© Ottmar Vetter, Elbsandsteingebirge Verlag

Malerweg trail 1st stage - Liebethal-Wehlen

At a glance

  • Start: Liebethal at the bus turning point of the line G/L (Graupa/Liebethal)
  • Destination: Wehlen marketplace
  • Easy
  • 11,52 km
  • 4 hours
  • 105 m
  • 262 m
  • 119 m

The selection of the day stages for the Malerweg trail offers a connection possibility with public transportation to each start and end-point. Thus a complete hike on the Malerweg trail is possible, even when your accommodation is not nearby the trail. The first stage involves the hike from Liebethal to Wehlen. We walk through the romantic Liebethal valley along the river Wesenitz. In this place also stands the monumental Wagner Memorial (with music). The trail continues through Liebethal, then open meadows with wide views to Dresden and the Ore Mountains, to Lohmen. At the village exit, we descent into the Uttewalder ravine and leave this picturesque rocky valley just at the entrance to the town Wehlen.

The Malerweg trail is actually a creation of the Tourism Association and several partners in the region. During the last 10 years, this traditional trail was aligned in most parts according to the historic route. On about 110 kilometers we can walk along today's most touristic highlights in the Saxon Switzerland. This includes many wonderful lookout points, which already provided inspirations for painters and artists in earlier centuries. Our route begins in Pirna-Liebethal and continues on the right side of the river Elbe through the National Park until the Czech border. We cross the river and hike over five table mountains back to Pirna.


The first stage includes the hike from Liebethal to Wehlen. The bus turning point of the line Graupa/Liebethal is the starting point of the tour. The route leads along the river Wesenitz, a tributary river of the Elbe which starts in Hohwald (Lusatian Mountains). The Wesenitz is the northernmost tributary river of the Elbe in Saxon Switzerland. The riverbed in the Liebethal valley indicates, that from time to time huge water masses can be expected here. Some time thereafter we come across the remains of a former hydroelectric station, which has supplied the village Copitz (today part of the town Pirna) with electricity. The ruins include also the remains of the turbines. A few minutes later we recognize left infront of the rock wall a monumental memorial. It is the world's largest Richard Wagner monument. The four-meter high bronze statue was created by the sculptor Richard Guhr in 1911/12. On 21th May 1933 on the occasion of the the 50th death anniversary of Wagner, the memorial was revealed in the Liebethal valley, not far from the mill Lochmühle. Wagners former visits in the valley and the mill provided inspiritations for his opera Lohengrin. At the memorial is also played music from the opera Lohengrin for the visitors.Unfortunately the nearby mill Lochmühle is a sad monument of transience and decay. Despite the romantic location, a reconstruction and further usage of the mill does not seem financially feasible...

At the beginning of the touristic development in the Saxon Switzerland, this cornmill was a popular destination for artists and tourists due to its romantic atmosphere and easy accessibility. A thriving restaurant in a romantic setting was born. Today there is a little sign of hope; the Official Journal of the community Lohmen mentioned a reconstruction project for the mill! At the mill we change on the other river bank and follow a narrow path along the Wesenitz (which during Easter is decorated with colorful balloons) to the mill Daubemühle. At this place is still generated electricity and during Easter are gastronomic offers. After another change of the river bank and a short climbing section, we arrive in the cosy district Mühlsdorf. The Malerweg trail continues and after a short while we turn left into the field. On the slightly ascending "Alten Lohmstraße" road we reach the edge of the forest. From this point hikers enjoy a wide view to the Eastern Ore Mountains. Now we turn to the right direction and walk along the edge of the forest until the coordinate stone in Mühlsdorf. It marks geographical coordinates 51° north latitude and 14° east longitude. After a few meters we return back into the forest and move toward the valley of the river Wesenitz. In this part the river takes up the entire width of the valley. After the crossing of the river, we get to the railway underpass of the rail-route Pirna-Neustadt. In the railway tunnel we experience an acoustic anomaly. When approaching the brook in the first quarter of the railway tunnel, the water sounds are becoming quieter, as if we moved away from it. After the tunnel we reach the road S164 to Stolpen. This section of the hike is of little interest; we cross the road, continue along the edge of the forest and follow a meadow path (not the concrete road) to a small lookout point with a tree and a bench. Here we enjoy again the aforementioned wide view, which gives us the impression that the distant river bank of the Elbe in Pilnitz are located closely.

We now continue through the Lohmen, past the Friedenslinde (lime tree) and the nice facade paintings illustrating the Bastei rock bridge, then towards the exit of the village where is located a small slate cladded transformer house, and then until the junction to the Uttewald ravine. In the ravine we reach a path fork, left to the Brückwaldweg/Kehllochweg trail and right to the Uttewalder ravine. The dark Uttewalder ravine is of course only hit by sunlight in spring and temporarily in winter. Almost on the entire course to Wehlen the rock walls are standing very closely. In addition spruce, ash, sycamore maple, small-leaved lime and common hornbeam trees form during warm seasons an almost impenetrable canopy of needles and leaves. Various species of ferns and mosses complement this unique vegetation zone. The somewhat dark and mysterious atmosphere was for the romanticists in previous centuries a special attraction. Caspar David Friedrich, August Heinrich, Carl Köhler and many others used motifs such as the stone bridge and unique rock formations for their drawings. After one kilometer the Bruno-Barthel-Weg trail crosses our path. To the left an ascent leads to Rathenwalde, whereas to the right an ascending stone stairway leads close (200 meters away) to the tavern Uttewalde. Nevertheless we stay in the valley and after a few minutes the "Uttewalder Felstentor" (rock gate) appears. If you previously observed exactly the historical drawings and engravings, only two possibilities can be considered. Either people 200 years ago were only half as tall, or artists of that time had a rich fantasy. The rock arch is an impressive structure and also a serious bottleneck during heavy rains. In 1822 after a big storm it was actually blocked by wood and debris. Later during the last flood of 2010, the massive reinforcements of the streambed were badly damaged, especially in the downstream section. However this is hard to imagine, as the streambed can almost completely dry up. Shortly after the Uttewalder rock gate on our right handside another, not so steep path leads to the village Uttewalde. Not far away the ravine opens up and the tavern “Waldidylle” is visible. For fast hikers there is a snack stand and a lot of seating possibilities outside. Of course inside the tavern hikers will have a bigger choice of nice meals. At this point the trail opens up wide enough so that even strollers can pass easily. On the left side, just a few minutes away, is located a cavernous passage - the "Teufelsküche" (Devil's Kitchen). After a few more minutes the Uttewalder ravine ends and merges into the Wehlener ravine. To the left a trail leads through the Höllengrund ravine to the Steinernen Tisch (stone table) and the Bastei. However the Malerweg trail continues to the right direction toward Wehlen. Shortly before the entrance to Wehlen we can see once again the massive sand stone reinforcements in the stream-bed. Obviously these reinforcements protect the town Wehlen against heavy floods of rain water, which come from the surrounding highlands (and which flow together in the ravine). Thus debris and wood is stopped at the walls and the undercut slopes.

At the entrance to Wehlen to the left handside is an inconspicuous, but not to be missed ascent to a castle ruin. From the elevated lookout point we enjoy a wonderful view on the river Elbe and the two districts of Wehlen. Directly below us is the marketplace with the town church. After the descent to the marketplace our trip ends and with it also the first stage of the Malerweg trail. For our return journey we take the Elbe ferry and S-Bahn train.


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