From mountains to the Ruhr – ride the Lenneroute through the Sauerland

Julian Ref

From mountains to the Ruhr – ride the Lenneroute through the Sauerland

Bike Touring Collection by Johanna
2-3 days
3-4 h / day
89.6 mi
4,025 ft
5,875 ft

The Lenneroute winds its way through the picturesque Sauerland region in western Germany for just over 140 kilometres (87 miles). From the mountains, where the Lenne, the most important tributary of the Ruhr River rises, you cycle downstream through beautiful nature characterised by deep green forests and wide meadows. You follow the river as it loops through a valley, hugged by hills. En route, you enjoy unforgettable views of fairytale castles and relaxing breaks in idyllic villages nestled along the riverbank.

In this Collection, I show you how to ride the Lenneroute in three stages, ranging in length from 38 to 66 kilometres (23.6 to 41 miles). If you like an even sportier challenge, you can combine the first two stages and ride the complete Tour in two days. Your adventure through the Sauerland starts in the town of Winterberg which you can reach with the regional train from Dortmund. Your journey ends in the town of Wetter (Ruhr) where you can travel home with the S-Bahn in the direction of Dortmund or Hagen.

From the starting point in Winterberg, you first cycle to the source of the Lenne River, which rises on the Hohe Asten, the highest mountain in the Sauerland. Afterwards, you ride mostly downhill, but you still gain plenty of elevation along the way, which makes the first two stages a bit more challenging. Staying close to the river, you finally reach Hagen, where the Lenne flows into the Ruhr after 129 kilometres (80 miles). But your journey doesn't end here. For a fitting finale, you roll along the impressive Ruhr reservoirs into the beautiful town of Wetter (Ruhr).

En route and in the stage destinations, you can look forward to good infrastructure. The region has many accommodation options such as hotels, guesthouses and holiday rentals. You can find a generous selection of places to stay in all of the stage towns. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, you always have the choice to hop on a train. Your physical well-being is also well taken care of – cosy restaurants and charming cafes are great places to stop and reflect on your journey and replenish your energy for the kilometres to come.

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

    24.4 mi
    9.0 mph
    1,525 ft
    2,650 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The starting point of the Lenneroute is in the beautiful Winterberg. The best way to get to the idyllic place is by regional train from Dortmund. At the train station in Winterberg you get on your bike and cycle off.At the beginning it is a bit uphill, because your path leads you to the Kahler Asten, the highest mountain in the Sauerland. This is where the Lenne rises, which you then follow to where it flows into the Ruhr.After you have made a detour to the Lennequelle on the Kahler Asten, it first goes downhill in a relaxed manner. You roll through forests and meadows and enjoy wonderful views of the beautiful landscape again and again.Soon you will meet the Lenne again for the first time after your visit at the source and follow its course through wild and romantic valleys, which occasionally have small counter climbs ready for you.About halfway through the stage you will reach Oberkirchen, where you can take a well-deserved break. In one of the numerous inns you have the opportunity to be pampered with Sauerland specialties.With new strength, you will then continue through the Lennetal. On the way you pass pretty villages and the town of Schmallenberg with its beautifully landscaped spa gardens. You finally reach the destination of the stage in Saalhausen.In the district of Lennestadt you will find many overnight accommodations in hotels, guest houses and holiday apartments. There are also various cafes and restaurants for your physical well-being.

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    23.8 mi
    9.5 mph
    1,200 ft
    1,550 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The second stage of the Lenneroute begins with a short but crisp ascent. As a reward for the effort, you can enjoy wonderful views of the surrounding landscape with its wooded hills along the way.Then it goes on a rapid descent down to the banks of the Lenne. In the valley you follow the playful loops of the river on a gently sloping route. Only now and then you can expect a few small counter climbs.In the course of the cycle path you will pass beautiful places on the Lenne with refreshment stops if you want to take a break and strengthen yourself.In Finnentrop you can see how the Bigge flows into the Lenne, making it noticeably wider. Behind Lenhausen you leave the bank of the river and drive a little into the surrounding hills. So there are some climbs waiting for you again.From the heights, however, you can enjoy wonderful views or have the opportunity to discover hidden gems in the forest, such as Schwarzenberg Castle on the mountain of the same name. From Schwarzenberg you then roll through the forest back down into the Lennetal, where you reach the stage destination Plettenberg.There is a train station with a connection to regional transport as well as various hotels and holiday apartments for overnight stays. You also have a large selection of places to stop for a break in the city.

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  • Intermediate
    41.4 mi
    9.7 mph
    1,300 ft
    1,675 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The third and last stage on the Lenneroute starts in Plettenberg directly on the river bank. With a view of the water and the surrounding, extremely idyllic landscape, you follow the bike path. It leads you through picturesque meadows and several times over the river. So you can enjoy spectacular views of the ever-widening Lenne from the bridges.The course of the Lenne is very playful on this first section of the stage: it winds in tight loops through deeply cut valleys, which are lined by wooded hills. You ride your bike through the middle of this wonderful backdrop and enjoy the wonderful nature around you.After about half of the stage you will reach Altena. Here the castle of the same name towers high above the small town. The sight alone is fascinating and a visit is of course also worthwhile. Of course, you will also find refreshment stops in Altena if you want to strengthen yourself.Afterwards, your bike tour along the Lenne continues with renewed energy and lots of impressions. You follow the river through its valley, which opens ever wider. Some climbs are still waiting for you on the way, but soon it will be completely flat and you will cycle through wide land, while the Lenne approaches its mouth in large steps.On the outskirts of Hagen the time has come: You can see how the Lenne flows into the Ruhr. After saying goodbye to your faithful companion, you follow the Ruhr, which is dammed up here to the Hengsteysee. You drive directly along the shore to the power plant and cross the Ruhr here.A few kilometers further you will reach the next Ruhr reservoir, the Harkortsee. Here, too, you can enjoy unforgettable views of the water while you roll along the shore. At the end of the lake in a loop of the Ruhr lies Wetter, the destination of the varied bike tour. From the train station you can take the S5 towards Dortmund or Hagen to travel home.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    89.6 mi
  • Duration
    09:30 h
  • Elevation
    4,025 ft5,875 ft

From mountains to the Ruhr – ride the Lenneroute through the Sauerland