The Nurtschweg Trail in the Upper Palatinate Forest runs along the Czech border. It is characterised by gentle hills and valleys with babbling brooks, hidden castle ruins, magnificent churches and sleepy villages.
If you arrive at the Upper Palatinate Forest on the E6 European long-distance route, you join the Nurtschweg Trail at the pilgrimage church in Kappl, north of the abbey town of Waldsassen. From here you walk on mostly unmade paths through the Muglbach valley to Neualbenreuth. After a short climb to the Grenzland Tower, you follow a sunken lane up to Mount Tillenberg (826m, the geographical midpoint of Europe), before starting to descend towards Altmugl and the Muglbach waterfall. Passing the little church of St. Nicholas, the route continues to Mähring along the Czech border. Soon afterwards you come to Bärnau, home a history park. The Nurtschweg Trail follows the nascent river Waldnaab to its source at the border. For food and drink en route you can stop at the Silberhütte shelter or the Alte Mühle Gehenhammer. Passing the town of Hinterbrünst and Sulzberg hill (756m) near Pleystein, you descend through the woodland reserve and along the ‘Lustweg’ to Waidhaus on the Czech border. You cross the river Pfreimd on a footbridge before heading uphill to the Pilgrimage Church of St. Ulrich. Enjoying glorious views along the way, you finally arrive at Lake Atzmannsee in the border town of Eslarn. Heading southeast past the wildlife enclosure, the Nurtschweg ascends through Lindau to return to the border, which you follow to Mount Weingartenfels (889m) and the Bohemian Forest Tower, before arriving at Stadlern via the Hochfels rocks. Shortly before the end, you cross a footbridge over the upper reaches of the river Schwarzach – then it’s not far to the Böhmerkreuz wayside shrine near Waldmünchen.
Tip: Waldsassen Basilica
This papal basilica is one of the most magnificent baroque churches in southern Germany. The famous library, the centrepiece of the abbey, is characteristic of the transition from the high baroque to the rococo (1689-1726). Life-size figures carved by Karl Stilp appear to support the mezzanine level.
At a glance: