Thousands of kilometres of well-maintained hiking trails challenge hikers' stamina, taking them through romantic valleys and unspoiled nature. The routes wind through the vineyards and the Palatinate Forest, finally leading to a chance for a rest in one of many quaint and hospitable traditional lodges.
Hiking here is never boring. The small-scale topology constantly offers new vistas and leads hikers through a bright, open, gently rolling wine country with neatly combed rows of vines. Then, into avenues of trees and the endlessly undulating hills of the Palatinate Forest Nature Park, which offers cool shade and wonderful views. Many of the hiking routes go past medieval castles and gigantic rock formations, then directly to the wine taverns, village inns and lodges of the Palatinate Forest.
Anyone who wants to learn while exploring nature can also benefit from informative hiking trails. Topics such as the natural landscape, habitats, vine training, the terroir, history, points of interest, flora and fauna are explained here. And families with children can discover adventure trails like the "Bachlehrpfad" trail along the Kaiserbach stream or the "Waldlehrpfad" trail on the Taubensuhl summit, which combine physical activity with child-friendly information.
Those who want to go on an interactive treasure hunt using professional GPS devices will find many precious items – so-called "geocaches" – hidden along the German Wine Route. There are short routes or long hiking tours for families, adventurers, keen hikers, climbers and expert cyclists, all of whom can put their detective skills to the test on the hunt for treasure.
Experienced hikers and wine drinkers can just leave the car behind and discover the Palatinate Forest and the region's wine villages with one of the many tourist bus lines or hiking buses. June is a very popular time, when the chestnut blossoms and its strong, bitter scent entice visitors to take to the "Pälzer Keschdeweg" (Palatine Chestnut Trail). This stretches from Hauenstein in the south-west through Annweiler, the Landau region, Edenkoben and Maikammer all the way to Neustadt an der Weinstraße. Or perhaps in October, when the chestnuts' spiky shells burst open and locals and visitors alike can collect the "Keschde" (conkers) along the forested edge of the Haardt hills.
Trekking tours with llamas are another experience for young and old to enjoy: these provide a welcome change from more rigorous activities and are a perfect relaxation opportunity. Travel through the vineyards or forests with these friendly and sociable animals: the historic destinations will reward with Palatine wines and hearty snacks.
Castle ruin Lindelbrunn
Chestnuts, the so-called »Keschde«