Exploring the Best Day Hikes in Europe: The Heidenfelsen Loop on the German Camino de Santiago
Mild uphill, wooded soft trails going across ruined medieval castles and 2nd century Pagan springs and sculptures rumored to be for human sacrifice.
For details to Skip directly there. Each hike includes detailed GPS guidance so it’s simple and not frustrating to find your way, food recommendations, and history highlights.
The Heidenfelsen Pagan Springs loop is often empty despite being a stone's throw from downtown Landstuhl.
This is part 5 of our ongoing German Camino de Santiago Blog series, an exploration of outdoor culture and accessible Nature experiences empowered by the enchanting Camino de Santiago pilgrimage path that spans most of Europe.
This post links to products and services we love, which we may make a small commission from, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our blog!! – Morgan
If kid’s activities are your jam, this might be a bit tough unless you are carrying them. This guide is not for strollers. There are beautiful single tracks that aren’t compatible with even sport strollers, however the shorter hike would be great for backpacking your kid with a comfortable Osprey Baby Carrying Pack.
Check out this Camino de Santiago blog post with a gentle hike to enjoy with the little ones.
People living in Landstuhl love visiting this hiking spot thanks it's proximity and solitude. Runners and hikers love the soft covered trails. Dreamers and spiritual types love the ancient trees and long walk along the Camino de Santiago and people you meet along the Way and the Roman sculptures.
Check out the mushrooms in the Fall on the hilside!
The trails are mild in the beginning and then become uphill and then traverses across with views of Ramstein Air Base with plenty of gorgeous rock formations and ancient sculptures to ponder.
Table of Contents: How this Guide is Organized
Getting to the Heidenfelsen Pagan Springs Loop Hike
Landstuhl rests at the very northern edge of the Palatinate forest (Pfälzerwald in German) which is a UNESCO site.
It is located within the heart of the Kaiserslautern military community, and often overlooked as a place to explore by American expats living in Germany, hikers or travelers near Frankfurt seeking a unique outdoor travel experience.
It’s the first cross border project in Europe, and the UNESCO site spans from Kaiserslautern, through the Palatinate forest and into the Vosges du Nord in France.
The 8,000 sq km biosphere reserve allows people of all fitness levels to walk on forested, soft paths.
An excellent and free resource to explore this preserve is the Pfälzerwald Verein, a club that supports the immaculate trails and markings, history placards, and adorable hütten (huts and restaurants) which offer hot meals, beer on tap and often bunk style beds for multi-day or long distance hikers.
The trailhead is at the Stadthalle Landstuhl, or main cultural center. The weekly Friday morning farmers market is held here and various shows, performances and events. The best way to access the Nanstein Castle hikes is by train. The (only) train station in Landstuhl is located less than ½ mile from the Stadthalle and a flat easy walk.
The easiest way is to use a car and park directly behind the Stadthalle in the Parkplatz Neuer Markt.
Heidenfelsen Pagan Springs Trail Map
Here is the Heidenfelsen Hiking Guide on the Camino de Santiago Map Route
How to use this map: Use your computer mouse or fingers to zoom in and out. Click on the icons to get more information. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the written index. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your google maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open google maps, click the menu button, and go to “your places”/ “maps.”
Hiking Guide Heidenfelsen Pagan Springs Loop
Heidenfelsen Pagan Springs Loop Guide: Camino de Santiago in Germany
Location: Landstuhl, Germany
Type of Hike: Loop
Distance: 3.5 miles
Elevation: 400 ft gain 400 down
Duration: Approx. 1 - 1.25 hours
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Start/end point: Stadthalle Landstuhl Parking Lot Behind
Camino de Santiago: Yes large stretches
Something Good to Eat: Right in town on the path is 9 Chan, a delicious Thai restaurant that has ever favorite for kids, Boba Tea.
Coming from Out of Town? Best Places to Stay: Want to be in the forest next to the Burg Nanstein?
The Schlosshotel Landstuhl is gorgeous and secluded and perfect for a more wellness stay with a sauna, fitness room and wellness area.
Want to be right in the thick of the medieval village? Hotel Restaurant Ölmühle is a 17th century building with delicious food and family run.
