a captain and his ship as some exciting stations of a hike. The water-land route, for example, can be combined with a shipping tour, reducing the distance as needed.
The Löwenzahn-Erlebnispfad in Nettersheim in the Eifel offers 20 stations with activities. The trail is about six kilometres long and leads past an adventure playground, back to the ancient Romans, and even to some even older finds: A fallow field, once a coral reef in the Devonian Sea, conceals some fossils that are up to 380 million years old. The time needed to complete this circuit depends less on the hikers’ physical condition here.
nordeifel-tourismus.de I www.eifel.info I www.naturzentrum-eifel.de
Out and about in the Bonn Region
The Wildwiesenweg near Eitorf turns into a safari for children – or, more precisely: a photo safari. Many different animals, from bumblebees to black storks and from butterflies to wood lizards, are living there after all. Everyone who manages to catch four different animals on camera can enter a raffle event each year. The artists’ path in Windeck is dedicated to creativity as well: The approximately six-kilometres-long circular trail offers 30 adventure stations with ideas on how to make flying objects out of leaves, build stable bridges out of small stones, or turn forest fruits into dwarf houses. A total of ten children’s adventure trails offer great hiking pleasure for the youngest hikers along the Sieg River.
The Naturpark Siebengebirge has two adventure trails dedicated to the subject of sustainability: A journey of exploration around Lake Himberg tells about what people need the great amounts of material extracted from the soil for, producing enormous holes and making entire mountains disappear. The Zeitsprung exploration trail takes its hikers on a journey into the past along ten stations: How did people live here back then? How did they affect nature? A circuit of about two kilometres teaches families how people used to handle their environment in different eras.
www.naturregion-sieg.de | www.naturpark7gebirge.de