Last week I went on my last multi day hike of the season, a beautiful four day tour in the German Rhine valley. The short getaway was exactly what I needed to get me through the winter and a perfect excuse to take my new tent out for a test run.
I used the book ‘Wandelvakanties dicht bij huis‘ from my local library, but the route mainly followed the Rheinhöhenweg. The Rheinhöhenweg follows the Rhine river and as the name suggests takes the ‘high road’ between the villages. The valley is filled with little villages along the riverbanks and there is a train line connecting them all. Perfect if you have to cut your trip short or if you want to take a shorter hike. Most of the life in the valley revolves around wine and tourism. You’ll pass plenty of vineyards and almost all local restaurants boast about their wine selection.
Day 1: getting there
I left home on Monday around lunchtime and drove to Bingen, the final village of my trip. I decided to spend the night at the local campsite Campingplatz Hindenburgbrücke and sleep in the van. I checked with the owners and it was no problem to leave the van on the parking lot of the campsite. On Friday I would arrive at my van again and either camp another night or drive home.
I cooked some pasta in the van, had a beer and went to bed early. After checking for the 100th time I was sure that there was no campsite available at Boppard, my destination for the next day, I booked a room for my first night.
Day 2: Koblenz to Boppard (22km)
The second day of the trip, and the first day of hiking, started early: I set the alarm at 5:30 am. I wanted to repack my bag, move the van and hike to the train station before 7am. The train ride to Koblenz took about an hour and I didn’t want to start hiking too late.
The route wasn’t too hard to find. You can walk from the train station of Koblenz to the Rhine in about 10 minutes. Once you are at the bank of the river, turn right. You should start seeing the trail marked by ‘R’ pretty soon.
I learned the hard way that the white R and red R are not the same route. The Rheinhöhenweg is marked by a white R on a black background or a black R on a white background. The red and yellow labels follow about the same route, but often don’t pass through the same villages. Next to those I also came across the Compostella route quite often.
Although the route is well marked the white R is often painted on trees and faded at some places. I did lose the track a few times during this hike.
The day starts with a steep climb, but you get rewarded by a great view over Koblenz. From here you’ll leave the city behind and spend the day in the woods and fields looking out on the Rhine.
Right before descending into Boppard you get an amazing view of the Rhine: vierseenblick. This a pretty famous sight in the area. Because of the hills around the river, it looks like there are four lakes instead of one river. I had a beer and used the ski lift to get down into Boppard
You know you are a ‘true’ outdoors person when you are disappointed you have to spend the night in a hotel instead of in a tent, but I guess there are worse things in the world.
Day 3: Boppard to Sankt Goarshausen (17km)
The morning starts with a boat trip across the river and a couple of kilometers of hiking alongside it. If you want you can take a shortcut and take the boat to the next village instead. In Kamp-Bornhofen you leave the river and start the daily climb. The day is filled with castles, breathtaking views and some cool vineyards.
That evening I finally got a chance to try out my new tent. I stayed at campsite Loreleystadt along the river and had the whole site to myself. It was clear that the season was coming to an end. It was my first night in my new Akto and even though I was a bit freaked out by the empty campsite I slept like a baby.
Day 4: Sankt Goarshausen to Bacharach (21km)
Another day, another boat: the day starts with crossing the river again. After that comes the usual climb. This time with steps instead of a steep hill. Today you’ll do the climb twice, as you descend to the river about halfway.
One of my favorite things about hiking in Germany are the many huts, shelters and benches you get. You are guaranteed to find the perfect spot for a cup of tea or lunch.
Next to that you are treated to great views all day long. Who doesn’t love hiking paths like these? I didn’t meet a single other hiker in those woods. Only when I closed in on Bacharach did I see a family hiking with their dogs.
In Bacharach I spend the night on campsite Sonnenstrand and treated myself to an awesome Flammkuchen in the town.
Day 5: Bacharach to Bingen (20km)
The final day of my trip is just as beautiful as the previous ones. I’m almost used to the climb in the morning and have no trouble spotting the faded R signs on trees. I finish the walk at a pleasurable pace and am back in Bingen by 2pm.
I took the train for two stops, from one side of Bingen to the other, to avoid walking another hour or so through the city. Instead of staying another night I decided to drive home the same day and spend the weekend with my doggy and boyfriend.