I don’t know about you, but I’m usually drawn to distant countries for which I feel (and sometimes actually) have to fly halfway around the globe. Now it’s spring 2020 and we’re all forced to rediscover more of the things in nature that are on our doorstep. The Margarethenschlucht in the Odenwald impressively proves that sometimes it doesn’t have to be that bad.
I had never heard of Margarethenschlucht before and I really wonder how I could miss such an incredible natural spectacle right in front of my nose. Today I will show you why a hike to the Margarethenschlucht is worthwhile and what to expect there.
The Margarethenschlucht: 110 meter cascades of waterfalls in the middle of the Odenwald
The Margarethenschlucht (sometimes also ‘Margaretenschlucht’ written without an h) is located in the municipality of Neckargerach in the Odenwald between Mosbach and Eberbach, embedded in the grandiose landscape of the Neckar Valley. The gorge is not just a gorge, it is home to the highest waterfall in the Odenwald and one of the highest in Germany: at a total height of 110 meters, the small Flursbach cascades down the gorge in several cascades, the highest being 10 m.
And the best thing is: the hike to the Margarethenschlucht not only leads you to the gorge, but also through the gorge. Yep – right in the middle of the waterfall and over the cascades. The hiking route is neither particularly demanding nor particularly long and, from my point of view, easy to manage for everyone (including children) if you follow a few safety rules.
Key facts at a glance:
- Starting point: Neckargerach train station
- Length: 4.1 kilometers (circular hike)
- Altitude difference: 143 meters
- Duration: 2-3 hours, depending on how much time you take
- Difficulty level: medium
From Neckargerach to the Margarethenschlucht
The starting point of the hike is Neckargerach train station. So you can either arrive by car (just enter Neckargerach train station in Google Maps in the navigation) or conveniently by train. There are enough free parking spaces available at the train station.
There the way to the Margarethenschlucht is already signposted. First it goes over a bridge to the other side of the train station, then to the right and past residential buildings for a while before the path narrows and becomes a dirt road.
It doesn’t take long until we can enjoy the first view of the fantastic landscape of the Neckar Valley. The path runs without any major incline and it feels more like a walk than a hike – which suits me (not … haha). Only a few minutes later we are already standing in front of the entrance to the gorge, which, according to the sign, is only 800m away.
The sign also tells us that we are doing this fun here at our own risk, and that there is also a risk of slipping and generally dangerous and such … that is the moment when I get a bit of a whack when looking at my sneakers on my feet. But I can say it beforehand: there is nothing to worry about. With a little grip on the sole and normal surefootedness, the Margarethenschlucht can be done without any problems.
So we go on and after a few meters we have a first view of the beginning or a ‘branch’ of the gorge. We are immediately blown away by this fantastic landscape and have no idea that the actual gorge is even more spectacular and impressive.
Would you like to take great photos on the go without having to carry too much with you? It doesn’t take much for that! The heart of my equipment, which was also included in the Margarethenschlucht, are:
With this mini-equipment I shoot 90% of my pictures. You can get a complete overview of my equipment with all lenses, drones, underwater cameras.
From here the path leads over the water for the first time. Since the Flursbach does not have a lot of water during our visit, crossing it without getting your feet wet is no problem. It goes up the mountain slopes on a narrow path, some of the route sections are secured by wire ropes.
Basically, you can’t miss the right path, because everything is well signposted and secured. You are faster in the middle of the gorge than you can see and the route leads you almost automatically over the waterfall cascades up through the Margarethenschlucht. You gain steadily in height and cross the Flursbach again and again.
The path can of course be slippery, especially if it has rained before, always carefully test the stones and wooden steps in the water before stepping on them. Now that sounds more dangerous than it is and I admit there have been places where the altitude made me feel a little queasy – but with common sense and reasonably decent shoes, the whole thing is nothing more than a pretty cool one , adventurous walk.
At this point some more information for those who are interested: The Margarethenschlucht consists of the red sandstone typical of the Odenwald and has been a nature reserve since 1940. Due to the humid climate, a particularly large number of ferns are at home here and fire salamanders are probably darting around (at least that’s what a sign said, but unfortunately I didn’t see any).
And before you ask: I have no idea whether you can bathe in the water. To me the small stream looked very shallow and the current was only slight, I don’t know whether there are deeper basins below the cascades. In any case, the water was brown, the Flursbach collects the forest along the way.
After we have crossed the Margarethenschlucht and reach its end on a hill, the route now leads us to the left on a dirt road a little further uphill before it goes downhill again towards the starting point. On the way we come across a small wildlife enclosure, where we have the last photo stop of the day, because from here the route back through the forest is relatively unspectacular until we come out again at the small refuge at the entrance to the gorge.
Practical tips & information about the hike
Parking & starting point
The starting point of the hike is Neckargerach train station, where you can park for free. From here the way to the Margarethenschlucht is well signposted.
Equipment & camera equipment
Normal sports or hiking clothing is suitable for the hike. In my opinion, a pair of sneakers with a relatively non-slip sole is sufficient for the shoes. In the gorge you have to pass some damp and possibly muddy places where you definitely need enough support. If sneakers are too tricky for you, you can also wear hiking boots. I have these hiking boots * and can highly recommend them.
There are no toilets and no places to stop for refreshments on the short circular hike, so take enough water and provisions with you.
The camera should also be on board, because the Margarethenschlucht is really a wonderful photo backdrop. I take photos with the Sony Alpha 6500 * , a lightweight system camera, and I am super happy with it. It is well known that waterfalls are also ideal for long exposures, so you should of course pack a tripod . This is a light, not too expensive, entry-level tripod * , I’ve been using a more professional tripod myself for some time * that is stable even in wind and weather (which is not necessary in the gorge). By the way, my long exposures here were shot out of hand without a tripod – the image stabilizer in the Sony Alpha 6500 actually did it. Did I say I love this camera? <3
More excursion tips for the region
I already mentioned it at the beginning, I myself am only just about to discover my home region around the Odenwald, Spessart, Frankfurt, etc. and gradually more tips will be added here. Until then, I have made a few book recommendations for further hikes and excursions in the Odenwald:
- Hiking guide Odenwald: the 40 most beautiful tours *
- Odenwald travel guide with Bergstrasse, Darmstadt, Heidelberg *
- Odenwald: The most beautiful valley and mountain hikes *
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