Medieval castles and evidence of slate mining in the picturesque Hahnenbach Valley.
The Soonwaldsteig begins at Kirn's market square. The trail leads through the town centre and then climbs up the eastern side of the Hahnenbach Valley to Kallenfels. One of the early highlights of the trail is the three steep quartzite rocks, some of which have castle ruins on their summits. The trail continues on a narrow path, with noticeboards giving information about the forest, passing through Niederwald and on to Wartenstein Castle. There is a wonderful view of the Hahnenbach Valley, one of the Soonwald's transverse valleys, from the castle's terrace, with its huge chestnut trees. One of several displays, which make up the 'Experience forest and nature' exhibition, explains 'Lohmachen', a process in which the tannin-rich bark is peeled from the trunks of oak trees to be used in the production of leather.
The Soonwaldsteig trail passes the municipality of Hahnenbach and continues to the Steinbach Valley. At the beginning of the valley, the trail switches onto the western bank of the River Hahnenbach. North of Sonnschied, near the Rudolfshaus, you will reach a tranquil section of the Hahnenbach Valley, which is not accessible by road. On the way to the end of the stage, the hikers' car park at the Herrenberg slate quarry, you will see some relics of the slate mining industry (a light railway, tunnels and slag heaps). The Herrenberg mine itself, the neighbouring Celtic settlement of Altburg and, towards the end of the stage, Schmidtburg Castle, can all be easily explored on foot.
For a longer hike, the Saar-Hunsrück-Steig trail can be combined with the Nahehöhenweg trail, which leads from Idar-Oberstein along the north bank of the River Nahe to Kirn.