At the foot of the Fichtelberg in the Ore Mountains lies the town of Oberwiesenthal. At 915 metres above sea level, it is the highest town in Germany. In winter, it is a great place for winter sports, and in the snow-free season, hiking trails attract visitors.
We were in Oberwiesenthal in September and did some nice hikes. One tour started for us directly at the quad chairlift below the Fichtelbergbahn.
Trip up the Fichtelberg
You can hike up the Fichtelberg, but you don’t have to. If you prefer to take it a little easier, you can take the Fichtelberg cable car. The two cabins of Germany’s oldest aerial cableway take their passengers up to an altitude of 1214 metres. Or you can take the four-seater chairlift, which begins its journey just a few metres above the cable car.
The quad chairlift starts its ride at 914.35 meters above sea level and goes up to the top station at 1212.85 meters. There is the option to fold a weather protection hood over the seat, or to enjoy the ride open. We opted for this ride. The mountain ride cost 10,-€ per person.
Got off at the mountain station, would actually have been our first way into the Fichtelberghaus. From the lookout tower should be a beautiful view over the Ore Mountains possible. However, when looking at the house was clear, a good view we would not have that day. So we waived it and started with our hike.
We have tracked the course of the route so that it can be easily followed.
Old luge track on Fichtelberg mountain
Oberwiesenthal and the Fichtelberg are known for their winter sports. Top athletes train here on the Fichtelberg ski jumps and in the Ski Arena, and recreational athletes ski down the slopes here in winter. We walk on our trail under a ski lift that is in summer sleep and over ski slopes to get to our actual destination.
Hidden between trees lies an old luge track on the Fichtelberg. You don’t see winter sportsmen here anymore, but it wasn’t so long ago that the track even hosted international competitions.
In the sports club Traktor Oberwiesenthal there was state-sponsored luge from 1958. Of course, this also required a luge track. In 1969/70, a natural track was built on concrete elements. The track length was about 1100 meters and 18 curves were built in.
For two years, athletes competed nationally and internationally here until a competition track with artificial ice was built in Oberhof in 1972. Competition operations at the Fichtelberg were discontinued because it was quickly realized that operating a natural ice facility was too difficult in fluctuating weather conditions. In addition, the lugers used new sleds that were difficult to use on the track and the once most modern luge track in the GDR was outdated after barely 2 years of operation. There were still attempts to make adjustments, but in the last years of its use, only junior athletes raced on the luge track at Fichtelberg. The last competition took place in 1987.
With the unification of Germany the decay of the toboggan run began, which could not be prevented even by short-term use during summer training. In 1994, the first two curves of the track were torn down when a new ski slope was created.
Today’s Fichtelberghütte was once the men’s start. The ladies’ start is still there today. You can still see the starting bars and the steep ramp from which the ladies started the race.
The luge track on the Fichtelberg itself can be walked. There are signs at the track that prohibit the use with bicycles. I would honestly also advise against it. There were partly trees across the track, the concrete of the floor was pressed up by the roots of the surrounding trees and grass and small bushes grew everywhere. On the side of the track were small cottages that were once used as control and supply houses. The steep walls of the curves have discovered some sprayers for themselves.
When we walked along the track, the fog was partly hanging in the curves and between the trees. It had rained and the concrete was slightly slippery. Many a place seemed so unreal and abandoned, almost a little eerie, just by the weather conditions.
Hike on the Fichtelberg back to Oberwiesenthal
After walking parts of the old luge track, we were drawn back to the signposted hiking trails. There are numerous trails, we went to a viewpoint on a rock. Whether the view from there is really as breathtaking as I had read, I do not know. In any case, we saw nothing.
Instead, we discovered a beautiful place for a break with running fresh spring water and a small lake idyllically located between the trees.
We always followed the signs in the direction of Oberwiesenthal and finally came out of the forest above the village.