I’m going to be in Baden-Wuerttemberg for a few weeks, and would like to spend a weekend hiking along the Rhine River Valley. Has anyone here done that? Tell me everything. I’m a good walker - I’ll walk for hours on end in a city - but have never properly hiked, a few long-ago school excursions aside. How hard is it? What section of the Rhine is the best/most attractive? How far can someone reasonably expect to walk per day? Any other tips? I’ve searched a bit online and have read about both the Rheinsteig trail and the Rhine Castles Trail (Rhein-Burgen-Wanderweg) - is one part of the other? Thank you!
I haven’t hiked in the area you’re interested in but I’ve been there. The area you’re looking at is definitely the most spectacular and scenic part of the Rhine valley. It has amazing vistas, lots of castles and sttep climbs.
Have you looked at LoreleyInfo? This page has information (in English) on the stretch between Bingen in the South and Koblenz in the North. From that page it seems that the Rhine Castle Trail is on the left side ofthe river and the Rheinsteig on the right side. Both cover roughly the same section of the river. Both also run along the ledge of the hills alongside the Rhine. This is good because the valley itself is choked with roads, train tracks and towns. However, you have step climbs and descents wherever the trail crosses a tributary.
The trails described on the web page are about 110 km (70 mi) in each direction. There is a detailed suggestion for hiking the Rheinsteig in 8 stages ranging from 5 to 12 miles and 2:45 to 6 hours (Rheinsteig description). It looks like you could consolidate some of the shorter stages but on hte other hand there are lots of places along the way where you could stop and check out some castles. Every town along the way could serve an an entry point so you could pick and chose which stages to do.
This is a very touristy area (the hills less so than the valley). You should have no problem with English and there is no shortage or restaurants and stores. Overnight accomodations might be a problem if you get there at the height of the tourist season if you don’t book ahead of time. Since there are vineyards all along the river, the height of the tourist season in this area is in the fall, coinciding with the grape harvest.
Depending on where you are in Baden-Württemberg it would take you between 1 hour (from Heidelberg) and 3 hours (from Ulm) to get there by car. Traffic around Stuttgart can be nasty so it could easily take longer. Of course, you can also take the train to get there (book ahead to get cheaper rates). The Rhine valley is one of the main throughfares so there are plenty of connections.
All in all it sounds like a terrific way to spend some time outdoors and get to see the area.