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Small day hikes

Through the hills around Lauterbourg

Circuit des Hauts de Lauterbourg

From Lauterbourg, on the edge of the major bed of the Rhine, the Motherestross, next to the fitness path, which was a trading route in Roman times, leads to the crossroads of the four banns, from where we can climb up to the heights of the area: Neeweiler Höhe, at an altitude of 183 m, the calvary of Neuhof and Firstweg, with its view point over the Black Forest, the Rhine valley, Bienwald, Pfälzerwald and the Northern Vosges.

On the way back, the round circuit signposted by a red ring takes us near the villages of Salmbach, Niederlauterbach and Scheibenhard, which, like Neewiller, have preserved their architectural heritage.

We can turn back to Lauterbourg by leaving the open trail at Salmbach or Niederlauterbach, and move on to the trail of the Lines of the Lauter (red rectangle), a military edifice dating back to 1706 running along the river in the woodlands. During the War of the Spanish Succession, this line of defence secured the North of Alsace.

Once back in Lauterbourg, a short tour of the town will give you the opportunity to discover what remains of the Mediaeval fortifications and constructions from the Vauban era.

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The Great Oak Trail - 24 km - 6h00

Sentier du gros chêne

The region around Haguenau is a vast plain with tributaries of the Rhine running from West to East, the main river being the Moder. The vast forest of Haguenau stands on the great sedimentary deposits brought down from the Northern Vosges by the rivers - mainly pebbles and sand.

It is the sixth largest forest in France and covers 13 400 hectares, making a genuine reef of trees to the north of Haguenau.

Leaving the Gate of Wissembourg, this trail crosses the overflow canal of the river Moder and an urban area before entering the forest. At the «Great Oak Tree», we come across what remains of a thousand year old oak tree with a 7 m circumference, felled by lightning in 1913. A fitness trail and botanical path have been set up around this site. Continuing through the forest, the trail moves ever westwards to Gruendel lakes. At a stone’s throw away on the northern eaves of the forest of Walbourg, stands the beautiful, 15th century Gothic abbey-church of Saint Walpurge. Passing through the former washing place of Hundshof, the route returns to Haguenau.

 

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Along the river Sarre - 25 km - 6h30

Sentier de la Sarre

This trail runs along the Sarre valley from Konz near Trier where two rivers, the Sarre and the Moselle meet in Germany. Just after Sarreguemines, it enters Nothern Alsace via “Alsace Bossue”, an area of transition between the Vosges mountains and the plateau of Lorraine.

From Herbitzheim, it passes through a vast forest to Keskastel where it more or less follows the meandering Sarre. As the Sarre runs its course, dotted here and there with water mills, we come to Sarre-Union, the major town in the area with its magnificent architecture (old Town Hall, houses from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, reformed church).

Further on, the village of Sarrewerden has preserved sections of its fascinating Mediaeval wall, in the middle of which stands the old 15th century collegiate church of St Blaise. Finally, having hiked through part of the forest of Sarre-Union, we reach Diedendorf with its magnificent Renaissance castle overlooking the river. At Wolfskirchen mill, the trail leaves the Bas-Rhin back to Moselle and, via Sarrebourg, reaches the source of the Sarre beyond Abreschwiller at the foot of Donon mountain.

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Through the green belt of Strasbourg  - 17 km - 4h30

La ceinture verte de Strasbourg

This circular trail goes through an urban environment and opens up an unusual way of discovering Strasbourg by making full use of the landscaped areas and paths along the waterways. From the bridges linking Place de l’Etoile and Place de la Bourse, the itinerary follows the Rhône-Rhine canal westwards until it meets the river Ill. Just after Montagne Verte, it follows a trench at the foot of the old ramparts of the fortified ring built from 1872 onwards. In the middle of the garden plots, from one shelter to the next, we move round the back of Strasbourg railway station and come out at Place de Haguenau.

On the border with Schiltigheim, where the first breweries are located, the trail joins the banks of the Aar, and then the banks of the Ill to the European buildings. Crossing through Orangerie Park, we come to the Council of the XV quarter and the basin of the Ramparts where the first port installations were set up.

