© Achim Meurer


Hiking in Saxon Switzerland is simply “wander”-ful. The forested and rocky National Park area is crisscrossed with a well-marked system of trails.

The Elbe Sandstone Mountains – a hiking paradise

Generations of enthusiasts have been doing their part: putting up signposts; laying out planks; building railings, bridges, ladders, stairs, benches and viewing points. The result is one of the most exciting hiking areas of Germany.

In the German part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains alone, there are more than 1000 km of marked trails! Most of them are also suitable for hiking in winter. Each official hiking trail is marked with a symbol you find at each turn-off or junction. The Malerweg trail is marked by its name or by an M. It is therefore an easy-to-follow route. At selected junctions there are extra signposts with walk time indications to close destinations. Particularly in more challenging terrain with big changes in altitude, the signs are needed to better estimate the actual time.

A little lesson in signpost reading

Winterwandern im Schmilkaer Kessel© Sebastian Thiel

Signposts sometimes reveal more than expected, if you know how to interpret them.

  • “AP” means Aussichtspunkt (viewing point)
  • “Ghs” stands for Gasthaus (inn, eatery), and
  • “E3” is the sign for the European long-distance trail leading from the Atlantic coast via Saxon Switzerland to the Black Sea.

Small yellow plaques indicate the “Standortnummer” (local position number) which is important for the Mountain Rescue Service to quickly find the right place in case of an emergency.

Hiking trails are marked with a bar, slash or dot in different colours.  A special sign with a green arrow indicates alpine trails demanding particular surefootedness and a good head for heights.

Attention: Paths marked with a black arrow are not hiking trails but rather, indicate access to a climbing summit only and don’t lead any further. They are reserved for climbers.



Map, GPS or without it all?

Schrammsteine© Yvonne Brückner

The Malerweg Trail is signposted from start to end. A map, either paper or digital, however, is recommended. In case you miss a branch-off or a signpost, it helps to find your way.

Hikers relying on GPS should keep in mind that the landscape topography does not always allow sufficient reception.

Caution: Google Maps is not recommended and unsuitable for hiking. We recommend the hiking app Outdooractive.

>> Hiking Maps

>> GPS Data from the Malerweg

Take note of diversions

Borkenkäfer im Nationalpark© Yvonne Brückner

Beware of dead spruces! Bare branches, brown needles, rotten trees. There are some stretches in the National Park area where the bark beetle has been particularly active. It is in fact a kind of natural woodland development where spruce cultures die off to make room for more resistant mixed forest vegetation. While this natural process is going on, certain precautionary measures have to be respected to cope with the danger of falling trees: Keep out of the forest in strong winds, heavy rain or when trees might break under snow. Don’t stop under fragile branches or treetops. You act at your own risk.

Attention: individual sections of the trail can be temporarily impassable because of fallen trees (bark beetle damage).

Before you start your trip, please inform yourself on this homepage or ask your host for the current state of affairs.

>> Latest News



Respect the “Kernzone”

Schild Kernzone© Sebastian Thiel

Some boards have the word “Kernzone” (core zone) marked and indicate when hikers come close to particularly vulnerable natural habitats. About one quarter of the National Park is marked as “Kernzone”.

Hiking is nevertheless permitted even in these green paradises on marked trails. Staying overnight outdoors is not allowed in these areas.

The entire “Kernzone” is within the considerably larger non-activity zone which covers about three quarters of the complete National Park area and allows for a largely independent development of the forest. Genuine central European wildlife habitats are located or being created here.

>> Elbe Sandstone Mountain National Park

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