Hike around the castles of Falkenstein and Waldeck (4h)

Updated on 2024-04-23

Want a change of scenery without traveling too far? We are heading to the Pays de Bitche, in the Moselle region of France, right on the border with Alsace and less than an hour from Strasbourg. I had heard about this region of the Northern Vosges for a long time and wanted to go and discover it. Verdict, it's a favorite! The Bitcherland has many hiking trails, some of which are identified as "trails of excellence": in fact, they are the most beautiful ones ;-)

Laurène is the blog's creator. Originally from Brittany but now living in Alsace, she has fallen in love with her adopted region and loves exploring its every nook and cranny to unearth great ideas to share with you!

I chose the hike around the castles of Falkenstein and Waldeck (excellence trail 3), which is 13km long with just under 400m of positive elevation gain. It takes about 3.5 hours, including a visit to a castle (the Waldeck castle was not accessible when I went there, so we couldn’t stop there), but you can count on more depending on how long you spend at the castle(s).

Ponds of Hanau and Lieschbach

The itinerary of the hike is really superb from the beginning to the end and very well marked: you have to follow the red disc and the signs “sentier d’excellence”. It starts at thepond of HanauWe arrive in the middle of the lake, a superb pond that I would have qualified spontaneously of lake because it seemed to me really big, I did not expect it: it should be said that it makes 18 hectares! One sinks then in the magnificent Vosges forest to reach thepond of Lieschbachwhich is classified as a Nature Reserve, which is also very beautiful.

Falkenstein Castle

Then we go up in the forest until we reach the castle of Falkenstein. This is a slap in the face! I had seen some pictures but did not expect the ruins of this castle to be so imposing. The location of the castle is already exceptional: it was built on a huge rocky spur dominating the surroundings. Stairs lead to the top, where a 360-degree view awaits you, with forest as far as the eye can see!

The rock on which the castle stands is the famous Vosges pink sandstone typical of the Northern Vosges. It is for example this sandstone which was used to build the cathedral of Strasbourg. The different rock layers are really amazing to observe: in some places, it even looks like lace!

If you are afraid of heights, I don’t know if you will be able to go up: there are really good stairs but they are openwork, so it will depend on your degree of apprehension. Once up there, there is plenty of room since we are on the site of the castle: you can walk around freely (be careful to watch the children!) admiring the view from each side.

Explanatory panels are placed at different places of the ruins and allow to have information on the castle of formerly, its organization, its rooms… It’s interesting and allows you to project yourself further!

Erbsenfelsen Rock

The walk continues through the forest until you reach the Erbsenfelsen rock, a huge rock with many cavities where peregrine falcons and ravens nest. Be careful, you must not disturb them and the surroundings of the rock are forbidden: just observe it from below! You will be able to admire an astonishing arch which was formed in the rock.

Waldeck Castle

We then quickly reach the ruins of the Waldeck castleI couldn’t visit it because a landslide made the site dangerous and therefore inaccessible, but if it is open again when you go there, don’t hesitate, the view seems to be again very beautiful from up there! Then, we join thepond of Hanau by crossing a small hamlet then meadows before finding the forest and its typical peat bogs of the corner. What a beautiful walk!

  • Ruins of the Falkenstein castle
  • Superb hike all the way
  • Huge rocks in pink sandstone from the Vosges
  • Panoramic view of the surroundings
  • Beauty of the ponds
  • Waldeck castle inaccessible when I went there, but nobody can do anything about it 😉

My photos of the hike around the castles of Falkenstein and Waldeck