Hiking in the Siebengebirge

Wandern im Siebengebirge

Hiking through nature, Rhine romanticism, Siegfried and the dragon - this is what is commonly associated with the Siebengebirge in the Rhineland. Yes, everything is right, but the Siebengebirge is much more. For many people in the metropolitan area around Cologne and Bonn it is a local recreation area; Visitors from further afield like to combine a Rhine tour with a hike through the Siebengebirge. For me it is home and a wonderful piece of earth.


Nature reserve and Siebengebirge Nature Park

It goes to the Rhineland, on thespanish southern border of North Rhine-Westphalia. There is the “Siebengebirge nature reserve”, which are the mountains and valleys in the urban area of ​​Königswinter and Bad Honnef. Then the “Siebengebirge Nature Park”, which is an even larger area that extends beyond Königswinter and Bad Honnef to the cities of Bonn and St. Augustin extends. The Siebengebirge Nature Park also includes the Siebengebirge nature reserve.

This post is primarily about the nature reserve. The Siebengebirge has been under nature protection since 1922/23; This makes it the oldest nature reserve in Germany after the Neanderthal and the Lüneburg Heath. As a Natura 2000 area, it is part of a European network of protected areas that was created on the basis of the Fauna-Flora-Habitat Directive of the European Union (EU).

Many rare plants and animals have a home here, and there are strict rules so that they can live undisturbed. We humans are very welcome if we adhere to the rules of conduct; That's why we have paths, forest restaurants and shelters.



Long-distance hiking trails and circular routes

We commonly speak of the “Siebengebirge or the “Seven Mountains, and we have the seven highest mountains in mind: Great Mount of Olives (460.7 m) , Löwenburg (455 m), Lohrberg (432.8 m), Nonnenstromberg (335.9 m), Petersberg (335.9 m), Wolkenburg (324 m) and Drachenfels (320.7 m). But there are over 40 mountains and valleys, and you see, the Siebengebirge is a low mountain range.

Numerous long-distance hiking trails and circular routes open up this huge hiking area. There are the well-known long-distance hiking trails, the Rheinsteig and the Rheinhöhenweg, and in North Rhine-Westphalia the Bergische Weg.

There are numerous hiking suggestions with GPX data on site, which can be accessed on the Internet or purchased as a hiking guide.

The Beethoven hiking trail through Bonn, the surrounding Rhein-Sieg district and through the Siebengebirge is reminiscent of Ludwig van Beethoven, who was born and grew up in Bonn.

The circular hiking trails around Königswinter include:a to the Drachenfels with the castle ruins, to Drachenburg Castle, to the Großer Ölberg, to the Petersberg with the Grand Hotel, to the Heisterbach monastery landscape with the choir ruins and down to Oberdollendorf with its vineyards. Yes, the Siebengebirge is one of the northernmost wine-growing regions in Germany. On the circular hiking trails around Bad Honnef you go through the Tretschbachtal, the Einsiedlertal, up to the Löwenburg with the castle ruins, and further out into the Logebachtal, to the Leyberg and to the Himmerich.

Beyond the nature reserve, hiking trails lead to the military cemetery in Ittenbach, to the chapels in the Pleiser Hügellandgelland, and by bike to Unkel am Rhein.

The nature reserve is well signposted, and a new signage system will take you further out through the entire nature park. Hiking and cycling trails are marked with clearly visible boards (trail regulations). All starting points are easy to reach by car and public transport. For cyclists, the Rhein-Sieg-Verkehrsgesellschaft (RSVG) offers a bicycle bus from the beginning of April to the beginning of November, on weekends and public holidays.

Löwenburg Castle, Siebengebirge, view down from the Upper Castle (Rheinsteig Stage 1)


Something for everyone

It's best to follow your own feelings, the day's condition and the weather, because if it has rained a lot, the trails are very slippery. Especially in autumn when the ground is covered with wet leaves. Sturdy shoes are always recommended, as is clothing appropriate to the weather.

Hiking in the Siebengebirge is always nice. You will experience a varied landscape with different forest communities and meadow flowers. The numerous Siefen, which are gorge-like forest valleys with small streams, give the Siebengebirge a special touch. They may have given him his name. In the middle of it are three castle ruins from the Middle Ages and Heisterbach Monastery with the famous choir ruins. The view from the Mount of Olives in the morning when the fog clears is worth the steep climb. In general, treat yourself to the views: the view from Drachenfels of the Rhine and the island of Nonnenwerth, the view of the Rhine Valley from the Drei-Seen-Blick on Lohrberg, or in the very south the panoramic view from Leyberg.

