The second stage of the Malerweg trail leads from Wehlen over the Bastei to the Amsel ravine (Amselgrund). We continue past the Amselsee lake and Amsel waterfall to Rathewalde. Over the high plateau at Rathewalde we continue to the Hockstein rock and then descend through the Wolfsschlucht gorge to the Polenztal valley. From this point we ascend again to the marketplace in Hohnstein through the Schindergraben gorge, which is close to the castle.
The second stage of the Malerweg trail starts at the marketplace in the town Wehlen. We follow the Meinickestraße street along the river Elbe. We can already enjoy the beautiful view on the Bastei rock massif (and later vise versa from there on Wehlen). Especially passing by steamboats in combination with the wonderful nature in the background are an excellent photo opportunity. The Meinickestraße street is in this section part of the Elberadweg (Elbe biking route), hence please pay attention when you want to change the road side! After 500 meters we see on the left side an information board and a waysign of the Malerweg trail. We follow the ancient path Schwarzberggrundweg for 250 meters uphill through a mixed forest until a stone wall, which we cross to the right. The stone wall protects the lower located buildings from mud and debris during heavy rain. Straight ahead the way continues to the Haldenweg trail! But in order to stay on the Malerweg trail we take the stairs steeply uphill on the left side. Once the trail runs more flat again, we encounter between birch and pine trees the beautiful Schwarzberg lookout point. We have a wonderful on Wehlen and the Großen Bärenstein rock (Great Bear stone) on the opposite side. Further uphill the path continues through a beech forest and after about one kilometer we arrive at the "stone table". The stone table and stone benches were set up in 1710 on the occasion of a hunt (after a silvicultural redrawing of land parcels). The abandoned forest tavern "Steinerner Tisch" is located nearby. We continue on the trail and soon recognize a souvenir shops and a snack bar... we are on the Bastei. From our current position on the Basteistraße street it is only 250 meters to the spectacular Bastei lookout-point. It goes without saying that we first visit the look-point and take a look at the souvenir shops and and gastronomic possibilities later. Despite the mass tourism on the Bastei this particular lookout-point is an absolute must-do for every Malerweg hiker! Particularly impressive is the view on the rock massif of the Bastei region, which is located nearby in front of us. The rock wall of the Bastei lookout is 194 meters high. The Bastei brigde is located underneath the lookout-point and leads to other lookout-points as well as the rock castle Neurathen. We can enjoy here an excellent panoramic view. The Elbe valley and the table mountains of the Saxon Switzerland form a truly picturesque landscape. In this region travelers and artists had plenty motifs for their inspiration. From the opposite riverbank we also have a magnificent view on the Bastei rock massif. Webcam from Laasenhof towards the Bastei.
On the Bastei the "Basteihotel" has a wide variety of options for accommodation and gastronomy. In addition to that, it is worth visiting the "Schweizerhaus" (Swiss house), which serves as a National Park Visitor centre. It houses a prestigious art exhibition with paintings and prints from different eras, still all share the same main inspiration of the Saxon Switzerland. Many of the motifs in these pictures can be encountered on the Malerweg trail.
On the Bastei path we continue downhill into the Amselgrund ravine. We just pass by the village Rathen on our right handside. In the valley we first arrive at the entry port and the ticket house for the "Felsenbühne" (open-air stage). After a few meters the Amselsee lake appears, where it is possible to rent a rowboat or paddleboat. During summer the lake is always filled with sea reared trouts. If you fall out of the boat you can hardly drown as the water is very shallow... what the trouts might do to you is however not so sure.
Our tour continues on the left lakeside and after a short while we reach on the left side the path junction toward the “Schwedenlöcher” gorge. This path would have been a good alternative for the descent from the Bastei. Still it is not part of the new Malerweg trail, as it is often not accessible due to storm damages. We now walk on huge rough paving stones from earlier centuries up to the hut "Amselfallbaude". The Amselfallbaude hosts two snack bars and on the upper floor a National Park Information Point. In the historic mountain hut visitors learn about detailed informations of the national park philosophy. Some exhibits are designed especially interesting and interactive for children. The Amselfall waterfall, like the Lichtenhainer waterfall is serviced manually during dry months. However in most cases the natural water flow is strong enough to provide a wonderful photo opportunity. We leave the Amselfall waterfall and walk uphill over stairs, later on a trail along the Grünbach stream. This part of the Amselgrund ravine is not as heavily visited by tourists and the landscape can be described as wild-romantic. Throughout the whole ravine fallen trees and the Grünbach stream are a lovely scenery. After about one kilometer from the Amselfall waterfall we reach the village Rathewalde. The village entrance from the valley is fabulous with the slow reconstruction of the mill "Rathewalder Mühle" and the beer garden. To the mill also belongs the "chapel" at the mountain side, a so-called "Berganlehnhaus" (mountain hut, known from Tirol) which formerly served hikers and guests of the mill as a place to sleep. The clock was installed later. On the opposite side is located a rentable holiday home that can be accessed via stone steps and a rock terrace. There are even more architectural curiosities: one farmhouse which directly stands at the steep slope and another holiday home with the probably lowest cost of land in the village; the small house is built like a bridge above the stream Grünbach.
We now arrive at the village square with a guest house, church and parking. The Malerweg trail sign directs us again out of the village and toward Hohnstein. We follow the trail to the road Hohnsteiner Straße. This road is very busy and the trail runs parallel to it in the green area. We continue along the road for 700 meters and reach a big intersection at the former racetrack. Here is also located the restaurant Hocksteinschänke. Those who have the possibility to return from this point by car or motorcycle will enjoy a nice ride on the historic racetrack of the former Germany ring (Deutschlandring) with a few challenging turns. This track was built between 1933 and 1939 (to some degree also by prisoners of the former concentration camp in Hohnstein), but was already closed in the same year because of the war. The length of the course is 10 kilometers and leads from our current position on the serpentine-shaped road Wartenbergstraße down into the Polenztal valley. There it continues partially along the river Polenz to Heeselicht, then back on the road Kaiserstraße passing by the village Hohburkersdorf and finally arriving again at the restaurant Hocksteinschänke. For the section between the Hocksteinschänke and village Hohburkersdorf existed plans to built huge tribunes. During the time after war some illegal races were organized in this part, but traffic calming measures (thresholds, bulges) made this almost impossible. From the restaurant Hocksteinschänke we follow the road Wartenbergstraße downhill to the parking Hocksteinparkplatz. There we see again the familiar Malerweg trail signs. After 250 meters we arrive at a small stone bridge, then again later at the refuge nearby the Hockstein rock. In order to get to the small Hockstein lookout-point we only have to walk a few meters at the outer rock ledge (in front of the steep gorge). If we look downward from this "pulpit", the river Polenz and the guest house "Polenztal" are visible.As expected the trail now descends steeply into the Polenztal valley. On steel stairs we walk down through the legendary "Wolfsschlucht" (Wolf gorge), which has served as an artistic example for the opera "Der Freischütz" by Carl Maria von Weber. The rock walls in this section are standing so close that we have to deal with oncoming hikers skillfully. Once back down, we lose no time and ascend again through the "Schindergraben" gorge up to the castle town Hohnstein. The last section takes us past the Bärengarten (bear garden). The remains of the walls can be still recognized, showing the ruins of a former bear enclosure. From the 17th to 18th century bears were kept here for electoral hunts (in the Dresden castle courtyard!). We are now standing right below the castle Hohnstein, which sits enthroned on a huge rock. After a few minutes we reach again the romantic marketplace of the town Hohnstein.
If you have some time left before returning, you should definitely visit the castle as well as the town church, which was built by George Bähr.