Located in a small historic village in Germany….okay, wait…all villages in Germany are small and historic….lies a castle ruin set upon a rock rising high above the town below.
The town I speak of is…..Hohenfels. Which translated to English literally means high (hohen) rock (fels). Bet you didn’t know that. And if you are stationed in Hohenfels chances are you have never visited the Hohenfels castle ruins.
Just prior to writing this piece, I tried unsuccessfully to convince two friends who were PCSing back to America to join me on the hike to the
ruins. I knew they had not visited the historical site so I begged them to join me. It was almost painful to know they could travel to countries all across Europe but never found time for a 30 minute excursion in the town where their post was located.
I don’t need to explain how long it will take you to reach Hohenfels. If you are reading this, you are most likely living in either Hohenfels or one of the surrounding communities.
Once you reach Hohenfels you will turn towards the market square where you will find ample parking. Parking is to the left of the Deutsche Postal bakery. I should say there isn’t much parking but as there isn’t much going on in Hohenfels, the few spots that exists are always plenty for the people needing parking.
Sidenote. It must have been something to be stationed in Hohenfels before active duty Americans were restricted from frequenting local businesses in their uniforms. I can imagine all those people frequenting the many restaurants that once dotted the Hohenfels landscape. Today you can see the faded names of restaurants across many now residential buildings–victims it would seem of American policy.
After parking you will walk back the way you drove in, crossing the street. From there you walk through a parking lot to the back of a building that almost seems like you are walking to someone’s private house entrance. Don’t worry, you are not. You are beginning the journey to the Hohenfels Castle ruins. The road is paved and steep but because it is so short even your toddlers will be able to ascend this hill.
At the top of the hill it bends right for a few feet and then you will find yourself on a dirt road. To the right is a dead end at a house with a ferocious sounding dog. To the left is the entrance to the path that will take you the remainder of the way to the ruins or if you continue on the path it will take you by a house directly below the castle ruins and eventually back down into the town.
It would be pretty cool to live in the house directly below the ruins. In my imagination, I believe they have a secret tunnel access to the castle tower above their home.
The ascent now is through a grassy hillside. From this area just below the tower it’s only a few minutes to summit the hill.
The area where you will find yourself standing is perfect for shooting photography. In one direction the tower serves as the background with it’s structural integrity and wild landscape in the foreground. In the other direction, closest to where you summitted the top, is a view of downtown Hohenfels and the clock tower. This photograph is best taken in the morning with the sun shining on your subject.
The first time I made this hike, I don’t believe I noticed the wall ruin that extends the entire length of the ridge. When walking towards the tower you will notice the remnant of the castle ruin wall along the right side. It would be nice if a trail was opened allowing you to walk along the base of the wall where the incline allows.
Upon reaching the tower the first thing you will notice is there no entrance. The grass is trampled all the way around the base so clearly everyone walks around the tower hoping to discover a door through which they can enter.
There isn’t. Which is why my imagination likes to believe the house directly below the tower has a secret passageway up through the rock to the tower.
I have made this quick hike several times and at no time have I encountered any other individual along the way. It is great for pictures, great for solitude, great for just enjoying a little bit of German history.
This hike is rated easy.
The pathway is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Total Walking Time Including Photo Time At Top: 23 minutes
Total Walking Distance: 0.70 miles
Total Incline: 53 feet