The Pfalzerwald or Palatinate Forest is a sparsely populated region west of the Rhine River and bordering northeast France. We wanted to spend a day hiking while in Germany and this was the region we chose to do it in. We based ourselves in the town of Dahn where several trails and forest roads originate.
Dahn is surrounded by hills and an assortment of sandstone outcrops which have made it a popular area with climbers. From the center of Dahn you can hike to the top of any of the surrounding hills in a half hour or less.
We crossed over a ridge to the town of Erfweiler as well. The sandstone column on the right side of this picture is typical of the region and there are hundreds of these jutting out of the forest.
Many of them are home to castles as well. The hill directly south of Dahn features three of them, two of which can be seen in this picture. The castle in the foreground including the tower is the Grafendahn. Behind it is a separate, older castle although it's difficult to tell that in this picture. That castle, Tanstein, is separated from Grafendahn by a narrow rock fissure.
Tanstein was the first castle on this hilltop and grows organically out of the rock. It's not a particularly large castle and nearly all of it is open to the public.
One might wonder why it was necessary to build three castles on one hill when there are so many available. Actually, a high percentage of surrounding hills also have castles on them. A long day hike in the Dahn region could easily reach eight or more of them.
The third castle - the Altdahn - is the largest and most complete with several interior rooms as well as a stable behind the outer walls. There are excellent views of the Wasgau region from any of these castles.
The best view is of course from the highest point. That would be the Altdahn tower which is reached via a stairway from the castle courtyard and then a series of ladders to the top platform.
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