A long way
The Hohe Mark Steig comes true
It was a long way from the first idea to the opening of the long-distance hiking trail. It was guests at the Hotel Jammertal in Datteln who asked the hotelier Alfons Schnieder: Why can't you actually hike here on a beautiful path from the Rhine? When some local friends and restaurateurs met several times in the Jammertal from November 2009 to prepare the founding of a tourism association, Schnieder immediately brought up the guest idea. On February 26, 2010, Hohe Mark Tourismus eV (HMT) was founded, also in the Jammertal, and put the hiking route at the top of its project list. A name was soon found: After carefully examining many suggestions, the choice fell on "Hohe Mark Steig".
Together with the Sauerland mountain club (SGV) and the Haard-Trapper hiking club, the HMT developed a route consisting of twelve circular tours, a total of 240 kilometers long. A number of hours were required, on maps and on the computer, but above all in the woods and fields. Around 500 hikers took the opportunity to test and evaluate the sections. The coordination with authorities, associations and forest owners also consumed a lot of time. This voluntary work, more than 500 hours, was completed in autumn 2011.
Without public funding, however, signposting, the installation of benches and shelters, and permanent maintenance were unthinkable. The association Hohe Mark Tourismus therefore commissioned a planning office to participate in the development and application for subsidies. "We have invested a five-digit amount for this," says HMT Chairman Schnieder. Two strong partners could be gained as important pillars and project sponsors: the Regionalverband Ruhr (RVR), the largest forest owner in this region, and the Hohe Mark eV Nature Park, the association supporting the nature park. In the summer of 2017, the project passed an important milestone: over one million euros in funding from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for the Hohe Mark Steig flowed to the RVR, which tops up the amount with considerable funds of its own. The Hohe Mark Nature Park takes over the marketing for the climb in the initial phase, also with funding from the EU and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
After the opening of the trail this year, there is still a lot to do. The route of the Hohe Mark Steig wants to be maintained, supplemented and successfully marketed. HMT Chairman Alfons Schnieder: "It is now up to everyone involved, not least the municipalities, to leverage the tourism potential of the Hohe Mark Steig for the benefit of the entire region."