Castle-hopping and the king’s stage of the AhrSteig trail

There is no question that the valley of the Ahr, a tributary valley of the Rhine in the north of Rhineland‑Palatinate, is worth a trip. With excellent connections thanks to the Ahrtal-Bahn, you can not only relax and enjoy the scenery, but also sample the local wines. The variety of castles in the Ahr valley is also impressive. These witnesses to earlier times can be spotted from the train. But then you have to lean your head right back to look up at the ruins. Alternatively, you can experience them close-up by taking the AhrSteig trail.

There is plenty of variety along the way. The 17 kilometres fifth stage from Kreuzberg station to Walporzheim station involves not only ascending and descending around 600 metres in altitude, but also numerous narrow, adventurous sections along the way. Some call it the king’s stage of the AhrSteig, as not only is it a challenge for hikers, it also showcases the most spectacular side of the Ahr valley.

At the very beginning, you can admire the 9th century Kreuzberg Castle, which towers above the Ahr on a little rocky outcrop. Curiously, it is the only inhabited castle in the Ahr valley. How lovely it must be to wake up there in the mornings and admire the mist rising up the valley amid the rocks and the vines. With its magnificent scenery, the Ahr valley welcomes mountain-climbers within the first four kilometres of the trail with a climb to the impressive Teufelsloch (literally ‘the devil’s hole’), breath-taking views, a narrow ridge of rock and a steep descent into the Langfig valley nature conservation area.

Behind Altenahr, the ruins of the 12th century Are Castle suddenly appear on a high-up spur. The AhrSteig remains on the southern side of the valley, so the Are ruins can only be viewed from afar. But a detour up the mountain to enjoy the fabulous views is worthwhile. It takes an impressive amount of architecture and muscle power to build a structure of this kind at the top of this 240 metre mountain standing out on its own. Even climbing on foot with a light pack sets your heart racing.

The "devil’s hole" (Teufelsloch) near Altenahr, Ahr valley

The "devil’s hole" (Teufelsloch) at the 5th stage of the AhrSteig trail near Altenahr, Ahr valley

Those who still have the energy can climb up the hairpin bends to the Teufelsley and admire the largest continuous block of quartzite in Europe. This is another impressive rock of the kind you can find all over the Ahr valley. The reward is the view over the Ahr looping through the valley, Mayschoss and Saffenburg, the next ruined castle. There is a short footpath to the castle plateau, where there are plenty of places to sit. It is a great spot for a well-earned break, where you can soak up the peace and enjoy the panoramic views.

Are Castle near Altenahr, Ahr valley

View of Are Castle near Altenahr, Ahr valley

Saffenburg Castle near Mayschoss, Ahr valley

View of Saffenburg Castle near Mayschoss, Ahr valley

You can also continue a few kilometres on to Rech and then get the train home. Those looking for a little adventure can climb up to the Krausberg, the highest point on the trail at 395 metres. From the Krausberg tower, you can not only see down into the Ahr valley with all its vineyards, you can even see Cologne Cathedral on a clear day.  The hairpin descent down to the Ahr is also pretty challenging. From the bottom, you can enjoy a well-earned cool-down on a wooded path along the river before rewarding yourself with a glass of local wine in Walporzheim.

More leisure tips for nature lovers in the Ahr valley:

More information about holidays in the Ahr valley

Find out everything you need to know about events, attractions and other destinations in the Ahr valley at Ahrtal-Tourismus Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler e.V.

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