Rheinsteig Hike

Views like this throughout
Views like this throughout

So far we’ve seen picturesque views of the Rhein by car, by boat, from various castles, and can now add by train and even more up-close-and-personal along a hike. Last weekend James, Steve, and I bought a group day pass for about €9 to take the train to the small town of Lorch. From here we trekked about 15 kilometers (9 or so miles) to the equally quaint Rhein-side town of Kaub. The journey in between was filled with gorgeous scenery, sunny but not sweltering weather, and a smattering of surprises.

Tiny church on a hill, tiny town below
Tiny church on a hill, tiny town below
Same view from another angle - imagine riding down this hill
Same view from another angle – imagine riding down this hill

This was my first taste of the Rheinsteig trail, an epic 320 kilometer hiking route between Wiesbaden and Bonn. Our comparatively small segment was a perfect day-hike: challenging at points but not overly strenuous and not as absurdly steep as some of our previous ventures. It began with a climb that was made pleasanter by the sight of butterflies alighting among Queen Anne’s lace, buttercups, and lilacs. We saw many other hikers along the way – using ski-like poles to show they were really hiking, picnicking, taking pictures – many with dogs or babies in tow.

Hill of goats
Hill of goats

The amount of castles lining the Rhein is unreal. There are castles as far as the eye can see to the next castle. Every time we passed one, another would come into view. We also passed along the rim of many hills filled with various unique scenes. On one particularly sheer drop beside a church, we witnessed an elderly man riding a piece of farming equipment downhill to maintain the property. Another rockier slope found us face to face with a herd of goats relaxing in the sun. As we approached Kaub, we discovered many tidily arranged vineyards dropping off from along the path.

Rest stop
Rest stop

As I mentioned, the hike was not grueling but it did, of course, have more of an upward stretch again in the middle that required more effort. About halfway up this part we saw, as if a mirage had appeared in the woods in front of us, a rustic wine and beer stand complete with actual glasses, long wooden picnic tables with benches, and stools surrounding barrels serving as smaller tables. The mom and pop who realized this business opportunity are my heroes. A beer, a Riesling, and an apple wine later (one drink for each of the three of us) we were fortified to complete the rest of the upward climb and continue on our now merrier way.

In the thick of the forest
In the thick of the forest

By the time we reached Kaub, our Wanderlust had been satisfied and we were ready to find a seat on the next train home.

Burg Pfalzgrafenstein, Kaub's castle in the middle of the Rhein
Burg Pfalzgrafenstein, Kaub’s castle in the middle of the Rhein
Burg Gutenfels, castle overlooking the town of Kaub
Burg Gutenfels, castle overlooking the town of Kaub
Vineyard by Burg Gutenfels
Vineyard by Burg Gutenfels
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