“The most beautiful trail among all the trails in the “Franconian Switzerland”, our very own natural park in Franconia, lies in the Wiesenttal!”, so I had been told - even though “most beautiful” is, of course, relative.
Every hiker has his own taste in which trails he loves most, some prefer smooth ascents, others would rather go for something more advanced.
However, there is one thing I can tell you for sure: The trail that starts in the small town of Streitberg, goes along the Wiesenttaltrail to the town of Muggendorf and then continues on the other side of the Wiesenttal (= Wiesent Valley), culminating in the castle ruin in Neideck is definitely a hike that you mustn’t miss!
Accompany me on this beautiful, 11-kilometre-long trail that features manageable, smooth ascents that are not only divers, but also show a multitude of different facets the region has to offer.
Starting point of our hike – the town of Streitberg in lovely Wiesenttal
Our hike starts off at a small car park for hikers, just opposite of the junction that leads to the public swimming pool in Streitberg. The car park’s address is: Am Buergerhaus 4 in 91346 Wiesenttal.
You can easily reach the town of Streitberg via public transport, the main railway station (= German: Hauptbahnhof or simply Bahnhof) is only a few hundred metres away.
At the start of my tour, I pass by the municipal hall and the headquarters of the voluntary fire brigade on my way to the town centre. You can find a huge willow there, as well as some information boards that give you some more in-depth information on the town of Streitberg and its history.
I pass by the village shop and hike up the hill until I reach the “Alte Pilgerstube” (= Old Pilgrim’s House), a stunning half-timbered house with a beautiful painting above its main entrance. I am keeping right in the direction of Muschelquelle and Brocksanlage (= Sea Shell Spring and Brocks Park). Following that path, you will pass by some more traditional Franconian half-timbered houses that are definitely worth taking a closer look.
Muschelquelle – Sea Shell Spring – in former days for visitors of the health resort only
The day I had chosen for this hike could not be any more beautiful – it is early spring, the birds are chirping and I am lucky to even come across a few butterflies already.
Along my path I can never really take my eyes off of the beautiful castle ruin of Neideck that rises to my right, whilst in front of me a steep rock face and three pine trees emerge.
After a few short moments I arrive at the Muschelquelle with its Kneipp Facility and a children’s playground – a location that is appealing whichever season it is.
This location has originally been laid out for visitors of the health resort only.
Today you can meet day-trippers, tourists, climbers and of course families with their children.
Here are some interesting facts about the Muschelquelle:
- Until a few decades ago, the springs served as a source for the drinking-water supply of the town.
- The well house is a location for gaining strength and was also the location that led Dr. Weber to establish Streitberg as a health resort a few hundred years ago.
- In 1910, the cave river has been enclosed.
Klararuh – a gigantic rock
I leave the Muschelquelle behind me and hike along the Frankenweg (= Franconian Trail), the hiking trail that is signposted.
Along the road I get a stunning view with many impressive pictures of the valley of Streitberg and I can even see the city of Ebermannstadt.
The path leads me to a log cabin, as I had thought at first. This cabin in the woods is a so-called “Light and Air” Cottage that is reminiscent of the founder of the health resort – Dr. Weber.
The path leads me alongside a southern slope and I arrive at a fork junction. At this junction, I continue towards Muggendorf Talweg.
From this point onwards, the path changes its character and becomes narrower than before, with cliffs now dominating the landscape.
In front of me a gigantic rock and its overhanging edge appears, underneath of it a cosy bench – I have now reached the Klararuh, as this phenomenon of nature is called.
I sit down and allow myself to let my thought run free for a bit of time – and I can’t help but wonder, where did the Klararuh rock get its name from?
I walk back the path a little and now follow the valley path downhill towards the town of Muggendorf.
The Castle Ruin of Neideck and the views along the Wiesenttal-trail
I am stunned by the wonderful landscape that I am experiencing and continue my journey on the path that is marked by a green cross.
I am getting more and more excited what more is to come along my journey.
In the forest, I hear voices nearby and I am trying to localize where they are coming from. I come across a few climbers that seek sportive challenge on the Eichner Memorial wall. …and I think to myself that this is not my cup of tea.
