Stunning hikes in Europe
Stunning hikes in Europe
These hikes range from easy to moderately difficult. There’s a thing about beautiful places in that there’s always another route to tack on to make it your own adventure. As humans, we can’t get enough of outstanding nature.
Germany – Burg Eltz
In the middle of Western Germany, you can lace on your hiking boots knowing there’s an absolute treat at your destination: the idyllic Burg Eltz. After arriving via the train station, I walked through the neat little village of Mosel Kern and onto the footpath through open land and past burbling streams. The Landhotel Ringelsteiner Mühle is along the footpath before it climbs up into the trees. It has a restaurant and a nice place to stay overnight. Then the footpath works its way upward into the rocky twists and turns. The trail has plenty of signage and you might notice signs for the various path numbers and names. This is part of a longer trail that avid hikers may enjoy, called the Moselsteig Trail. It is 365 kilometers/227 miles and goes from Perl on the French/Luxembourgish border to Koblenz, Germany, where the Mosel and the Rhine rivers converge.
Whether your hike is part of a long trek or a short one to the castle, it is no less surreal to suddenly see it peeking through the trees, which no doubt made it the most memorable part of the hike itself. There is a restaurant at the castle with typical German fare, so no worries if you are famished. There are guided tours of the castle’s well-preserved rooms, with no photography, filming or pets are allowed inside the castle. This can be a car-free day trip if you choose, taking the train in to Mosel Kern. I recommend downloading your preferred path to the castle on an app like AllTrails or Google Maps, as an occasional visitor has gotten lost and must backtrack. There is a 2-euro bus ride if you want a ride to or from the castle to the parking lot where visitors can park.
United Kingdom – Lake District’s Helm Crag
The Lake District in Cumbria is known for attracting poets to its gorgeous expanses of green hills that jut upward into mottled peaks, dotted with waterways. The Helm Crag overlooks the village of Grasmere. Howitzer is the aptly named rocky crown at the top, and the view beside it is worth the moderately difficult hike at a length of about 4 kilometers to the peak. So, calculating the journey back to the village where you might stay overnight or stop for a bite and some shopping, it is about 4.6 miles/7.4 kilometers total for the recommended loop around and up this summit.
You can scale Howitzer in dry weather, but you will need climbing equipment and a little experience on your side.
Be sure to visit Dove cottage, the home of the poet William Wadsworth, which is a museum and monument to his life, but also to the Romantic influencers of the 19th century.
Italy – Dolomite’s Val Gardena
Striking mountain trails through forests and along mountain ridges will have you seeing nothing but nature for miles in this northeastern section of Italy. Nestled in Val Gardena are the quaint villages of Ortisei, S. Cristina and Selva which offer plenty of overnight stay options year-round because this is also a ski recreation area in the winter. These three villages alone accommodate over 2,210,000 guests a year, but despite that, you don’t have to fight for space in this breathtaking mountain range. The clusters of charming alpine huts are surrounded by mountains Sassolungo, Sassopiatto and Sella and the Puez Odle Nature Park. Take your pick of trails that zigzag around the valley and up craggy rocks. Alpine schools in the valley often have guided hikes, mountain biking trips and climbing courses to take advantage of if you’re not sure where to start. You can also stop by the park’s Visitor Center and venture to any of the several other nature parks around the area. If you need to refuel, stop by any of the fantastic eateries serving Tyrolean and Mediterranean cuisine. If you want to enjoy a dessert post-hike as I do, be sure to order panna cotta or crème brulee aflame to celebrate your mountain-conquering self.
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