Beauty and dullness - Route 1 of the Mullerthal Trail is the Story of a trail with two sides.
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Day 1: Echternach - Rosport - Moersdorf
Monday morning 7:00 o’clock, rain is hitting the windows of our medieval fortification tower in which were are sleeping while staying in Echternach, Luxembourg. Martin and me get up, happy about all this dry space and the warmth inside - we have experienced these kinds of mornings very differently over the past ten years, and while we were sceptical about “not sleeping in a tent” we really didn’t mind not having to pack up a wet shelter and gear this morning. Instead we sat in our warm & dry kitchen, ate breakfast and then set off hiking Route 1 of the Mullerthal Trail. While bells of the church ring we start the hike from the centre of Echternach, the oldest town in Luxembourg.
We walk through the pretty Park just behind the Abbey and then along the river Sûre, which is also the Border to Germany on the other side. The light drizzle isn’t a problem, and after around 2 km we leave the river behind and climb up into the forest. Here the real Mullerthal Trail starts. Right away we see impressive rock formations tower above our right while we hike towards Rosport, the first village along the trail today. But till there it are still many kilometres, and the drizzle is becoming a more steady rain. It’s time for me to don my Montane Podium Pull-on & Pants, a procedure which will be done several times per day on this hike, depending on the intensity of the rain.
Everything is wet. And green. A vibrant, wet green 🌳 Except the rocks - these tower in various shades of grey and brown along the trail, though truth be told - many are also covered in green moss. Once in a while traffic noise comes through the trees from the street far beneath us, but there’s other sounds closer by: The dripping of the rain on the beech leafs. Bird song accompanies us while we wander through the green jungle. Small streams gurgle through their beds when they run over rocks. And that soft, wet sound when you walk through mud with your shoes.
Never far away is also one of the Mullerthal Trailblazes, a red M on a white background. Overall signs really aren’t an issue on the trail - it’s a Premium Trail after all, which means there’s supposed to be a Trailblaze every 250 m. Also other signs are in no short abundance to be seen, from Signposts which tell you how far it is to the next place to trail markers for the dozens of other local trails which criss-cross the Mullerthal Trail. Sometimes we encountered signposts which had markings for seven different trails on them, from MTB Trails over border-crossing trails to local loop trails - there’s no shortage of outdoor possibilities in this corner of Luxembourg, be it hiking, trailrunning or Mountain Biking.
We continue in a good mood on this pretty trail, and even when it really starts to pour down we smile about the beauty which surrounds us. Mighty, green beech trees 🌳🌳🌳 keep most of the rain at bay and act like a giant umbrella. A soft brown blanket of old leafs makes for comfortable hiking. And small details make me smile.
We reach Rosport after a couple of hours and take a peak into the village if we spot an open Café, but no, there’s nothing to be seen. A large truck picks up milk from a local farmer as we hike out of Rosport, and we hope to get a short, dry moment in the Tudor Museum, but also it is closed. Ah well, happily I have some Trail Butter with me, which I eat on the go.
We leave the forest behind for a moment and right at that time the wind starts to accelerate and hit us with its might - and the rain. We pass the Pilgrimage Chapel at Girsterklaus, and shortly ponder if we should try our luck and see if it is open, or simply continue. The rain and wind make the decision to search for some shelter easy, and much to our surprise and luck the Chapel is open - as is the toilet building in front of it! We wash our hands and disinfect them and look for the door to gain entry to the small Chapel.
Again we are in luck and find the Chapel open, and unoccupied. Better even, there’s a heating system blowing warm, dry air into the chapel, and we immediately sit down in front of it. We hang up rain jackets to dry a bit, snack some nuts, drink water. I wander around the Chapel, admiring the beautiful wooden carvings - some which are almost 500 years old.
As we set off a while later, the rain has stopped, and we also get back into the forest. A younger forest.
A forest next to open fields. In one of these we see a young deer, who is mighty unimpressed by us sneaking up on him to snap a photo.
The signs lead us on, and never astray.
Close to Moersdorf we pick some absolutely amazing tasty apples, plums and pears from the trees next to the trail. These “Streuobstwiesen”, or mixed orchard meadows, are often to be found along the trail, and in this Region of Luxembourg they use the fruits to make juice, cider and tasty food from them. And for us wet and hungry hikers, they are a very welcome snack!
It’s around 15:15 when we reach the signpost which says it’s 700 m to Moersdorf, the village where we planned to stop. But it’s so early we talk with Martin, should we still continue to Mompach or Herborn? Then we have less to hike tomorrow.
