Useful Information

Location: Near Bad Bertrich. At the Elfenmühle, on the road Kurfürstenstraße/L103. (50.072976, 7.021771)
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyLava Cave
Light: bring torch
Guided tours:
Photography: Allowed
Accessibility: Not accessible
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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The Elfenhöhle (Elves' Cave) is a small through cave which is crossed by a walking trail. The rocks are of volcanic origin, mostly basalt. The cave is located inside a cliff right above a small river named Üssbach. This river once powered the nearby Elfenmühle (Elves' Mill). Right at the cave the river forms a nice waterfall.

The Elfenhöhle is also named Käsegrotte (Cheese Grotto) because its walls look like stacks of cheese wheels. The pillow-like basalt forms strange pillars.

The question how this strange geotope was formed is hard to answer. Beneath the natural processes there is a massive human impact visible. If this cave actually formed naturally, or if it is artifial, is impossible to determine. Probably it was tunnel built during the construction of the trail, or probably part of the water channels of the mill.

There are spekulations if the basalt is actually pillow lava. This is formed if the lava emerges under water and because of the fast cooldown of the surface forms pillow like structures. But those pillows are normally stacked without order and the pillows here are stacked exactly one above the other forming pillows. So it is much more likely that the structure was formed by weathering along cracks in the rock. Vertical cracks split the rock into columns while horizontal cracks produce the pillows. The erosion is highest at the crack and so it rounds and softens the edges