After the river port where the cruisers of the Rhine drop anchor, we leave Dusuzeau basin and walk through Citadelle Park, which is landscaped in the centre of fortifications built by Vauban at the end of the 17th century and come back to our starting point.

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Along the rivers Ill and Lutter - 12 km - 3h30

Circuit de l'Ill et de la Lutter

Halfway between the mountains and the Rhine lies the plain to the south of Strasbourg, the region of Benfeld, which is an agricultural area with thriving crops of tobacco and sugar beet. Geologically, two type of land lie side by side, the loess terrace and the ried marshes.

From the car park ok the lake of Benfeld, the trail goes towards the south. We immediately enter the forest, alongside the gravel pit of Benfeld and then the river Lutter.

Further on, turning back northwards, we find the little chapel dedicated to Saint Materne, one of the missionaries who is supposed to have brought Christianity to Alsace. Continuing on in parallel to Hanfgraben ditch, we move on to the site where Werde castle used to stand. Today it is occupied by a Renaissance manor having been transformed time and again. After a little detour to the village of Sand, the return route follows the river Ill. You should visit the town of Benfeld before or after the ramble and look for the beautiful clock on the turret of the Town Hall with its 17th century figurines coming out to strike the hour.

 

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Through the forest of Illwald - 13 km - 3h45

Sentier de l'Illwald

The great ried marshlands of the river Ill, between Sélestat and the Rhine, are the largest in Alsace. The area features a dense network of rivers, many of which are fed by the water table, and a rich fauna and flora (curlew, one of the largest populations of wild deer in France etc.).

The trail takes us on a discovery tour of the Sélestat ried which is in fact the flood bed of the river Ill, and is still active today, unlike the flood basin of the Rhine. The area has been classified as a voluntary nature reserve covering almost 1 800 hectares.

From the bridge of the Ill in Sélestat, the trail reaches Hollockgraben, an irrigation and drainage ditch which it follows until it meets up with the river Ill.

Going into the forest of Illwald, we set off northwards to cross a myriad water courses in succession - Krummlach, Forstlach, Petit Rheinweg and Schiffwasser and then walk on northwards in parallel to the Oberriedgraben. At the chapel of the Oak Tree, the trail joins up with the Schiffwasser before returning to Sélestat

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Circuit des crêtes dans le Val d'Argent

Hilltop walk in the Val d’Argent - 16 km - 6h

Located between the Route des Vins (wine trail and the Route des Crêtes (the asphalt road skirting the hilltops) the Val d’Argent, also called Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines valley or Lièpvre vale, is proud of its rich heritage, its history, its mines and its fabrics. Indeed, it hosts major yearly events such as the Mineral and Gem Show and the Festival of Fabrics.

Here is a delightful hike which is mainly confined to the hilltops of the Hautes Vosges or their near vicinity. Despite the presence of a rather densely wooded area, you will enjoy beautiful viewpoints of both sides of the Vosges mountains all along your route. You will also walk past a few remarkable rocks but the steep cliff faces should invite you to a cautions approach. At the Roches des Fées (fairies’rock) the story goes that on full moon nights fairies gather to dance there. And should you wish to catch a glimpse of them, only one condition has to be fulfilled: be a child or have a child’s soul.

Along the walk you will also have the opportunity of coming across numerous remains of the times when France and Germany were at war : military cemeteries, old trenches, First World War forts as well as the Liberty tree planted by the Americans in 1917 to mark Alsace’s return to freedom. From that landmark it will be possible for you to shorten your walk and return directly to the Col (pass) de Saintes-Marie-aux-Mines.

 

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Sentier viticole des Grands CrusThe «Grands Crus» wine trail - 16 km - 4h30

Ideal period: all the year round except during grape harvest The « Grands Crus » wine trail (« The Pearls of the Vineyards ») goes through the communal ,territories of Beblenheim, Benwihr, Hunawihr, Riquewihr and Zellenberg.

