Hi, I’ll be hiking part of the Malerweg for 4 or 5 days beginning Easter Sunday. Anyone have advice or tips for this time of year? I know Easter is a bigger deal in Germany than in the US, so I have hostels/inns already reserved and have checked public transit holiday schedules. Anything else to be aware of? Any tips for hiking the Malerweg stages 2 thru 5 also appreciated. Thanks, mc
Easter is quite a big deal in Germany, especially since it's the first public holiday after a long winter. For many people it's the first family outing of the year, the hiking season starts etc.. So, expect LOTS of day trippers from Dresden, LOTS of hikers, LOTS of tour busses from all over the country. It will be crowded on Sunday and Monday.
The highlights on Sunday are the Bastei and Hohnstein. Start very early to see the Bastei before the day trippers and tour busses arrive (around 10am). The next section, the Amselsee down in the valley, will be crowded too, since it's on a popular route from Rathen up to the Bastei. After the Amselsee the tourist hordes should have disappeared. Hohnstein, where your day ends, is a popular stop for coffee and cake, but it shouldn't be too crowded.
The third stage on Easter Monday crosses a rather remote part of the mountains. The highlight is the Brand mountain, which is popular among the locals, but not nearly as bad as the Bastei area.
The fourth stage crosses the best parts of the mountains (Schrammsteine, Affensteine), with the best view (Schrammsteinaussicht). And all locals and hikers know this. The Schrammsteinaussicht can be very crowded, especially on weekends and public holidays. You will visit this part during the week, but I guess quite a few people will be spend a few days after Easter in Saxon Switzerland. So, try to reach the Schrammsteinaussicht early.
The Malerweg is well signed, but it's never a bad idea to buy a map anyway. The best maps of the mountains are by Böhm Wanderkarten, and hand-drawn. For the Malerweg you need this general map.
In case you own a smartphone: download Mapy.cz, a good offline hiking map.