Luxembourg is such a small country that you are tempted to think it consists only of the City of Luxembourg. But of course there’s also countryside, with a long-distance hiking trail we have set our eyes on. “Hiking the Mullerthal Trail, you walk in several circles around the small town of Echternach, in a somewhat mountainous area with lots of rolling fields.”
Sounds strange? But it’s supposed to be a beautiful long-distance trail with impressive rock formations.
This being Luxembourg, the trail is also well-organised with a lot of information online. The official site includes details on currently closed tracks and suggestions for walking stages using (free!) public transport. A perfect first excursion into a foreign country after the long Corona restrictions – we think.
A hiking trip to Luxembourg
Equipped with hiking gear, tent and walking sticks we board a train for Luxembourg. Because of rail repairs and a replacement bus service we arrive in the area only in the afternoon. So we decide to get off the bus a little earlier than Echternach. That town is officially the starting point for hiking the Mullerthal Trail, but we skip the first part of today’s hike. A wise decision, as the trail turns out more strenuous than we had anticipated. What a good idea to take the walking sticks: There were rather a lot of ups and downs. That night on the campsite on the river Sûre we meet a young Belgian couple who have already strained their knees from their hurried descent into Born.
The next day the trail leaves the frontier river and returns through solemn hills and woods to Echternach. There we can buy some food and sip a glass of white wine in a café on the market place. So far, the trail is well-routed on foot-paths and through reasonably pleasant landscape and beech forests. The altitude differences are enough to make it good training for the mountains later this year. But on the other hand it is not very exciting and would in normal, non-Corona years be second choice.
Hiking in circles
On day three, however, we start on the next circle, called Round 2 on the map. Round 2 encompasses two day hikes from Echternach to Mullerthal and back (and then there’s Round 3 beyond Mullerthal). This is the heart of the Mullerthal trail, we realise. For a whole day, we walk in mossy canyons, on craggy mountain slopes and among large fairy-tale boulders. After an already strenuous but exciting walk to Scheidgen, a sign points along the road and through wheat fields to Consdorf.
Strait over the plateau it would be only 3 km to our goal for today, but we dip down into those enchanted canyons, follow streams and rock formations in weird zigzags. Never mind, the signposting is excellent and a couple of kilometres before reaching Consdorf the number of visitors hiking the Mullerthal trail visibly increases. The leaflets had promised us extraordinary rock formations and narrow caves in this area and warned to take a flashlight.
“Hey, does the official Mullerthal trail nowadays skip the exciting narrow passages? Like, for safety reasons?”
When a small and promising-looking path leads upwards into the rocks, we follow it instead of the wider promenade down by the stream. Yes, that’s the path to the caves, an oncoming party tells us. And indeed, the rock passages are impressive. You can walk on top of some rock turrets, and it’s all very picturesque. But flashlights? Another fellow hiker assures us that she has been to really dark caves before, they must be somewhere around here. Finally we spot a crack in the rock wall with a path leading in and steeply down. There is no name painted on it (as there was sometimes on other famous rocks in the area), but it looks right.
Very dark and very narrow
Our headlamps would have needed new batteries – the cave is really quite dark and very narrow. With a backpack, it is impossible to turn round and sometimes we get slightly stuck between the walls and in the corners. After a few turns, we emerge onto a different path and now see the sign, “Kuelscheier,” and an instruction to walk only in one direction (not the one we had taken). On our way to Consdorf we then pass another two nearly as narrow rock passages, “Deiwepëtz” and “Rittergang”.
This type of canyon with fabulous rock formations continues until a small waterfall near Mullerthal, where we turn into Round 3 the next morning. The crowds disperse, and the path turns less inspiring. In fact, the stage between Mullerthal and Larochette is the most boring of the whole trail although the village of Larochette is quite cute with a lively market square, French-looking houses and a towering castle ruin. There’s even a few cafés, otherwise a rarity on the trail, and a food truck where we have sugary crepes.
From there towards Beaufort we pass some pleasant forests and many raspberry bushes, but apart from the small castle of Beaufort there isn’t much excitement on this stage, either.
More fairytale rocks
The canyons and mossy rocks continue again between Beaufort and Mullerthal – along the small streams of Haupeschbach and Halerbaach, we meet nobody, and even the road is far away. The old mill of Mullerthal is a tourist destination with restaurant, but we hope for a nice café in Berdorf. Now back on the second half of Round 2, we leave the crowds again and walk through steep boulders and enchanted rock walls. There are several restaurants in Berdorf, but they smell of canteen food and don’t have outdoor seating – so we skip the break and eat the last few cookies on a bench. By the time we reach the so-called wolves’ gorge near Echternach, we are ready to battle the wolves for food …
During our hike on the Mullerthal trail, Luxembourg has just been placed on Germany’s Covid-19 travel warning list, due to a rising number of cases. So instead of our planned extra day in Luxembourg City at the end of the trip, we decide to use that day to walk the remaining stretch of the first hiking day, from Echternach to Rosport.
Back in Berlin, we had to alert the health authorities about our trip and to quarantine for 14 days. Luckily we could get out of this earlier after a negative Covid-19 test.
How to walk the Mullerthal Trail
The trail revolves around Echternach, which is accessible by bus from Wasserbillig (on the train line between Luxembourg City and Trier in Germany). All public transport in Luxembourg is free.
The normal schedule for 112 km of rather mountainous hiking is 6 full days. If you don’t want to carry more than a day pack, it is easy to walk all stages as day trips from one base (most conveniently Echternach or Mullerthal). There are hotels and pensions as well as many campsites along the way. However, there are few supermarkets or shops in the villages, and drinking water is also rarely available during the day. The trail is perfectly maintained with regard to signposting, rest areas and the condition of the trail.
More infos on hiking the Mullerthal trail:
The official Mullerthal Trail Hiking site is: https://www.mullerthal-trail.lu/en
Note: We paid for the whole trip by ourselves and are not sponsored in any way to write this post.