First spring trips to nature can be a bit tricky. When you go skiing, you can simply look at the webcam to see the current conditions in the ski resort. But on the nature trail, you can not obviously do this. You can only rely on it to be viable. For our first spring hike, we have chosen the Holzweg Theme Trail, which is located between the Balsthal and Holderbank in the Thal Nature Park.
This park in the canton of Solothurn at the foot of the Jura Mountains is the first officially recognized natural park in Switzerland. The significance of this place dates back to history until the time of the Romans. The valley had the shortest route between Roman colonies in the territory of today’s Switzerland: Aventicum (now Avenches) and Augusta Raurica. It served as a merchant way even in the Middle Ages. In the gorge, wagons with precious goods were mugged, which sometimes led to the siege of Neu Falkenstein Castle where the robber knights lived.
The Holzweg Thal is accessible both by car and public transport. By car: to Balsthal from Bern, it takes 40 minutes, from Zurich an hour, from Basel 45 minutes. For the Holzweg there are 2 small parking spaces available for free.
You can also get there by bus – yellow “Postauto”, line 94. Stop Pfadiheim, or St. Wolfgang (located just below the ruins).
You can “hop on” the trail everywhere. We parked in P1 (at the Pfadiheim bus stop) and walked around the farm to the ruins of Neu Falkenstein. From here we continued in the direction you can see on the map.
Ruins of Neu Falkenstein
Climbing to the ruins is quite steep but as a reward, there is a great place for children playing robbers and knights. You may expect to spend some time here 🙂 Therefore I think it is better to leave this place to finish as a trip because inside the ruins there is a great barbecue place (I’ll get to it later). I also recommend climbing the steep stairs up to the tower, from which you can enjoy the beautiful panoramic view. But watch out! It´s pretty windy up there!
On the Holzweg you will find a total of 21 installations from a German artist living in Switzerland, Sammy Deichmann. The hardest thing is to decide at the intersections which way to go to make sure you do not miss any interesting installation.
Playground in the wood
Definitely, however, I recommend not to miss the stop at “Pavillon” – there are a great playground, roasting area and wooden deck chairs where you can relax.
There are lots of picnic places along the trail. From simple firepits to places with grills (including tables and banks). Probably the largest is in the ruins of Neu Falkenstein. As a matter of course (as is customary in Switzerland), wood and old newspapers are ready to be used, and by some firepits, we saw the sharpened sticks for roasting sausages.
We managed the trail for less than three hours (but we didn´t grill). Our littlest (2.5 yo) managed walking most of the trail. Although I had to have her in the baby carrier up to the ruin and then at the end of the hike. The whole trail is not suitable for strollers, because there are stairs on it, as well as it leads through narrow forest paths. But in the section from the parking lot P2 to the St. Wolfgang chapel, it is suitable for strollers or wheelchairs. For us, I can say we would like to come here any time soon because we didn´t manage to see all the installations. And I would like to walk through the green woods 🙂
PS: I’m sorry for the creepy pictures, I miss a good camera. I still haven´t decided which one to buy (you know, except to make nice pictures, it shouldn´t be too expensive, big and heavy). And of course it should have a nice design if possible 😉 So if you have a good tip, tell me! And don´t forget to save this picture on Pinterest!