VILSECK, Germany — While COVID-19 is a frustrating obstacle that keeps community members from exploring many wonderous things that Germany has to offer, there are still some hidden gems in the local area that can be explored safely. One of these gems is the Teufelstein Loop, also known as the Devil’s Stone.This mysterious location can be reached by a long or short hike through the Vilseck countryside. It is not to be confused with the Teufelstein located in Styria, Austria.How to Get There:The longer hike covers 13.5km, takes about three hours to complete and starts in the Vilseck market square. The shorter hike covers 4.8km, takes about an hour and a half to complete and starts behind the Vilseck Schwimmbad. Additionally, this shorter trek is still a bit strenuous, so it is recommended for more experienced hikers.There is no parking at the trailhead, but the Schwimmbad parking lot is typically empty during the autumn and winter months. To find the stone, look for the markers on metal poles and trees with “Teufelsteinweg” printed on them. The hike will take you through farm fields, forests and past a deer enclosure.There are some confusing areas on the Teufelsteinweg trail. One of these areas is right before hikers come to the deer enclosure. The trail splits into two separate directions going right or left. Hikers will want to keep right and take the trail that goes past the deer enclosure. Hikers should then continue straight past the deer enclosure until they reach another break in the trail — one going straight while the other heads downhill to the right. Hikers will go right and walk until the trail turns into a grassy field that separates the two forested areas. Walk through this field until you see an opening that goes back into the forest.To assist curious hikers and nature lovers in location the Teufelsteinweg, refer to the official City of Vilseck website before venturing out.Local Legend:There is an old legend about the Teufelstein that hikers should know about, as it explains how Devil’s Stone came to be.The legend goes that the Devil almost hit the pointy tower of the St. Agidius church in Vilseck, and this annoyed him so much that he decided to destroy it. He carried a large stone on his back towards Vilseck, which he intended to throw at the church tower and smash it. When the devil landed on the Kreuzberg — where the stone is located today — he came across an elderly woman who was carrying a sack of old and worn shoes. The devil asked the woman how much farther he had to go to reach Vilseck, and the old woman, who sensed his evil intentions, decided to deceive him. She told him that she had worn all the shoes that were in the large sack, and that it was still a long way to Vilseck. Since the devil was already tired from his journey, he let out a curse and disappeared. He left the stone behind, which still sits in an open patch in the middle of the forest.While the origin of this centuries-old folklore remains unknown, it is still widely accepted by locals. Furthermore, the City of Vilseck’s Tourist Office pays homage to the tale on their official website.Overall, this is the perfect location for anyone looking for a more slightly challenging, but equally rewarding hike.