A legendary round of castles
"The Erfensteiner, with wildly excited mind to get a sword, hurried quickly towards the bridge. But as he entered it, Spangenberg cut it off. Then the Erfensteiner found his grave deep in the valley." So says the legend of the Leather Bridge, which can be read on a sign in Spangenberg Castle. Whether the legendary leather connection to Erfenstein, "one arrow shot away" opposite, actually existed is not certain. But the Three Castles Trail, which connects the castle ruins of Erfenstein, Breitenstein and Spangenberg Castle on a good seven-kilometre loop, does exist in any case. The tour has a few crisp climbs, but rewards the effort again and again with fascinating views.
In addition to the castle tour, there are a whole series of other themed trails here that not only allow you to experience the Palatinate Forest, but also to immerse yourself in history at the same time. Two examples: The "Views of the Clothmakers" trail near Lambrecht or the Trifterlebnispfad in Elmstein. An audio tour and information boards along the trail explain how the ingenious system of timber drifting worked. The transport of wood by water, which has existed since the Middle Ages, was once one of the most important economic sectors in the valley. The later drifting facilities, built from 1820 onwards in the red sandstone typical of the region, are still largely preserved today. By the way: you can also set out on multi-day tours from here via the "Pfälzer Hüttensteig", which connects the long-distance hiking trails "Pfälzer Waldpfad" and "Pfälzer Weinsteig".
The starting point is a hewn sandstone block at the Schlossschänke bus stop.
We cross the valley road (L499) and follow the "Drei Burgenweg" markings through Schankenthal. Soon we reach our first stage destination, Erfenstein Castle, via a path. From here we have a beautiful view of Spangenberg Castle directly opposite. Continue along the castle path markings again and then turn left onto the forest path. After about 500 m, we continue to follow the Burgenweg markings until the junction with the road, where a bridle path begins, which we follow uphill for 300 m until a narrow path on the left leads to the car park in Breitenstein. From here we follow a steep gravel path to the Breitenstein ruins, a 12th century hilltop castle with a Romanesque castle chapel. After the visit, we follow the forest path to the right downhill back to the car park and then hike in the direction of Totenkopfstraße. We pass the tracks of the Kuckucksbahn railway, reach the driveway to the Breitenstein forester's lodge and follow the forest path parallel to the Totenkopfstraße. 300 m further on, we turn left into the Alter Weinweg, which we follow to the first junction on the left. After one km we finally reach the castle well, from where it is not far to Spangenberg Castle. According to legend, it was built by "wild Kaspar", who, in order to keep the existence and location of the castle a secret, killed all the craftsmen after its completion. We descend via the Old Castle Trail and soon reach our starting point again.