The high route Elb-Höhenweg is part of the circular route Wendland and runs over 52km/32.3mi through the UNESCO biosphere reserve 'Flusslandschaft Elbe'. The trail leads mostly alongside the river but also partly on Elb bank. Up on Elbhöhen and Höhlbeck, a wonderful view across the unique landscape emerges. You'll be able to see floodplain forests and natural shores, which are home of many rare animal species like beavers and storks.
The starting point of the Elb high route is Schnackenburg. With only 600 inhabitants it is known to be Germany's second smallest town. Before the German reunification, Schnackenburg served as a border town and was cut in half by the border. Nowadays you canlearn about that part of the town's history at the museum by the port.
From Schnackenburg to Gorleben (about 18km/11.2mi)
The trail's first stage starts at the museum in Schnackenburg. Along the natural bank, the trail leads through the biosphere reserve Niedersächsische Elbtalaue.
Approximately 7km/4.3mi behind Schnackenburg, Elbholz, a natural floodplain forest, starts. An alley of very old oak trees guides the way to an observation point, where you can spot many different birds like cranes, geese and ducks. Hike further past a small settlement on Elb bank, where the trail starts getting steeper and you have to hike up 75m onto the ice-age elevation Höhbeck. With an observation tower the opportunity arises to overlook the wide natural reserve. A cafe to rest and refresh is also located up there.
While descending you will pass two archeological sites reminiscent of the early settlements of the Germanic tribes and the Slavs.
After crossing the river Seege, continue on the bank to Gorleben, where you may get some food and drinks at the local beer garden. There is also a fish store run by the last fishermen of Gorleben, that offers fresh fish out of river Elbe.
From Gorleben to Damnatz (about 18km/11.2mi)
At the second stage the trail first departs from the river and later, at Grippel, it leads back to the bank. Shortly afterwards you'll get to the next observation tower on which you may overlook the beautiful landscape dominated by rivers.
Now continue via Langendorf and Brandleben to the railway bridge Dömitzer Eisenbahnbrücke, which was demolished during Second World War. Nowadays the remains are listed and rise strikingly out of river Elbe.
The last part towards Damnatz leads alongside the original course of the river, which today is equipped with various ponds and tarns.
Located on the other side of the river Elbe is the town Dömitz. With its fort and a museum the town is definitely worth a visit.
Another eye-catcher is the 970m/3182ft long bridge, with an arched structure. Hike further alongside the river and you'll reach Damnatz. The town offers pretty half-timbered houses as well as cosy restaurants and cafes.
From Damnatz to Hitzacker (about 15km/9.3mi)
The last stage of Elb high route runs alongside the Elb bike trail and is therefore asphalted. The trail still runs on Elb bank, on which you have a constant view across the beautiful surrounding landscape. On your way to Hitzacker you'll pass various little hamlets ideal to take a rest or simply look around.
In Hitzacker at the archeological center you have the opportunity to learn more about life during the Bronze Age.
Where to eat
Places to get food as well as accommodation is mostly available in Gorleben, Damnatz and Hitzacker.
- You're traveling a distance of 32 miles on this moderate trail. This makes it a relatively long hike. Average length of all hikes in Lower Saxony is 28 miles.
- Elb high route is among the 15 best rated Hikes in Germany.
- The hike is one of the family friendly trails in the region. The hike is also perfect if the kid’s wanna bring their dog on the trip.
- You shouldn’t forget to bring your hiking boots. There are some sections on the trail where sturdy footwear is required. If you get hungry along the way, there are places to rest and get food. Nevertheless it’s recommended to also have enough water and food in your backpack when hiking or biking.
Highlights of the tour
Elb high route offers a unique view across the surrounding landscape. The shores of river Elbe are also home of many plant and animal species, which you may watch from one of the provided observation towers.
Another highlight is the railway bridge Dömitzer Eisenbahnbrücke.
Coming from Hamburg take A39 to Lüneburg, where you change onto B216 towards Dannenberg. Afterwards take L256 to Gartow and continue to Schnackenburg.
Coming from Berlin take A24 and exit at Pritzwalk towards Hamburg. Continue on B189 via Pritzwalk, Perleberg and Wittenberge towards Stendal. Exit after about 15km/9.3mi after Wittenberge and continue further via Krüden and Auslosen to get to Schnackenburg.
Coming from the south you exit A7 at Salzgitter and you continue on A39 towards Wolfsburg, where you take B248 via Salzwedel to Lüchow. In Lüchow follow B493 to Schnackenburg.
The closest train station is located in Salzwedel. To get to Lüchow use the bus line 1945 running from the train station. In Lüchow you continue with the bus line 1946 to get to Gartow and eventually you take bus 1944 to Schnackenburg.
Be aware that traveling by public transportation from the train station in Salzwedel will take quite some time.