Eifel National Park is located close to the beautiful city of Monschau, south of Aachen and close to the Dutch border. Grab your hiking boots or rent a bike to explore this beautiful and rich landscape for yourself. OR come for the intriguing history of the Vogelsang Nazi Camp. We visited during our weekend stay near Monschau, so we could combine both the pretty cobblestone city and the national park in 2 days.
All photos were taken during our April 2018 trip.
Eifel National Park
The area became the 14th National Park of Germany, founded in January 2004. It is of course free to visit and there are 4 gate locations where you can get information at. From there you can join one of their guide walks within the National Park. However if hiking alone or cycling is more your thing, you can choose the one of the many routes. In total there are 240 kilometres / 150 miles of paths open to visitors of the Eifel National Park. There are also 104 kilometres / 65 miles for cyclists.
Vogelsang Former Nazi Military Training Camp
For the first day of our weekend away we decided to visit the Eifel National Park. The sun was shining and we wanted to get out in the nature and explore the historic Ordensburg Vogelsang, a former Nazi military training area. The training camp was constructed in 1933 when Adolf Hitler demanded new schools to be built, primarily for the children of the leaders of the National Socialist German Labour Party (NSDAP).
Buildings constructed here include:
- Official entrance and two towers
- House of Knowledge
- Community House (half destroyed in the war)
- Several houses for 50 pupils (also half destroyed in the war)
- A house for a group of 100 pupils
- The Thingplatz outdoor stage area
- Sport facilities for running, a gymnasium & an indoor swimming pool
- The Torch Bearer statue created by Willy Meller
- A house for female employees
We walked around exploring some of the buildings and monuments, but at the same time taking in the beautiful view these pupils had of the National Park. A place where they would have also trained in.
Hiking In The National Park
After a bit of discovering we wanted to explore the park and decided to walk the 12km hiking round route from the Vogelsang grounds, over the Victor-Neels Bridge at the waters edge, around the lake to the Urft Valley Dam and back on the other side. The one thing we forgot to pack in our car from the Netherlands was our hiking shoes!!
- 12km / 7.5 miles
- 3 hours
- one half flat, one half challenging
- Restaurant and toilets at the Dam which is at the half way point of the hike
- Possible with mountain bikes
First Half Of The Round Route
The first section of the hike was really pleasant and very flat the whole way to the Dam, allowing us to easily keep a good pace and enjoy the green trees, birds of prey circling and the odd lizard running through the leaves. It was very peaceful but also a little busy since it was weekend and an easy section of the route to walk. This seemed to be also a very popular section for those who had rented bicycles – especially for families too.
We had a great view of the Vogelsang from below too!
Urft Valley Dam
Reaching the Dam is at the 1.5 hour mark of the 3 hour round route, perfect half way stop for refreshments and the toilets if needed. We stopped at the restaurant Urftseemauer Ausflugslokal for a cold drink. It was a little pricey being the only place but great service and friendly staff. It is also the perfect location for a rest stop before the next section.
The Urft Valley Dam, built between 1900 and 1905, was once the largest in Europe. We walked across it to continue the hike and enjoyed the views of both sides.
If you are unable to hike rough terrains, we suggest you walk the first half of the route back once reaching the Dam, as it is more challenging the second half.
Second Half Of The Round Route
The second half of the hike was more challenging, especially without our hiking shoes as the terrain was rough with uneven paths and definitely not flat! The route from the Dam back to Vogelsang was mostly uphill, and mostly as in at least 90% was uphill. As a recommendation it could be easier if you started this section first then you will go mostly downhill and then hike the flat section afterwards back.
Wollseifen Ghost Village
This village was built before the area was occupied by the Germans. The village was ultimately evacuated when the training area was established in 1946. After this short time the British armed forces overtook the location, before passing it over to the Belgian authorities. Between 1950 and 2005 the Belgian forces actually used the village terrain as a military training area too.
The hike route goes right through this village on the way back from the Dam to Vogelsang.
Off Limit Areas
There are some sections of Eifel National Park that are off limits to the public. This is because anti-personnel minefields from WW2 still exist near the dam of the Urft Reservoir. These areas of the park that were sown with glass mines are fenced off and marked with warning tape so you can see that entering the area is strictly forbidden.
Where To Stay
For hiking and visiting Eifel National Park we highly recommend the Rurtalaparment apartment that we stayed at in Hammer. This is a tiny location in the valley only 10minutes away from the park as well as from the pretty city of Monschau. The apartment was peaceful and had all the facilities we needed for using the kitchen and bathroom. Read more about it on our Monschau blogpost!
We wish we could have spent more time at Eifel National Park and also a day for cycling, but for a 1 day visit it was perfect to explore. The 12km route was great for us, but the second half was definitely challenging on our knees. Next time we need to make sure not to forget our hiking boots!
- Wear suitable hiking shoes for your visit
- Prepare for the weather forecast. We started off with sunshine but ended with rain so good to be prepared.
- Take water and snacks with you for the journey, but stop at the restaurant for something refreshing!
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Have you ever been to Eifel National Park? Let us know in the comments if you enjoyed your visit as much as us!