Mittelahr and Altenahr © CC BY-SA DeWandelaar.Org
The AhrSteig 2 is defined by the Ahr river and Ahrtal valley. In the July 2021 European Floods, this river overflowed, causing severe devastation with over 100 deaths and extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure. The AhrSteig route was also affected, necessitating detours due to washed-out paths.
Nevertheless, the main trail remains walkable and features steep climbs and descents, shaded forest paths, but not always right by the river. Thru-hikers may face water scarcity, especially in hot months when temperatures reach the mid-30s°C. Shelters are scarce on the western half of the trail, and resupply points are few.
The eastern part of the trail passes through one of Germany and Europe’s northernmost wine regions 3 , with a history dating back to Roman times. Archeological remains of villas and medieval castles attest to this. While the trail mostly winds through the forests on the valley’s southern slopes, the vineyards are on the opposite side. You can choose to detour from the main trail to explore the vineyards and wines, with the Rotweinwanderweg 4 between Altenahr and Rech being a notable option.
I hiked the trail over three days in early September 2023. I hiked from the Blankenheim Wald station via the Villa Rustica and explored the town including the Ahrquelle and castle, and stayed at Hotel Finkenburg. Huts are almost non-existent on the western half of the trail and water became an issue in the heat which reached 38°C in the Mittelahr. I ended up filtering water from the Ahr itself for day two of the hike. The first night was spent in a hut near Insul.
The following day I hiked to Rech, but unfortunately missed the turnoff to Saffenburg castle. From Rech I made a side-trip and walked a loop up the main road, alongside the river, to Altenahr, climbed up to Burg Are and then followed the Rotweinwanderweg over the heights above Mayschoß back to Rech where I stayed at Hotel Haus Appel and replenished water supplies. The last day I followed the AhrSteig, and in the heat accidentally missed the turn to the Neuenahrer Berg Turm! I also purposely missed the Felten Turm near Sinzig as I walked down the Waldweg to the Tappes Hofgarten Hotel in Westum. The following morning I walked through Sinzig, passing the castle and St. Peter church to the station.
AhrSteig Map & Elevation
The map of the AhrSteig shows the track from Blankenheim to Sinzig contained in the GPX file. Hover over, tap or swipe the graph to see the elevation data on the map at the trackpoint.
See Data for more information.
Details of the trail marking and route logo, difficulty, recommended equipment, and trail certification.
The trail and flood-related detours are well marked in both directions. On the western half of the trail the logo is all-blue, the eastern half all-red. I always recommend a GPS device and occasionally checking progress.
Although only 107.52km long, the elevation profile can be challenging. Good balance, sturdy, ankle supporting boots and walking poles are recommended. Water management in hotter months should be considered.
The AhrSteig was certified as a Quality Trail, however lost that after the floods of 2001. Although passable it was not yet accredited in late 2023, a new inspection of the trail will only take place after reconstruction is complete. 5
Trail Start: Blankenheim
The official trail start is at Blankenheim, a charming village with half-timbered houses nestled in a valley surrounded by tall hills. In the heart of the village, hidden within one of the houses’ cellars, you’ll discover the Ahrquelle, the trail’s namesake spring. As you wander the narrow streets, you’ll pass by historical landmarks such as the Hirtenturm Tower, Georgstor gates (part of the 16th and 17th-century village defenses), and the St. Mariä Himmelfahrt church, which dates back to 1495.
Noteworthy attractions also include the Roman Villa ruins and grounds near the Busbahnhof, dating from the first to the fourth century AD. Take a stroll up to Blankenheim Castle, which has roots dating back to the 12th century. You can find the Eifel Museum at the Tourist Information Center near the Ahr Quelle, and a walk around the Schwanenweiher pond, where the AhrSteig begins its journey into the forest, is a pleasant experience.
Due to flood damage, the Cologne – Gerolstein railway from Kall is temporarily closed. Passengers can take a bus from Kall to Blankenheim (Wald), and from there, you can either catch another bus or walk a few kilometers to reach Busbahnhof Blankenheim near the village center. Accommodation options include a DJH Youth Hostel within the castle and Hotel Finkenberg, located close to the trail. Keep in mind that there are limited shops and restaurants in the village, with the nearest supermarket situated to the northeast, reachable by a short bus ride or a few kilometers walk from the Busbahnhof.
