If Wilhelm Hauff had known that, no other story has ever shaped the reputation of a region as enduringly as his "Wirtshaus im Spessart", published in 1827. In any case, it hit the general feeling that the forests, which had previously been perceived as repellent and eerie, were now perceived as mythical greatness under "romantic" auspices. Hauff met the need for adventure and moral stories, mysterious nature and noble natures, where even robbers appeared perfectly formed and gave to the poor what they took from the rich.

One of the most famous of the outlaws in the 18th century was Johann Adam Hasenstab, who for decades waged a veritable war with the lords of the Spessart, the archbishops of Mainz. As the son of a game warden in their service, he was well acquainted with the circumstances, he skilfully understood how to evade to neighbouring areas disguised as a healer and sell the venison to innkeepers or even priests.

It is unclear whether the robber chief, who commanded several gangs at once, also considered the desperately poor population, but he could certainly count on their tacit consent when the overkept stocks were decimated. Nevertheless, Hasenstab went twice into the net of the captors before he was banished for life around 1770, but not to a convict island off Australia, as the Fama wanted, when he unexpectedly reappeared in the Spessart.

The idea was obvious that the arch-poacher, who had been declared outlawed with a bounty of 30 thalers, was invulnerable. Therefore, it had to be a silver bullet with which he was shot 250 years ago, on June 3, 1773, by the district forester Johann Sator in the Kropfbach valley near Schollbrunn. A small sandstone cross commemorates this, he is buried in Breitenbrunn. There, too, a memorial stone points out that posterity does not regard him as an ordinary thief.

Starting in the birthplace of Rothenbuch, the sites are integrated into an 80-kilometre-long Hasenstab hiking trail, whose charm lies in the immediacy of the landscape. Still - or better again since the large-scale reforestation in the 19th century - the Spessart with its dense forests and quiet valleys seems almost untouched.

He would undoubtedly fulfill the Carthusians' main concern for seclusion from the world. In fact, in the spirit of the order's saint Bruno, a settlement, called Grünau, had settled in the Kropfbach valley around 1330. However, the conditions were always difficult and the buildings were ruinous even before the abolition in 1803. With the later arrival of a restaurant, at least the culinary tradition was preserved. The trout come from the waters dating back to monastic times.


The fact that the Erzpoacherer Hasensstab was able to wreak havoc in the southeastern Spessart for a long time can still be felt today when driving through the endless forests. He just needed to know which of the few places belonged to. Even the Ober- and Unteraltenbuch, which were only united in 1938, had different masters. The latter belonged to the Archbishopric of Mainz, which was reflected in a later enlarged Baroque church.

Even though the bus stop is called "Mitte/Kirche" – behind it in Leichgasse there is some parking space – it is a few steps further to find it on the left through Kirchstraße. Otherwise, we keep the direction and look at the red line marking, which then points to the right into the street Tanneck and this into the nearby forest. The beech and oak trees that surround us on the long ascent to the "Wolfsbuche" will not have been so magnificent in Hasenstab's time. Glassmakers and charcoal burners and, above all, the increased logging for sale had severely decimated the forests.