A stream accompanies me for a few moments as it burbles along happily into the Wiesenttal.
Just a few footsteps afterwards, I cross it on a wooden bridge. Now, the forest opens up and allows me to take the first glance into the Wiesenttal.
I take a seat and enjoy the gorgeous view that shows me the Castle Ruin of Neideck and the Streitberg on which it is situated. The butterflies already are roaming the meadows here.
Slowly, but steadily I begin to understand why the Franconian Switzerland is so popular amongst tourists and holiday-makers alike.
Refreshments & Places to rest in Muggendorf
After a short period of time I reach Muggendorf where the trail meets a street.
Here, I keep left and take a slightly elevated route above the little town. On my way, I pass by some wonderfully-located estates of Franconian Switzerland.
I decide that it is a good time to stop off somewhere and there are plenty of options to do so in Muggendorf.
At first I come across the Restaurant Brandl with its small terrace. A bit further down the road, I find the Hotel Goldner Stern.
Directly located on the river Wiesent, one can also find a large and sunny Beergarden amongst many more restaurants.
Choose freely what suits you best – I am explicitly not giving any suggestions here.
From Muggendorf straight to the Castle Ruin of Neideck
I have had a wonderful lunch and of course have not missed the opportunity to get an authentic Franconian beer.
I am now on my way to the castle ruin of Neideck.
I cross the river Wiesent on the level crossing and follow along the path that is marked with a red cross.
The trail now ascends a little but evens out shortly afterwards. Bit by bit I come closer to the castle ruin that sits enthroned on a tower made of cliffs.
Now the trail turns to the left and gets a bit steeper for a short bit. I come across many more hikers that have already made it to the castle ruin.
They must have gotten here from the other side of the trail, the one that passes by the public swimming pool.
The Castle Ruin of Neideck – the landmark of Franconian Switzerland
I walk along the forecourt of the former castle and reach the wooden bridge, which I cross to get to the rocky spur on which the remains of the castle are located.
As expected previously, I am not alone on the Neideck.
Hikers, families with kids, but also tourists are among the visitors. I take the iron staircase that leads to the top of the castle and to its observation deck.
The view that presents itself to me from here is truly amazing. I can see the Wiesenttal, the Streitberg and the town of Muggendorf.
I can even follow parts of the path that led me here with my eyes from my observation point.
Interesting facts about the Castle Ruin of Neideck:
- The castle has first been mentioned in a written source in the year 1219.
- From 1312 onwards it had been in possession of the Edelfreien of Schlüsselberg.
- Burnt down in 1553 in the Margrave War by mercenaries, it ever since remains a ruin.
- Redevelopment was initiated by the administrative district of Forchheim in 1996 to prevent the ruin from its gradual decay.
- Grand opening of the archaeological park in the castle area in 2008.
The last part of our tour – from the castle ruin to Streitberg
After I have enjoyed the marvellous view some more, I make my way back to the starting point of the hike, which is only a few miles away now.
I make my way along the path that has led me here initially until I reach a fork junction.
Here one can already find the first road sign that leads the public swimming pool of Streitberg. The marking that is to be followed here is the red cross on white ground.
The narrow path first leads me down the hill in hairpin bends and stairs until the trail becomes more gentle again.
I arrive at the public swimming pool of Streitberg where I can spot a few camper vans and their owners, who relax in their camping chairs in front of them.
After a few moments, I reach a little wooden bridge that crosses the river Wiesent and I decide to enjoy the atmosphere for a bit and relax, too.
I take one last glance up the hill to the Castle Ruin of Neideck and walk across the B470 street to the car park for hikers in Streitberg. Here, I finish my hike for today.
To sum it up – you must have done this trip, because…
- the landscape is absolutely breath-taking – every season!
- it is only a 11 kilometre hike.
- there are many restaurants and places to rest along the way.
- there is no admission fee to visit the castle ruin of Neideck.
- the view you get form the castle ruin is simply stunning.
- there will be no boring parts for the kids during the trip.
- there are a few different playgrounds along the route.
- you will find many locations along the river to relax.
- of many, many more reasons!
With this summary I am now going to say goodbye. I hope you’ll have a great time hiking along the route. Until next time, or, as we say, “Habe die Ehre!”,