G3VGR SOONWALDSTEIG     Rheinböllen - Jägerhaus     

It had rained overnight and the weather was dull with low, dark clouds and mist as I walked back to rejoin the Soonwaldsteig at Rheinböller Hütte. The Hochsteinchen and other hills of the Hunsrück were completely hidden by the low cloud, so this would not be a good day for sightseeing. The trail followed along a grassy track between the A61 Autobahn and what had the undeniable smell of a sewage treatment plant. I was relieved when the trail passed under the A61 and I entered the Binger forest, the eastern part of the Soonwald region. The forest path started with a steep ascent to the Emmerichshütte, a restaurant with a playground for children. Although the restaurant hadn't opened yet, there were a few families with children here, making use of the playground. The trail carried on up through the Bingerwald. In this area, it isn't a pretty forest, consisting of only conifers planted in lines for commercial use. There were some open areas where I had views to the north and west, but the views were curtailed due to the low visibility caused by the weather. I carried on until reaching the Kandrich, the highest point in the Bingerwald, where the forest gave way to a large flat clearing. Another windfarm with several large wind turbines is sited here. It started to rain as I made my way across the exposed plateau to the neighbouring Ohligsberg peak. From the newly-built Schutzhütte at Ohligsberg, I could see dimly across the Rhein valley and the Taunus in the distance. This would be a great view on a clear day, but on this rainy day I had trouble making out any detail of the panorama. After a few minutes, the area was besieged by a large group of dayhikers. This is not unexpected, as today was Sunday and the Bingerwald is close to some large towns (Mainz, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt), so does attract many people who like to enjoy the outdoors. The trail down from Ohligsberg had a mixture of scrub and more variation of trees and I was relieved to be out of the commercial forest at last.

I continued on a gravel path, winding through the woods until reaching Forsthaus Lauschhütte, which combines a restaurant, beer garden and adventure park. It was very busy here with many families and groups taking advantage of the facilities, so I didn't linger or stop for coffee. The Soonwaldsteig took me uphill through a pleasant beech forest until I reached the Salzkopf where a wooden lookout tower is sited. Due to the poor weather, I didn't climb the tower, but carried on downhill through a delightful beech forest into the headwater area of the Morgenbach and on to the Forsthaus Jägerhaus, which is normally the endpoint of this stage. However, when planning my walk, I was unable to find any accommodation in either the Jägerhaus or near vicinity and had planned to continue on to Trechtingshausen. By now, I was feeling quite hungry, so stopped for lunch at the Jägerhaus. The restaurant was very busy and I recognized some dayhikers who I had seen earlier on the trail. Their homemade bratwurst was excellent, especially as it was accompanied by a couple of glasses of Veltins, one of my favourite beers. I was in no hurry to leave the Jägerhaus after lunch, but eventually forced myself to leave the warm, cosy interior to go back out in the rain. The trail became steeper and narrower, winding its way down through the enchanting, green corridor of the Morgenbachtal, a protected nature reserve. In my opinion, the Morgenbachtal is one of the most beautiful sections of the Soonwaldsteig and tried to imagine how it would look in autumn when the leaves change colour. It is definitely a wonderful location for landscape photographers. Near the end of the Morgenbachtal, I saw some ruins of old mills on the valley floor, closely followed by a sign pointing to the turn off for Trechtingshausen. I left the Soonwaldsteig here and descended past Burg Reichenstein to Trechtingshausen, where I had booked an overnight stay at Landgasthaus Rosenhof. The Rosenhof has a rustic restaurant and serves good food. I tucked into a tasty Zwiebelrostbraten, accompanied by local wine.

The tunnel under the A61 Autobahn
Open path in the Bingerwald near Kandrich
Windfarm near Kandrich
Schutzhütte at Ohligsberg overlooking Rheintal
Dayhikers heading towards Eselstein
Lookout tower at Salzkopf
Trail from Salzkopf through the beech forest
Trail near Jägerhaus
Forsthaus Jägerhaus
Through the Morgenbachtal
Through the Morgenbachtal
Near the end of the Morgenbachtal
Burg Reichenstein

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