© Achim Meurer


The great advantage of hiking is that no special gear or particular abilities are needed. However, some basic rules should be respected when walking on the Malerweg hiking trail.

Be prepared for steep sections

Walking is simple, keeps you fit and makes you happy, regardless whether you are an experienced hiker or a beginner, venturing for the first time on a long-distance hike.

However, there are some points to take into consideration. The Elbe Sandstone Mountains are different from other highland ranges or the Alps. Their most fascinating characteristic - an extraordinary variety of natural terrain within a very small area – is also the hiker’s hardest challenge with steep ascents followed by plunging descents within very short distances.

The Malerweg Trail runs over steep track sections, steps and stairs. In particular in the area of Schrammsteine Rocks, hikers should be sure-footed and not suffer from vertigo. In addition, the distinct altitude profiles result in longer walking times compared to flat terrain.

As the Malerweg Trail includes narrow clefts and steep inclines, it is recommended to carry only a daypack while hiking a section.  A luggage transfer service can transport all non-essential belongings to your next accommodation or to choose a single place to start and finish all your hiking tours.


How difficult is the Malerweg trail?

The degree of difficulty indicated for each section of the trail helps to find out how demanding it is.

  • Easy: Gentle start. Routes labelled “Easy” are perfect for families with children, small groups and beginners. The paths are quite comfortable although not necessarily accessible for people in wheelchairs. There are no big changes in altitude, only slight inclines if at all, and possibly a few steps. Casual shoes are sufficient.
  • Moderate: Active recreation. Routes of moderate level of difficulty are manageable for those who are used to at least occasional hiking. Surefootedness and an average level of fitness will do. However, stony and narrow passages as well as ladders, steps and more difficult sections could occur.
  • Challenging: Athletic experience. Ambitious hikers will be happy on routes marked as challenging.  Good physical condition, surefootedness and a head for heights are essential for these routes. Hikers should be prepared for lengthy tours with some steep and narrow passages, considerable changes of altitude on short sections and large natural rock steps. Accessibility can be limited according to the weather conditions. Hiking boots, a hiking backpack and optionally hiking poles are recommended. Belaying is not necessary.

The official recommendation is to split the Malerweg hiking trail into 8 daily stages. The stages have a suitable length to be completed in a relaxed pace by hikers of average fitness level, while still allowing time for detours, photos and breaks. The individual sections stretch over 11 to 18 kilometres. This doesn’t sound much, but the considerable altitude differences eat up extra time and energy.


Degrees of difficulty of the individual stages:

1st stage – easy

2nd stage – moderate

3rd stage – moderate

4th stage – challenging

5th stage – challenging

6th stage – challenging

7th stage – challenging

8th stage – moderate



Can the Malerweg trail be completed in less than 8 stages?

For hikers preferring a more athletic pace, the trail can be hiked in a shorter total walking time.

The following options may be considered reasonable:

  • Athletic: The Malerweg trail in 7 days.
    Day destinations: Rathewalde – Altendorf – Neumannmühle - Schmilka – Gorisch – Weißig – Pirna


  • Ambitious: The Malerweg trail in 6 days
    Day destinations: Kurort Rathen- Altendorf – Räumichtmühle – Reinhardtsdorf-Schöna – Königstein – Pirna


  • Ambitious: The Malerweg trail in 6 days
    Day destinations: Kurort Rathen- Altendorf – Räumichtmühle – Reinhardtsdorf-Schöna – Königstein – Pirna


  • Extreme: Of course the trail could be completed at running speed as well, but we would no longer consider this hiking.


What about doing the Malerweg Trail with children?

Räuberhöhlentour am Quirl© Achim Meurer

The Malerweg trail is a fascinating adventure for children. Mystic woodlands, murmuring brooks, secret caves, bizarre rocks and a lot more fulfil children’s desires for excitement and need for movement.

The day stages of the Malerweg trail are easily manageable with children aged about 12 years or older.

With smaller children one of the shorter loop route tours would be more recommendable, for instance this one:
>> Family day tour on the Malerweg trail




What about doing the Malerweg with a dog?

Wandern mit Hund auf dem Malerweg© Alexander Ratzing

With a dog in Saxon Switzerland? Why not! The trail running over warm rocks, soft sand, gnarled roots and cool woodland paths is a pure joy for pets’ paws.

But please consider that quite a lot of paths lead over steps and ladders which could turn out to be unsurmountable for your four-legged friend. Small dogs might be carried but if you have a bigger dog. Recommended alternatives to avoid difficult spots on the Malerweg can be found here: >> Hiking with dog on the Malerweg

Please note: Leashes are required in the National Park and muzzles compulsory when using public transport. Don’t forget a water bowl and water!

The Malerweg trail in winter

Gohrisch im Winter© Yvonne Brückner

Accessibility in winter on the Malerweg trail depends on the weather conditions. The highest elevation on the trail is called the Großer Winterberg – Big Winterberg Mountain. But whatever the name suggests, at an altitude of 556 meters, snow in winter is not necessarily guaranteed. As a rough-and-ready rule you can be quite sure to find snow on the Malerweg trail if large areas of Germany are covered in snow, too.

Basically, all marked trails in Saxon Switzerland are accessible throughout the year. But you have to be careful in case of deep snow, snowdrifts and black ice. Special equipment such as shoe spikes, hiking boots, backpacks etc. is rented out by the Bad Schandau Aktivzentrum.

>>Winter in the Saxon Switzerland




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