Thursday, September 17, 2009

Königstein – “Kingstone”

This past Saturday we decided to join our American friends on a hiking trip to Königstein, situated about 30 minutes northwest of Frankfurt by train. Some of my co-workers had recommended the place for its castle and hiking trails up to the top of some of the Taunus hills.

Downtown view of Koenigstein.

We headed out early and arrived in town by 9:30, walked through the quaint little town shown below, and up to the Schloss Falkenstein (Falkenstein Castle) for a quick self-tour. This 12th century castle had an incredible view of the city below and was reduced to mostly ruins after it was dynamited by the French in 1796. There was also a nice view of the Villa Andreae, built in 1891 for a Frankfurt banker and later used as a boarding school from 1957-1987 when it became private property. Since 1997 it has been the headquarters for some unnamed business (probably German mafia).
Driveway up to Schloss Falkenstein
View of Villa Andreae
Castle ruins
Castle Tower ( 147 steps to the top)

From the top of the tower
Look at the view from the top
After touring the castle we started our hike up into the Taunus hills towards a trail rest stop called “Fuchstanz” (fox dance). The trails were well-marked and the surrounding forest was stunning. It took about an hour to reach Fuchstanz and we were more than ready to stop and have lunch. I was thrilled to finally have some decent spaetzle, which is a traditional dish from Baden-Wurtemburg (the state that Stüttgart is in). It’s somewhat like a greasy, thick pasta with cheese – I call it the German mac ‘n cheese.
After lunch we continued up the trail for another hour or so until we reached the top of the Großer Feldberg, which is the highest point of the Taunus hills at 881 meters (nearly 2,700 feet). At the top we came across tons of mountain bikers and motorcyclists enjoying the perfect weather. It was a helluva workout overall, covering about 10 miles roundtrip.
Our lunch stop
Wicked awesome trails!
Our two stops on the trail

We made it to the top...2,700 feet. Huge radio tower supposedly used to spy on East Germany.
Marisa and Katy

All and all a beautiful day for a hike!
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