This trail follows the Bode River deep into the Bode Valley gorge as the stream tumbles over granite boulders. The path takes you through dense forest and then into open meadows filled with wildflowers, ending in the village of Treseburg near a ruined castle. (Read the legend associated with the castle.)
The walk along the Bode Valley takes about three hours, and is mostly gentle, with one short, somewhat steep climb that takes you to a great vantage point above the river. You can take the bus from Treseburg back to Thale.
From the same starting point, you can also branch off this trail and hike up to the Hexentanzplatz or the Rosstrappe, the two rocky outcroppings that surround the opening of the Bode Valley.
The trail soon dives into the forest and travels alongside the rushing Bode River as it winds through the gorge. The way continues along the river until it reaches the first bridge, the Katersteg. Across the bridge you can see the Gasthaus Kleine Waldkater and a youth hostel. Don't cross the bridge, but continue on the path beside the stream.You are now in a nature preserve.
On the right side of the path you will see the plaque on a large rock commemorating Goethe's wanderings along this same trail in 1784. This is also the spot where Princess Brunhilde's crown fell into the river, forever guarded by a black dog. (Read a 19th century version of the Legend of the Rosstrappe.)
Not long past the first bridge, you'll arrive at a clearing next to the pretty Jungfern Bridge. Here is the Gasthaus Königsruhe, a rustic inn and restaurant, with a large selection of home-made berry wines. The path to Treseburg continues on the same side of the river past the Gasthaus.
(To walk up to the Hexentanzplatz, cross over the Jungfern Bridge, and climb the winding trail all the way to the top of the mountain -about an hour and 15 minutes).
To head for Treseburg, don't cross the Jungfern Bridge, but stay on the path beside the water. The third bridge over the Bode is the Teufelsbrücke (Devil's Bridge). It's easy to identify; there is a large and somewhat tacky image of a red devil's head at the entrance to the bridge. After you cross this bridge the trail begins to climb high above the river.
This is the only steep part, but it's not that strenuous. From this point there are beautiful views of the Bode Valley with its sheer granite cliffs, foaming river and a lovely waterfall.
(For a very steep climb up to the Rosstrappe, continue on instead of crossing the Teufelsbrücke. The path takes a sharp right and the switch-backs up to the Rosstrappe begin almost immediately. It climbs about 700 feet, or 217 meters, and takes about 45 minutes. I recommend taking the chair-lift up and walking down it instead! There is also a bus from Treseburg to the Rosstrappe that runs frequently.)
The trail leads into Treseburg where you cross the Bode two more times as it loops around the village. The ruined Castle of Treseburg sits on the edge of the town. The bus stop is near a parking area next to a hotel/restaurant after you cross the second town bridge.
For those who prefer a leisurely half-hour stroll on flat terrain, the walk from Thale to the Gasthaus Königsruhe at the Jungfern Bridge still allows you to experience some of the beautiful scenery of the Bode Valley.
More info and photos of Thale and the Bode Valley.