Hiking the Eifelsteig: tips for the best sections, maps and more
Hiking the Eifelsteig had been on my schedule for over two years. Unfortunately, last year’s pandemic and flooding in Germany made it impossible to depart for this adventure. Last week the time had finally come and I packed my backpack to go hiking for three days. In this extensive article I’ll give you my Eifelsteig experience, as well as tips for the most beautiful stages, more information about the route and where you can buy the hiking map for example. In addition, I did a culinary package, in which I slept in hotels every evening including a delicious three-course dinner. I carried my luggage myself, but you can also arrange luggage transport, so don’t be worried if you see me walking with a large backpack in the photos below, that was a by choice. Enjoy reading!
About the Eifelsteig sections
The Eifelsteig is a 313 kilometer long hiking route from Aachen Kornelimünster to Trier in Germany. I already did the very first stage of the Eifelsteig when I was on workation in South Limburg and at least ten years ago I hiked a part near the Ahrtal. So long ago (even before I had a website) that I can’t remember much about it.
The 15 Eifelsteig stages are each between about 14 and 28 kilometers long. However, the hiking trail regularly passes through villages and with the help of the Eifelsteig hiking guide and your GPS you can of course also determine the length of your stages yourself, depending on how much time you have and how long you want to hike each day.
My Eifelsteig hike
This time I hike three stages of the Eifelsteig, but in a different order than in the guidebook. My schedule looked like this:
stage 1. Müllenborn – Neroth (ca. 21 km)
stage 2. Neroth – Schalkenmehren (ca. 17 km)
stage 3. Schalkenmehren – Manderscheid (ca. 16 km)
I have written very specifically about a more or less number of kilometers because I always ended up doing a few kilometers longer at the end of the day. This is because regularly made trips to lookout points or other points of interest along the way and the approach routes to and from the hotels where I slept are also not included. So just add on just a little more so that you will not be faced with unpleasant surprises during your Eifelsteig hike.
I will tell you more about my day-to-day experiences below and will end this long Eifelsteig blog with useful tips, where to book and I’ll answer the questions I received from my followers, for example about luggage transport, the most beautiful stages, supplies, camping, use of trekking poles and more!
Arrival in the Eifel
My journey starts on Monday with a drive from Arnhem to Müllenborn, which is just under three hours away. I’m always very happy with the changing landscape that you see after about two hours driving, when you drive on the A3 at Emmerich into Germany. The last 45 minutes of my drive is on local roads and through the hills.
My first overnight stay is Landhaus Müllenborn, a rural hotel with comfortable rooms and a beautiful terrace overlooking the hilly landscape. I check in, indicate what time I want to eat and decide to explore the route. Behind the hotel is the Roter Kopf lookout point and since I will be walking the other direction tomorrow, I think it would be a good plan to visit the Eifelsteig. I’ll climb to the viewpoint in about 25 minutes, take some photos, and get a taste of what’s in plan for me tomorrow.
That evening I get my first three-course dinner. I was a bit concerned beforehand because I recently became a vegetarian and Germany is in my view a country of a lot of meat. Fortunately, my worries for tonight turned out to be unfounded: I enjoy a delicious salad, asparagus and fritatta. I end up going to bed with a full stomach.
View the availability and rates of Landhaus Müllenborn here.
Eifelsteig hike Müllenborn – Neroth
The next morning I get up early. I prepare a packed lunch at the breakfast buffet, my car stays here during the hike and I start my day. The sun is shining and it promises to be a warm day, so I make sure I carry two liters of water with me. This is partly because many restaurants and cafes have a ‘ruhetag’ at the beginning of the week, so I do not assume that I can refill water on the way.
The first kilometers are on wide country roads. The first highlight of the day soon presents itself: the Rother Hecke. This viewpoint is about 200 meters from the route, but definitely worth it. Below me is the town of Gerolstein, which I will walk through later today. From here I continue to the Auberg, the beginning of the Gerolsteiner Dolomites. The viewpoint here is also not on the route, but I decide to make a detour again over a stony trail. My effort is again rewarded.