Heidenfelsen Pagan Springs Loop Trail Guide on Google:
Komoot App with GPS Tracking: Komoot allows one free region so you don’t have to subscribe to use this. It's an easy to use app for hiking.
Use my "tour" that I personally created to have this particular hike on your phone. Even without a good mobile signal, you can use your phone's GPS and follow the red dot.
Don't get lost! Or maybe get lost a little ;-)
On a mission to hike the Camino de Santiago in the Kmc section by section and create fun day loops.
Tips for Hiking Heidenfelsen Pagan Springs and German Camino de Santiago
The parking behind the Stadthalle (cultural center) can fill up and does require you to use a blue placard to annotate your time. Other parking areas include this one.
You'll walk through the town a bit and head uphill into the forest. After 10 minutes you'll jump onto the back parking lot of the IGS Landstuhl school, then pick back up the trail near the roundabout.
From here you'll stay on the lower trails until you get to a pond, then head uphill to the pavilion that houses the ancient Roman sculptures and springs. Turn back towards Landstuhl and head to the upper trails until you reach Herrengarten. Or Gentleman's garden with an amazing overlook of Ramstein Air base.
Then head to the Burg Nanstein ruins, then downhill back to the trailhead.
The springs are muddy, you'll want an athletic shoe of some sort and a change of shoes not to dirty your car or the train. Sun damage is real - protect your eyes from the crappy pre-cancers hiking tends to cause dumb people like me not using proper sunglasses, cat 3-4 work well.
Bring your own water.
It is never free to get tap water in Germany and it's expensive.
Exploring the Heidenfelsen Pagan Springs Hike
Like so many of the sections of the Camino de Santiago you’ll get not only some exercise but some insights into the local life and culture.
And with such great proximity to Ramstein, Kaiserslautern and Landstuhl it is the perfect day hike destination.
This is a hike we recommend you add to your bucket list, especially if you want some ancient history with your hikes.
Have you visited the Pagan Springs Hike in Landstuhl or other sections of the Camino de Santiago? We would love to hear about your experiences.
Exploring the Burg Nanstein History
The Burg Nanstein (Nanstein castle) has been mentioned in books as far back as 1162. If you love the movie The Princess Bride, you'll love this tour.
You'll find all of the fun things like ramparts, cannon balls, watchtowers, dungeons and everything else fun and medieval.
The castle was originally part of the King Barbarossa’s system (from Kaiserslautern, and the best local bakery) but changed hands by marriage to the Knight Sickingen sometime near 1480 and he modified it from castle to fortress.
Franz von Sickingen was famous for resisting progress and “city-states". He engaged in multiple wars, conflicts and engagements to try to keep feudalism alive in the area. His style resulted in multiple bombardments, his death from wounds and eventually the French burned the castle in 1689 and it lies a ruin today.
Learn more about German castles with this great book.
Beyond Hiking in Germany: Dolomites in the Summer
Hike and scramble over the path of the Alpini soldiers and explore the bunkers, via ferratas and outdoor museums at Cinque Torri in the Dolomites. To learn more about WWI history, check out the Alta Via 1 Hike in the Dolomites.
It's only possible in summer between mid-June and mid-September. It’s absolutely necessary to plan 6 months ahead of time to get lodging at huts directly on the high elevation trails.
It’s a 2-3 hour drive from Venice or a 7-8 hour drive from Ramstein Air Base. Save time deciding what to pack, (DON'T OVERPACK) detailed packing list of everything you would need to complete a 5 day hut to hut hiking trip to explore the Italian front of WWI.
Camino de Santiago Blogs
Thanks for reading this Camino de Santiago Blogs entry #5 and I hope you enjoy walking around Landstuhl at the edge of the Pfälzerwald.
with 💖, Crave the Planet
Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a passionate hiker and writer, physical therapist, and European Cornhole Commissioner. She is living near Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany and featured giving science-based hiking tips and advice.
When not out exploring the mountains or sea, she’s writing articles and gear reviews to empower Outdoor Journeys that include family and good food. She is actively involved in the community and advocating for connection and sustainability with her community projects at Cornhole Europa and Sustainable Investors Group.
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