Long-distance hiking in Germany: On the Ruhrhöhenweg from Witten to Wetter


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Is the Ruhrhöhenweg the most beautiful hike in the Ruhr area? Hiking and the Ruhr area are not exactly things that are often said in one sentence. The Ruhr area has numerous green corners that need to be explored. But in Witten there is actually a special feature that most other cities in the Ruhr area do not have: a mountain range that meanders along the Ruhr: the Ardey Mountains. This is exactly where the Ruhrhöhenweg runs, which truly lives up to its name. But from the beginning.

The Ruhrhöhenweg is a long-distance hiking trail that always leads along the Ruhr from the source near Winterberg in Hochsauerland to the mouth of the Rhine in Duisburg. On the 219-kilometre route you pass beautiful landscapes that most people would probably not expect to find in the Ruhr area. The trail, which is maintained by the Sauerland mountain association, is marked with the XR trail marker (in some places only with an X).

The east-west route through North Rhine-Westphalia starts on the Rothaarkamm in the mountainous Sauerland, later passes Olsberg and Meschede before hiking through the Arnsberg Forest Nature Park to Arnsberg. It continues via Menden to Dortmund and thus to my home country: the Ruhr area. Here the route runs through Hagen, Wetter and finally through Witten before it leads to Duisburg via Hattingen, Essen and Mülheim.

And since we live in Witten, the Witten stage of the Ruhrhöhenweg has long since become an integral part of our lives. So we walk individual passages almost every day on our walks. But running the full length of the stage is truly something special that I would also like to recommend to you. Because the connection couldn't be better. You can easily start from Witten main station (by the way, there are also free parking spaces at Park & ​​Ride here) and take the train back from Wetter main station, where the stage ends.

The exact route on the Ruhrhöhenweg from Witten to Wetter

The route from Witten to Wetter is about 13 kilometers long. Since you pass several mountain ridges, you reach a total of a good 300 meters in altitude. The hike can therefore be classified as moderate. Incidentally, it is also worthwhile to leave the official route. So there is the possibility to extend the route and sometimes to climb the particularly steep mountain ridges on adventurous paths, which one otherwise only walks past. We climbed an impressive 510 meters in altitude during a hike. Not even that little, right?

But let's stay with the official route for now. The first section leads through the city park to the Hohenstein in Witten. Once you have mastered the altitude difference, you are already in the middle of the Ardey Mountains, which you will now continue to follow. Since the Hohenstein is a local recreation area with a beautiful vantage point of the Ruhr, playgrounds and animal walks, it can still get a bit hectic here (especially on weekends). The view from the Berger monument should compensate for this sufficiently. From the viewing platform you have a clear view of the Ruhr Valley, the impressive Ruhr Viaduct, a quarry and the neighboring towns of Wetter and Volmarstein.

By the way: If you want to enjoy an even better view of the viaduct, you can do that from the Wennemarsberg. This is slightly upstream between the main train station and the Hammerteich. The fantastic view makes up for the additional meters in altitude.

If you can tear yourself away from the view and continue to follow the XR, it gradually becomes quieter. Some of the paths are paved, some of them are small paths. Every now and then there are roads to pass, including the Kohlensiepen, which separates the Hohenstein from the Wartenberg. With a bit of luck you will discover alpacas, sheep, donkeys and horses on the surrounding pastures. From the hilltop you have a beautiful view of the Gederbachtal. Now it goes steeply down into the next valley, from where the Gederbach is crossed and the Arenberg is climbed. Incidentally, you can follow a steep slope up here, or take the much easier path that leads past the impressive Mallinckrodt house, a former manor and current manor house on the western slope of the Ardeygebirge. Due to its impressive construction, it is often referred to as Mallinckrodt Castle. It's worth making a small detour for this, as Haus Mallinckrodt is not directly on the path.

It continues via the Ender Talstraße to the last section of the Ruhrhöhenweg. Here you pass Gut Schede, a noble residence and present-day farm, which dates back to the 9th century. Through a deep forest we continue towards Wetter and the Harkortsee. Here it is worthwhile to continue walking to the vantage point and take a deep breath with a fantastic view of Lake Harkortsee before descending through a housing estate depending on the weather. The hike ends at the train station. If you now make yourself comfortable in the train to start your journey home, you can enjoy the landscape for the last time.

The hike on the Ruhrhöhenweg (with a dog) at a glance 

  • Arrival: By train or car to Witten main station, a train returns from the end point every half hour. 
  • Starting point: Witten main station 
  • Destination: Central Station Wetter 
  • Route: 12 kilometers, around 300 meters in altitude 
  • Suitable for dogs: Definitely!