Soon we reach the small valley of the village stream and with many planted fruit trees. This path is also called "Altendorfer Steinbrecherweg". Since 1720 many workers from Altendorf have commuted to the quarries in Postelwitz. Shortly thereafter we arrive at the entrance to the Dorfbachklamm gorge. There we find an information board of the National Park and a short walk leads to a spherical-shaped rock. It is the so-called "Löwenkopf" ("lion's head") and it feels like this rock could start to roll downhill by only a short slight push. Fortunately all who have tried so far were too weak. The position at the "lion's head" is a landmark in several ways. It is the narrowest point in the Kirnitzschtal valley. The opposite cliff with the climbing-summits “Kirnitzschturm” and “Kladderadatsch” is only 80 meters away. Moreover a few tragedies took place here during the last months of war. In fear of a Russian siege some families jumped to their deaths (plaques on the rock remember the victims).
Now we descend into the Dorfbachklamm gorge. The upper section periodically gets destroyed by water masses; yet it is always repaired lovingly after a short time. We walk over stone steps and also boulders. Good shoes and a lot of caution is important! In the middle of this way we arrive at steel ladders, which lead us onto a simple forest path. In the Kirnitzschtal valley we immediately encounter the educational boards of the Flößersteig trail. We stay on this trail until the bridge at the campground. Right past the campsite we ascend again through a conifer forest and on a muddy track in the upper part. Soon a weekend house complex at the edge of the village Ostrau appears. Up to this point the Malerweg trail still follows the route of the Steinbrecherweg trail. We can now see the Falkenstein rock up close for the first time. In front of the Teufelswand rock wall ("Devil's Wall") our trail turns to the right direction. To the left direction just behind the Teufelswand rock wall are a few good spots for bivouacking. After a short while the Malerweg trail crosses a forest road and joins the Elbleitenweg trail. After some more minutes appears the turnoff to the Falkenstein rock, which should not be missed. It opens up a wonderful view on the whole Falkenstein rock. On weekends and during the summer months this is always a busy place for mountaineers, who can be nicely watched.
The Falkenstein has a special historical significance, with its over 70 different ascents (trails) for the climbers. In 1864 five gymnasts from Schandau reached the top on a trail, which is now called after them, the so-called "Turnerweg" trail ("gynasts trail"). This event is considered to be the birth of mountaineering activity in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. The way of rock climbing as we know it today (without rock-changing aids, permanent as well as temporary) was invented in the 1890s. This respect for the nature, coupled with the understanding of the general transience of existence were the main motivation for the mountaineer Dr. Oscar Schuster and his rope team. Still today climbers do follow these principles in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. The date of first actual human "usage" of the Falkenstein rock lies far in the past. Due to its position, which enables wide ranging views, it was suitable for observing and securing the old trade routes in the Middle Ages. On the summit once stood a watchtower, which was of great strategic importance and thus often changed hands. At the foot of the rock you can still find the inscriptions from earlier centuries.
Back on the Elbleitenweg trail after a few more meters we reach the crossroads to the "Schrammtor" rock gate. At this point the trail is well built with extensive usage of wood. We do now cross (as we will see later) the impressive rock formation through the towering rock walls of the "Schrammtorwächter" and the Ostertürme on both sides.By further following the blue waymark we finally reach the ascents "Wildschützensteig" and "Jägersteig" just below the rock face. On both climbs the Schrammsteingratweg trail and finally in northwestern direction the Schrammstein lookout point are accessible. It is important to note that the Wildschützensteig can only be made uphill. The ascent consists of numerous ladders and is best suited for trained hikers with no fear of heights. Although the Jägersteig also has a lot of steep ladders and steel staircases, it can be still done in both directions. Nevertheless anyone who walks here with dogs will experience problems. We choose the easier Jägersteig. A short detour to the Schrammstein lookout point is highly recommended, but not an "official" part of the Malerweg route (which is really questionable).
Up here we continue to the lookout point "Breite Kluft Aussicht" and meanwhile enjoy the fantastic far-reaching view. Since there is no restaurant ahead of us for quite a while, our present location is perfect for taking a rest. Nearby the Rauschenstein rock is visible. On its "impregnable" top was located watchtower during the Middle Ages. To the right can be seen the river course of the Elbe in the Bohemian Switzerland. Further right follow the table mountains Kaiserkrone, Zirkelstein and Großer Zschirnstein. In the distance the highest mountain of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains is recognizable, the "Hoher Schneeberg" (high snow mountain).
The Malerweg trail now runs parallel to the Zurückesteig trail. We cross two closely facing cliffs and approximately one kilometer after the "Breite Kluft Aussicht" lookout point the entrance to the Rotkehlchenstiege stairway appears. However our route on the Malerweg trail continues over stairs and ladders until the next big crossroads. To the right direction is the "Heilige Stiege" stairway to Schmilka and straight ahead is the Carolafelsen rock. Though we turn to the left. After a short descent we can spot the Carola lookout point on the opposite rock formation (just barely and a little better when hikers with colorful clothes are standing there). At the next turn is located the small Prebischtor rock arch (an equally named rock also exists in the Bohemian Switzerland). The root of a beech tree literally clasps onto the strange rock. After the next right turn and another 400 meters we reach the descent into the Sandloch cave. Here, however, we have to make a short detour straight to the “Domerker” lookout point, where is one of the most beautiful views on the Affenstein rock formation. Back on our original course we descend now on wooden ladders and steps. In the rock basin of the Sandloch rises the "Domwächter"; a very popular climbing rock.
The following section is unspectacular. After the Sandloch cave the Malerweg trail just follows the "Untere Affensteinpromenade" trail. Noteworthy are the entrances to the stairways "Wilde Hölle", “Zwillingsstiege” and the “Hentschelstiege” (all toward right direction, towards the rock massif). After 3,5 km we arrive at the Beuthenfall waterfall and continue toward the Lichtenhain waterfall, which is once again a perfect opportunity for a rest with a fried trout and beer!
Although our feet are becoming tired now slowly, there is one more ascent to the "Kuhstall" (cowshed) rock gate ahead of us. It is located on the New Wildenstein rock and has a very interesting history. Above the Kuhstall rock gate was the Castle Wildenstein. Until the mid-15th Century this location was a local center of the robber barons. Finally in 1451 the fortress was taken over by the Wettin. It is also said that during the period of the Thirty Years War, local farmers did hide their cattle under the rock gate from marauding soldiers.
The Malerweg trail now leads us downhill through a crevice onto a forest path. At the Felsenmühle mill we arrive again in the Kirnitzschtal valley and hike on the Flößersteig trail until the Neumannmühle mill. At our final destination you can visit the technical museum at the mill or even enjoy a refreshing drink in the tavern.
Ein Abstecher zur "Schrammsteinaussicht" ist Plicht ! Ansonsten ist man diese Etappe nicht wirklich gelaufen...