Mill Creek Gorge Hike in Germany and Keeping Your Dog Safe from Green Water
Updated: Aug 13, 2020
Germany's climate is quite cool. I have found myself wearing sweaters, scarves, and even boots in the thick of July. This week we can't seem to cool off! It's been abnormally hot. I've found myself sweating as I fall asleep and before I wake up. We survive with fans.
We continue to want to hike, but the heat is so demotivating. How do people hike in hot weather?!? We find it so much harder to hike in the broiling sun.
This cute little family welcomed us at the start of our hike!
Start Early to Stay Cool
To try and beat the heat, we got up at 6:30am and headed out to the Mill Creek Gorge Tour. About a 45 minute drive from Landstuhl, it was already warm when we arrived. Luckily, it wasn't terribly hot, yet. As we drove to the trailhead, I felt a sense of calm and looked forward to recharging, disconnecting from screens, and resting my eyes. I find after being in the office all week, that my mind and heart crave this re-connection with nature.
Near the trailhead is a biergarten and wading pool. Hardly anyone was dipping into the cold water when we started our hike, but by the time we returned to our vehicle around noon, the pool was full of locals trying to cool off! A great perk of this tour, is that when you're done you can soak your hot, achy feet in comforting, cold water.
Some helpful features of this hike are the kilometer trail markers. These will be awesome for you if you find yourself dragging on long hikes, or if your family is asking, "how much longer?!?" This trail is 11 kilometers long, and each time you reach a new kilometer there is a sign indicating how far you've come. It was awesome to reach the 10 kilometer sign and see we only had 1 kilometer left!
This trail is well marked and was not heavily trafficked early in the morning. More hikers were showing up as we left, though, so I anticipate the trail may get busy later in the day. There is quite a bit of up and down to this trail, but any elevation gains were short and sweet!
Although it is hot in August and September, we think this is the best time to hike the Mill Creek Gorge. Do you know what's in season in Germany in August and September? Blackberries! All along this trail are bunches and bunches of berries. As you hike, it's a super sweet treat to pick a few of them and snack. We passed at least 15 different patches where we became black bears, rummaging through bushes to snatch up the prized berries!
This trail is mostly shaded, so even though it's hot outside the trail will be relatively cool. There are 1 or 2 kilometer long stretches in the sun, so you'll want to make sure you have a sun hat or sunscreen.
The Mill Creek Gorge Tour winds through meadows, corn and sunflower fields, orchards, forests, and houses an elaborate system of catwalks and bridges. We even stumbled upon a teeny-tiny church house. Our pooch loved splashing around in the creek and running up and down the walls of the gorge.
Keeping Your Dog Safe From Green Water
I have seen horror story after sad horror story of expat after expat who has to say goodbye to their furry family member because of Blue-Green Algae poisoning.
In Germany, it is especially important if you're hiking with your dog to make sure they stay out of any still, green water. Standstill, green water is often full of blue-green algae—a toxic and poisonous substance to dogs. Blue-green algae is especially prominent in fresh water during hot seasons. Avoid letting your dog swim in standstill, green/brown water.
Dogs can play in and drink from many safe areas along this trail, but there were a few spots where the water looked a little too green for my taste. Avoid any water that looks foamy, or has mats of vegetation floating on top of the water. Make sure your dog isn't drinking out of ponds, standstill water, or lakes if possible. Try to find moving water and encourage your pooch to drink there.
Watch for symptoms. Dogs can show symptoms of poisoning 15 minutes to several days after the ingestion of blue-algae toxins. Dogs will have diarrhea or vomiting, drooling, be more lethargic, disoriented/confused, could collapse/become unconscious, have seizures, or difficulty breathing. Make sure to contact your vet if your dog exhibits any symptoms. Sometimes the toxins can be flushed from their system before becoming fatal.
Also, make sure you dog has the Leptospirosis vaccine. We found after moving to Germany that this was a vaccine our dog needed to have. It's not commonly administered in the United States, but is essential if you'll be taking your dog outdoors in Germany.
There is bacteria that causes the disease of leptospirosis in dogs. Often, the bacteria will thrive in late summer/fall and after heavy rain falls. (Guess what?!? Germany rains A LOT).
It exists in standing water and mud, as well as rates, wildlife and domestic livestock. Dogs usually contract Lepto by drinking stagnant water, drinking from puddles, or coming in contact with the urine of another infected animal. Getting the vaccine is a SUPER easy way to protect your dog against Lepto.
**Always consult with your vet to see if a Lepto vaccine is right for your dog. It might not be suitable for all dogs.
Trail Details at a Glance
Trail Name: Mill Creek Gorge Tour (Mühlenbach-Schluchten-Tour)
Loop Trail: Yes, walk clockwise.
Start At: Schutzhütte Hoxberg-Alm, Im Oberscheidchen bei der Kneipp-Anlage, Saarwellingen or coordinates 49.3650539, 6.8330512
This trail is a 45 minute drive from Landstuhl.
Parking: Parking Lot at the address above (just of L142 after Saarwellington). Park right next to the biergarten and wading pool.
Distance: 11km (6.8 miles)
Duration: 3.5 to 4 hours
Elevation Gains: 285 meters (approx 935 feet)
When to Hike: March - October (we recommend August/September for blackberry picking!)
Kid Friendly: Yes, for 10 and older regular hikers.
Dog Friendly: Yes
Outdoor Active Link: Mill Creek Gorge Tour
Hiking Highlights: Our favorite parts of this tour were the incredible tree tunnels, massive corn and sunflower fields, and all the different catwalks and bridges in the gorge.
*Although this trail is clearly marked, you should always take a hiking map with you for safety, and be prepared for an emergency. Make sure you have a safe place to get down in a thunderstorm, rain protection, and enough food/water. It's a good idea to carry a small first aid kit.
Be mindful of uneven ground, roots, stones, or holes that might trip you up. Sometimes these things can be hard to see or are covered by fallen leaves. After storms, it's possible for trees or branches to fall. Watch for muddy or slippery parts of the trail, especially after or during rainy conditions. Wear proper footwear.
Carry your ID with you, take sunscreen, and make sure some one knows where you'll be hiking and for how long.