Trail End: Sinzig
Sinzig, situated atop a gentle hill, once occupied marshlands formed by the confluence of the Ahr and Rhine rivers. Its history reaches back to the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age, possibly hosting cultures like Urnfield and Hallstatt. The Romans, led by Julius Caesar during the Gallic Wars around 50 BC, may have traversed and stationed troops here as they established their border along the Rhine in the ongoing conflict with Germanic tribes.
Archaeological evidence reveals that the area was inhabited by Romans or Romanized Germans from the early 1st century AD until the decline of the Roman Empire after 400. The marshlands transformed into the fertile Golden Mile plains, giving rise to industries like pottery, brickmaking, mining, and winemaking. A Roman road connected the Ahr valley to Koblenz.
As the Dark Ages gave way to the medieval era, this road evolved into part of the Via Regia, linking Frankfurt to Aachen. The earliest known document mentioning Sinzig dates back to 762, authored by the Roman-German King Pippin the Younger, who resided at the Sentiaco Palatine, Sinzig’s royal estate. Pippin’s son, Charlemagne, would later become the first Holy Roman Emperor in 800.
Between the 10th and 14th centuries, Sinzig served as the site of an imperial palace, hosting numerous German kings and emperors. Among them, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in 1160, earning Sinzig the moniker “Barbarossa City.” In 1240, the St. Peter parish church was constructed in late Romanesque style, with its distinctive orange-and-white façade still defining the town’s skyline. The remnants of the 1300 city walls and Sinzig Castle, dating from 1860, are other notable landmarks.
Sinzig Bahnhof is easily accessible via the Cologne to Koblenz (or Mainz) railway line, with a stop in Bonn. While supermarkets abound in town, accommodations may require a bit of exploration. Consider major booking platforms or visit the Sinzig website for options. Some choices, like Tappes Hofgarten in Westum, are a short walk away but might involve minor detours from the AhrSteig trail.
Highlights of the AhrSteig
These points of Interest and attractions are on or near the AhrSteig. They are geared toward thru-hikers that mostly stay on the trail but who might make small detours to visit attractions close by.
Aside from the Ahrquelle and initial kilometers, close contact with the Ahr is limited. There's a nice riverside spot to soak your feet just before Insul, close to the Bergbau Informationsstatte 'Goldloch' shelter.
Of all castles, Saffenburg with the shelter and wine vending machine might be the most appealing. Burg Blankenheim, Aremburg and Burg Kreuzberg are on the trail, and a visit to Burg Are is worthwhile.
The first century Villa Rustica and grounds in Blankenheim is a perfect introduction to Roman history in the Ahr region. Off-trail, the Museum Römervilla in Ahrweiler is possibly the most impressive and well-preserved.
Ahr Wine Region
This red wine region extends from Altenahr to Heimersheim, however the route takes the opposite side of the river valley to most vineyards. Close to the AhrSteig, Rech is a good opportunity to sample Ahr wines.
Consider walking to the start of the Rotweinwanderweg in Altenahr from Kreuzberg, and then past Burg Are and Mayschoß to Rech where you rejoin the AhrSteig, or do a loop from Rech along the river road to Altenahr.
Unfortunately the forested Aremburg and inaccessible tower gives no view, however places like the Saffenburg, Krausberg, Neuenahrer Berg Turm and Feltenturm are spectacular. Off-trail, Burg Are is also worthwhile.
External websites and resources used to create this page.
Data may vary from other sources. Initial GPX track data sourced from ahrsteig.de 1. This can be modified and made compatible with OpenStreetMap tiles. Minimal trackpoints are used to reduce file size. Elevation is modified with best available terrain data. Elevation gain and loss is calculated by creating a sum of the increase or decrease between each GPX trackpoint.
Data may be imported from the German National Tourist Board (GNTB), the Open Data Tourism Alliance (ODTA), and other sources under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA license. This data may be modified. Other data or content on this page may be copyright of DeWandelaar or other entities.