This trail invites you to an enriching, signposted walk, punctuated by explanations on the work in the vineyards and the production of wine. Your footsteps will lead you towards the classified « Grands Crus » hillsides of these six villages of the Pays de Riquewihr. Get immersed in the heart of the vineyards, let the beauty of the landscape fill your eyes and fall under the quaint charm of the villages. Take advantage of the wonderful viewpoints of Ribeauvillé’s, three castles, the Haut Koenigsbourg Castle and admire the remarkable panorama of the Alsatian plain and the Black Forest.

Under the guidance of a winegrower walk along the « Grands Crus » wine trail and make the most of a guided theme tour on the world of vineyards and wine, followed by the visit of a cellar and wine tasting !

Please, bear in mind that all the vineyards trail are forbidden to the general public during the whole harvesting period and also during the month prior to the actual start of grape picking.

 

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Circuit des lacsWalking round the lakes - 16 km - 6h

One will discover all the beauty of the Hautes-Chaumes with their contrasting colours and mountain lakes in their natural vegetal shrine all along this hike in the heart of the Tanet-Gazon du Faing Natural Biological Reserve.

The Hautes -Chaumes are those treeless hilltops often grazed by herds of Vosgian cows in the summer. They are home to some altitude peat bogs and offer unresticted views: one can discover the splendid panoramas of the lakes, the Orbey vale, the Munster valley, the Alsatian plain, the Black Forest and even the Swiss Alps on a clear day !

Each one of the lakes has got its particular character. Next to le lac Blanc there is a ski resort where alpine and cross country skiing or snowshoe walking can be enjoyed. You can also walk the trail barefoot in the summer or practice mountain biking in the Bike Park. Le lac Noir is equipped with a hydroelectric power plant, le lac des Truites (Trout Lake or lac du Forlet) is the highest lake in the hill range and le lac Vert (Green Lake) gets its colour thanks to the rapid growth of an algae during springtime.

You will have the opportunity of making delightful pauses to admire the landscape, have a drink or a bite in the fermeauberge du Forlet by the shore of le lac du Forlet and at the Gazon du Faing inn (a little way off the trail, by the side of la Route des Crêtes - the secondary road (skirting the hilltops). This pleasant hike is not restricted to the sole enjoyment of seasoned and experienced hikers but can also be done with the family. Only precaution to observe : some of the trails are highly hazardous or impassable when covered with snow.

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Sentier viticole du Florival

Florival valley wine trail - 5 km - 2 h

La Route des Vins d’Alsace is France’s oldest wine trail as it was created in 1953 ! It stretches for more than 170 K (106 miles ) from Thann to Marlenheim via Colmar, and goes across more than 300 wine producing estates.

Among the numerous wine trails we have selected one right in the heart of Florival, at the foot of le Grand Ballon, the highest summit in the Vosges range (1424 metres / nearly 4700 feet). Florival owes its name to its rich and varied flora.

The educational Orschwihr tour will get you more familiar with the wine growing world and its natural environment (vegetative cycles, the various steps in ...wine making , etc). The starting point are Bollenberg’s chestnut trees at the bottom of the Grand-Rue. From there simply follow the signposts. On the way you will come across a variety of plants (more than 150 species), a witch chapel (Chapelle, Sainte Croix), beautiful viewpoints of Orschwihr Pfingsberg, Bollenberg , Zinnkoepfle and the Alsatian plain, and vineyards as far as the eye can see.

In July and August, a few guided tours (free of charge) followed by wine tasting are conducted by a winegrower. Get information from the Tourist Office at Guebwiller.

Please, bear in mind that all the vineyards trail are forbidden to the general public during the whole harvesting period, and also during the month prior to the actual start of grape picking.

 

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Circuit des cascadesCircuit des cascades- 13 km - 4h30

The Doller valley - the southernmost valley in the Hautes Vosges- offers a multitude of various facets according to the seasons. The exceptionally lush and well-preserved wild areas will invite you to discover its wide open spaces. Sewen, the starting point of your walk, is nestled at the foothills of the Ballon d’Alsace.

The route enables the hiker to enjoy exceptional views of Rouge Gazon, Haute Bers and Rimbachkopf while strolling past the Hohlenbach’s gorges and waterfalls (mountainstream potholes).

