Burgruine Drachenfels to Schlüsselfels : Dragon’s Rock Scenic Hike in germany’s Pfälzer wald

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The Felsenland region of Germany is filled with cone shaped mountains, some of which the tops of the mountains have eroded away into the magnificent red sandstone peaks and cliffs with fortified castles built into the stone like the above Burgruine Drachenfels.

drachenfels pfalz

What is Burgruine Drachenfels?

This fun and spooky place is located near the village of Busenberg and has it’s own children’s playground and hütte (mountain hut) serving simple food/drinks. There are seasonal bunkbeds for long distance hikers or families that want to stay in the woods overnight.

The Dragon’s Rock castle ruin is nicked named the “molar tooth” and dates back to approximately 1219 but the records are unclear.

Burgruine Drachenfels is part of the German-French line of castles including Bewartstein (3 km), Dahn Castles (3km), Lindelbrunn (6km), & Wegelnburg, Fleckenstein, Hoehenburg and Löwenstein (10km).

The purpose of this guide is to show you a great dayhike filled with steep hills, cliffs and views of nearby Berwarstein Castle from atop the cliffs of Schlüsselfels. Just keep a hand on the little ones near the cliffsides.

Hike Guide

burgruine drachenfels

Burgruine Drachenfels Hike

Distance: 2.7 miles, 4.4 km
Elevation: 500 feet up/down
Duration: 1.5-2 hours
Difficulty: Easy
GPS: Komoot Drachenfels

Where to Stay: 
Best Luxury – Source des Sens

Best for Families Exploring Nature – Du Cheval Blanc
Best Budget – Le Cleebourg

This is part of Palatinate Hiking series exploring the region of northern France and western Germany.

This densely forested borderland between France and Germany has switched hands innumerable times, and the borders are not so clear.

📹Walk with me on the hike in October’s Fall splendour and see the cliffs!

This guide is for history lovers who want to merge in a little Nature on their travels.

Read until the end where you can find a secluded spa hotel with it’s own 2 Michelin starred restaurant that rewards your day of hiking with upscale delicious cuisine.

When You Can Hike the Burgruine Drachenfels

It’s possible all year, but the best time is in October where you can have the trail to yourself and the hütte is still open.

This Burgruine Drachenfels hiking guide includes detailed GPS guidance (without any special apps) so it’s simple and not frustrating to find your way, get local food recommendations, and history highlights.

This hiking area is located in the single largest forest in Europe. It spans the French and German borders. In Germany it’s called the Palatinate forrest and in France it is called the Vosges.

However, it’s really the same continuous forest dotted with dozens of castles and distinctive red stone spires atop cone shaped small mountains.

burg berwarstein

You can hike year round, but many huts and restaurants will close at the beginning of November and reopen in April or May depending upon weather.

Burgruine Drachenfels Hiking Map

Google map – Like a Hiking Guide in your pocket.

Burgruine Drachenfels – Schlüsselfels Hike : Trail Report

This simple loop starts at the Drachenfelshütte parking lot, goes up to play on the Drachenfels castle ruin and then loops one big circle to see the Schlüsselfels cliffs (picture below).

Burgruine Drachenfels

Distance: 2.7 miles, 4.4 km
Elevation: 500 feet up/down
Duration: 1.5-2 hours
Difficulty: Easy
GPS: Komoot 4 Castle to Castle Loop guide

Free GPS Komoot: My Komoot collection of Palatinate Hikes:  has one free region to download
Start/end point: Free Parking at Drachenfelshütte

Kid-friendly: yes, 3+.  Playground at start. Smaller children will likely need to be carried in packs.
Stroller-friendly: no

Warning: There are cliffs at Schlüsselfels. You do not have to go on this area with small children. It is a slight side detour from the loop trail (about 40 feet off main trail).

Burgruine Drachenfels has railings the entire way for safety.

🥾😓 Feeling Overwhelmed Planning a Hike? Use my custom-built online Hiking Time Calculator for Non-techie People.

Dog-friendly: Yes

Fees: None.  No hiking pass needed. Free parking.

Behind the Scenes Stories:  Web Stories ******Drachenfels********

Camino de Santiago: Parts of this trail walk along the ancient pilgrims path to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

drachenfels pfalz
the Hutte!