After descending to cross the main road, I arrive at the largest rock section. The trail first runs along the bottom and is narrow. A little further on it spirals up and I again arrive at a viewpoint: the Munterley. Although Gerolstein is right below me, I’m not nearly there yet because the route again makes a big swing. Along the northern Munterley (tip: also go to the viewpoint here, you have beautiful views back to the Roter Kopf) and the Papenkäule. Finally a steep descent follows and I have arrived in Gerolstein.
Today’s section is not going too fast, at least, with all those beautiful viewpoints and photo stops I realize that I will have to increase my pace a bit. I therefore decide to leave Gerolstein for what it is and continue straight away. From Gerolstein it is quite a climb up, past the castle and into the forest. Here I can continue reasonably well, despite the fact that the path is still ascending. I make a short stop at the chapel in the middle of the woods and hike onwards to the Dietzenley.
The Dietzenley is a wooden watchtower with a 360 degree view over the hills of the Eifel. A must to climb this! From here on, the trail basically only follows wide forest trails and I cover the last few kilometers at a fast pace, before starting the descent to Neroth.
In Neroth I spend the night in Hotel Zur Neroburg. They have ruhetag today so the terrace is empty but for me they reserved a table in the restaurant. The main course is especially enjoyable: homemade ravioli with pesto and asparagus.
View the availability and rates of Hotel Zur Neroburg here.
Eifelsteig hike Neroth – Schalkenmehren
Today promises to be a special day, because I’m going to the Dauner Maare. The part of the Eifel where I hike is the Volcanic Eifel or Vulkaneifel. This area was under the sea millions of years ago and owes its name to the volcanic activity that has shaped the landscape. The ‘Maaren’ are water-filled crater lakes, of which the three Dauner Maare are the best known.
But first up is a steep climb to up the Nerother Kopf. The trail is fairly steep but not technical and half an hour later I am at the top. No viewpoint, but there is a ruin of a castle. Fifteen minutes later I step out of the forest and into the next valley: a beautiful rolling landscape unfolds. I quickly hike towards Neunkirchen and not much later reach the city of Daun. The Eifelsteig route meanders through the suburbs and an hour later I arrive at the base of the Dauner Maare.
The first Maar is the Gemündener Maar. This one is deep below me this is one of the two lakes you can swim in. There are pedal boats on the opposite bank, there are changing cubicles and it looks touristy. I quickly continue my hike, even further up to the Dronketurm. This is an old stone watchtower from which you look down to the Gemündener Maar. I climb the tower, take some pictures and continue on a plateau.
Below me then lies the Weinfelder Maar. You are not allowed to swim in this lake and it therefore looks a lot more natural. The route circles the lake, first from above and later along the banks. I climb again to reach the last lake: the Schalkenmehrer Maar.
This one is probably the best of the three. The blossom is still in bloom here and from the north side I have a view of the church of the village of Schalkenmehren. Again I take too many photos before I check in at my overnight address: Hotel Schneider am Maar.
This hotel has modern and comfortable rooms. In the evening I enjoy a delicious flammkuchen with lots of vegetables and cheese. Tomorrow is my last day on the Eifelsteig!
View the availability and rates of Hotel Scheinder am Maar here.
Eifelsteig hike Schalkenmehren – Manderscheid
The last section I hike is from Schalkenmehren to Manderscheid. As I can see on the hiking map, it seems to be a slightly flatter route than the previous days. However, the day starts with a climb and after one last look at the Maar, the Eifelsteig disappears into the forest. After a tough descent I arrive in the Liesertal. Here the Eifelsteig follows the Lieserpfad. This 74 kilometer long hiking trail was voted the most beautiful hike in the world by journalist Manuel Andrack, so my expectations are pretty high!
