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Ruhr Valley Gravel – rediscover the Ruhr Area in Germany

Stephan Peters | lifeCYCLE magazine

Ruhr Valley Gravel – rediscover the Ruhr Area in Germany

Mountain Biking Collection by Martin Donat

3

Tours

21:01 h

166 mi

10,400 ft

The Ruhr Valley Cycle Path (komoot.com/collection/500) is one of the most popular German cycle paths. It follows the Ruhr River from its source to its mouth for about 230 kilometres (143 miles) through an exciting mix of nature and industrial heritage. However, the bike path mostly follows paved roads, sometimes including main roads through the numerous towns which lie en route. If you want a relaxed bike trip with tourist sites and leisurely coffee breaks, then this is great. However, if you are looking for an adventure that is filled with tranquil nature, then the Ruhr Valley Cycle Route is often too hectic and busy. For this reason, I left the paved paths along the Ruhr and went in search of a quiet, bumpier option. The idea: follow the Ruhr from its source to its mouth on unpaved paths that are as quiet and idyllic as possible. The result is my ‘Ruhr Valley Gravel’ route, which I present in this Collection.

Compared to the original route, the gravel variant is much more challenging. While the Ruhr Valley Cycle Path directly follows the course of the river and is therefore relatively flat, the gravel route makes repeated detours into the beautiful hills to the left and right of the river meaning you collect many metres of elevation gain, often on loose ground. You’ll be amazed by how varied the Ruhr region is.

I’ve included the original Ruhr Valley Cycle Route in this Collection so that you can compare the two alternatives and plan accordingly. You can always adapt your own route if necessary, using the original ride as a guide. For example, if you want to see a town that I’ve left out, you can switch to the Ruhr Valley Cycle Route for a section. The original route is also great if you want to pick up some speed. So, if you’re late for your returning train journey in the evening, you can make up some time.

While it is possible to ride the Ruhr Valley Cycle Route in one go if you’re fit enough, this would be very, very hard for the Ruhr Valley Gravel, although not impossible. I have divided the route into three stages, which are perfect for a long weekend but also work as individual Tours. The cool thing is that each stage ends in a town with a good train connection, so you can have a great time on your bike without a car. If you want to tackle the route as a multi-day bivouac trip, you should bear in mind that it's generally rather difficult to find a really quiet, secluded place to sleep in the Ruhr area. However, I found a few places that are suitable for a night camp and marked them in the Tours as highlights, so you can set your own stage goals and vary the length of each stage.

Basically, I tried with this route to bring across the character of the Ruhr Valley and the Ruhr area, but at the same time, I wanted to avoid all the places that are too urban and hectic for me personally. Nevertheless, it was important to me that the Ruhr remains in focus and the route does not digress too much. That's why I'll take you along sections of the Ruhr Valley Cycle Route every now and then and make stops in towns that I like or that are simply suitable as ‘refreshment stops’. In practical terms, this means you don't have to rely on stashing large food supplies in your bags. There are plenty of opportunities to shop at the bakery or supermarket along the way and stock up on whatever you need. You can ride light and fully enjoy the beautiful trails and varied scenery.

I wish you a lot of fun when you leave the tidy tourist paths and explore the ‘dirty’ backyards of the Ruhr Valley. I am sure of one thing: You’ll get to know the Ruhr area from a completely new perspective on the gravel paths from the source of the Ruhr in Winterberg to its mouth into the Rhine. I’d also be happy for any feedback! Just leave me a comment if you particularly enjoyed something or if you have a suggestion of how to improve the route.

On The Map

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Ruhrtal Gravel – Gesamtroute

166 mi

10,400 ft

12,525 ft

Last updated: November 8, 2021

Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    08:57
    69.5 mi
    7.8 mph
    5,425 ft
    7,175 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    After the little warm-up ride from the Winterberger train station, the Ruhrtal Gravel really begins when you reach the source of the Ruhr. Here you can pause for a moment and look at the small trickle that trickles out of the ground. It's hard to believe that it will turn into a large river that gives

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    by Martin Donat

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  • Difficult
    04:31
    37.1 mi
    8.2 mph
    1,100 ft
    1,250 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The second stage of the Ruhrtal Gravel is characterized by the transition between the Sauerland and the "real" Ruhr area. You leave the last foothills of the Sauerland behind Fröndenberg, from now on the landscape is shaped by the Ardey Mountains, whose partly rugged slopes you take a closer look at

    translated byView Original

    by Martin Donat

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  • Difficult
    07:33
    59.9 mi
    7.9 mph
    3,875 ft
    4,125 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Die dritte Etappe meines Ruhrtal Gravels ist nochmal ein ganz schönes Brett ⛰️🤪🚴. Doch ich finde, dass die Zeit unterwegs wie im Fluge vergeht, auch wenn die Route etwas fordernd ist. Denn diese Tour mitten durch den Pott ist unglaublich abwechslungsreich. Wenn du das Ruhrgebiet nicht kennst, wirst

    by Martin Donat

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    3
  • Distance
    166 mi
  • Duration
    21:01 h
  • Elevation
    10,400 ft

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Ruhr Valley Gravel – rediscover the Ruhr Area in Germany

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