Lake Alfeld, at the far end of the trail, is an ancient glacial lake that was dammed towards the end of the 19th century in order to regulate the floods and enable the irrigation of the valley in the summer.

As for Lake Sewen, it is highly favoured as a field for study by both scientists and geologists: its fauna and flora are both protected and rare species can be observed, such as the beaver or carnivorous plants such as the drosera.

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Circuit de la grotte et du sentier géologique de la vallée de la DollerThe cave walk and the Doller valley geological trail - 19km - 6h

Sentheim, the gateway to the Parc Naturel des Ballons des Vosges, is situated at the bottom of the Doller valley at a 360 m (1100 feet) altitude. From a geological point of view this unique town is home to the House of Geology and offers its visitors a geological trail. In this exceptional site, over an area smaller than a square kilometre (0.4 sq. mile), close to one another lay soils dating back to the primary, secondary, tertiary and quarternary eras. You will have the chance to walk through 350 millions years of geological history in only three hours.

You can explore the trail on your own with the help of a guide brochure or in the company of a guide (prior booking needed). The brochure is available from the House of Geology in Sentheim. This trail will lead you to the top of Bergwald, a wonderful vantage point on the Doller valley, Sundgau, the Alsatian Jura hills, the Alps and the Black Forest.

Should you wish to do half of the walk, you may as well start from the Schirm pass (Col du Schirm) between Masevaux and Bourbach-le-Haut on the route Joffre (Joffre road) , which was built as early as 1915 to supply food and ammunitions to the troops on the Vosges front.

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Circuit de la Petite CamargueAlsace’s «Little Camargue» tour - 20 km - 5h

This walk, right in the middle of the urban zone less than 6 Km away from the heart of Basel offers an absolutely fabulous nature spot along the Rhine. You can meander in the heart of Alsace’s «Little Camargue» , which has become the first protected nature reserve in the region. This site (of more than 200 hectares (about 500 acres is managed by an association composed of conservationists, naturalists, scientists and local elected representatives. The day to day management has been entrusted to a staff of professionals.

This area is the center for the production and reintroduction of the Atlantic salmon (salmo salar) into the Rhine and its tributaries, after it had totally disappeared from their waters circa 1950.

There you will find every kind of landscape and biotope the Rhine has shaped throughout the history of mankind - and in addition, exceptional fauna and flora, among which 4 species of orchids are protected on the national level and 35 on a regional level.

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Le tour d'AltkirchLe tour d'Altkirch - 10 km - 3h

The river Ill cuts right across Altkirch, the capital of Sundgau. The valley with its gentle slopes allows easy access to the town. It is surrounded with forests and fertile hills resting against the foothills of the Alsatian Jura.

This walk will allow you to discover both the town and its surroundings. The town boasts numerous cultural sites, among which the Rhenan Centre for contemporary arts, Saint Morand priory, Notre-Dame Church, a synagogue, a Protestant temple, a military cemetery; guided tours to all these respective places (either for groups or individuals) are available.

While following the trail you will appreciate the calm of the Klosterwald forest and have the opportunity of having a meal in the natural setting of the Schweihof farm. You will also enjoy the views of the village of Wittersdorf (with a possible visit).

 

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Circuit du château de Ferette et de la grotte des nainsFerrette castle and the Gnomes’rock walk - 10 km - 3h30

Commonly called « Dreiländereck » - literally the three country corner - Sundgau occupies a privileged spot at the crossroads of Europe.

You will be able to visit the upper part of Ferrette whose construction dates back to the 12th century after the dynasty of the Counts of Ferrette settled there. You will discover the castle, the lime tree alley and the « Klingelstein » (the ringing » stone). For more information try the castle guide brochure which can be obtained free of charge from the tourist information office.

Along the way you will discover the Rosberg, the pierced rock of Loechlenfelsen (a huge slab of chalk rock pockmarked with holes as a result of erosion), the summit of Kanzel, Heidefluh pagan rock as well as the Gnomes’ plateau and its cave : the old celebrating place of the Gnome People, who, as the legend goes, have goat’s feet !

This walk can be done either clockwise or anticlockwise.

 

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