The R9 cycle route through the state of Hesse in Germany may be small, but it packs a punch. At just under 100 kilometres (62 miles), it may be the shortest of the nine long-distance cycle routes through this green state but it has it all – culture, scenery, and just the right amount of physical challenge.
Your journey begins in one of the oldest cities in Germany, Worms. Nestled in the Rhine Valley, this city of the legendary Nibelungs clan has many stories to tell. It’s worth arriving the evening before you set off to explore the city. You can divide the long-distance cycle path into a ‘Stage festival play for three days and an eve’, paying homage to the German operatic composer Richard Wagner’s epic musical drama ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ (The Ring of the Nibelung).
The trail takes you deep into the Odenwald (Forest of Odes) and high up into the low mountains, which contrast to the flat landscapes of the plain of the River Rhein. As you climb into the mountains on paved paths, you can enjoy views that stretch far into the distance. The cycle path ends shortly after Hainstadt before you reach the River Main and the Bavarian state border. I’ve included the section to the River Main near the town of Obernburg in this Collection. After all, the route’s motto is ‘from the Rhine to the Main’.
To give you enough time to enjoy the endless culture and wonderful scenery, I’ve divided the route into three stages. If you want to cycle faster or challenge yourself, you can of course cycle the route in a day or two. The route is also linked to various other cycle paths which are a great way to lengthen your Tour. You can find details about these as well as train arrivals and departures in the stage descriptions.
Each stage ends in a town or city with ample places to stay, but it still makes sense to plan and book your accommodation in advance. This way, you can be sure your trip will run hiccup-free and truly relax in the evenings. On your rides, you can fill up on delicious Hessian cuisine, served in rural settings, to keep your strength up. Don’t forget to try the traditional ‘Äppelwoi’ apple wine, too.
With well-developed paths that are easy to access, the R9 is suitable for almost any kind of cycling adventure, whether you go on a weekend trip with the whole family, take your racing bike out for the day, or want to explore the Odenwald on your MTB. The R9 is a wonderful journey between the Rhine and the Main.
You start your journey on the Hessian long-distance cycle route R9 at Worms main station. The actual bike path does not start until you have crossed the Rhine in the direction of Bürstadt, but you shouldn't miss a visit to the Worms old town, St. Peter's Cathedral and the Nibelungen Museum if you are here before.This is also a clever way of getting to the starting point of the long-distance cycle path by train: for example, from the north from Frankfurt am Main or Mainz and from the south from Mannheim or Karlsruhe. You will also find a large network of other cycle paths in Worms that you can use to expand your tour: for example, the popular Rhine cycle path with the EuroVelo 15 (komoot.de/collection/210), the Zellertal or Barbarossa cycle path or also the Hessian long-distance cycle route R6, which leads you to the Waldecker Land.You drive out of the historic city over the Nibelungen Bridge with its distinctive tower and get directly onto the R9 behind the Rhine. The route leads you to Lorsch via Bürstadt. On the way you drive over wide fields and on a well-developed bike path parallel to the main road through a small forest area.In Lorsch it is about half time. Here you can take a generous break and take a tour around the UNESCO World Heritage Lorsch Monastery, one of the oldest buildings in Germany. You drive out of the pretty town over the Erlache Baggersee, where you can also stop. The nature conservation center located directly on the lake offers you information about the local flora and fauna and on Sunday afternoons also a few drinks and snacks to strengthen yourself.Your destination for the day is Heppenheim, where you will find plenty of accommodation. If you still have energy left, you can still climb the Schloßberg. From above you can enjoy a great view towards the Rhine valley, and you can end the day with a hearty meal in the castle restaurant.
The second day on the Hessian long-distance cycle path leads you out of Heppenheim in the north and around the Schlossberg. Through the Hambacher Tal, you initially climb gently, later with a significant gain in altitude directly into the Odenwald, which is very impressively defined here in the west by a steep mountain flank from the Upper Rhine Plain.After almost five kilometers and the first 200 meters of altitude you will reach the village of Oberhambach. Here it is a good idea to take a short break to draw new energy. The Röderhof at the end of the village has freshly baked bread ready, which you can buy in the farm shop, including other agricultural products. Depending on the season, there is also an ostrich inn on the farm, where you can stop off comfortably.The following section is now a little steeper, but also rewards you again and again with fantastic views of wooded hills and the Rhine plain. The bike path is also well developed and paved throughout, which is why this last steep section on the route profile initially looks more strenuous than it really is.At the Schannenbacher Eck you have reached the highest point of the day and with it a great vantage point with a view in many directions at 563 meters above sea level. After the next six kilometers are mostly flat, sometimes with easy downhill runs, after a short ascent on the Schleichhöhe, a second highlight awaits you with beautiful foresight - now also to the east.After a relaxed descent, you will find today's destination in or around Reichelsheim. It is best to find out in advance where you can stay overnight, because in the rural area there are mostly holiday farms, but also a few pensions further down the cycle path, for example near Beerfurth. In Reichelsheim, too, the beautifully situated castle complex of Reichenberg Castle is a great excursion destination for the evening.
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The third day on your way to the Main already has a few more kilometers in its luggage than the previous two. In return, the elevation profile flattens significantly and only puts a notable hump in your way, which should be done in no time after your drive through the Odenwald.The path meanders along the Gersprenz from Reichelsheim to Brensbach, on the last five kilometers a little more straight, parallel to the main road. From Brensbach you follow the Wallbach to the Höhenkamm and after almost four kilometers you have already reached the pass shortly before Gumpersberg.The town of Annelsbach invites you to take a long break after a little over 20 kilometers a day. In the Odenwald-Gasthaus Dornrös'chen you can fortify yourself with typical Hessian dishes and delicious Äppelwoi before you start the second half of this stage.At Höchst in the Odenwald you will reach the Mümling - the river that will accompany you on the last kilometers to the Main. Shortly after Hainstadt, the Hessian long-distance cycle route R9 ends at the state border with Bavaria. From now on you will follow the 3-country cycle path to your destination in Obernburg am Main.Before you start your home or onward journey from there, it is worth visiting the city center and the medieval city fortifications, which still surround it in good parts. Then your journey ends at Obernburg-Elsenfeld train station. If you want to extend your tour, the 3-country cycle path is ideal, which leads south from here (komoot.de/collection/1061036). Trains run from the station to Aschaffenburg, Frankfurt am Main and Mainz and from there back to Worms.