We catch the ferry for the short trip across the river to St. Goarshausen’s sister town, St. Goar, directly across on the opposite bank. The village is the home of Burg Rheinfels, a castle ruin above the town, which was once a huge and mighty fortress on the Rhine. Most visitors are hiking up to the castle to explore the popular ruin and its underground tunnels.
At the edge of town, where the road ends, we spot signs for a nature preserve and locate a narrow path leading into the woods.
The trail leads through the forest and past a beautiful waterfall. Eventually, we emerge into a meadow and find markers with a picture of what looks like a fan and the word “Blick.” Blick is the German word for eye (the fan shape must represent lashes), so we know we must be heading toward a viewpoint.
We don’t have a map, so we don’t realize that we are on the Rheinburgen Weg, or Rhine Castle route, a one hundred plus mile trail along the west side of the Rhine.
Directly across, high on the east bank is its companion trail, the RheinSteig trail. Both are multi-segment long distance hiking paths.
We eventually reach the lookout point, which affords spectacular views across the valley to the Loreley, just as we had hoped. Since it’s a beautiful sunny afternoon, and we’re already part way to the next town, we decide to complete the 9km hike.
The trail continues through fields, meadows, forests, and vineyards. Along the way, there are lookout points with seating areas to rest and a couple of what look like spa retreats. As we approach Oberwesel, the trail descends steeply. We take the optional via ferrata path, with ladders, pegs, and cables to help with the climb.
After three hours of hiking, we enter the vineyards on the outskirts of town and wander into the charming village of Oberwesel. Oberwesel is known for having the best-preserved medieval walls in the Rhine Valley and some of the best in Germany. Following the wall, we climb to the top of the village and back down to the medieval marketplace.
The imposing Schönberg Castle looms high above us. With a short time remaining before the last ferry, we wander over to the huge red gothic Liebfrauenkirche(Our Lady Church). Although it is closed and we can’t go inside, the outside and the gardens are lovely. It’s getting dark when we board the boat to Bacharach, just as some light rain begins to fall.