This article describes the first part of our walk through the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. You can find some further information about how to go there and where to stay here.
Elbe Sandstone Mountains Hike Malerweg – The planned route
The first hike will us mostly lead on the 4th stage of the Malerweg. Since we have our base in Bad Schandau we are starting from Neumannmühle hike. The path takes us through the Ferkelschlüchte along the Kuhstall, a large rock gate. Afterwards we will pass the Lichtenhain waterfall and Beuthenfall before we leave the Malerweg, to not only walk around the Affensteine, but to hike on top of them. After this section is made, it goes back to the Malerweg, along the Schrammsteine and Hohe Mühle straight to Ostrauer Mühle. From the Ostrauer Mühle it’s only a short walk back to Bad Schandau.
According to the hiking guide the 4th stage of the Malerweg is a difficult route because it has quite a lot steep rise and falls, in combination with the Affenstieg this ramble is going to be tough.
To achieve Neumannmühle it’s recommended to take bus number 241 toward Hinterhermsdorf. Neumannmühle is operated directly from Bad Schandau, without any change of busses. So that it’s possible to reach the starting point for our planned route within 30 minutes. A single ticket costs 2,20 €.
Elbe Sandstone Mountains Hike Malerweg – The Hike
Elbe Sandstone Mountains Hike Malerweg – Flößersteig
The weather forecast for this weekend weren’t very good. The forecasted rain probability of 70% was already confirmed at the beginning of the day. On the way to the bus we were caught in a heavy rain fortunately we survived dry despite of some wet parts. In Neumannmühle arrived the clothes were dry again and we prepared to start the day.
The first section on this day took us along the Flößersteig, a beautiful path along the Kirnitzsch. In some passages the path was rather narrow and because of the rain quite slippery. So a certain surefootedness is beneficial.
Elbe Sandstone Mountains Hike Malerweg – Ferkelschlüchte
After leaving the Flößersteig the next highligth was already waiting for us to be discovered – the Ferkelschlüchte. Our path went along imposing rock faces. The rugged walls were covered with moss and offered a picturesque sight.
Elbe Sandstone Mountains Hike Malerweg – Kuhstall and Himmelsstieg
At the end of the Ferkelschlüchte a staircase led us directly to the Kuhstall, a large naturally grown rock gate.
We spotted a sign for the Himmelsstieg, seized by curiosity we started the climb. Set in between two cliffs a narrow iron staircase led upwards to the mountain peak. For people with claustrophobia this way isn’t recommended, with our backpacks we had some difficulty to meander through it or even to turn around. A feeling of being just tiny visitors between these millenniums-old rock formations suddenly became very present.
On the descent from the observation deck it started again to rain, a fairly heavy rain, so we took the opportunity in the protection of the Kuhstall to rest and warm up with some hot tea. A quarter of the way was now behind us.
Elbe Sandstone Mountains Hike Malerweg – Lichtenhain waterfall
The section directing to Lichtenhain was comfy, barely exciting but the prospect of a waterfall let us persevere. The Lichtenhain waterfall with it’s surrounding historic buildings are recommended as an worthwhile attraction. Once in Lichtenhain, we were initially at a loss, we couldn’t make a waterfall directly. Finally we found it and it offered a glorious sight to us. To increase the attractiveness a weir has been installed above the waterfall in the 19th century. It’s opened every 30 minutes. After opening the dam the waterfall has more water and provides an impressive sight. Unfortunately we missed this spectacle by a few minutes, as we didn’t want to wait for the next opening we moved on.
Elbe Sandstone Mountains Hike Malerweg – Beuthenfall
Our next destination: Beuthenfall. This stretch of the Malerweg runs along the main road and is therefore not very eventful. A variation of the track is definitely recommended here. Alternatively it’s also possible to take the Kirnitzschtalbahn.
Elbe Sandstone Mountains Hike Malerweg – Affensteine
Our planned route was meant to leave the Malerweg right after Beuthenfall to explore the Affensteine. So we left the path towards Häntzschelstiege what we didn’t realize the Häntzelschelstiege is not suitable for hikers. In addition to Zwillingsstiege and Rübezahlstiege the Häntzschelstiege is one of the steep paths that meets the character of climbing routes. The exploration is in the case of Häntzschelstiege only possible with climbing equipment, as we learned in hindsight. A sporty requirement is all three in common, a walk there wouldn’t be feasible with this amount of luggage or at least not recommended. We came quickly to signposts that informed us about it, so we decided to reject our plan to explore the Affensteine ? We just followed the paths that led along the outside of the Affensteine.
The sight was breathtaking even down in the valley, and there will definitely be a reunion with the monkey stones. After a while we finally met again on the Malerweg. Not quite satisfied with the outcome of the previous path section we decided to take a new path and to embark directly in the Wilde Hölle (wild hell).
Elbe Sandstone Mountains Hike Malerweg – Wilde Hölle
After a snack, we followed the signs toward hell and what we got to see was worth it. Along mossy rock formations we reached some rock-cut stairways and narrow metal ladders. We dangled a ledge along which is doable with light luggage and the appropriate altitude capability. With a little more luggage on their shoulders as Martin had you need to increased attention, but even then this passage can be mastered thoroughly.
The Wilde Hölle lives up to its name, the wild romantic path leads through beautiful gorges and rocks, provides some climbing and moderate, not too heavy climbs. A visit is highly recommended, but sturdy footwear and surefootedness are a must.
Elbe Sandstone Mountains Hike Malerweg – Carolafelsen
After we had left the Wild Hölle behind us, we set out to climb the Carolafelsen. Once at the top we had a magnificent view which also some other walking people enjoyed. We stayed only briefly and went back on the road. A good piece finally lay ahead.
Elbe Sandstone Mountains Hike Malerweg – Zurückesteig
We returned to the Malerweg and hiked the Zurückesteig toward the Schrammsteine. The path was marked by a constant up and down. Especially the Zurückesteig is very rocky and requires some concentration, but the offered chains attached beside the path made it well accessible.
Elbe Sandstone Mountains Hike Malerweg – Schrammsteine
The subsequent Schrammsteinweg offered us to several viewing platforms a beautiful panorama of the Elbe Valley. The path is also made from a rocky ground. Especially on the last viewpoint which offered us a spectacular view after we climbed over some narrow stone steps. We weren’t at the highest point of the day but certainly at the most spectacular. Finally we started the descent through the Wildschützensteig. And this was tough we mastered some steep stairs and ladders to come down.
From now on, we were on our relaxed way home. We followed the Malerweg to Ostrauer Mühle and left it there in the direction of Bad Schandau. The way back was not particularly stunning, we walked along a country road until we arrived Bad Schandau exhausted but happy.
Elbe Sandstone Mountains Hike Malerweg – Résumé
Overall we walked a distance of 25km this day. We couldn’t succeed our planned as the Häntzschelstieg is unsuitable for hikers. Nevertheless the alternative route we chose through the Wilde Hölle proved to be a real stroke of luck.
All in all the tour was very varied and apart from a few exceptions, such as the section between Lichtenhain waterfall and Beuthenfall consistently characterized by beautiful, absolutely stunning natural sights. Absolutely recommended!
We plan to do the missed Affensteine at another visit and also the Flößersteig needs to be explored a bit more further.