Staycation: Baumholder edition

Laacher See | Photo by silketakespictures
Laacher See | Photo by silketakespictures

Staycation: Baumholder edition

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

Our staycation series continues with day trip suggestions within the north and western reaches of the Rhineland-Palatinate, an area blessed with beautiful nature and its fair share of quirky attractions. Mid-week finds us border-hopping into next-door Saarland. These excursions wouldn’t be out of the question for KMC residents either.

Monday: Regional history!

Learn all about life in the area in centuries past with a visit to the Open Air Museum of the Rhineland-Palatinate in Bad Sobernheim. Some 40 homes, barns and workshops from the region have been re-erected on the spot to give visitors a taste of the joys and hardships of life over the past 500 years. Peek inside to see the work of the blacksmith or the interior of a farmer’s house. The bucolic scene is completed by the sheep, goats and cattle grazing between the exhibits. Gardeners will appreciate the growing things found in its orchards, vineyards and fields, including crops and species not commonly seen today. Note several of the buildings are closed due to the ongoing pandemic. Adult admission costs 7 euros, while those age 17 and under enter free.

Address: Das Rheinland-Pfälzische Freilichtmuseum, Nachtigallental 1, 55566 Bad Sobernheim.

Tip: another popular Bad Sobernheim attraction is the Barfußpfad, where feet big and small can experience a variety of sensations as they traipse across mud, water, grass, stone and sand. Advance booking is essential.

Tuesday: swimming in a volcanic lake!

Today’s fun activity is swimming, and to amp up the experience, we’re heading to a body of water with an ultra-neat feature. The Laacher See, or Lake Laach to you and me, is what’s known as a caldera lake, reflecting the volcanic nature of the Eifel region. On the eastern shore of the lake, keen observers just might notice small bubbles rising up to the surface. These carbon dioxide burps indicate the very real possibility of magma rising beneath the lake. But not to worry: it’s been 13,000 years since the nearby volcano spewed its ash far and wide, even causing a blockage to the Rhine River. The present day’s abundance of boaters and swimmers on the largest lake in Rheinland-Pfalz indicates the locals aren’t particularly worried.

Address: parking is possible at the Maria Laach Abbey, located at 56653 Glees.

Wednesday: Treetop walk

Today we’ll be taking in the iconic view of the famous bend in the Saar River (Saarschleife) from the unique perspective offered by a walk high up in the treetops. The Baumwipfelpfad is a gently weaving, ever-upward walk along a ramp leading to an architecturally unique observation tower. You’ll breeze past beeches, oaks and firs for three-quarters of a mile before reaching the top, from which you can enjoy some stunning views. On a clear day, you can see as far as the Vosges mountain range in France. Stations along the way provide activities and tidbits of knowledge about the flora and fauna. An on-site bistro provides refreshment to weary walkers. Entry costs 11 euros adults, 9 euros for ages 6 – 14, and is free for those five and under.

Address: Cloefstraße, 66693 Mettlach

Tip: combine tiptoeing through the treetops with a spot of shopping at the nearby Villeroy & Boch factory outlet, where dishes or decor might catch your eye.

Thursday: Treasure hunt!

Idar-Oberstein is home to an attraction that finds no equal in all Europe: The Steinkaulenberg, formerly a gemstone mine, is now a center for learning about this trade that sustained a significant part of the local population. Where miners once wielded instruments for the extraction of semi-precious stones, visitors can tour through tunnels illuminated by spotlights, admiring the agates, rock crystals, amethysts, smoky quartz, calcite and rocks. The “gem camp” allows treasure hunters to try their hand at finding pretty rocks on site, whereas the minefields are filled with stones and minerals brought in from elsewhere. Advance registration is a must. Adult entry costs 7 euros, ages 6 – 16 pay 5.50 euros, and those under six enter free. Two hours of exploration of the gem camp and mining fields costs 10 euros for those ae 16 and up and 7 euros for those up to the age of 16.

Address: Edelsteinminen Steinkaulenberg, Im Stäbel, 55743 Idar-Oberstein

Tip: right nearby is found the Weiherschleife, where visitors learn how gems were processed at one of the numerous grinding mills along the Nahe, Idarbach and other rivers. Separate admission fees apply.

Friday: a hike that truly challenges!

Towering nearly 1,000 feet above the Mosel River is found the Calmont Klettersteig, a hike that’s definitely not for the faint of heart! The way across some of Europe’s steepest vineyards is facilitated by the presence of a Kletterstieg, a via ferrata-like system of steel cables, ladders, hoops and pins that are affixed to the stones to ensure a hiker’s safe ascent and descent. Those up for this challenge will need excellent physical fitness, sturdy footwear, and a head for heights. They should also carry an adequate supply of water. It’s critical to choose the right day for this walk: on a rainy day, it will be much too slippery, and on a sunny summer’s day, it’s bound to be scorchingly hot  – Calmont, whose name translates to “hot mountain” from Latin, lives up to its name.

Address: Park up in the lots in either the town of Bremm or Ediger-Eller. Signage indicates the entrance to the “Klettersteig.” Note this hike is classified as difficult, and should only be taken on by those experienced and in excellent physical condition. Those in search of beautiful hiking along the Mosel might wish to consider the long-distance hiking route known as the Moselsteig. Covering 226 miles of track, there’s sure to be a stretch perfectly in line with your group’s abilities.

What are some of your favorite day trips in the Baumholder area?

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