Gravel bikes are all-rounders with racing handlebars, wide tyres, sturdy frames. They combine sportiness with comfort. You can do asphalt laps with them or jet over forest paths. Here are tips for easy to medium-difficulty gravel bike tours for beginners
8 Gravel Bike Tours for Beginners in Bavaria
Castles, Beer & Biking: The Chivalrous Hassberge Mountains
The route back into the past is a tough one: over a good 1,100 metres in altitude and a distance of 70 kilometres, the tour leads to a total of nine palaces, castle ruins and castle sites. The latter are merely sites of former castles, without any wall remains at all.
The best place to start the tour is the market square in the half-timbered town of Hofheim. First, head south-east to Königsberg and steeply up the ridge of the Hassberge mountains to the castle ruins of Bramberg and Raueneck. Eyrichshof Palace, the next stop, is a magnificent Renaissance-Baroque complex. It is still inhabited today.
The next climb introduces you to the Rotenhahn castle ruins, one of the few real rock castles in Germany! Now past the Gutenfels and Teufelsstein castle sites and on to the Lichtenstein and Altenstein ruins, the latter with the "Deutscher Burgenwinkel" castle information centre. You then cycle through gently rolling countryside, passing the Pfaffendorf, Leuzendorf and Bugrpreppach palaces, crossing the Manau depression, overcoming the main ridge of the Hassberge mountains and reaching Hofheim again. Franconian delicacies and a fresh beer of local provenance are already impatiently waiting there for the bikers!
- Tour length: 70 kilometres
- Ascent: 1,110 metres in altitude
- Accessible by train
- More info: hassberge-tourismus.de/graveln
From Craft Beer to Franconian Wine: Steigerwald
Der Steigerwald ist ein Mittelgebirge in Franken, es erstreckt sich südlich des Mains zwischen Schweinfurt und Bamberg. Die mittelschwere Rundtour „5-Sterne-Gravel“ beginnen Biker, die mit dem Zug anreisen, in Ebelsbach/Eltmann und starten am besten in westlicher Richtung.
"5 Stars" is the name of five holiday resorts Eltmann, Knetzgau, Oberaurach, Rauhenebrach and Sand am Main. The five stars also stand for forest, meadows, water, wine and hiking. Most of the time you cycle away from traffic, on asphalt roads or gravelled forest paths.
Along the scenic tour, the Gravellers encounter numerous sights, such as Oberschwappach Castle in Knetzgau with its museum of baroque art, sculpture garden and barefoot path. On the way, the cyclists are fortified with Franconian delicacies, addictive craft beer, such as that of the "Bayer" brewery inn in Theinheim, and good Franconian wine.
The Abt-Degen wine valley, the name of the wine-growing area, with its heat-retaining Keuper soils is known for Silvaner, but also full-bodied red wines.
- Tour length: 64 kilometres
- Ascent: 720 metres in altitude
- Railway connection
More information: hassberge-tourismus.de/graveln
Graveling and Swimming: 3-Lake Tour Along the Inn and Salzach Rivers
The cycle path network of the Inn-Salzach region, with its highlights Burghausen and Altötting, comprises 1,500 kilometres and 24 themed tours. A beautiful area for gravel bikers, where gravel roads meet asphalt tracks.
They offer fun for beginners and experts alike. The "3 Lakes Tour", for example, signposted and marked with route signets, is ideal for a nice summer day. Don't forget: pack your bathing suits in your luggage!
Start in Neuötting, after just ten kilometres the first bathing lake in Perach encourages you to take a refreshing break. Further eastwards and along the Inn River, the Marktler Badesee (swimming lake) awaits. From there, the route leads south to the Lower Inn European Reserve, a habitat for 300 bird and 800 butterfly species.
Near the old town of Burghausen, at the foot of the castle, Lake Wöhrsee invites you for a swim or a romantic boat trip. Return to the starting point via Mehring and Emmerting, where nature trails are well worth a short walk. All bathing lakes offer sunbathing lawns, changing rooms and kiosks.
- Tour length: 55 kilometres
- Ascent: 300 metres in altitude
- Railway connection
More information: inn-salzach.com (only in German)
Pre-Alpine Flair: From Holzkirchen to Lake Tegernsee
The so called "Wasserradlwege" is a 1,200-kilometre-long cycle route that runs through Upper Bavaria in three large loops. Water always accompanies the route, and regional features with "experience stops" characterise it: In the north the focus is on hops and beer, in the southeast on salt and in the southwest on art and culture.
The round tour on the Art Loop from Holzkirchen to Lake Tegernsee and back is an enjoyable tour. It starts in Holzkirchen, easily accessible by train. Follow the signs gently up and down through the foothills of the Alps, past pretty churches and chapels, such as the small country church of St. Ulrich shortly after Holzkirchen, and along the Mangfall River for a while.
After twenty kilometres you arrive in Gmund on the northern shore of Lake Tegernsee, time for a snack and a swim in the lake. The way back leads over 200 metres in altitudeup to the Steinberg, followed by a brisk descent. Shortly after Sachsenkam, you can enjoy art in the Reutberg monastery and culinary delights in the Klosterbräustüberl. Another ten kilometres, along meadows and pastures, and you're back in Holzkirchen.