Drachenfelshütte Hours: Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays 1100 – 1800

Mittwochs, samstags und sonntags von 11 bis 18 Uhr

Travel Tips

Colmar town : A must see in the Alsace

How to Get to Burgruine Drachenfels Pfalz

The easiest way to reach this hiking at Burgruine Drachenfels and cultural area is by car. It is good to pair with an overnight trip that includes time spent in nearby Colmar or Strasbourg. The famous Alsatian wine route is in this Vosges mountain region and tours of the medieval über cute villages like Hunawihr, Riquewihr, Eguisheim, and Kaysersberg.

About 15 min away from Burgruine Drachenfels by car is the Alsace of eastern France. It’s known for stunning red pinnacle spire mountains, impossibly cute villages, castles and delicious foods like flammkuchen (a type of white pizza), quiches and sauerkraut.

  • KMC to Burgruine Drachenfels : About 1 hour drive
  • Stuttgart/Wiesbaden to Burgruine Drachenfels : 2 hours drive
  • Strasbourg to Burgruine Drachenfels: 1 hour drive


Dolomites in the Summer : Best things to do including hiking the Alta Via 1 Hut to Hut trail in the Italian Dolomites 

St Wendel Germany : This small town in nearby Germany offers great ambiance and playgrounds for the kids to enjoy the hikes too.

Bechhofen Germany: This tiny town is quintessential Germany with a great hiking trail.

Where to Stay : Forest Hotel Guide

drachenfels pfalz

The nearby Gimbelhof Hotel has capacity for 20 people. Contact them directly for rates but room start at 50 euros. However, if the hotel is full these hotels nearby offer a similar Nature experience.

Best for Families Exploring Nature

A stay at L’auberge Du Cheval Blanc offers an indoor pool and spa, a 2 star Michelin starred restaurant, aesthetician treatments and gorgeous rooms. Some of the Auberge Du Cheval Blanc’s guest rooms have an individual spa, with a balneo bath, sauna and Feng-Shui design. Kids and dogs are welcome.

Check Availability

Best for Eco-Friendly Luxury

Book at the La Source du Sens Spa hotel for a true getaway and sensory experience. It is adults only and full of luxurious touches. Beautiful, spacious and quiet.

Best Budget

The Hotel Restaurant le Cleebourg offers a comfortable stay including a children’s playground and a sauna. It has a paid breakfast service.

Super Budget : Car Mattress

Summer can be challenging to get accommodations if you don’t plan early!  If you’re out of luck finding a room, try getting a mattress for the back of your SUV as it’s totally legal to sleep one night in your car in France.  There’s nothing like waking up to Vosge forest in the morning. 

Hütten : Huts

Various mountain huts line these forests that are seasonally open with community bunk beds and restaurants. Check their website for more information on booking. 

drachenfels pfalz
Ruby and other dogs are invited to climb into the castles.

6 Best Things to do Beyond Hiking in the Alsace

  🇮🇹 Get the Pass Alsace and enjoy free entry to almost 60 tourist sites, including wildlife parks, fortified castles, museums, and more fun activities and discounts in Alsace.

 🎯 Alsatian medieval village tour. Visit three medieval villages: Kayserberg, Hunawihr, and Riquewihr in a van with small group.

 🍷 Half day Safari Castle and wine route tour. Go to the Visit Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg and Château de Kaysersberg and do some wine tastings in a private Alsace cellar.

 🏰 Full Day Alsace Wine tasting tour. You’ll stop at Hunawihr, Riquewihr, Eguisheim, and Kaysersberg, with a potential stop at the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle

📸  Walking photography tour with a local from Colmar. Go beyond landscape photography and enter into the street photography scene aided by a local photographer.

 🍩 Chocolate museum visit and chocolate making workshop in Colmar. Spend 45 minutes with a chocolatier and learn how to decorate your very own chocolate bar.

What to Bring on the Hike

This hike is not especially technical and a good pair of walking or running shoes or sandals will work just fine. Make sure to bring along sun protection for your eyes and a water bottle.

There is 1 stop along this trail for drinks and food but it is only open seasonally. I’ve yet to be there when it was actually open. Here is their website for more info.

FAQ Drachenfels

When is the castle trail open?

It’s open year round.

How much time do you need for the Drachenfels – Schlüsselfels hike?

2 – 3 hours for the loop and time to take photos of the castle.

How long is Drachenfels – Schlüsselfels hike?

There are many hiking trails around Busenberg and its parking area. The trail has an elevation gain of about 500 feet and is about 3 miles long. It takes about 1.5 – 2 hours to do the loop.