The Rhine, the unspoiled Diemel River or the Fulda River - Hessen is crisscrossed by a network of diverse rivers whose banks are lined with numerous hiking trails. We tell you which rivers are particularly suitable for an extended hiking tour.

1

The Lahn

Along the Lahn, rugged cliffs on which defiant castles look out alternate with dreamy meadows.
Along the Lahn, rugged cliffs on which defiant castles look out alternate with dreamy meadows © Maximilian - stock.adobe.com

The Lahn flows a good 240 kilometers from its source in the Rothaargebirge mountains to where it flows into the Rhine at Lahnstein, two thirds of its route leading through Hesse. Always at its side - sometimes directly at the water, sometimes along the surrounding hill crests - the Lahn hiking trail. It takes you past floodplains, steep cliffs, medieval castles and lively student towns like Marburg and Giessen. The stream, which starts out babbling merrily, develops into a lively river along the way, eventually growing into a proud stream. Not to be missed: a visit to the venerable cathedral that towers high above the river in Limburg.

2

The Main

On a hike along the Main you have a beautiful view of the Frankfurt skyline
A hike along the Main River will give you a beautiful view of the Frankfurt skyline © markus thoenen - stock.adobe.com

Hardly any hike offers so much variety on so few river kilometers. If you start in medieval Seligenstadt with its famous Benedictine abbey, your route will take you along lush meadows, sandbanks and swimming bays to the port facilities of Offenbach and Frankfurt. Accompanied by the unmistakable skyline of the Main metropolis, the route continues to the Mainspitze near Wiesbaden, where the Main flows into the Rhine. On the way, there are always shorter circular hiking trails for short detours. For example, we recommend a twelve-kilometer round trip via Philippsruhe Castle to the Dietesheim quarries.

3

The Eder

Large parts of the Lahn bank are lined by primeval forest-like floodplain forests
Large parts of the banks of the Lahn are lined with primeval forest-like floodplain forests © A. Kiro - stock.adobe.com

The Eder is considered the cleanest river in the state. On its 174 kilometers it flows through primeval forest-like alluvial forests, species-rich meadows, pastures as well as marshy forests and finally flows at the edge of the Kellerwald into the Edersee, the third largest reservoir in Germany. The best way to explore this varied landscape with its unique protected areas such as the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park and numerous historic half-timbered villages is on the Eder Heights Trail. With a total length of 63 kilometers, it runs from Hatzfeld/Eder to Vöhl/Schmittlotheim. The starting points are the barbecue hut in Hatzfeld (Eder) or the National Park Hiking Park "Elsebach" in Vöhl/Schmittlotheim.

4

The Weser

Worth seeing - the baroque old town of Bad Karlshafen
Worth seeing - the baroque old town of Bad Karlshafen © Kurverwaltung Bad Karlshafen

Hesse's northernmost Waterway forms the natural border between Hesse and Lower Saxony between Hannoversch-Münden and Bad Karlshafen. On the hiking trails along the riverbank, you will often come across Cinderella and other legendary characters - after all, the region is considered the home of the famous fairy tale collectors, the Grimm brothers. You should not miss the baroque old town of Bad Karlshafen, the rebuilt inland port is a real water tourism highlight.

5

The Rhine

On the Rhine lies the Rheingau, one of the smallest, but also best known wine-growing regions in Germany.
On the Rhine lies the Rheingau, one of the smallest but also best known wine-growing regions in Germany © HüSo - stock.adobe.com

Gently sloping hills, wooded steep slate mountains, stately castles and palaces on the heights and again and again magnificent views of one of the majestic rivers of Europe - a Hike along the Rhine also takes you through one of Germany's best-known wine-growing regions, the Rheingau. In addition to rewarding vineyard tours with numerous places to stop for refreshments, you can expect a real beach feeling on wide sandbanks along some stretches of the river and cultural and historical highlights such as the Germania near Rüdesheim.

6

The river Diemel

The state border between Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia runs through Lake Diemel
The state border between Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia runs through Lake Diemel © oldline2 - stock.adobe.com

Calcareous grassland - Behind this sober name hides a landscape whose limestone slopes are among the most species-rich biotopes in Europe. At the lower reaches of the Diemel, between Liebenau, Trendelburg and Bad Karlshafen, you will be accompanied on your hike by countless butterflies that live here, in the Reinhardswald Nature Parkfind optimal living conditions. From its source in the Rothaargebirge mountains to its mouth in the Weser near Bad Karlshafen, the Diemel covers around 110 kilometers. Well-marked hiking trails lead you through extensive hilly landscapes, over wooded slopes to the Rapunzel town "Trendelburg" at the foot of the Reinhardswald.

7

The Fulda

The Fulda, the most "Hessian" of all rivers, only leaves the state on its last kilometers
The Fulda, the most "Hessian" of all rivers, only leaves the state on its last kilometers © Eagle2308 - stock.adobe.com

The Fulda winds almost 220 kilometers through Hesse from its source just below the summit of the Wasserkuppe to just before Hannoversch-Münden. The Hiking trails along its banks lead you through unspoiled landscapes in the Rhön, wild floodplains near Bad Hersfeld and past many historic buildings, adventure, educational and art trails. Thanks to the well-signposted network of paths and numerous places to stop for refreshments, you can also explore the banks of the Fulda wonderfully in the course of a half-day or day tour with the whole family.

Cover photo: Relaxed leisure - a hike along the rivers of Hesse © Syda Productions - stock.adobe.com

In collaboration with Hesse tourism

Hiking through quiet low mountain ranges, old beech forests or orchards, paddling on the Lahn, looking at the most beautiful medieval half-timbered houses and soaking up the atmosphere of historic spas - Hessen makes romantic souls happy all around. But gourmets also get their money's worth on wine hikes, in Hessian butcher shops and with "Handkäs mit Musik", a pickled cheese. Reasons for a Vacation in Hesse there are enough!

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