Wegelnburg Ruins in the Dahner Felsenland - Details and Tips
Wegelnburg Ruins in the Dahner Felsenland - Details and Tips

Wegelnburg Ruins in the Dahner Felsenland - Details and Tips


When Is the Best Time

Wegelnburg is one of the most fascinating castle ruins I’ve ever visited; absolutely breathtaking and picturesque. If you want to know if it is worth coming here, definitely YES. Wegelnburg is at least as spectacular as shown in my pictures. 

Moss covered ruin and a hiker at the entrance
One of the accessible chambers

The ruins of this ancient imperial fortress from the 12th and 13th centuries are located one hour drive west of Karlsruhe in Germany, close to the French border. This newly renovated castle ruin offers the most breathtaking views of all castles in this area. It is a popular spot for photographers for the amazing sunrise.

Wegelnburg at sunrise
Although popular for the sunrise, we were the only ones on a Sunday in April.

Wegelnburg stretches on a mountain called Sindelsberg at an elevation of 572 meters. Due to this location, you get 360° panoramic views of the forests and the North Vosges Biosphere Reserve. Wegelnburg is the highest castle complex in the Palatinate.

A visitors on a staircase on top of Wegelnburg ruin
Railings and stairs have been installed.

It was restored in the last years and finally reopened this 2023. They did excellent work here, making it safer to access the photogenic ruins.

Parking for Wegelnburg Ruin

The parking close to Nothweiler in the forest.
Free overnight parking - also for campervans. 

The closest parking and also a good start for the four-castle hike is the Nothweiler car park. Campers are allowed to stay here overnight for free. If you plan to hike the four-castle route, you can also park at Burg Fleckenstein, another well-preserved castle ruin. Parking Nothweiler Google Maps just 50 m before the France border

How to Get to Wegelnburg Ruin?

Hiking Map of Wegelnburg and the surrounding castle ruins
Hiking Map in high resolution

Nothweiler the closest village close to France is a little remote located and getting here by public transport is impossible. You need a vehicle to get here. The closest bigger city is Pirmasens, 30 km northwest of Wegelnburg and the closest lovely town is Schönau. 

Plenty of hiking signs indicate the different trails
Very well-marked trails with the exact mileage.

It takes 45 minutes to one hour from the parking for the steep trail through the forest to the top of Sindelsberg and the castle ruins. The path leads on a soft forest floor and is very well marked. If you want to visit Wegelnburg only, plan roughly three hours for hiking and enjoying the spectacular landscape from the top of the ruin.

A reconstructed staircase on the top of the Wegelnburg ruin.
Wegelnburg castle was integrated into the rocks

There are three additional routes where you pass by Wegelnburg. We hiked twice to Wegelnburg and the same path back to the car park. However, we plan to return for the 4 Castles Tour.

1 Four Castles Circular Hike – 4 Burgen Tour

Visitors on top of Hohenbourg ruin
The view from Wegelnburg to Chateau de Hohenbourg in France.

This is an excellent transborder trail between Germany and France. This trail is 9,5 km long and combines some of the most fascinating castles in less than four hours. Wegelnburg is the first of the four castles along this hike. It is worth seeing what is left of the ruins, which were renovated in the last years and closed to the public.

The narrow forest track to Wegelnburg
The soft forest floor is excellent for hiking.

The track continues past the "Kaiser-Wilhelm-Stein", which is a Memorial Stone slightly uphill to the castle ruin Hohenbourg in France, then on to the castle ruin Löwenstein - France and the mighty Fleckenstein in France, where you are able to have a break in the Café which offer warm and cold meals.

An old boundary marker dated 1826
An old boundary marker along the trail.
  • Chateau de Hohenbourg
    Built at the beginning of the 13th century, the ruin is located on the 550 m high castle hill. The castle was destroyed in 1680, as well as Wegelnburg. Nevertheless, a very well-preserved ruin where you can climb up ladders for great views of the surroundings and Wegelnburg.
  • Löwenstein
    Built in the 13th century, the ruin is also located on the castle hill. The castle was built on two sandstone rocks above a gorge. It was destroyed already in the 14th century because it was used as a refuge for thieves.
  • Fleckenstein
    Well-preserved castle ruins from the 12th century and one of the largest Vosges castles with a length of 92 m and 8 m width.

