This past Thursday was a holiday, one of the many Christian holidays that are also federal holidays in Germany (and would be illegal in the US). While I didn’t get to climb, I took the kids to the Swabian Alb to vistit Schloss Lichtenstein and Nebelhoehle, a castle and cave respectively. Lichtenstein is also located just across from Traifelberg, a long series of crags overlooking the village of Lichtenstein with plenty of moderate to hard routes.
Schloss Lichtenstein (castle)
Schloss Lichtenstein is not famous outside of Germany, in fact not realy outside of Baden-Wuerttemberg, but here it’s known as the “Fairy Tale Castle.” My daughter changed that into “Fairy Castle”.| Luckily, she didn’t notice when we didn’t actually find fairies there. Despite being a castle and looking the part, it’s not actually that old, build in the gothic revival style in the mid 1800s. It is still privately owned, but open to tourists near daily. While possibly disappointing to some, for families the fact that it is actually rather small is fantastic. You can view the castle grounds for 1 EUR per child and 2 EUR for adults. The tour is a few euros more but only 30 minutes.
Compared to the Disney like lines and hordes of Neuschwanstein, Lichtenstein is fairly quiet. Located southest of Reutlingen, it’s also right across from Traifelberg, a crag full of moderate to hard climbs. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough patience left after the castle visit to convince the rugrats to hike up and check it out. We settled for pictures from across the valley.
Nebelhoehle (Fog Cave)
Just 5 km from Lichtenstein in the Swabian Jura (Schwaebische Alb) is a famous cave, featured in many local fairy tales including those associated with the castle Lichstenstein. Important to know, they take cash only and the nearest bank is nearby in a tiny village. So bring cash (I learned the hard way). In addition to the cave, they have a pleasant little restaurant, great playground and some nice hiking in the area. If you’re in the area, it’s worth spending an afternoon in the area and finishing off at the cave followed up by watching the kids play while drinking a beer or radler. Good times were had by all.
Schloss Lichtenstein + Traifelberg Pictures
Near the town of Kircheim unter Teck and Owen, is a set of three crags known as Neuffener Parkplatzfelsen, i.e. Neuffener parking lot crags. And they live up to the name. Indeed, the approach hike is about 2 minutes from the parking lot to rock. It’s typical limestone with fewer pockets than you’d expect. A lot of blank areas and a few polished parts on popular climbs.
- Height: up to 20 meters
- Routes: ~62 (2/3 being easy and moderate)
- Grades: UIAA 3 to 8
- Rock: Limestone
- Distance from Stuttgart: ~30min by car
- Approach: 2 minutes, downhill, steep
- Protection: Bolts, not new, not too old either
- Walk off: Yes and No.
- Guidebook: Kletterführer Lenninger Alb
- Family friendly: No
Neuffener Parkplatzfelsen Overview:
Neuffener Parkplatzfelsen are made up of three separate crags right next to each other. Coming down the trail from the parking lot, you can head right to Fels 1, or left to Fels 3. Each crag is just a minute or two from the other making switching back and forth very easy. Since there’s very little room at the base, you’ll probably want to as soon as a group arrives.
Located nearby Burg Hohenneuffen (Wikipedia in English), the crag has great views of the castle and surrounding area. However, that also means there are a lot of hiking trails in the area including to the castle – and all from the same parking lot. So it pays to arrive early and get a spot. There’s plenty of parking but I’m an early bird and will always recommend an alpine start, even to a single pitch crag =)
Popular climbs at Neuffener Parkplatzfelsen
Given how many easy and moderate climbs there are, it’s hard to identify favorites.
- Katerkiller direkt – 6; Fels 1, steep route on a series of good flakes.
- Jedermann – 6; Fels 3, Well protected and “ideal” climbing per guidebook.
- Razia – 5; on Fels 3, said to be one of the best easy climbs in the region.
The crag is very easy to access by car though the drive takes you through several villages which are horrible choke points for weekend traffic. A Saturday climb may take twice as long to get home due to tiny 2 lane village roads. So get there early and leave late! Though, if you live in Germany you already realize Stau is a national pastime.
From Stuttgart, take the A8 southeast (towards Munich) and exit onto the B465 in Kirchheim unter Teck. Take exit 57-Kirchheim unter Teck-Ost. Drive south on the 465 towards the village of Owen. Once there, take L1210 west (also Beurenerstrasse) towards Beuren and head south on Weilersteige (K1262) to Erkenbrechtsweiler. Once you reach the town, head west on the K1244 towards “Hohenneuffen” (the castle). As the asphalt ends, there’s a parking lot on the left hand side. Bear to your left at the parking lot. Once out of your car, you’ll see a small sign and path heading downhill. It’ll be fairly obvious which way goes to the rock.
Overall, the crag is a “meh” in my opinion. Not bad if you’re close but better ones within the same driving distance from Stuttgart. It’s similar to many other crags in the area in terms of size, height, route number and the limestone features. There are more interesting crags the same distance and other rock in the Black Forest for example, such as the excellent sandstone in Kentheim.