Luxembourg has a lot to offer; good wine, amazing beer, decadent pastries, and beautiful castles. But it also has some amazing walking trails, especially in the Mullerthal Region. This particular area is often called “Little Switzerland” due to its hilly, picturesque landscape. My husband and I were really looking forward to doing a bit of hiking in this area, so one day when the weather was favourable, we went to the train station and approached one of the clerks at the ticket desk.
“Hello,” I began. “We’d like to go to Mullerthal today”. Mullerthal is also the name of a town in Luxembourg, where we had decided to begin our hike. There was a pretty waterfall called Schiessentumpel that we wanted to see on a trail leading out of this town.
The plan, at least in my head, was to hike from Mullerthal to the town of Beaufort. Beaufort has a beautiful castle to tour, as well as being the home of Cassero liqueur. The hike was around 7.8 km – quite doable in an afternoon.
The man behind the desk replied, “where in Mullerthal? It’s a big town”.
It didn’t really matter to us, since this was just a starting point anyway. But I decided to clarify a little. “We want to hike some of the trails. But we’d like to begin in the town of Mullerthal, wherever it’s easiest to start”. I glanced down at the nameplate on the desk. His name was Lionel.
Lionel was unimpressed. “You have a map?” he asked skeptically.
“Yes,” I answered with a nod. “We bought one from the tourist office.” The map specifically outlined the numerous walking trails littering the Mullerthal Region, which was how we chose our route. And for €4 it seemed like a good purchase, in case the routes weren’t well marked once we got there.
“You have a GPS?” he questioned.
“Yes, my husband has one.”
“Good walking shoes?” Lionel seemed to lean slightly over the desk to examine our footwear.
I shrug-nodded. “They’re pretty good,” I decided. They weren’t the best, but they would do, I hoped. I was beginning to wonder what we were getting ourselves into. “We also have water and snacks,” I offered hopefully. This line of questioning was worse than going through customs.
Finally, Lionel decided we were good to go. “There are no trains,” he explained, “just buses. You have to take the bus to Consdorf, then transfer to get to Mullerthal.” This was fine with us, since public transportation in Luxembourg is a very reasonable €4 for all-day fare for the entire country. We could treat it like a hop-on-hop-off situation if we changed our mind at any point along the way if another town caught our eye.
Lionel sold us our tickets and we hopped on the bus heading to Consdorf, which terminated in a town called Echternach, the oldest town in Luxembourg.
By the time we got to Consdorf, the bright, sunny sky we had started with in Luxembourg City turned overcast, and rain and started to fall. Luckily we had also brought rain gear. But once we hopped off the bus at our stop, and realized that the connecting bus to Mullerthal was a 45-minute wait, we started to get twitchy. Maybe today wasn’t a good day to hike after all.
Mark looked at his GPS. “Look at this,” he said under the bus shelter where we stood. “Mullerthal is a whopping 3 kilometers from here. We’re going hiking anyway…”
I nodded. “So…you wanna try walking there then? I’m game if you are. It’s better than standing here for 45 minutes”.
So off we went, following the GPS through the little town of Consdorf, which led us to the following paved trail:
We knew we were on the right track when we passed this interpretive sign.
It felt a bit odd to be walking a trail flanked by farmers fields, but it was also a nice break from being in the city. Soon though, the paved trail ended and we found ourselves on a nicely worn path through a beautifully wooded area:
The path soon turned into an intersection and we had to decide whether to go left or right. According to the GPS, we could head toward Mullerthal by turning right. (we approached this signpost from behind, so from our perspective we were turning right). This got us onto the C6 route.
The Mullerthal Trail system consists of three primary loops, easily numbered as 1, 2 and 3. C6 is one of several secondary looping trails amongst the three primary loops.
By now the rain had lessened, and the ground was wet but not soaked. So it made for a very nice, leisurely hike. Very quickly, the geography began to change, and we could see where “Little Switzerland” gets its nickname. We passed streams, massive boulders, and rocky outcroppings.
There were even some small rock shelters along the way. This rock shelter is “Schelmenlay.”
The trail, for the most part, wasn’t difficult, but there were sections with inclines, declines, and stairs, so our legs got a good workout.
At one point, I stopped and pointed out the “face” I saw in the rock to Mark:
Around lunchtime, we could hear what sounded like an air raid siren in the distance. We realized we were only about 750 meters from Mullerthal, so it must have come from there. Our destination was getting close!
We had to squeeze through a few tight crevasses between the rocks along the trail. The large rock wedged overhead was a bit nerve-racking to walk underneath!
Above the wedged rock though, right across the very top, was a little footbridge!
We hiked to the top, where we decided to stop for a quick snack. The forest here is so lush and pretty, and the views from the top of the rocks was amazing!
As we continued our walk, we realized something a bit disheartening – instead of closing the gap between us and the town of Mullerthal, we were now getting further away. But since trails tend to meander and wind, we pressed on. Soon, we reached a little stream and a footbridge.
And a rock shelter, with the name “Schelmenlay” painted on the side. We had just looped back to our original starting point! Somehow, even with the combination of the GPS trail map, and signposts, we had missed a turnoff somewhere along the way. Sigh. (As an unrelated side note, the name painted on the rock shelter is spelled “Schelmenlay,” but the signpost reads, “Schelmelay.” I’m not sure which spelling is correct.)
We realized that by the time we retraced our steps or tried to find a new route to Mullerthal, it would be getting late in the afternoon. The walk from Mullerthal to Beaufort was about 2.5 hours, which would get us close to dusk. Even though I had a headlamp, we didn’t want to risk hiking strange trails in the dark. Plus, Beaufort Castle would probably be closed by the time we got there anyway. Add to that the bus schedule getting us back to Luxembourg City…well. Disappointed, we decided to change gears a bit, and explore the C5 loop of the trail instead. This still led back to Consdorf, where we could then safely hop the bus back to the city.
C5 had very similar geography to C6, including the tighty-squeezy crevasses.
This tighty-squeezy crevasse even had a name:
If I had to compare the two trails, I’d say that C5 definitely had more “up and down” hills and valleys. And stairs, don’t forget stairs!
We didn’t see any wildlife other than some birds, but my husband did spot a few large beetles as we reached the end of C5. Such as this fellow, clinging to a fallen leaf:
Although we made a few wrong turns along the way, and never did get to our intended destination, we thoroughly enjoyed hiking a fraction of the Mullerthal trails. But we also understood, belatedly, our desk clerks’ concern for our well-being. I’m sure more than one hiker has found themselves lost or turned around on some of the trails, as well laid out and marked as they are! So Lionel, if you’re reading this, we made it back in one piece! And thanks for the tips. 🙂