Hike to Hohenecker Castle in Kaiserslautern, Germany

If you’re in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and looking for a fun afternoon at an old castle ruin, look no further than your own back yard! Hohenecker Castle in Kaiserslautern (Burg Hohenecker) is the one you see on top of the hill as you drive past on Route 270. And you may not have really noticed it until 2024 when a tree-clearing project revealed stunning new views of the majestic ruin looking down from its impressive perch.

Here’s a video of the hike and the ruins at the top of the hill


Construction of the castle began in the 1100s into a natural stone formation, then using local red sandstone sawn into large blocks. It was both a residential and a defensive structure, and you can see a large part of the impressive defensive wall still standing almost 40 feet high. The thickness of the walls is astounding.

A man stands at the base of a large thick defensive wall at Hohenecker Castle in Kaiserslautern Germany

The castle grew in the 13th century and belonged to the Lords of Hohenecken who were officials at the courts of Emperors and Kings of Germany. It saw its share of drama over the centuries, from a peasant uprising that took over the castle, to a lengthy siege by Prince-Elector Charles Louis in the mid-1600s.

The castle finally met its demise in 1689 during the Palatinate War of Succession, also known as the Nine Years War. At that time Louis XIV of France began to expand the boundaries of his empire, crossing the Rhine into Germany. French troops blew up the castle, and left standing only what we see today. Skirmishes and wars on the borderland of Germany and France can be seen in dozens of castle ruins on both sides of today’s international border.


The castle is free and open to the public 24/7/365. Most people go on their own or with a small group.

But if you’d like to get an organized tour with a guide for your group, you can do that too! It lasts about an hour and a half and will cost you a flat rate of 75 Euros for up to 50 people. You can hear all the stories and history surrounding the castle and get a detailed description of the rooms and what they were used for. You can schedule that tour here.


There’s a large parking lot right in the center of Hohenecken that you won’t be able to miss. There is parking for maybe a hundred cars so you should have no trouble finding a spot.

The trailhead

About 300 feet from the parking lot you will see signs on the road pointing you to the trailhead. You’ll turn left, and pass between two beautiful churches. The one on your right is the Rochus Chapel, built in 1748. When that one became too small for the growing town, the new St. Rochus church (the one on the right) was built in 1897. Just keep walking straight and when in doubt, head up the hill. The trail will be visible right past the second church.

Trail condition

At the very beginning there are a couple tree roots to watch for, but the trail is pretty well maintained. Soon you’ll turn left and find yourself walking on the ancient road up to the castle. You’ll see the old red sandstone blocks that paved the way for horses and people and carts almost a thousand years ago.

Up at the very top when you are approaching the castle, there’s some loose gravel to watch for, but this is the only heads up I’d really give. You’ll notice it more going down than up! Just take it slow and make sure to warn kids and elders.

We went on a beautiful sunny day, but I can see where there might be a little mud if there had just been a downpour.

Who should hike the trail?

The trail isn’t long, but it is definitely uphill. Very small kids might find it too much, unless they can hitch a ride in a pack. Elementary school age and up shouldn’t have a problem.

Dogs are absolutely welcome at the site, and leashing is always a good idea unless your doggo is super well trained to stay with you.

Older folks or anyone with sketchy knees or ankles would do well to have a pair of walking sticks if available.

How long does it take to walk?

The total number of steps from the parking lot to the top of the trail is about 1500. The length of time it will take totally depends on your pace and if or when you stop. We walked at a fairly leisurely pace and stopped once to explore a little area with a table and a stone sculpture, but basically just did slow and steady and it took about 20 minutes. If you have a group where someone needs to take it at a slower pace, there are several benches along the trail where you can sit, reboot, and enjoy the beautiful forest for a minute.

The Ruins of Hohenecker Castle in Kaiserslautern

All along the trail you will find little signs talking about legends and history of the castle. Have your Google Translate ready because these are only in German. Signage at the top near the castle itself, however, is also in English!

The ruins themselves are fascinating, and there are lots of little things to see. Keep an eye out for decorative carvings in the walls some of which show the coat of arms. Several rooms are clearly delineated, and you can go inside and look out the windows, and walk around. There is no ceiling remaining, but there are several very high walls, and you can see braces where old floors used to be. There are many great photo ops, and a stunning view of the town below.

If you’ve got kids (or even if you don’t) look for a little fishing pole game they have set up at the top. Also see if you can find some little lizards that live in the hidey-holes in the stone walls. Their official name is… wait for it… the common wall lizard. Now you know!

The common wall lizard. He definitely deserves a better name!


Once you’re at the top, it’s pretty much just you and the castle. There is a cute row of picnic tables with a fantastic view right next to the open grassy castle keep (#5 on the map). So if you want to bring a little picnic lunch and drinks, it would be a really cute spot.

But keep in mind that there are no restroom facilities at the castle! Also, no food or water, so plan accordingly.


Your other option if you don’t bring a picnic is to grab a bite to eat in town. Right across the street from the parking lot is a really cute place called the Burgschänke Restaurant and Hotel that serves traditional German fare, and has a restroom. There are also several other restaurants very close: Royal Aroma for Indian food, Mega Burger, Pizzeria Casa dell’ Arte, and Ciro Italian Restaurant. All are within easy walking distance of the parking.

Weather and What to Wear

The trails are well-manicured, but if it has rained recently, there may be mud. Also portions of loose gravel mean you should wear sturdy shoes with good grip.

As in most places, it can be a bit breezier at the top of the hill than the bottom, so check the weather in Kaiserslautern before you go so you know what to bring.

Perfect Afternoon Visit

If you live in the area and are looking for a quick, fun afternoon trip; if you’ve got guests in town; or if you find yourself passing through on your way to a different destination, don’t miss this great castle in Kaiserslautern for an interesting few hours of history and fun!

And for other fun castle day trips, check out these posts:

Discover Charming Hohenbaden Castle Overlooking Baden-Baden

Ultimate Guide to Frankenstein Castle in Frankenstein Germany

Explore Fascinating Nanstein Castle in Landstuhl Germany

Stahleck Castle: A Gorgeous Hike with a Dark Past

Explore the Astounding Schlossberg Caves and Castle Ruins in Homburg

A Real-Life Fairytale Castle in Germany – Discover Miraculous Burg Eltz

Saarbrücken Castle – Explore This Fascinating Underground World

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2 thoughts on “Hike to Hohenecker Castle in Kaiserslautern, Germany”

  1. Well done Jeanne!
    Sounds like a great site
    To take friends and family to.
    What was the temperature when you were there?
    Also, what do you think the elevation gain is from the trailhead to the top?

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