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The Schaumberg tower is 123 feet tall and offers a 360-degree viewing platform on top of the more than 1,800-foot-tall Schaumberg mountain in Tholey, Germany.

The Schaumberg tower is 123 feet tall and offers a 360-degree viewing platform on top of the more than 1,800-foot-tall Schaumberg mountain in Tholey, Germany. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

The Schaumberg tower is 123 feet tall and offers a 360-degree viewing platform on top of the more than 1,800-foot-tall Schaumberg mountain in Tholey, Germany.

The Schaumberg tower is 123 feet tall and offers a 360-degree viewing platform on top of the more than 1,800-foot-tall Schaumberg mountain in Tholey, Germany. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

The Schaumberg Alm is a restaurant at the base of the Schaumberg tower in Tholey, Germany.

The Schaumberg Alm is a restaurant at the base of the Schaumberg tower in Tholey, Germany. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

A couple take in the view from the Schaumberg Alm in Tholey, Germany.

A couple take in the view from the Schaumberg Alm in Tholey, Germany. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

The Schaumberg tower is 123 feet tall and offers a 360-degree viewing platform near the top that is accessible by stairs. The elevator is currently being repaired.

The Schaumberg tower is 123 feet tall and offers a 360-degree viewing platform near the top that is accessible by stairs. The elevator is currently being repaired. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Visitors to the Schaumberg tower in Tholey, Germany, use the coin-operated telescope to view the sights below.

Visitors to the Schaumberg tower in Tholey, Germany, use the coin-operated telescope to view the sights below. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Survey photographs mounted on the viewing platform of the Schaumberg tower help orient visitors and identify distant geography.

Survey photographs mounted on the viewing platform of the Schaumberg tower help orient visitors and identify distant geography. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

The viewing platform of the Schaumberg tower offers a unique view of Tholey, Germany.

The viewing platform of the Schaumberg tower offers a unique view of Tholey, Germany. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

No exhibit in Saarland is complete without mannequins in mining uniforms such as these located in the Schaumberg tower in Tholey, Germany.

No exhibit in Saarland is complete without mannequins in mining uniforms such as these located in the Schaumberg tower in Tholey, Germany. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

The "Wishing Tree-Faces of Hope" exhibit is at the base of the Schaumberg tower in Tholey, Germany.

The "Wishing Tree-Faces of Hope" exhibit is at the base of the Schaumberg tower in Tholey, Germany. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Trails of varying difficulties and lengths surround the Schaumberg tower in Tholey, Germany.

Trails of varying difficulties and lengths surround the Schaumberg tower in Tholey, Germany. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Trail markers line the intersecting paths that surround the Schaumberg tower in Tholey, Germany.

Trail markers line the intersecting paths that surround the Schaumberg tower in Tholey, Germany. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Some sections of the trails that surround the Schaumberg tower in Tholey, Germany, can be quite steep.

Some sections of the trails that surround the Schaumberg tower in Tholey, Germany, can be quite steep. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Along the half-mile Tholix-Runde hiking trail that encircles the Schaumberg plateau in Tholey, Germany, breaks in the foliage can reveal the Schaumberg tower above and parts of a 328-foot section of ancient Roman fortress below.

Along the half-mile Tholix-Runde hiking trail that encircles the Schaumberg plateau in Tholey, Germany, breaks in the foliage can reveal the Schaumberg tower above and parts of a 328-foot section of ancient Roman fortress below. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

One of the things I enjoy the most about living in western Germany is having a wide variety of ways to experience the region’s natural beauty.

Whether viewing river valleys by boat, visiting the numerous vineyards while cruising the bicycle-friendly roadways or taking in the sights and sounds along the seemingly endless network of hiking trails, just about any idyllic landscape that I want to visit is available one way or another.

It was with this variety in mind that I set out to experience the unique view offered by the Schaumberg tower in Tholey.

The tower, inaugurated in 1976 and reopened in 2013 after modernization, is a 123-foot-tall structure on top of the more than 1,800-foot-tall Schaumberg mountain. Located about 50 miles west of Kaiserslautern, it is at one of the highest elevations in the German state of Saarland. From this height the observation deck near the top of the tower commands views from nearby Tholey to the distant Vosges mountain range in eastern France.

There are survey photographs with labels and distance markers mounted on the safety railing to help with orientation and to identify distant geographic features. There are also coin-operated telescopes if you want a closer look at the landscape.

To get to the top, I used the outdoor staircase, and as it’s exposed, I could feel a pleasant, cool breeze. But the indoor staircase I took on the way down also had its advantages — it was lined with placards that detailed 2,500 years of the region’s history in several languages, including English. Though I trekked to the Schaumberg tower specifically to see the 360-degree view from the observation deck, I can’t pass up reading about the history of an area, especially when that history is written in my native tongue.

The surrounding forest has hiking trails of various difficulties and distances. During my visit, I walked the relatively short half-mile Tholix-Runde trail, which goes around the Schaumberg plateau and features a 328-foot section of fortress dating to Roman times. It was fun to catch glimpses of the tower above and the sunlight shining through the foliage onto the ancient history below.

My visit to the tower, hiking trail and the restaurant at the foot of the tower for change — the entrance turnstile requires coins — lasted more than three hours. However, I left wishing I had allotted more time to explore more of the surrounding forest and the longer trails.

keller.mike@stripes.com

DIRECTIONS: Address: Zum Schaumbergturm 1, 66636 Tholey, Germany Free parking is available in lots next to the tower.

TIMES: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily March 16 to Nov. 1l and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily Nov. 2 to March 15.

COSTS: 1 euro ($1.18) per person. Euro coins are required to operate the entrance turnstile.

FOOD: There is a restaurant, the Schaumberg Alm, at the tower.

INFORMATION: Phone: (+49) (0) 6853-502-0090, website (in German but Google’s translate to English function works well): mein-schaumberg.de.

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