Relaxed cycling through an impressive low mountain range, rustic villages, wonderful views, impressions of real rural life and interesting insights into the volcanic past of the region – the Vogelsberg Südbahnradweg (Vogelsberg Southern Railway Cycle Route) offers all this in abundance.
The 33-kilometre (20.5 mile) long cycle path connects the Vulkanradweg (Volcanic Cycle Path – komoot.com/collection/764) and the Hessian Long-Distance Cycle Path R3. The topography of this region in the heart of Germany is particularly interesting. The region of Hartmannshain is about 400 metres (1,312 feet) higher than the town of Wächtersbach. You cycle through this beautiful landscape from the heights of the Vogelsberg down to the Kinzig Valley, with only a few climbs on the way. If you ride in the other direction, you’ll need more time, of course. The Vogelsberg was formed by volcanic activity and you can learn more facts about the region’s interesting history on information boards en route.
In general, you can take your time here as you enjoy riding through forests and fields with the hustle and bustle of the big cities far away. You can stock up on picnic supplies at one of the many organic farms along the route, as there are plenty of nice places to rest.
Following mostly farm tracks, the route traces the route of the former Südbahn (southern railway) as closely as possible. The railway ceased to operate more than 50 years ago and has since been transformed into the Südbahnradweg that is part of the Hessian Railway Cycle Path. Together, these routes form a large loop on a network of former railway lines.
The town of Wächtersbach, the destination of this adventure, is located directly on the Frankfurt-Fulda-Kassel railway line and on the R3 long-distance cycle route and is therefore well-connected. You can reach the starting point in Hartmannshain, for example, via the Vulkanradweg or the "Vulkan Express" bicycle shuttle service (bicycle transport is free of charge on all weekends and public holidays from May to October).
The Vogelsberger Südbahnradweg begins in Hartmannshain at the junction with the Vulkanradweg. The variant described here is particularly attractive for leisure cyclists, because the 33 kilometers to Wächtersbach are almost entirely downhill. Already at the exit of Hartmannshain you can fully enjoy the advantages of gravity and let it roll easily on the best asphalt.For the Vogelsberg typical villages like Völzberg and Lichenroth await you for the first few kilometers. Here you can enjoy a rural idyll like out of a picture book. On my tour in this area I was able to see two deer and even a wild cat. These are encounters that you will never forget.At the Sangmühle cultural monument, a newly renovated bridge leads over the Salz. The mill is located in the dense forest, but along the entire route you can always enjoy wonderful views over the surrounding fields.About halfway there is Birstein, affectionately known as the pearl of the Vogelsberg. On hot summer days, the local outdoor pool attracts you with a refreshing dip. There is also a lot to discover here, such as the monument to the southern railway in the form of a historic diesel locomotive, located directly on the bike path, or the beautiful castle.In Weilers, the former train station has been converted into an impressively large rest area for cyclists. There is even a charging station for e-bikes here.At the destination of the tour in Wächtersbach, all options are open to you to continue your journey. The trains of the Frankfurt - Fulda line stop here, but you can also continue cycling on the Hessian long-distance cycle route R3, for example. Or you can use the "Vulkanexpress" bike shuttle service to get back to the starting point in comfort. Of course, you can also just turn around and cycle back again if you still want to collect a few more meters in altitude. Or you can make a round trip via Hanau and Gedern back to Hartmannshain using the Hessian Railway Cycle Path.
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