The Rhine-Neckar region is surrounded by some of Germany's most beautiful landscapes, including the Odenwald, Neckar Valley, Kraichgau, Palatinate Forest and more. So, it is not surprising that there are numerous outdoor recreational activities available in the region.
Palatinate Wine Hiking Trail
The Palatinate Wine Hiking Trail is considered one of the best ways to experience the forests and wine culture in the Palatinate region. It runs for 172 kilometers along a well-marked path from the northern most edge of the Haardt foothills to the French border in Alsace.
The route starts in the German Wine House in Bockenheim, then winds through many wine villages to Bad Dürkheim, Neustadt an der Weinstraße, Annweiler am Trifels and Bad Bergzabern and finally ends at an impressive stone tower in Schweigen. It is often possible to buy (and enjoy) wine directly at vineyards along the trail. Other highlights include the ruins of numerous castles, the Hambach Castle, Villa Ludwigshöhe and the 673-meter-high Kalmit mountain.
As the largest contiguous forest in Germany, the Palatinate Forest (Pfälzerwald) is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, including hikers, mountain bikers and walkers. The forest has 11 mountains with elevations higher than 600 meters, which offer sweeping views of the deep forest, the Upper Rhine Valley and, on a clear day, one can even see France. The park has more than 400 kilometers of hiking trails, many leading to the ruins of castles and palaces. Numerous cabins with restaurants can also be found in the park.
Encompassing 1,300 square kilometers, the Nature Park Neckartal-Odenwald is one of the largest parks in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Some of the highlights include an extinct volcano, Katzenbuckel, which is the highest elevation in the Odenwald, the spectacular stalactite cave in Eberstadt and the Margarethenschlucht canyon. Throughout the park, there are numerous hiking trails with information points.
Neckarsteig Hiking Trail
From the Heidelberg Castle to Bad Wimpfen, this hiking trail winds over 126 kilometers in eight different stages. The trail runs roughly parallel to the Neckar River and passes numerous cultural attractions, castles and historic cities. The hiking trail was certified as a Quality Hiking Trail in 2011 and was officially opened in 2012.
The Geopark Bergstraße-Odenwald was one of the first nature parks established in Germany and stretches over 3,500 square kilometers. Two of the main highlights in the park are the Messel pit, a one-time quarry that is now a major fossil excavation site, and the unique geological formation, Felsenmeer (sea of rocks). The park is also home to many different types of flora and fauna at the 37 different natural preservation areas. In 2004, the Geopark became a member of the UNESCO Global Network of Geoparks.