Secrets of the Eifel maars


Float on your back in the cool, deep blue waters of the Ulmener Maar and follow the gaze of this ‘eye of the Eifel’ up to the cloudless sky. You can hear the twittering of birdsong from the shores and sometimes the laughter of children playing in the meadows nearby. The golden sunshine dances on the surface of the water. In this moment, there is no hint of the powerful, deafening explosion that ripped open the earth at this very spot many thousands of years ago. The origins of this unique beauty lie deep beneath the ground. Slumbering, until now, as we delve into the depths of ancient history.

There are nine more of these water-filled sinkholes, many of them perfect circles, which together make up the trademark of the unspoilt volcanic Eifel region in the Rhineland Palatinate uplands. At first glance, they look like lakes, but they are really a throwback to a volcanic eruption, one of many in the history of volcanic activity in the Eifel. The first appeared around 45 million years ago, when the earth’s crust was massively stretched during the formation of the Alps.

A walk along the narrow paths near Manderscheid takes you back to these times. Here, you will find the Eckfelder Maar, the oldest maar in the volcanic Eifel region, which has now dried out and represents an important archaeological site. The skeleton of the 50 cm tall ‘Eckfelder Urpferdchen’ or Eckfeld prehistoric horse, which once roamed the land at these latitudes, is just one of the impressive discoveries to admire in this dried-out maar.

Impressive view of the Schalkenmehrener Maar near Daun, Eifel

Impressive view of the Schalkenmehrener Maar near Daun, Eifel

However, most of the maars that are still filled with water date back to the Quaternary Period, a period in the formation of the Eifel around 2.6 million years ago. It ended with the eruption that formed the Ulmener Maar around 10,000 years ago.

Rising magma met water-bearing strata of rock. The second they made contact, there was a powerful explosion that tore the rock all around into tiny fragments and flung them up to one kilometre into the air. This material fell back to earth and mostly settled in a ring around the sinkhole formed by the explosion as a heavy layer of cinder or ash. At the same time, the unstable soil around slipped down into the maar. Over time, the volcanic activity calmed down and the resulting craters were eventually filled as groundwater flowed into them.

View of the Ulmener Maar from the Maare und Thermen Pfad leisure trail, Eifel

View of the Ulmener Maar from the Maare und Thermen Pfad leisure trail, Eifel

Walkers on the Eifelsteig trail along the Weinfelder Maar, Eifel

Walkers on the Eifelsteig trail along the Weinfelder Maar, Eifel

You can find out more about this explosive era in the history of the Eifel at one of the many museums in the Vulkaneifel UNESCO Global Geopark, including the Eifel-Vulkanmuseum in Daun, the Maarmuseum in Manderscheid and the Gerolstein Natural History Museum. Or you can get close up, with a walk or a cycle ride though the volcanic Eifel region. There are footpaths through the unspoilt countryside, with interesting facts along the way and spectacular views of the lush green setting of the maars from many points. The banks are lined with gorse and heath, with picture-postcard water-lily beds and water birds.

And, if you want, you can treat yourself to a refreshment or a relaxing boat trip on the mirror-glass surface of the water, although things are still simmering away underneath. Researchers believe there could be another eruption in another few tens of thousands of years. What could make a weekend more special than a moment of calm above an active volcano?

Pedalo ride on the Gemündener Maar, Eifel

Pedalo ride on the Gemündener Maar, Eifel

The massive Strohn lava bomb at the Vulkanhaus in Strohn, Eifel

The massive Strohn lava bomb at the Vulkanhaus in Strohn, Eifel

Secrets of the maars

Volcanic origins in the Nature Park and Geopark


A real natural treasure that was originally formed by explosive natural forces is rarely as tangibly close as the Pulvermaar in the volcanic Eifel region. Take a walk with a knowledgeable guide through vast green meadows and ancient forests as you discover the secrets of the maars. You can discover their beauty and also experience the way of life of those living in this fascinating region close up!

More leisure tips for nature lovers in the Eifel region:


Video: Secrets of the maars – Volcanic origins in the Nature Park and Geopark

A real natural treasure that was originally formed by explosive natural forces is rarely as tangibly close as the Pulvermaar in the volcanic Eifel region. Take a walk with a knowledgeable guide…

Eifelsteig Etappe 10: Gerolstein - Daun

hard

23,9 km

6:30 h
The "climb" up the highest hill in the Gerolstein region, the Dietzenley at just under 618 metres,…

Eifelsteig Etappe 11: Daun - Manderscheid

hard

23,3 km

7:00 h
Past the "eyes of the Eifel", the Maare, the path leads through the quiet valley of the Lieser over…

The Maars-Moselle cycle route (Daun-Bernkastel-Kues)

easy

58,5 km

4:45 h
On the former railway line you cycle comfortably from the Vulkaneifel to the Moselle. Recommended…

Vulkaneifel-Pfad: Maare-und-Thermen-Pfad: Etappe 1: Ulmen - Lutzerath

medium

18,8 km

6:30 h
A perfect start is offered by the Maare-und-Thermen-Pfad in Ulmen at the Jungferweiher. From here,…

Eifelleiter (Bad Breisig- Adenau)

medium

54,2 km

19:48 h
The Eifel Ladder leads hikers from the Rhine over the top summit of the Eifel, the Hohe Acht, to the…

Walks around the Eifel maars

Let us tell you about the wonderful walks around the ‘eyes of the Eifel’, the volcanic upland maars with their glistening blue waters.

Maarmuseum in Manderscheid

Maarmuseum Manderscheid

Manderscheid Experience an adventure and travel to the center of the earth! Climb into the capsule of the "Terranaut" at the Maarmuseum Manderscheid and dare an…
Eifel Vulkanmuseum

Eifel Volcano Museum

Daun Visit the Volcano Museum Daun and let yourself be taken back to the explosive time of volcanism! Discover how the GesundLand Vulkaneifel was created…
Innenansicht

Gerolstein Natural History Museum - journeys in time on the Eifelsteig

Gerolstein The Natural History Museum (“Naturkundemuseum”) in the former town hall of Gerolstein follows in the tracks of nature.
Vulkanhaus Strohn Außenansicht

Strohn Volcano House

Strohn In the Strohn Volcano House (“Vulkanhaus Strohn”), fundamental volcanic phenomena are explained, taking examples from the immediate surrounding area.
Windsborn Kratersee

Windsborn Kratersee

Bettenfeld A special geological highlight is the Windsborn crater lake which is part of the Mosenberg volcano group. It was wrongly referred to as Maar in the…