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NRW on foot - that means you have a wide choice. There are more than 50,000 kilometers of hiking trails in North Rhine-Westphalia. Here we present six very special hikes with that certain something extra. So, let's get going!


The nice one from the Lower Rhine

Small rivers and streams run through the 435 square kilometer Schwalm-Nette Nature Park © Tourismus NRW e.V.

The Nette River leisurely makes its way through the idyllic floodplain landscape. Together with another small river, it is the eponym of the Schwalm-Nette nature parks, a pristine spot on the border with the Netherlands. Interspersed with forest, pastures, meadows - and quite a lot of water. Particularly beautiful perspectives on the streams, moors and lakes are marked on the ground and offer unique views. Those who want to know more about flora and fauna on site can call up information at the respective stations via QR code or telephone. When you stop at the bird watching hut on the Nette, for example, you can learn exciting facts about the reed drum, including an audio sample of its unmistakable call.

The highlights of the Lower Rhine region include several water mills, including the Molzmühle dating from the 14th century. This gem with a café is perfect for a snack on one of the premium hiking trails of the Water Hiking World. Whether you choose the tour "Nette Seen" with the pond rose fields or march through the "Birgeler Urwald" - in the Schwalm-Nette Nature Park everything is on and in the river.

And this is how you get to the nature park by bus and train: Plan arrival.


Wild animals, rolling hills

Is Canada located in North Rhine-Westphalia? At least the Nature Park Hohe Markwhere Münsterland, the Lower Rhine and the Ruhr meet, is a bit like North America's wilderness. With dense forests, moors, floodplains, sandstone hills and free-roaming horses and cattle. The full range of nature can be seen on the Hohe Mark Steig long-distance hiking trail, which runs 158 kilometers across the park from Olfen to Wesel. On stages between 19 and 27 kilometers, every day is different. The shorter circular routes, the so-called "LandStreifer", are also varied. Tip: the eight-kilometer Steverauenweg with its eye-catchers along the shore, a retreat for animals. Thus one encounters peacefully grazing Konik ponies, Catalan giant donkeys, pairs of storks and Heck cattle. The Dülmen wild horses in the Merfelder Bruch are famous. When they gallop powerfully over the extensive moor and heath area with blowing manes... Who doesn't think of the mustangs in the Wild West?

And this is how you get to the Hohe Mark Nature Park by bus and train: Plan arrival.


Out with the mouse

What do bears have to do with the "abduction" of the apple to Europe and why did William Tell shoot this fruit from his son's head? No idea?! Ask the mouse! That's right, the one on TV. With interactive hands-on and listening stations, with fairy tales and poems, she "accompanies" children on the six Bergisch excursions for families and brings them closer to the respective topic in a highly entertaining way. Like the story(s) about apple growing on the almost six-kilometer-long fruit trail in Leichlingen, north of Leverkusen. With every step, the anticipation of the next "mouse panel" increases. Hiking is fun, motivating and relaxing. By the way, parents also learn a lot on these discovery tours, for example about the local black and red cows on the Farm Trail in Lohmar or details about wind and water power as well as charcoal production on the Energy Trail. Between oaks and lime trees, the tree trail explores the question of which woody plants were already around for the dinosaurs. Show-off knowledge at its best. More tips here.

And this is how you get to the hiking area by bus and train: Plan arrival.


Small hikes with a big effect

Some want more serenity, others want to get going. Whether it's the right breathing technique in everyday life, a balanced diet or exercises to combat stress and exhaustion - on the tours specially developed for health at the VitalWanderWelt is all about well-being. The circular trails - marked with a white V on a blue background - lead through the Teutoburg Forest. Because of its pure air, spa parks and brine springs, the low mountain range located between Osnabrück and Paderborn is called the "healing garden of Germany". The two to 14 kilometer long trails combine exercise with numerous extras for vitality. If you suffer from tinnitus, stations on the quiet paths of the Wiehengebirge invite you to pause and provide instructions for strengthening your senses. If you want to train your heart and fitness, the hilly hike around Bad Wünneberg is the right choice: just under ten kilometers with long but moderate climbs - and a facility for treading water. As Sebastian Kneipp said? Nature is the best pharmacy.

And this is how you get to the VitalWanderWelt by bus and train: Plan arrival.


Symphony for the senses

With a small notebook in his hand, the young Ludwig van Beethoven regularly walked through his native Bonn. While walking, he found inspiration. The Beethoven Tour brings to life the places where the composer stayed: such as the Redoute Castle, where the musical genius is said to have played for Joseph Haydn in his early 20s, or the Petersberg, where he "often came over in a barge" to "dream and work". The wide view over the Rhine plain still fascinates today. At 22 information pillars (that's how many years Beethoven spent in his birthplace) you can see pictures and texts, some of which are equipped with films and audio pieces and can be accessed via smartphone or QR code. In addition to the inner-city walk under the title "BTHVN Story", eleven other stations have been set up in the Rhine-Sieg district. The "BTHVN Region" includes excursion destinations such as the Drachenfels or the Benedictine Michaelsberg Abbey, where Beethoven enjoyed playing the organ as a child. A true ode to joy. Ta-ta-ta-Taaaa!

And this is how you get to Beethoven by train: Plan arrival.


Nature and culture for young and old in Sauerland

In the middle of the forest lies a huge ashlar, framed by a circle of beech trees. "Stone-Time-Man" is the name of the work by Nils-Udo, whose natural installations of sand, stones and logs are always placed in hidden places. Like here in a clearing near Kühhude. The Forest Sculpture Trail on the Rothaar ridge between Bad Berleburg and Schmallenberg is one of the thematically special routes of the Sauerland Traces. These are circular hiking tours that sometimes focus on nature, sometimes on a specific topic. For example, you can learn interesting anecdotes from the region between Sauerland and Wittengenstein on the "Border Stories Up Close. The mining hike in Ramsbeck covers almost ten kilometers and takes you along architectural monuments, old tunnels and relics.

More in the mood for greenery? On the Kahler Pön nature trail, you'll walk past berry bush heaths and mountain meadows through one of the few remaining high heaths in the Sauerland. A circular trail with twelve stations - and a fantastic view over the Medebacher Bay.

And this is how you get to Bad Berleburg by train: Plan arrival.

Cover photo: The hiking region NRW offers water, forest and the most beautiful nature parks © Tourismus NRW e.V.

More articles from North Rhine-Westphalia

In collaboration with Tourism NRW e.V.

Reasons for a Vacation in North Rhine-Westphalia there are plenty - the living Cities, the old Castles and palaces and the unique Nature are just a few of them.


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