I make all kinds of corny jokes about my love, Bavaria. There is some truth to it all though, and it’s for reasons like the Hassberge Nature Park, or Naturpark Haßberge, found in the Fränkische Keuperland. That would be the Franconian Keuper Land in English, in case you’re wondering.
What does this 804 square kilometers (310 square miles) slice of Heaven have in store for us? It took me a long time to know where to start. Officially you’ll find it to the northwest of the city of Bamberg, but there’s more to it than that.
And to take you on a “guided” webpage walk through some towns just won’t do the Naturpark Haßberge justice, as it’s known in German. You’ll find everything (and I do mean everything) from history to food, fishing to swimming, castles to camping, nature areas to train rides, beer to wine.
That’s not even the half of it. I’ll do my best to break all of the Hassberge Nature Park’s goodies down for you — just to make it easier.
I’m not kicking off the Nature Park with castles ’cause they’re my favorite. Oh no, there are some 26 castles found within the park. Such as Burg Bramberg in Würzburg, Burg Rotenhan in Eyrichshof (part of Ebern), Burg Altenstein in Maroldsweisach, and the Bettenburg in Hofheim (Lower Franconia).
And, please, I haven’t even gotten to the Burgen- und Schlösserwanderweg yet.
Oh, it appears I just did get to the Castles Trail, didn’t I? As if the above castles weren’t enough — all you have to do is follow the little green tower sign to hike to the Hassberge’s best castles and ruins. This one’s a doozy — 212km for 25 castles.
This ain’t no one-trail park, that I can tell you. You can hike the Burgwinkel, a 17km trail leading from Ebein to Ruine Rotenhan and Ruine Lichtenstein, ending at the Sagenpfad. Or, take the Rustic Village Route (16km) from Oberhaid to Mönchsee, Appendorf, Stiefenberg, ending in Baunach.
Wait… there’s more!
There’s also the Keltenweg (yes, the Celts), the Burgenkundlicher Naturweg (8 castles & ruins) that’s 40km long. Then there’s the Franconian Biblical Path, or Fränkischer Bibelweg (9km), with biblical sculptures from Untermerzbach to Seßlach.
Along the Lichtensteiner Sagenpfad are eleven stations that’ll tell you all about local legends as well as the local flora & fauna. It’s a historical theme on the 50km Amtsbotenwanderweg that runs in the footsteps of messengers who did the ride from Königsberg twice a week a couple of centuries ago.
Let’s not even forget to talk about the whole Hiking By Train thing. Oh yeah — this is great — you hike one way & take the train to get back. Sweet — less walking and more time to eat, drink, and be quite merry.
Wine / Beer / Food
Yeah, see, I knew the beer was coming up. Find one of the Bierkeller in Oberhaid, Reckendorf, Hallstadt, and Kemmern — you’ll thank me for telling you about it.
Then there’s the wine. If you’re in Steinbuch you can kick off the Weinwanderweg (it’s a walking route since you’re not supposed to be drinking & driving) following along the vineyards of the Franconian region.
You need food to keep you going at this point — so lucky for you there are a number of Farmer Markets selling their freshest fruit & veggie.
You’ll need to keep your strength up with good food ’cause there are all sorts of exciting museums that await you here in the Hassberge Nature Park. The Schmiedemuseum is all about industry in the town of Kirchlauter, then there’s a 50’s Museum in Burgpreppach (great poodle skirts and doo-wop music), a Railway Museum in Hofheim, an Archaeological Museum in Bad Neustadt, and the Zeiler Hexenturm that’s all about the region’s witch hunting days.
Thankfully there isn’t any more of that going on — but there is plenty of camping instead. So, let’s get to it, shall we?
Of course Germany’s got all kinds of hotels, guesthouses, historic inns, and everything in between where you can lay your head at night. However, nothing compares to roughing it in the Franconian countryside. Some of the best campgrounds in the Haßberge are located in Dürrenried, Baunach, Nassach, Schweinshaupten, and Reutersbrunn.
Please, I haven’t even gotten into the whole farm experience. Yes, if you wanna sleep in a real bonafide farm for the night — you can do that too in & around the Haßberge.
That’s too much for me… how will I ever get the smell of farm animal off? Yes, silly me — jump into one of the lakes found within the Haßberge. While there’s no camping out over by the Seidenhäusersee in the town of Königsberg, there is a playground for the kids and a beer garden for the grown-ups at the lake in Sulzfeld (Grabfeld).
Gmünd’s got a sweet lake too, known as the Weißfichtensee. This lake has everything you need for a good time in and around the water — from a playground to a fireplace to keep off the evening chill, to a nature area.
Wait… does that mean I need to put the Weißfichtensee in our next category?
It is a nature park after all, so I have to put the natural side of the Haßberge in here somewhere. Whether you’re coming to see the storks that make their annual appearance, or if you’re into all the indigenous creatures and plants — you’ll love it here. I’m pretty sure the llamas aren’t indigenous, but taking a llama trek is definitely a one of a kind experience, don’t ya think?
How do you follow something like that? You don’t — so our travel around the Hassberge Nature Park ends here. And I really hope you like it as much as I do.