Hoarfrost is covering the meadows and trees, relaxing silence fills the forest, and the clear air properly cleanses the mind. Winter hikes can be a great experience. Let us introduce the most beautiful places and routes for your winter hiking experience to you below.
Most beautiful winter hiking routes
Hikes in every season
The Half-Timbered Freudenberg Trail
Freudenberg in the Siegerland is known for its picturesque old town. The “Alter Flecken”, as its beautiful town centre is nicknamed, magically draws lovers of half-timbered houses and romantics alike. The old town was completely rebuilt based onto its 1540 model following a devastating town fire in the 17th century. It has been preserved unchanged since then. The “Half-Timbered Freudenberg Trail”, a twelve-kilometre round tour through the forests and meadows around Freudenberg, offers some particularly beautiful views of the city centre as the cold and clear winter air affords an unusually far view for hikers.
Nordkirchen Hiking Trails
Some winter days simply are too cold or too wet for long hikes. Short round tours are a great option then. The Münsterland region has a number of good trails around Schloss Nordkirchen, also known as the “Westphalian Versailles”. The 3.5-kilometre-long Circular Bat Trail, for example, not only leads directly past Schloss Nordkirchen but also winds its way along old avenues and past the watery homes of amphibians. Other options for short hikes include the Oak Leaf and Kaisermantel Circular Trails. Anyone who is feeling some wanderlust in clear air and bright sunshine should have a look at the 12-kilometre hike “from castle to castle” that takes them from Schloss Nordkirchen to Schloss Westerwinkel.
Through the Heisterbach Monastery Landscape
Narrow forest paths, steep climbs, and unique views of the river Rhine – a tour of the monastery landscape in the Rhine-Sieg district around Königswinter is a particularly special experience in the cold and clear winter air. The tour is eleven kilometres long and takes hikers past the Heisterbach monastery with its Cistercian history, former quarries, and the Petersberg with its grand hotel and foundations that used to be a church.
The Cultural and Historical Trail through the "Electoral Zoo Arnsberg”
A winter hike through the “Electoral Zoo Arnsberg” is truly mystical. The “Thiergarten”, as this zoo is called, had been planned in the Sauerland around 1670, but ended up being used mostly for hunting. Today, hikers can cross the old bridges to hike past an oak tree that is more than four centuries old to a former hunter’s lodge, some castle ruins, or to take a look at the “Seufzertal” (Valley of Sighs), where those sick with the plague were living in times long past. As many as 41 “traces of the past” are waiting to be discovered on the 13-kilometre-long hiking trail while the silence of the forest swallows up any noise from the nearby town of Arnsberg.
The Monks’ Trail in the Rhine-Sieg District
The Seligenthal region in the Rhine-Sieg-Kreis was appreciated for its peace and tranquillity as early as in the 13th century. Hikers can still find blissful peace there today. Sleepy little roads and narrow paths cover a length of eight kilometres through the valley, past the Wahnbach dam and the impressive walnut tree avenue leading to the Gut Umschoß estate. The first Franciscan monastery north of the Alps with its still-preserved monastery church is worth a visit as well.
The Bensberg Castle Trail
Reminiscent of old fairy tales, castles and palaces shine in a particularly magical light in the winter season and put us in the mood for a few contemplative days. A trip along the Bensberg Castle Trail takes hikers past several of the magical buildings of the Bergisches Land. The route of nine kilometres leads not only past the Bensberg and Lerbach castles, but also to some magnificent vantage points. On clear winter days, you can let your eyes roam across the Rhine valley, and many believe that they have even spotted the Cologne Cathedral in the distance.
The Struffelt Route
A hike through the high moor is particularly impressive in winter. Cool temperatures cause steam to rise up from it, enveloping the landscape in a mystical mist. The Struffelt nature reserve in the Hohes Venn (Eifel) nature park is an eleven-kilometre-long circular trail that crosses the moor on wooden footbridges. The vantage platform at the Dreilägerbach dam affords a unique view of the frosty Eifel landscape.
Sternenpark, Eifel National Park
Night may fall early in winter, but no one has said that we cannot enjoy it! The Eifel National Park offers hikers the opportunity to use the dark season for stargazing. Darkness out in the huge park’s natural environment is undisturbed by bright city lights, giving visitors the opportunity to look at the Milky Way with the unaided eye. A trip to Germany’s first stargazing park is particularly worthwhile on clear winter evenings.
Hiking in the Snow
Are You Looking for a Winter-Wonderland Feel?
Snow Hiking Paths in the Sauerland
Are you feeling like taking a hike in a proper winter-wonderland? Grab your warm winter boots and get going! Regions like the Sauerland offer dedicated winter hiking paths. Some will lead through deep snow at times, while others are cleared quickly to allow comfortable hikes on them, with the white snow glittering on either side of the path. The premium winter hiking paths all around Winterberg are classified into the categories of “cleared”, “rolled”, and “natural”.
Hikers can experience the winter magic to the fullest on deep-snow tours. Special snowshoes that slide across the deep snow on their large, flat surfaces avoid having to stomp through the snow in heavy boots. The Wintersport Arena Sauerland provides an overview of the snowshoe rental offers, and hiking guides in the Siegen-Wittgenstein region offer GPS snowshoe tours or torch-lit hikes into the icy forests. The Eifel is another place where you can try out this trendy sport.
www.siegen-wittgenstein.info | www.wintersport-arena.de/herzlich-willkommen
Through Winter Together
Torch-lit hikes in the Ruhr area
The Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord around the shut-down smelting works is always lit in bright colours in the dark. Some more lights are added to this during the torch-lit winter hikes. Carrying torches, the participants follow a former smelting worker who will introduce his former workplace to them on a round trip through the landscape park. The three-hour-long guided tour ends with some mulled wine to stave off the cold in the Hauptschalthaus. Witten also offers discovery tours in the evening, crossing the Muttental with torches to get to know the region’s mining history more closely.
https://www.landschaftspark.de/freizeitangebote/fuehrungen | www.stadtmarketing-witten.de
Through the Sauerland in the dark
The tour leads through snowy natural landscapes around Winterberg on snowshoes, also called bear paws. The guided tours take place during the day or after dark in the evening. Anyone who prefers tobogganing can find a very special experience in the Sauerland and let a guide take them on a trip across the landscape between the Kahler Asten and the Neuastenberg, to the toboggan run in the Postwiese ski area, where floodlight tobogganing is offered.
Winter Experiences with Animals
Donkeys & Prehistoric Animals
Ice-Age game reserve, Neandertal
The Neandertal spirits its visitors away back to the Ice Age, where the world’s first Neanderthal man was unearthed. The Ice-Age game reserve can be found right next to the Neanderthal Museum that tells its visitors everything worth knowing about the development of mankind. This is where prehistoric animals such as the aurochs, wisent, and Tarpan wild horse, brought to life again by specific breeding, are living. A small hiking path leads around the enclosure and takes walkers very close to the animals.
Tracking with a dog
In the Sauerland, you have to follow a scent on wintry paths: On a mystery hike, humans and animals are a team. While the four-legged friends concentrate on sniffing, the two-legged friends are busy analysing clue cards, solving puzzles and questioning witnesses.