Upper Franconia is most renowned as the area of Germany with the highest concentration of breweries but perhaps its true claim to fame is the equally large network of hiking trails linking those makers of fine regional brews. Circuits have sprung up, pieced together from larger routes and this has led to a false compartmentalization. The Fünf Seidla Steig® is perhaps the most famous in this respect with throngs descending on the five-brewery scenic route on good weather weekends from nearby Nürnberg and increasingly further afield as the legend grows.
some scenes from the Fünf Seidla Steig®
Aside from the pretty landscape, cute villages, hilltop castles and great beer along the route, what makes the circuit so popular is its accessibility. Getting in and out is so easy, you don’t give much thought to what lies just beyond it. I’d noticed trails between it and the Walberla area for a few years but never took the time to explore them. After five breweries, it seemed heading home was the prudent thing to do. When researching Beer Hiking Bavaria, I went to the area to gather data as I’d decided to break the famed route in half to feature more than one of the five breweries. I was planning on using a hike over at the Walberla as well and figured this was about as good an opportunity as I was going to get to do the hike between the two.
the Fünf Seidla Steig® had plenty to warrant two hikes
The hike I had in mind went from Thuisbrunn to Leutenbach but we were staying at Lindebräu in Gräfenberg. We could have walked from there but we’d already done a fair amount of hiking and had not only the hike to the Walberla but some more trails to do there too. So, we planned on using the Ruf Bus. These are buses you have to arrange in advance by calling. The only problem is they all seem to follow different protocols. Typically, you call the day before during business hours. We hadn’t checked and as it turned out, this one you needed to call the evening before during a short two-hour window which we unfortunately missed. The next morning, we tried to arrange for a taxi through the owners of Lindenbräu but everything was booked. We’d pretty much accepted our fate to walk and were rearranging our gear outside the brewery when one of the servers rushed out, having noticed someone she knew packing up some used glassware. It was the owner of Brauerei Hofmann which was about halfway between where we were and were we wanted to be. He was picking up the glasses that were used for a recent festival. He was more than happy to drop us off at Elch-Bräu in Thuisbrunn even though it was a little out of his way, saving us the walk. Such is life in the countryside of Franconia, where no one is in too much of a rush to help even a pair of strangers.
a Fest at Brauerei Hofmann & our starting point Elch-Bräu before the crowds
Not long after walking out of the small village, a flight of stairs brought us into the open countryside and in no time you could see the Schlossberg with the Franconian flag atop. It’s always nice to have an intermediate goal.
the route from Thuisbrunn to the Schlossberg
It was about as perfect a spring day as you could hope for so when we tucked into the forest to climb to the lookout, it wasn’t perhaps as much of a shady relief as would have been the case in summer but it was atmospheric nonetheless. I’m sure the provided picnic tables at the base would be a great spot to recharge on a hot day.
the climb to the Schlossberg
The actual route up to the lookout was varied with some boardwalk sections and rocky parts with railings provided. Though empty on the weekday we did it, I’m sure it gets busy on weekends. The views from the top were fantastic.
the views from the Schlossberg
Our “jungle” excursion behind us, it was nice to be back out in the sun and walking by orchards and wildflowers.
a lovely stroll by an orchard
This would have been a fitting end to the hike but there was yet another climatic turn which brought us over a flower-strewn meadow towards the small St. Moritz Chapel before plunging us into another lush boardwalk area featuring a small waterfall and babbling brook.
a climatic turn for the best
The stretch into Leutenbach was pretty with views of the Walberla to our left and the town’s church acting the beacon.
the walk into Leutenbach
We checked into our flat with a view of the Walberla and couldn’t wait for the Walberlafest to begin that evening with the ceremonial raising of the Maibaum, it was May 1st after all. First, a beer was much needed and a trip to Brauerei Drummer sounded like the way to get in the groove for the festivities.
Thuisbrunn and Leutenbach lie in Upper Franconia (Oberfranken in German). There are twenty-five hikes in this region in my book Beer Hiking Bavaria along with another 25 from all over Bavaria. Each includes detailed descriptions of the hikes as well as information on the breweries along the routes plus some tasting notes on my favorite beers at each establishment.
It’s available in both English and German: