If you are looking for a fun day-hike or something unique to show off to visitors near the Stuttgart region, the trails surrounding Bad Urach are some of my favorite. The town and outskirts of Bad Urach in Baden Wurrtemburg are filled with hiking trails, waterfalls, streams, and fresh forest air. The town itself is a quaint and beautiful medieval spa town. The hike to the waterfall and Hohenurach ruins are popular with locals and tourists alike. It’s one of the most popular in the this region of Germany for several reasons:
- It’s easy to get to! By train, car, or bike, there are several ways to get to the start of my favorite trail and parking is ample. Parking is only 2 Euro and the drive is less than 40 mins from many parts of the Stuttgart region. I suggest (if driving) mapping your GPS to Maisentalstüble, Vorderes Maisental 3, 72574 Bad Urach which is the biergarten at the parking lot. If taking the train, the stop is Bad Urach Wasserfall and can be reached by RB (regional train/bahn). Search the Deutsche Bahn site for times and lines.
“Look for arrows pointing to the parking meter, get your ticket, and place it on your dash before heading out.”
- Biergartens in a beautiful setting. As mentioned above, the Maisentalstübel biergarten is the first one you will encounter and has hot food, cold beer, ice cream, a playground, and a great little outdoor setting surrounded by nature. Bathrooms are available, but take .30 cents Euro to use. The doors are each equipped with a coin lock that only accepts 10 cent coins. Although you can get change at the cashier, I would suggest bringing your own 10 cent coins to avoid waiting for change.
Once you hike to the top of the waterfall, a little hut awaits you selling snacks, drinks (yes, wine and beer!) and provides great views, plenty of seating on benches or flat grassy areas. Bathrooms are located here, too! FYI, the waterfall hut is seasonal and only opened in the warmer months.
- To burn off some beer and käsespätzle calories! It’s a great workout with varied terrain and distances. From flat, wide paths to a slippery stone staircase leading to the falls, to a fairly steep, rocky scramble to the top of the ruins, you can customize your route many ways. It is possible to hike the area with a stroller/wheelchair, except to get to the top of the ruins. Feel free to comment below or message me for details. I have provided my favorite route at the end of this post.
- To soak up some natural beauty and fresh, forest air. The waterfall is several stories high surrounded by bright green mossy rocks and thick forests (or snow covered branches in winter) and is absolutely beautiful. Every time I go there I feel like I’ve been transported to a fairytale forest. It really is magical to experience. Then again, it doesn’t take much in nature to awe and inspire me.
- To tire out the kiddos. You will often see kids running and splashing in the stream runoff from the waterfall in the warmer months, clambering up trees and the giant root structures, and hoofing it up the many stairs and rocks to either the tops of the ruins or the waterfall. If you make it up to the top of the ruins, both kids and adults can be seen climbing and scaling the old rocks and ruins…while others stand off to the side to watch their loved ones with baited breath and clenched teeth.
- For epic landscapes and views that stretch for miles. At both the top of the waterfalls and the ruins, the views are stunning. The views include rolling hillsides, half-timbered villages, green valleys, and seemingly untouched wilderness despite the obvious man-made structures that blend in so well with the natural surroundings.
- To learn more about the fascinating history of this region. Per the Stuttgart Tourist site: Built in the 11th century by the Counts of Urach and expanded to a fortress in the 16th century under the Dukes of Württemberg, the castle has been in ruins since 1765 and has become Bad Urach’s most famous landmark.The first documented record of Hohenurach Castle dates from 1235. Count Ludwig I of Württemberg updated the castle in 1427, building a new castle on the existing foundations. Following heavy damage in 1547 during the Schmalkaldic War, Duke Christoph of Württemberg had the castle rebuilt in 1551. From the 16th century onwards, the castle complex also served as a state jail, whose inmates included the Tübingen Professor Nicodemus Frischlin (1547-1590). As a military facility Hohenurach Fortress also posed a constant threat to the citizens of the nearby town. It wasn’t until 1765, however, that Duke Carl Eugen of Württemberg decided to move his soldiers to the town and had Hohenurach Fortress torn down. All that remains of the castle site is a towering ruin – one of the biggest, mightiest and most important ruins in southern Germany.
Our favorite route is approximately 6 kilometers and takes us about 2-3 hours with a picnic and biergarten pause, photo ops, rest stops, etc. We park in the lot near the Maisentalstüble, hike to the base of the falls and then up the stone stairs to the top of the waterfall and hut (there are alternative routes without stairs). After lunch and/or a beer break, we hit the flat trail that leads around to the base of the Hohenurach ruins and up the steep path to the ruins. Once at the top, we explore the ruins and soak in the view, then take a leisurely walk back down to the parking lot. As I mentioned earlier, there are a variety of trails you can take to make this journey longer or shorter, or to see different sights. Maps are posted at the base of the trail and at the top of the falls showing the extensive trail network and highlights.
As far as the best time to go, I believe there is no bad time to hike these trails. In the winter you can sometimes view the falls frozen in action while the trees wear a light coating of snow. It’s a fantastic sight and you can see photos of this on the walls at Maisentalstüble!
The spring and summer offer colorful fields of wildflowers and seemingly endless shades of green in the grasses, trees, and surrounding forests. The waterfall and trail-side stream rushes down powerfully with the recent run off of melted snow and spring showers.
The colors in the fall pop with rust, gold, and orange colors against the bright blue skies and green valleys. The air starts to get crisp and cool making the journey that much more invigorating, in my opinion.
If you haven’t been to this region yet, hopefully this article will encourage you to go and help plan your route. It’s a really beautiful area and if the hiking wears you out, rest assured that the town of Bad Urach located nearby is known for it’s healing waters and mineral baths for a good post-hike soak. Happy trails!
Bad Urach Website: Includes trails, maps, wellness links, accommodations, and more: http://en.badurach-tourismus.de/Hiking
Follow more of Holly’s adventures at packthecorkscrew.com