A hiking tour for explorers, connoisseurs, families, culture lovers and nature lovers
Our tip: Please make sure to check your train connection and the expected capacity before you start your journey.
Your tour starts from the train station in Treuchtlingen heading south. Turn right into Bahnhofstraße and continue straight ahead into Bürgermeister-Döbler-Allee. Over the bridge and past the Altmühltherme, turn left into Kästleinsmühlstraße.
By the way, if you want to end this walking tour with a visit to the Altmühltherme, you don't have to carry your swimming costumes with you for the entire route. You can already leave them at the spa, and it is also possible to borrow them.
You pass the spa gardens and come to a right-angled turn. In front of you is the Nagelberg. You hike up the incline and then keep left until you reach the war gravesite.
The war gravesite is located on the western slope of the Nagelberg near Treuchtlingen. The view over the burial ground with the 21 m high spire of the memorial reaches far into the upper Altmühl valley. Both a signposted road and a narrow path - the "Path of Reflection" - lead to the war gravesite. At this site, 2,545 victims of the Second World War have found their final resting place. Among them are not only soldiers. Women, children and those persecuted politically, racially and religiously were also buried here. Most of the war dead buried in Treuchtlingen were victims of the fighting in this area in April 1945. Others died in the many air raids, especially the one on Treuchtlingen on 23 February 1945.
From the war gravesite, walk down towards the railway line and continue under it towards the village of Graben. Walk to the centre of the village, past the church and follow the signs on the right pointing the way to the Fossa Carolina, the Karlsgraben.
Between the Altmühl and Rezat rivers lies one of the greatest technical cultural monuments of the early Middle Ages. The Fossa Carolina, also called Karlsgraben, was the first attempt to connect the Rhine, Main and Danube by a waterway. Even today, on the edge of the village of Graben, a 500-metre-long expanse of water and the adjoining earthen embankments up to ten metres high bear witness to this attempt.
The village of Graben lies on the main European watershed. Here the Rhine and Danube river systems come within a few kilometres of each other and are separated only by a slight hill. Emperor Charlemagne wanted to take advantage of this geographical proximity. In 793, he had an approximately 3,000-metre-long canal dug so that ships could travel to the south-east of his empire, where he was at war with the Avars.
Whether the canal was actually used, or for how long, is still not clear. Since the start of archaeological investigations in 2012, there has been increasing evidence that it was not completely navigable, as previously assumed. Chroniclers reported that persistent rain and the swampy ground had become a problem during construction. So was the ambitious project finally abandoned, or was the passage too costly and the tolls for traders too high?
In any case, what can be seen of the Fossa Carolina at Graben today is reminiscent of one of the largest engineering-geological construction projects of the Middle Ages. It is probably the most important soil monument from the Carolingian period in Franconia and is one of the "100 most beautiful geotopes in Bavaria", selected by the Bavarian State Office for the Environment.
You stroll along the tree-lined Karlsgraben and turn left into the open field. Now climb gently up the slope to a small wood. At its edge, you walk up to the hill and from there continue upwards to the top of the Bubenheimer Berg.
The elongated Bubenheimer Berg is also called Hoher Stein. From the Vielsteine rest area, at 476 metres above sea level, there is a wide view of the surrounding landscape.
The top of the Bubenheimer Berg also offers a glimpse into the history of the earth. When a meteorite hit about 30 kilometres away almost 15 million years ago, chunks of rock were hurled all the way here. The impact is called the Ries event and left behind an almost circular, shallow crater between the Swabian and Franconian Alb, which is one of the best preserved large impact craters on Earth.
The giant ejection left traces on the crest of the Bubenheimer Berg in the form of so-called hardenlings. Hardened rock is formed when other rock that is less resistant to weathering is removed from around very resistant rock. The specimens at this site have formed from malm, mass limestone and dolomite slabs and are up to several cubic metres in size.
Time for the descent! Diagonally left down the slope, past the former "Altmühlgrund" restaurant, go to Dorfstraße, then turn right. After crossing the Altmühl bridge, take the footpath over the railway crossing, under the road bridge and in Wettelsheim turn right into Wehrstraße. Pass the "Goldenes Lamm" and "Hirschen" inns and continue to the village stream.
You walk on the other bank around to the left along the stream. At the "Sonne" inn, turn right and follow Friedhofweg and Viersteinweg to the end of the settlement. On the first forest path, turn left and walk to the Wettelsheimer Keller.
Here you have the opportunity to enjoy a hearty snack in the beer garden, which was built as early as 1850, and the magnificent view of the Altmühl valley. Speaking of enjoyment: beer and especially the drinkable Märzen beer is the speciality of the Wettelsheimer Keller. Even today, it is served from large, peaked wooden barrels that are stored deep in the mountain in mighty, naturally cooled vaults.
When you have fortified yourself, follow the forest path to the right until you reach the Naturfreundehaus. From there, follow the road slightly downhill and turn right between the houses until you reach the Treuchtlingen - Auernheim state road. Keep left on the other side of the road. Go up through the forest to the Treuchtlingen castle ruins from the 9th century. You can get the key to visit the keep for a deposit at the spa and tourist information office.
Treuchtlinger Str.26, 91757 Treuchtlingen OT Wettelsheim
Tel.: 09142/7740, wettelsheimer-keller.de
In the first half of the 12th century, a hilltop castle with a stone residential tower and several forecourts was built on a spur to the west of the village of Treuchtlingen. The founder of the complex was probably the local nobility, who had inhabited a permanent stone house on the Altmühl since the 10th/11th century. But it was not until 1340 that the lords of Treuchtlingen succeeded in buying the upper castle free of all foreign rights. In the following decades, the Treuchtlingen knights reached the peak of their power. They were the sole lords of the town, which had been raised to the status of a market town, with its two castles and the surrounding area.
The dynasty died out in 1422. In the middle of the 15th century, the marshals of Pappenheim acquired the castles and the lordship. Their Treuchtlingen line was able to maintain its independence for another 200 years before the town fell to the margraviate of Ansbach. However, the Pappenheims had already let the hilltop castle fall into disrepair by the end of the 15th century. Today, the castle ruins, which have been restored in an exemplary manner, are a worthwhile excursion destination with a great view of the town of Treuchtlingen lying at its feet.
From the castle forecourt, a small forest path leads down the slope to the left to the street "Am Schlossberg". Go left downhill and past the Forsthaus cultural centre to the Altmühltal-Panoramaweg. Turn left along the path to Treuchtlingen town centre. At the town hall, turn right and walk ahead to the Altmühl. A short walk along the river leads you to the Altmühltherme spa.
Do your feet hurt at the end of your hike, your back, your knees? Do you feel like enjoying and relaxing at the end of the day? The 18,000-year-old healing water in the Altmühltherme soothes complaints related to the musculoskeletal system and has a vitalising effect. It bubbles out of the state-recognised, certified healing springs at a pleasantly warm temperature into the pools of the Altmühltherme and supplies you with vital minerals and trace elements.
From the spa, it's not far back to the station. Just walk along Bürgermeister-Döbler-Allee, cross the Altmühl bridge one last time and keep going straight ahead.