Upper promenade of the Affensteine (round way)

Route: Schmilka, Affensteine, Schmilka

Viewpoints: Breitekluftaussicht, Domerker, Domriff, Carolafelsen, Bloßstock

Degree of difficulty: difficult (free from giddiness is necessarily) Length: ca. 8 km, Duration: ca. 4 h

Anreise: suburban railway in direction Schöna and Elbe-ferry; with car on B172 to car-park in Schmilka

Restaurant: Schmilka (Grenzeck, Eisbar )

Map: Schrammsteine-Affensteine 1:10000 (Kartographischer Verlag, Rolf Böhm)

Upper promenade of the Affensteine (round way)

The best way to hike at the Affensteine is on the upper promenade of the Affensteine. It is not elevating very much but rich of spectacular lookouts and places to take rest. The geological origin of this route is based on the rocks differences in firmness and the resulting erosion.

The horizontal clay storages in the rock are a substantial cause for the today's appearance of it. Along the clay strata are the joint layers which a changing through weather. This process forms layer caves or even rock gates (Prebischtor, Kuhstall). If scooping out becomes too large, and thus the rock loads too heavily, they fall into the valley and rock terraces remain. These are ideal for creating high elevation trails going through the mountains, so is the upper promenade of the Affensteine.

For the designation Affensteine you may select the true origin:

Variant 1: In the middle of 15th century the Wettiner took possession of the robber castle Frienstein. At that place they locked up and tortured unpleasant contemporaries in medieval manners. Among them was a young noble from Dresden who owed its prosperity from trading with the Orient. He had a tame ape which obeyed him at his word. When it was made public that the noble was to be locked up, his servant hurried with the ape and a long rope of hemp into the rear of the Saxony Switzerland in order to release his gentlemen. At night one rope end was bound around the ape´s body and he immediately climbed on the steep rocks to the robber castle. Due to the isolated situation of the dungeon, the guard was rather poor (or they were already drunk) and the ape arrived unnoticed at its gentlemen. The rest was rather simple and the noble, who was living in Prague from now on, spread his history from the Affensteine.

Variant 2: The old german designation of the owl (which nested there numerously) was Auf, which became Affensteine over the centuries.

The trip starts in Schmilka as a half-day migration. First beginning at the Grenzeck (among wanderers it is a popular starting point and the last possibility for a refreshment) it constantly goes uphill through the village up to the Ilmenquelle. Here begins the road to the Großer Winterberg which we follow up to the branch Wurzelweg and the Elbleitenweg (green circle). Walking on the Elbleitenweg on our right side we leave the climbing rock Rauschenstein behind us. In the Middle Ages Rauschenstein, like other exposed and free standing rock formations, accommodated a castle control room. Further on the right side we see the impressive Rauschentorwächter, the eastern Rauschenturm and the Rauschenspitze. The flat trail runs through mixed woodland up to a sharp left-hand bend. Here we find the ascent marked with a signpost to the lookout Breite Kluft.

From the Breite Kluft lookout the further route connects to the Schrammstein trip.

We move along the blue way marking marking (Zurueckesteig) up to the branch to the upper promenade of the Affensteine. On this way we find on our right side the junction of the ascent over the Rotkehlchenstiege (from Schmilka). From the Breite Kluft lookout up to the Rotkehlchenstiege runs also a very very recommendable alternative to the Zurueckesteig. This trail with a black marking should be reserved however only to experienced wanderers and mountain climbers.

From the branch mentioned above we first arrive at the Affenwand and go to the rock edge (near the the descent to the Sandloch). Here we find a nice picnic area with a good view on the front of the Schrammsteine and the Falkenstein. Along the northern rock edge directioning east we can admire the impressive double head of the Domwächter and Rohnspitze. The migration continues now on the yellow way marking. After a short section in northwest direction we pass the small Prebischtor, then again toward the east up to the first way crossing. On the left leads the way from the Nassen Grund (entrance of the Kirnitzschtal) and the Sandloch. To the right runs the Reitsteig (still partly on yellow marking, after the next way crossing blue marking) towards Großer Winterberg. But pay attention at this point. The further way of the upper promenade of the Affensteine continues to run in the center without marking (on the left the Sandloch, on the right the Reitsteig). After this crossing you have to turn left and walk on the trail which is the same altitude.

The next way forking offers the following alternatives:

1. Left side downhill over the Wilde Hölle into the Nassen Grund to the Kirnitzschtal.
2. On same altitude it continues halfleft on the upper promenade of the Affensteine.
3. Right side the way leads on wood steps uphill to the Carolafelsen.

Alternative 3 represents a suitable change for us (for hobby photographers) and we will return to this way forking later again.

A few metres upward on the wood steps a branch leads to the right directly to the Carolafelsen. Here we enjoy one of the most beautiful views on the Affensteine. It reaches from the Domwächter along the north walls of the Schrammsteine, the Hohen Torstein, Falkenstein to the Lilienstein.

After we got back to the way forking, we bend in the promenade of the Affensteine again which is right from us. With their 90 metres height the cliffs of the Bloszstock are the biggest rock towers in the Saxony Switzerland. Accordingly strong therefore is the interest of the mountain climbers! The high presence of wanderers and mountain climbers in the past led to serious erosions at the foot of the rock.

From a very sporty attraction are the two descents Zwillingsstiege and Häntzschelstiege (free from giddiness is necessarily) !

First the Zwillingsstiege branches to the left from the trail and leads on the shortest way to the lower promenade of the Affensteine. On the upper path we reach the Bloßstock and a very good lookout arrives, giving us a view on the Große Bauernloch and the opposite walls of the Teufelsspitze. From here also starts a rather difficult descent to the lower promenade of the Affensteine with Klettereisen and wood ladders. Now here we leave the upper promenade of the Affensteine and move upward again over iron rods and wood ladders up to the top of the Langen Horn. Then we go straight toward the south, mentioning the broader becoming trail, until we can see the blue marking of the Reitsteig (the the right runs a branch to the Carolafelsen).

If following the blue marking here to the right, you must keep consistently left afterwards and certainly you will experience the impressive descent along the "Heilige Stiege" Stiege to the Heringsgrund. The way down is quite moderate. People who are travelling with a backpack might get into a sweat badly! In the Herringsgrund we stay on the yellow marked way until we arrive again at the Elbleitenweg and later on the road to Schmilka. Now we have earned a refreshment. Hopefully the legendary Grenzeck is opened for visitors again, considering the fact that it got totally devastated by the big flood in 2002. Apart from that the ice-cream bar is a really good choice (although of the waitresses fickle mood).