The Palatinate Forest – a manifold experience of nature

Founded in 1959, the Palatinate Forest Nature Park was one of the first national parks in Germany at that time. With its 1771km², the Palatinate Forest occupies about a third of the Palatinate, and is today the largest contiguous forest area in Germany and one of the largest in Europe. It was the primary objective of the Nature Park to create a place of tranquillity and to allow the population of the surrounding towns to meet nature. In 1992, the Palatinate Forest Nature Park and its impressive red sandstone landscape was recognised as the 12th German Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

Holidays in the Palatinate Forest are therefore strongly characterised by nature-related activities. On the 1,400 miles (2200km) of trails, hikers should expect spectacular rock formations, romantic castle ruins, small streams and sunny viewpoints. With its 90 miles (140km), the Palatinate Forest Path combines all the features of the Palatinate Forest and leads along interesting options for excursions and refreshment. At Johanniskreuz (St. John's Cross), you should visit the “House of Sustainability”, which provides fascinating information about man and nature and delivers an example of sustainable, healthy and ecological housing. The trail also passes through the Rockland of Dahn (Dahner Felsenland) with its spectacular rock formations, up to the Drachenfels ruins, carved into the rock.

The Way of St. James (Jakobs-Pilgerweg) as well has always been attracting many visitors to the Palatinate Forest. Walking in the footsteps of former pilgrims from the town of Speyer to the Hornbach Monastery. Next to Jerusalem and Rome, the Santiago de Compostela in Spanish Galicia, with its tomb of the Apostle James, is the Christian pilgrims’ most important destination. Since the early Middle Ages, people have made their pilgrimage to this place. The result has been a network of pathways created across Europe. All along the Palatinate Way of St. James, panels provide information about the pilgrimage and indicate several interesting sightseeing side trips to the surrounding communities. The Palatinate Way of St. James starts in the town of Speyer and leads through Neustadt, Lambrecht, Elmstein, Trippstadt-Johanniskreuz and Landstuhl to the Hornbach Monastery.

Within its network of more than 185 miles (300km), the Palatinate Forest Mountain Bike Park offers varied cycling routes of different degrees of difficulty for both professionals and amateur cyclists. The varying altitudes, half-forgotten trails and off-road sections provide an optimal course. For those preferring more comfortable cycling, both the Palatinate Forest Tour and Southwest Palatinate Tour theme routes promise lots of happy hours in nature.