Medieval castles and evidence of slate mining line the unspoilt and wild natural landscape in the dreamy Hahnenbach Valley.
The Soonwaldsteig starts in the Nahe Valley at Kirn market square. After crossing the town centre, it climbs up the eastern side of the Hahnenbach Valley to Kallenfels. A first scenic highlight are the three steep quartzite rocks, some crowned with castle ruins. On a narrow nature trail featuring information boards on forest themes, the trail continues through Niederwald to Wartenstein Castle, where there is a nature park information point. From the panorama terrace shaded by mighty horse chestnuts, a magnificent view of the Hahnenbach Valley opens up.
One of several exhibitions in the castle called “Experiencing the forest and nature” explains tanning, the process of peeling the tannin-rich oak bark to make leather. Passing the community of Hahnenbach, the Soonwaldsteig leads to the Steinbach Valley. North of Sonnschied, near Rudolfshaus, the hiker reaches a quiet section of the Hahnenbach Valley that is not served by a single road. On the way to the stage destination, the hikers’ car park at the Herrenberg slate mine, some relics of slate mining become visible, such as light railway, mine shafts or dumps.
A very special overnight accommodation option is offered in the ruins of the once stately Schmidtburg Castle, which is not far away.
Tips and hints
Long-term parking in Kirn
Kiesel car park (€1.25/day)
Sat nav: 55606 Kirn, Teichweg 13
Kallenfelser Straße car park (free of charge)
Sat nav: 55606 Kirn, Berger Weg 1
Book recommendation by the author
Author’s map recommendations
- 23 Waypoints
- 23 Waypoints