- Tour length: 44 kilometres
- Ascent: 410 metres in altitude
- Railway connection
Mehr Infos: komoot.de/wasserradlwege
Cool Village Circuit: Between Sonthofen and Oberstdorf
The medium-difficulty "Gravel bike Tour Village Circuit" in the Upper Allgäu is a mix of gravel paths and asphalt roads. The views of the Allgäu mountains make it attractive. The tour starts in Fischen, halfway between Sonthofen and Oberstdorf.
South of Fischen, you reach the small village of Reichenbach, framed by the Rubihorn, Entschenkopf and Nebelhorn mountains; after four more kilometres, the famous winter sports resort of Oberstdorf.
Further west, in Kornau, the route turns north, crosses the mountain river Breitach, a headwater of the River ller, and continues along the eastern edge of the Nagelfluhkette Nature Park with its peaks. You pass the Hörner villages of Obermaiselstein, Bolsterlang and Ofterschwang, go around Sonthofen, cross the Ostrach river and return to Fischen via Altstädten. You can also start at another location and extend or shorten the route as you wish.
- Tour length: 53 kilometres
- Ascent: 830 metres in altitude
- Rrailway connection
More ideas for tours at hoernerdoerfer.de/radurlaub (only in German)
A World of Summits: From Wertach to Pfronten
This tour is part of the Allgäu Cycle Tour and leads through the world of summits. But there are no mountain trails to conquer. Instead, the route is sometimes hilly, sometimes flat between the mountains.
After starting in Wertach, you cycle on gravel along the river Wertach towards Habsbichl and, between Wertacher Hörnle and Sorgschrofen, on asphalt to Unterjoch. Through green meadows into the Tannheimer Tal valley in Austria. Again and again, the view falls on the peaks all around.
Via Schattwald and on the Tannheimer Tal cycle path you reach Tannheim, the main town of the valley. Continue towards Grän and back to Bavaria through forests and the small gorges of the Steinacher Achen river, varied and beautiful. Once again you experience the unspoilt nature of the summit worlds before arriving in Pfronten. Either continue on the Allgäu Cycle Tour towards Füssen or take the train and bus back to Wertach.
- Tour length: 33 kilometres
- Ascent: 500 metres in altitude
- Railway connection
More information: allgaeu.de/naturbiken (only in German)
Hirschwald Circuit: Five Rivers Cycle Route
The Five Rivers Cycle Route connects the valleys of the Danube, Altmühl, Pegnitz, Vils (Upper Palatinate) and Naab. A signposted day tour in this network of paths circles the Hirschwald, a nature park in the district of Amberg-Sulzbach and one of the largest contiguous forest areas in Bavaria.
You start in Amberg, easily reached by train, at the Landesgartenschau (Bavarian garden show) grounds. You roll along a former railway line down the valley of the Vils to Schmidmühlen. On the way, the Hammer castle in Theuern with the Eastern Bavarian Mining and Industry Museum and the Asam Monastery in Ensdorf are worth a stop.
In Schmidmühlen, the route turns west and runs through the romantic Lauterachtal valley with its juniper heaths, dreamy villages and old churches. In Kastl you can visit the Romanesque monastery castle, founded in Carolingian times, before continuing on the Schweppermannradweg (cycle path) towards Amberg. Here, too, the route is traffic-free for a good part of the way along an old railway line.
- Tour length: 66 kilometres
- hardly any ascents
- railway connection
- More information: 5 Rivers Cycle Path
Sporty: Up and down in the Bavarian Forest
The village of Frauenau lies at the foot of the Rachel mountain (1,452 metres), close to the Bavarian Forest National Park. The densely wooded region is an adventurous area for cyclists. The moderately difficult tour "Around Frauenau No. 5" leads for about two thirds on forest paths and starts at the glass museum.
You cycle through Frauenau in the direction of Zwiesel and turn off towards Oberfrauenau. After climbing to the top of the dam of the drinking water reservoir, with a beautiful view follow the descent in the direction of Pochermühle.
Before Pochermühle, take a sharp left and head back towards Frauenau. A trail passage over the Pommersbach follows. In Frauenau, turn off onto the cycle path to Zwiesel and continue to Flanitz.
Now it’s time for a workout, and a 10-kilometre climb begins with 300 metres of altitude difference through mixed forest in the direction of Klingenbrunn. You can take a rest at the Griesbacher Taferlbaum, a crossroads with a bench. Before the ascent is over, those who are in good shape can climb the Wagensonnenriegel.
From the rocky outcrop at an altitude of almost 1,000 metres, you have a magnificent view over the Middle Bavarian Forest. Now the gravel bike rolls down to Klingenbrunn and from there along the Flanitz stream and back to Frauenau.
- Tour length: 43 kilometres
- Ascent: 611 metres in altitude (without Wagensonnenriegel)
- Railway connection
More information: Arberland
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