In the end we decide to stick to the original plan, and hike down to Moersdorf. We locate the Busstop right away and don’t even have to wait long, before the Bus back to Echternach arrives. Public Transportation in Luxembourg is free, for everyone. As someone who does not own a car and who uses public transportation (or my bike!) all the time to get around, this is something I obviously absolutely LOVE. Free, punctual public transportation, across the whole country. Fantastic! It’s a 20 minute ride back to Echternach, and then we walk back to our medieval fortification tower for a warm shower and dry clothes. Obviously it also stopped to rain now…
Day 2: Moersdorf - Herborn - Echternach
Which is not something one could say of the next morning. The rain hammers against the windows of our tower, and after the breakfast we walk to the bus station to return to Moersdorf and continue our hike. Despite us both wearing our waterproofs we don’t look happy or in a high mood. But it doesn’t take long and we stand at the bus stop in Moersdorf, so all we can do is continue to hike back to the trail up in the forest. Which we do. And the forest doesn’t last long. In fact, a look on the map says we’ll be hiking out in the open for a considerable amount of time today. On a sunny, clear day one is supposed to have great views across the land from up here, but all we see are fields, windmills and the rain which is blowing into our faces.
Until the village of Mompach we pretty much are exposed to the wind and rain, so when we enter the forest after Mompach, and then see two Pavilions, we are very grateful for the possibility to get out of the elements for a moment. Martin brews us a coffee on his ∞ Primus Lite+, and after some more nuts, chocolate and a hot coffee we are in a better mood. Also, it seems we now will be hiking for a while in the forest, and not out in the open between fields.
It’s not a very photogenic weather, so we are fast. Less than an half an hour later we are seeing Herborn already, the next village which we will pass through.
Again there is no Café in sight, so we simply pass through the village in the rain. Happily, just before the forest, there is another open hut with a bench, where we have another short break out of the rain. It is now so wet that I decide to put my camera into my backpack and use my new ∞ GoPro HERO 9 to take photos and videos instead. It’s not something I would usually do, as I see my equipment as a tool that needs to survive these harsh conditions, but I also didn’t want to risk it to get even more soaked on the 2nd day of the trip.
Happily at some point the rain decided to make a short break, and we also were again in a forest. A pretty, vibrant green beech forest.
These last few kilometres of Route 1 were again enjoyable. We were in a good mood, here, in this 🌳 green forest. We made jokes. Laughed. Had another break, in another hut.
Then we saw Echternach.
The forest road became a pretty path.
Slippery, yes. But better than an asphalt road between open fields.
And then we were back in Echternach, at the lake. Together with the rain.
Our conclusion of Route 1 is that the first section from Echternach to Moersdorf via Rosport is a beautiful section (according to my Suunto Spartan Ultra GPS it were 20 km) through beautiful forests and along intriguing rock formations. The Chapel in Girsterklaus is pretty and does make for a good break spot, the apple, pear and plum trees which occasionally are next to the trail are in the autumn full of tasty fruits, and there’s some really scenic trail section.
Now for the section from Moersdorf to Herborn and back to Echternach… I would not hike it if you’re not a completionist who is hunting for the title of “I hiked the complete Mullerthal Trail”. Maybe in sunny and warm weather the asphalt & forest roads next to fields are enjoyable, but in the rain they were not. Martin and I both agreed that it would have made more sense to completely skip the 2nd part of Route 1 and hike on Route 2, which is the absolute highlight route of the Mullerthal Route with an amazing scenery spot every kilometre.
We were lucky that there were huts on the second day in which we could get a small break from the rain and wind, but this section was such a stark contrast to the beautiful forest part on Day 1 that we felt a bit let down. But then we had another four amazing hiking days on the Mullerthal Trail, so don’t worry 😁! Trip Reports from Route 2 and 3 will follow in short order.
Practicalities - Where to Stay, What to Eat and How to get Around
We stayed at the start and the end of our trip in Echternach, which is a small town - the oldest in Luxembourg - which we really liked. We stayed the first three nights in the medieval fortification tower Hämelmaous which really was a beautiful experience. There’s a cozy kitchen at the ground floor, and then there’s four more floors in this round tower. It easily should sleep a family of four or more, and it’s also really close to the centre and the bus stop. At the end of our trip we slept in a Wooden Barrel on the Campground, which was a really cozy experience as well. I slept like a stone in my barrel, which is good for one to two persons and possibly a small child or two. The camping place is a wee bit outta town - some five to ten minutes of walking to the centre, but really close to the trail.
We ate every evening in the Restaurant Aal Eechternoach, which we picked because of the positive reviews it had on Google Maps - and as we went there every evening you probably understand that they also have good food =) They use a lot of local ingredients and also serve local beverages - the local apple juice was delicious, as were all their Vegan offerings. Martin ate the best Cordon Bleu of his life here, and it did look really very good indeed. There’s a small supermarket not far from the tower, and a few smaller ones on the main shopping street, where there’s also a nice wee bakery which had good baked goods.
As I wrote above: Public bus transportation in Luxembourg is free. Jump on a bus to get from one corner of the country to the other one (it’s a small country, so easy to do). The busses are plentiful and seem to stop even in the smallest villages, so hiking the Mullerthal Trail (or any other trail for that matter) in sections is easy to do.
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