2 Salztrippler Tour

The three different hiking symbols for the trails
The red one is Wegelnburg, the ghost is the "Sagenweg" means legend trail and below "Salztrippler" from former times when salt was traded.

This is a 4-hour - half-day tour of 12 km, starting in Rumbach and passing by Wegelnburg.

Felsenland – Sagenweg

Two female hikers with huge backpacks
These two women hiked the trail during Easter from hotel to hotel, and they loved it.

This circular trail is 86 km long and has more than 2,700 m in elevation gain and loss. You must take the train at the beginning or at the end of the trail. Curious? More information in this flyer is also in English and French.

Best Daytime for Wegelnburg

A hiker on the top of the ruins watching the sunrise
Markus and I enjoyed the sunrise before 7 am in April.

Wegelnburg is famous for its magnificent sunrise, and due to the panoramic views from the top of the castle, it is always spectacular also on a cloudy day or in the winter. Sunrise time Wegelnburg

Top Tip for a Long Weekend

A female hiker on top of the rock Drachenfels
I on top of Drachenfels - built around the year 1200 as a frontier castle.

Wegelnburg is located in the “Dahner Felsenland” a fantastic area with hiking trails for all fitness levels through lush forests and along huge rock formations. It is only a stone's throw to Alsace and Burg Fleckenstein, another castle across the border in France which is also worth visiting. I suggest spending three or four nights here in Schönau to explore more of the region.

Wegelnburg History

A chamber like a cave inside the Wegelnburg ruins.
Another chamber in Wegelnburg
  • The castle is named after a vassal of the emperor “Woeglenburc”
  • It was built in three stages an upper, middle, and outer castle. Unfortunately, nothing of the upper castle walls remained. This part got utterly destroyed. 
    The view from below the front part of the castle
    The front part of the castle like the bow of a ship  
  • Built as a fortification in the 13th century but soon after destroyed by the French citizens of Strasbourg.
  • The castle was rebuilt, and parts of the village and the castle were pledged to the German Empire, the Elector of the Palatine, for 957 guilders in 1330.
    View from the bottom to the entire Wegelnburg castle
    Wegelnburg was built in stages.
  • One of the famous owners of Wegelnburg was the knight Schwarz Reinhard von Sickingen (1374-1439).
  • In 1417 the castle became the possession of the Duke of Zweibrücken.
  • Until the French Revolution, it belonged to the same family.
    A remaining archway in Wegelnburg
    This archway gives an idea of how splendid the castle once was.
  • The castle was burnt to the grounds by the French general Montclar in 1680
  • Today the Wegelnburg belongs to Rhineland-Palatinate and has been under the palace administration since 1963.
The ruins of another chamber in Wegelnburg
This looked to me like the former kitchen with a well.

Best Months to Visit


Location and Tips

Karlsruhe, Schönau

The ruins tower over the woods in Germany's largest contiguous forest territory on brittle sandstone, the reason for the restorations that lasted for years. Although there is not so much left of the castle, it is enough to give you an impression of the once very complex castle complex.

A hiker accessing the first archway into the middle part of Wegelnburg
A very picturesque castle ruin.

We visited Wegelnburg in the late afternoon and the next morning for the sunrise. We spent the night in our van at the Nothweiler car park for hiking. 

The village Nothweiler where the trail starts
The lovely village Nothweiler can be seen from Wegelnburg.

 Who We Are

A selfie of us with the Saarburg Waterfall in the back
Markus and I have been married for almost 25 years in Saarburg.

We love travelling the world and I am passionate about sharing some of the most beautiful places in the world and in my home country with you. However, I still can't live from my work, and we have regular jobs, too.

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Micha Herber-Bleich
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