In the mountain valleys you can hear countless birds singing, and if you're really lucky, a kingfisher will fly past you. In addition to the Drachenfels donkeys, the fire salamander is one of the “landmarks” of the Siebengebirge. It is just as beautiful on foggy days in the natural forest on Nonnenstromberg, then it has something enchanted about it and you can understand why the dense forest was uneasy even for seasoned Roman legionnaires back then. In the middle of the hiking area are three medieval castle ruins and Heisterbach Monastery with its famous choir ruins.

You don't have to go far either. The Nachtigallental, a Siefental, begins right behind the old town of Königswinter, and after just a few steps you feel like you are in a cheerful, happy world. Above the charming wine-growing town of Bad Honnef-Rommersdorf, after a few minutes' walk along the Möschbach you come to a cheerful, wildly romantic corner of the Siebengebirge: the Annatal with its pools and ponds, today a habitat for amphibians, and the Tretschbachtal, here you go over bridges and boardwalks .

View from Bonn of the Rhine and the Siebengebirge (Stage 1 Rheinsteig)


Paths into the wilderness

Today there are approx. 800 hectares of the Siebengebirge wilderness area. Here the forest can simply be, nature can be nature. Mixed forests with unsuitable conifers are carefully converted into near-natural deciduous forests, otherwise the foresters will no longer be able to intervene. This goes back to the European Parliament's resolution of February 2009 to protect and permanently preserve the few remaining wilderness areas in densely populated and built-up Central Europe.

Many paths lead into the wilderness in the Siebengebirge, too. “Wildnis Siebengebirge” is a major concern of the Beautification Association for the Siebengebirge (VVS) and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Five hiking trails and trails totaling 35 km lead through the wilderness area. At all “wilderness windows” you will find a QR code that takes you to the VVS website with detailed information; You can also access GPX data on the course of the routes. You can also buy a hiking guide “Paths to Wilderness”.


Insight into the history of the earth - geo hiking trails

Then there are 15 geo hiking trails. The Siebengebirge is of volcanic origin and was formed around 25.5 million years ago in the Oligocene and Miocene epochs. A geopath (G2) leads to the natural monument at Weilberg, a disused basalt quarry. Here you can see the rock structure, and geologically trained people can use it to understand how a region was formed and what it has been through over the course of millions of years. For non-experts, there are numerous information boards about the geology and operation of the quarry at that time.

Volcanic rock was mined in the Siebengebirge for centuries. We find trachyte from Drachenfels in remains of the Roman city wall around Cologne and in the masonry of Cologne Cathedral; Latit from the Wolkenburg in the fine baroque and rococo buildings in the region, Latit from the Stenzelberg in the Heisterbach choir ruins. Things got really bad at the end of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century In the 19th century, more and more basalt was needed for the construction of roads and railways. Large quarries, etc.a at Petersberg, Ölberg and Weilberg, almost destroyed our region. Many places that look so wildly romantic today are disused and reforested quarries.

In addition to stones, copper, lead, zinc and iron ores were mined for centuries; there were over 70 ore mines in the Bad Honnef area alone. A geopath leads into the Einsiedlertal; Here you can see relics of the “Happy Elise” mine at the entrance.

In the morning on the Mount of Olives in the Siebengebirge, when the fog clears



In addition to the hiking trails and views, the castle ruins from the Middle Ages are certainly well-known excursion destinations: Drachenfels Castle, Löwenburg Castle, and Rosenau Castle. Plus Reitersdorf Castle in Bad Honnef right on the Rhine, at the foot of the Siebengebirge.

Today you feel a bit like a lord or lady of a castle when you reach the top of the Löwenburg and enjoy the wonderful view of the Rhine Valley and the other mountains. But back then, in the High and Late Middle Ages, our region was fiercely contested, and the winter in the castle, where the wind whistled through the cracks and it almost never got really warm, must have been hard for the residents.

View from Drachenfels, Siebengebirge, to the Rhine and the island of Nonnenwerth (Rheinsteige stage 2)


Fairy tales from the Rhine and the Siebengebirge

In many travel guides you come across the legend of the dragon slayer Siegfried, the dubious hero of the Nibelungenlied. It is said that he killed a dragon that lived in a cave on the Drachenfels. Of course, the Nibelungenlied does not provide any precise information about the location of the event. And the Brothers Grimm won't tell us exactly where the Seven Dwarves lived behind the Seven Mountains.

On my Siebengebirge side, www.rheindrache.de, we are traveling with dragons and knights in the Siebengebirge. This is also about the castles, the eventful past of our region and its stories and fairy tales. You meet lightning-smart dragons and their knightly families, a dog on knightly duty, talking cats, the monk von Heisterbach and other legendary characters. History is also told from the perspective of the people; we accompany fictional families from the Siebengebirge along the Rhine through all of Europe and to America.