Perfekt hiking weather! So it's time for the "Weinblickweg". The 17km circuit leads throuhg vineyards, forests and through fields. The trail shows off everything the Bergstraße region has to offer - the steep vineyards with the great views into the Rhine valley, but also the hills of the Odenwald with its tranquillity an the picturesque small villages.
The trail starts at the "Viniversum" of the Winzergenossenschaft Bergstäßer Winzer and first lead up the "Kanonenweg" (Cannon-Walk) into the vineyards. The trail is steep, and since the sun was glaring and there is only little shade, we started sweating right away. But the views across Heppenheim, especially the twisty little alleys in the old town center, rewarded us for the steep ascent.
Soon a "5-Minute-Trail" was signposted at the side of the track. We switched to this small path and climbed steeply towards the Starkenburg. Where once the main building of the castle used to be, there is a now a youth hostel. And similar some other parts of the castle, even though they look old, are not really all that historical. The main tower was dilapidated at one point, so it was blown up and reerected in a different location within the castle. Nevertheless the castle is quite impressive. Since it is a popular destination, there were a lot of people around and we preferred not to mingle to much, so we followed our trail markers past the astronomical observatory and the parking lot of the castle, where the crowds soon started to thin out.
Rural idyll in Ober-Hambach
A wide, and mostly flat trail, led us along the forest edge – with a wonderful view of the rolling hills of the Bergstraße region - until we reached the shelter hut "Helenenruhe", where we turned into the forest on a wide forest road. The trail is moderately steep here and crosses a nice section of beech forest. Once the crest of the hill is passed, the trail slowly descends towards the small village of Ober-Hambach.
While walking towards the first few houses, we saw a deer standing there in one of the gardens, just watching us. It slowly walked away when we came closer, but it didn't seem too startled. The tiny town is situated in a valley, with no big roads nearby so everything seemd very calm and quiet. The whole scene was so picturesque, the atmosphere so special, that this ended up as our favorite part of the tour. We took the time to sit down at a bench and just watch and enjoy for a while, before continuing our walk.
After our short break we entered the forest again on the other side of the valley. Here the trail forked and a we followed a nice, small littel trail for a few hundred meters, but then it unfortunately joined once again with a wide forest road. The road led us around a hill called "Eselsberg" (Donkey-Hill) and then in some big loops through the forest.
Once the trail left the forest again it continued across rapeseed and grain fields on wide farm tracks, then, shortly before we got a glimpse of the town of Unter-Hambach to our left, the fields gave way to vineyards again – and we knew it couldn't be too far anymore. The remainder of the trail led us through the vineyards, first at the crest of the hill, then in wide serpentines down into the valley.
While most of the trail hat been really solitary, we know met more people again. A whole lump of people stood around near the "Winzerraster", where a webcam used to be available for selfies that could then be viewed online - unfortunately that's not possible anymore due to data privacy concerns. Nevertheless people took the chance to take selfies, but with their own phones.
We're not that kind of people really, so we continued and enjoyed the view a few meters down the road, where there was less of a crowd. After this littel interlude, it was only a short walk until we reached the first houses and walked into Heppenheim on a really steep little road.
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