The Liesertal is a wide valley and again I can hike in a fast pace. Occasionally the trail leaves the wide track for a narrow mountain trail, but often the Eifelsteig route swindles along simple trails. However, the landscape is fabulous, in this valley there seems to be an enormous tranquility. My mobile coverage is lost and I hardly meet other hikers.
At the end of the valley are a number of rest huts, sometimes with a beautiful view over the valley. A great place for a break, before I start the last walking kilometers towards Manderscheid. I call the taxi that will soon take me back to Müllenborn and arrange a time with them.
Then suddenly the Manderscheid castle appears between the trees. I am almost there! Another small kilometer and I enter Manderscheid. In front of the Rathaus I take a seat on a bench and rest. In the end I walked about 16 kilometers away. Half an hour later the taxi arrives and takes me back to Müllenborn. From here I drive home, figuring that one day I will have to walk the other stages of the Eifelsteig.
Culinary Eifelsteig with luggage transport
I did a culinary Eifelsteig arrangement. This product was set up by Eifel Tourismus to put regional products and small-scale family businesses in the picture. There is, for example, a 4-day package and a 5-day package. Included are overnight stays, breakfast, lunch and dinner (with regional products), luggage transport, a hiking guide and the transfer back to Müllenborn.
I would like to explain something about culinary, because ‘culinary’ has a different meaning for everyone. If, like me, you are used to eating at the Schnitzelstube in Germany, you will be pleasantly surprised by the delicious food. If you are used to dining at Michelin star restaurants, then culinary may not apply to you. The culinary also focuses on regional and seasonal dishes. I had a lot of asparagus and strawberries. As a vegetarian it was fine for me to not eat meat.
The best Eifelsteig section
The most beautiful Eifelsteig stage I walked was the one between Neroth and Manderscheid, especially because of the Dauner Maare, which for me were the highlight of this walk. The Gerolsteiner Dolomites were also beautiful. However, of course I didn’t do all the stages, so this is personal and maybe I’ll come across an even more beautiful stage in the future.
Other questions I got about hiking the Eifelsteig
Below I’ll answer the other questions I received from my followers during my hike on the Eifelsteig.
Is the Eifelsteig hard?
No, it’s not technical and very doable. You alternate wide trails with narrow (mountain) trails. However, there are quite a bit of altitude gain, usually between 250 and 600 per day. Occasionally the trails are steep, but never technical or difficult.
Do you need trekking poles?
I hiked these stages without trekking poles. I had them with me, but ended up not using them. What helped is that (unfortunately for nature) it hadn’t rained for weeks, so the steeper parts were not slippery. If you are a novice hiker I would definitely bring trekking poles, they will certainly help you on the steeper climbs and descents.
Can I bring my dog on the Eifelsteig hike?
Yes, the dog is allowed on a leash on the routes I did and the hotels mentioned allow the stay of a dog. Please let Eifel Tourismus know when you make your reservation!
Eifelsteig hotels, campings and more tips
I overnighted in small family hotels. Keep in mind that many hotels have ‘ruhetag’ (resting day) at the beginning of the week, so always book your overnight stays in advance. This can be done via Booking.com or via one of the above mentioned packages. There are hardly any campsites and wild camping is not allowed in Germany. You can do part of the route on camping platforms, but these are so immensely popular that they are often fully booked almost a year in advance.
Want to read more?
Prefer to walk a different trail in Germany? View all hiking blogs about Germany here. Popular hiking destinations are the Moselle (incl. tips for the Moselsteig), the Harz and the Black Forest. Curious about what I take with me in my backpack? View my packing list for your walking holiday here.
Conclusion and disclaimer
Hopefully you found this article about the Eifelsteig helpful and I answered all your questions. However, if you have any other questions, feel free to let me know. I made this trip in collaboration with Eifel Turismus, all opinions given are of course only my own.
This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase or make a reservation through such a link, we may receive a modest commission at no extra cost to you.