Helfensteine - Waldeck (71km)
The Habichtswaldsteig is an 85 kilometer long distance hiking trail in Northern Hesse. Would you like to learn more about the trail?
The trail markings of the Habichtswaldsteig
The Habichtswaldsteig is a long-distance hiking trail in North Hesse, Germany. It traverses the Habichtswald, a densely wooded low mountain range located southwest of Kassel. The hiking trail is approximately 85 kilometers long and offers a varied route through the picturesque landscape of the Habichtswald.We now transition from the Kassel-Steig at the building of the gliding club to the Habichtswaldsteig. A little tip: Café Helfensteine offers beer, beverages, ice cream, cake, cookies, energy bars, coffee, and tea, all on a trust basis. With renewed strength, we proceed over the Helfensteine, a former Celtic cult site, up to the ramparts of the Dörnberg. From the summit of the Dörnberg, there is a splendid view of the city of Kassel and the surrounding area, the Habichtswald, the Kassel Mountains, and on a clear day, even the Brocken in the Harz Mountains.
Narrow forest paths and slightly wider trails wind their way downhill in switchbacks, before crossing a federal road and leading across a few fields. The NST then transitions into a forest and ascends to the incredibly beautiful youth campsite “Silbersee”. Camping with tents is certainly possible here. After passing the Silbersee, we circumvent a former massive basalt quarry. Following some pleasant woodland and meadow paths, we arrive at another highlight on the North-South Trail.
The Hercules monument is an imposing landmark and tourist attraction located in Kassel, North Hesse, Germany. It is a statue of the Greek demigod Hercules, perched atop a 530-meter-high hill in the Wilhelmshöhe Mountain Park. The Wilhelmshöhe Mountain Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest mountain parks in Europe. From the pedestal of the Hercules, one can enjoy breathtaking views over the city of Kassel and the surrounding landscape. The impressive sight of the statue, the splendid garden layout of the Wilhelmshöhe Mountain Park, and the stunning water features make the Hercules a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike.
Through meadow and forest-edge paths, we reach the Firnsbachtal (Firnsbach Valley). A steep and tranquil descent through a small gorge leads us past the Waldgasthof Herbsthäuschen (Autumn House Forest Inn). At the exit of the gorge lies the legal trekking site “Firnsbachtal.” The trekking site is situated about 100 meters above the Habichtswaldsteig on a small clearing under an oak tree. The inn “Unteres Firnsbachtal” with a beautiful beer garden is located approximately 500 meters away.
Next, the NST guides us along the edge of the forest towards Schauenburg-Hoof. Beyond the village, we zigzag our way to the Schauenburg Ruins, which in medieval times served as the seat of a local noble family. If the wind isn’t too strong, this could also be a lovely spot for an overnight stay. Sweeping views extending to the Sauerland region make up for the ascent. The NST now takes us into gently rolling hills, through valleys and forests, until we reach the Falkenstein Castle Ruins, another beautiful place for an overnight stay. Here, you’ll find not only a cozy shelter but also picnic benches and charming meadows.
The history of Castle Falkenstein dates back to the 11th century. It was constructed under the orders of the Landgraves of Thuringia and originally served as a protective fortress. Following a nature trail, the path descends to the edge of the forest and continues into the Ems Valley. At the highway, there is an opportunity to turn left and replenish supplies at the local supermarket. Above Bad Emstal, you’ll find the next trekking site, “Läuseküppel” (Louse Hill).
Heading towards Naumburg, we encounter the tracks of the Hessencourrier heritage railway. After traversing the Hattenhäuser Forest, followed by beautiful meadows and field paths, we arrive at the Hengswiese (Heng Meadow) with a small lake. The NST ascends with a bit of effort on grassy paths to the “Warte,” a former watchtower of the town of Naumburg. This is a good spot for camping or an overnight stay. Adding some fun is the “Himmelsschaukel” (Sky Swing).
Despite having had a view of the romantic half-timbered town of Naumburg for hours, it feels as if you’ll never reach it. In reality, the trail here takes a wide arc across wet meadows and fields. In the north, the ascent to the Weidelsburg begins.
The history of the Weidelsburg dates back to the 12th century. The castle was likely built in the 12th century and initially served as a watchtower and later as a protective fortress for the surrounding region. The castle sits atop a 544-meter-high mountain peak and offers an impressive panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. From the eastern residential tower, you have an indescribable view extending to the Dörnberg in the east and even the Kahlen Asten on the Rothaarsteig, visible on a clear day. The distant Waldeck Castle indicates the onward path along the Urwaldsteig Edersee.
Descending via a serpentine path leads to a basalt quarry, and the nearby shelter offers a good opportunity for camping or resting. The subsequent beech forest is part of the old forest around Naumburg and the largest continuous forest area in the Habichtswald Nature Park. Just beyond Cafe Hasenacker, there’s another legal trekking site. The “Brederich” site consists of a small fenced-in meadow in a beautiful valley area. A shelter is also located on the site.
The Burg Naumburg offers stunning views, with stones from the 17th century ruins atop the Burgberg hill above the town. Now, a gentle descent takes us into the town center. Naumburg is a charming town with a rich history, picturesque surroundings, and a historic old town.
After leaving Naumburg behind, we cross several orchards into the Ballenbach Valley. The North South Trail ascends to the Fünfbrüderbuche (Five Brothers Beech), an impressive natural monument. A forest path then takes us into a wide meadow valley that winds its way toward Sengelsberg. The Sengelsberghütte (Sengelsberg Hut) is also a nice place to camp and rest. After crossing a highway, we walk along straight meadow paths towards Waldeck.
The history of Waldeck dates back to the Middle Ages. The town was once the seat of the Counts of Waldeck, who ruled over the region. Waldeck Castle, towering high above the town, was an important fortress and residence of the Counts. Today, the castle is a popular attraction, offering a splendid view of Lake Edersee and the surroundings. At the “Burgblick ‘Schöne Aussicht'” (Castle View ‘Beautiful View’), the North South Trail leaves the Habichtswaldsteig and transitions to the Urwaldsteig Edersee.
In conclusion: Yes, the Habichtswaldsteig is no longer a hidden gem, but for good reason. The diverse nature, historic towns, and varied attractions make it an appealing long-distance hiking trail in Germany. Particularly noteworthy is the opportunity to camp legally at well-selected trekking sites, a significant advantage for nature-loving hikers. The trail offers a balanced blend of challenge and relaxation, allowing you to experience the beauty of the Habichtswald and the surrounding regions. For those who enjoy hiking and have a passion for nature, the Habichtswaldsteig is sure to be a delightful experience.