Country - Germany
Region - Bavarian Forest
Author - Hike Bavaria
Ascent - 300 metres / 990 feet
Time - 4.00 hours
This is one of my favourite walks in the Bavarian Forest, an area of great natural beauty in Southeastern Germany, very close to the Czech Republic and Austria.
We have taken this walk through the low level mountain range in spring, summer and autumn, but I'm sure it would be possible to walk at least as far as the Rauchroehren on snowshoes in the winter.
The walk is best organised using two cars, leaving one of them at the end point in Reitenberg near Koetzting in the morning, taking the other one to the walkers car park in Eck. Eck is well-known for its ski lift and inn. Walk past the inn and face the biggest challenge right at the start. The first 20 - 30 minutes are a steep climb along the ski lift, rewarded by the excellent views behind.
The first peak is the Riedelstein (1132 m), its a few seconds scramble to get to the top which bears a monument to the poet Maximilian Schmidt. Continue along the trail marked "6", watch out not to miss the slight right turn that eventually leads you to the Rauchroehren ("smokepipes", 1042 m).
They are impressive granite rocks used by climbers to practice on. You can follow the "6" and scramble through and over the rocks for about 15 minutes, or follow the "Leicher Weg" (easy walk) signs, which can also be challenging in damp conditions.
The two trails meet again and continue along a ridge, with fantastic 360 degree views as far as the Czech Republic. Leave the "6" path now and follow the last few metres of a very steep gravel path taking you uphill to the Koetztinger Huette inn on the Mittagsstein peak (1034 m).
It is deservedley a very popular walkers inn and serves good, hearty food and drinks in the pub or outside on a large terrace to saviour the views. Walk across the terrace and continue your walk via another peak, the Kreuzfelsen, to the mysterious cave of the notorious 19th century robber Michael Heigl, a kind of Bavarian Robin Hood. Its all downhill from now on a stony track that leads you to the Reitenberg car park, where the second car will be waiting.