Karstlehrpfad Breitscheid-Erdbach

Karst Trail Breitscheid-Erdbach

Useful Information

Location: Near Erdbach.
A 45 (Sauerlandlinie) exit Herborn West, B 255 to the turnoff Amdorf/Uckersdorf, turn right towards Amdorf, next turn left to Erdbach.
Open: Erdbachhöhle: closed.
Trail: no restrictions.
Museum: MAR to NOV Sun 14:30-17.
Fee: Erdbachhöhle: closed.
Trail: free.
Museum: .
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave KarstDoline KarstPonor KarstKarst Trail Devonian/carbon reef limestone.
Light: n/a, bring torch
Dimension: Erdbachhöhle: L=2,000 m, VR=96 m.
Trail: L=4 km, VR=100 m.
Guided tours: After appointment with Dr. Uwe Peters.
Photography: Allowed
Accessibility: No
Bibliography: Dr. Uwe Peters (2005): Museums- und Karstlehrpfadführer, pp 43, 4€, avaliable at the museum, in the Vogelpark Uckersdorf, and from the author.
Address: Erdbach Höhlen und Karstlehrpfad, Dr. Uwe Peters, Tel: +49-2777-912331. E-mail: contact
Museum und Dorfgemeinschaftshaus, Mühlenweg 4, 35767 Erdbach,
Gemeindeverwaltung Breitscheid, Postfach 43, 35767 Breitscheid, Tel: +49-2777-9133-0. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1965 first exploration of the Erdbachhöhle.
1991 discoveries in swalow hole 3.
1993 Herbstlabyrinth-Adventhöhlensystem discovered during quarry works.
1996 1,000 m of cave explored.
29-DEC-1999 connection between Erdbachhöhle and swallow hole 3 discovered.


The village Breitscheid is located in a small karst area on the western slopes of the Westerwald. The limestone of this area was formed by a reef during the end of the Devon and the beginning Carbon period (400Ma ago), and is surrounded by insoluble sedimentary rocks like sandstones and siltstones. It is heavily karstified, with several rather deep caves, and the border between the soluble and insoluble rocks shows impressive swallow holes and karst springs. There are no show caves in the area, but a karst trail and a museum about geology and speleology.

The Erdbach Höhlen (Erdbach Caves) are named after the small river Erdbach, which vanishes into the ground through several forming caves, and reappears after 1,200 m in a spring. The cave is famous for being 96 m deep, which makes it the deepest cave north of the Alps. However, it is not possible to visit this cave unless you are an experienced caver. The Große Steinkammer and Kleine Steinkammer are two caves which may be visited on special tours after appointment or self guided. They are rather small and easy to visit, but have a long history. Archaeologists discovered human bones, jewelry, tools and pottery, which are now on exhibit in the museum at Breitscheid.

The karst trail allows visitors to see many interesting karst features on the surface, and even some small caves or cave entrances. This trail was made by the geologist Dr. Uwe Peters, the community of Breitscheid, and the The beautiful landscape is explained on 15 plates, karst features like the Steinkammer caves, the swallow holes of the Erdbach, the resurgence of the Erdbach and a closed quarry.

Another part of this karst park is the Museum at Breitscheid. It is a ethnological and historical museum about the area Herborn/Breitscheid and the Westerwald, but it also shows numerous exhibits about the geology of the area. The fossils from the area are from the Silur, Devon, and Carbon, and they are found both in the reef limestone and the surrounding sediments. They are mostly Bivalvia (mussels), snails and brachiopods. Much younger are Tertiary fossils, likes bones and teeth from vertebrates and plants, including some finds from the famous Grube Messel. Even younger, from the Pleistocene are bones of cave bear (Ursus spelaeus).