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Short and crisp - on the forest trail to Quirl

Hiking trail · Saxon Switzerland
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  • Aussicht vom Quirl zum Pfaffenstein
    Aussicht vom Quirl zum Pfaffenstein
    Photo: Alrun Flechsig
On this short and crisp hike we use the trekking paths of the Forststeig to reach the summit of the Quirl. The Quirl massif is known for its multitude of caves. Especially for children it is exciting to discover and explore them!
Distance 6.2 km
2:10 h
174 m
178 m
347 m
169 m
Starting point (Zwiesel branch of the road to Cunnersdorf from the Bielatalstraße) - marking of the Forststeig - Quirlpromenade - Diebskeller - Quirlaussicht - Kanonenweg - Sterlhöhlen - Forststeig - Unterer Kohlweg - bivouac site on the Forststeig - starting point.

Author’s recommendation

This tour is well suited for children from 6 years and dogs.
Profile picture of Maren Pussak/Nationalparkverwaltung Sächsische Schweiz
Maren Pussak/Nationalparkverwaltung Sächsische Schweiz
Update: March 22, 2023
Highest point
347 m
Lowest point
169 m
Best time of year

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Safety information


Tips and hints

Tourist information in the car park: 03502199541

Link to hosts in the vicinity


Zwiesel- branch of the road to Cunnersdorf from the Bielatalstraße (172 m)
50.901988, 14.062636
50°54'07.2"N 14°03'45.5"E
33U 434087 5639344


Zwiesel- branch of the road to Cunnersdorf from the Bielatalstraße

Turn-by-turn directions

Our ascent begins directly at the fork in the road where the Cunnersdorfer Bach stream flows into the Biela. Before we start walking, it is worth taking a look at the historical wayside column by the road. It not only indicates places and times, but also names the people involved in planning the paths.

We follow the markings of the Forststeig - this is a yellow vertical stitch that can be seen on trees or rocks. The first 500 metres are steep uphill. We reach a bivouac site that Forststeig hikers can use to spend the night in their tents. We hike the wide, comfortable Unterer Kohlweg to the left. If you are observant, you can spot a medallion "Sievers Ruh 1889" on a rock. We always stay on the Forststeig and cross the Oberer Kohlweg. After about 350 metres on our path, where a path from Königstein-Hütten meets ours, you have to be careful, because here we have to turn right ascending with the yellow Forststeig sign. After crossing a wide forest path, it soon becomes steeper and steeper and you have to look carefully for the markings. The path goes through the dense forest in a few serpentines. The next larger path we meet is the Quirlpromenade.

Here we leave the Forststeig and walk the Quirlpromenade to the left to reach the Diebskeller. Unfortunately, the "red dot" marking is already very faded at this point. Soon we discover the red marking on a tree, which takes us slightly uphill to the foot of the Quirl and to the Diebskeller.

The Diebskeller is on the NE side of the Quirl and is the most famous cave. It was first mentioned in 1692. It is a two-storey layered cave 28 metres long, 8 metres wide and up to 4 metres high. The stone table in the middle of the cave, dating from 1755, is said to have been set up for a meal during the hunt, for August II.

We go back along the path for a few metres and climb an unmarked path to the left, steeply uphill, past a prominent sandstone wall to the plateau of the Quirl. At the top, it is worth taking a short detour to the right to a small rocky vista.

From the NE side of the Quirl you have a view of the Königstein Fortress and Lilienstein, from the southern tip you can see the Falkenstein, the Schrammsteine in the distance, the Papststein, Gohrisch and close by the Pfaffenstein. In a southerly direction, the vast forests around Cunnersdorf and Rosenthal stretch out and the Hohe Schneeberg rises on the horizon.

Of all the table mountains, the Quirl has the largest enclosed plateau. The plateau is about 1 km long and 350 metres wide. Since the Ice Age, a layer of clay has covered the plateau, so that it was even suitable for fields, which farmers laid out in the 18th century.

We follow the forest trail markings, the small path always meanders close to the edge of the quarry until we reach a large rock plateau at the SE tip of the Quirl. From the Quirlaussicht we hike to a fork, where we turn left and leave the plateau.

On the Kanonenweg, a path set with large sandstone ashlars, we descend through a rocky ledge. To reach the Sterlhöhlen (Sterl Caves), we take the Quirlpromenade to the left and after about 100 metres climb a path up to the rock walls.

They are named after the organ builder and piano tuner Ernst Sterl, who was the leader of a small gang of thieves in the 1980s. The layered caves served as hiding places and storage for the looted goods.

Back on the promenade, we walk in the direction of Pfaffenstein (marked "red dot" and Forststeig) past a large sandstone trough hewn from a boulder. It was intended for a farmstead, but was never collected. In former times, such water troughs stood on every farm.

We continue on the forest trail and leave the path marked with a red dot. Soon we meet the wide Unterer Kohlweg (Lower Cabbage Trail), leave the Forststeig here and continue at an acute angle to the right along the Unterer Kohlweg. After about 200 metres, we reach the bivouac site on the Forststeig, which we already got to know at the beginning of our tour. Now we descend the familiar path (Forststeig) to the left into the valley. After 500 metres we arrive at the starting point of our hike.

GPS data updated 2021

Public transport


Arrival / Departure:

Line 242 (Königstein - Rosenthal)

By road

Schandauer Str. (172) via Bielatalstraße on S171 to Zwiesel (branch of the road to Cunnersdorf from Bielatalstraße).


After the turn-off from the Bielatalstraße, there is parking for very few cars on the road to Cunnersdorf.


50.901988, 14.062636
50°54'07.2"N 14°03'45.5"E
33U 434087 5639344
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

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Hiking boots recommended

Do not forget a torch!

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6.2 km
2:10 h
174 m
178 m
Highest point
347 m
Lowest point
169 m
Public-transport-friendly Circular route Scenic Family-friendly Cultural/historical interest Geological highlights Summit route Dog-friendly


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