The Taunus, a low mountain range in Hesse, is perfect for an exciting bikepacking adventure: deep green forests alternate with open fields and the sparsely populated countryside is peppered with picturesque half-timbered villages. In between, you can stop off at a cosy refuge or romantic castles, explore historical traces of the Romans at the Limes UNESCO World Heritage Site, and conquer many short, steep climbs. This region, a stone’s throw from Frankfurt, is easy to reach from all corners of Germany. Every year, the self-supported Taunus Bikepacking event takes place here.
The story of Taunus Bikepacking began in 2017 when I put together a route in my home region, the Taunus, so that I could train anytime for long-distance races like the Transcontinental Race and the Transatlantic Way from my doorstep. The Rhine-Main area has a lot of traffic on the roads. I wanted to create a low-traffic route that is both challenging and beautiful to ride. With 40 millimetre wide tyres on my road bike, new possibilities away from busy roads opened up. The result was a route with a perfect mix of surface types for me that included a fair amount of elevation gain whilst staying entirely within the relatively small Taunus region. If I didn’t have enough time or energy to finish the route, I’d always be able to find a direct route home or a train station nearby.
Then, in summer 2018, I invited a small group of biking friends to ride the route self-supported. 24 brave bikepackers took up the challenge. James Juneyt Dennis was the fastest, completing the route in an incredible 58 hours and 45 minutes. The verdict was unanimous: it was very hard, very challenging and very beautiful. This is how a small event came to be that has taken place every summer since and continues to attract curious riders to the Taunus. The fourth edition will start in June 2021. I love scouting and discovering new paths, so to keep it exciting, the route changes every year.
With this Collection, you can now discover the original route of the first edition and follow in the footsteps of those 24 pioneers. However, I would strongly recommend that you take more time than JJ Dennis. I’ve divided the 655 kilometres (407 miles) 7 daily stages. With a daily average of almost 100 kilometres (62 miles) on difficult terrain, this is still extremely challenging. To complete the route in under a week, you should bring along a certain willingness to suffer, strong legs and, above all, be ready to take on many metres of climbing. If you aren’t sure whether you can do it, you can still start without worrying and just see how far you get or plan more time. After all, you’re never too far from a train station and you can always improvise. The seven stages are, of course, only a suggestion and you can adjust the length as you wish. To make planning a little easier, the routes start and end in places where you can be sure to find accommodation.
Whether you set off on a gravel bike, mountain bike or a classic touring bike, I recommend a tyre width of 40 millimetres and a gear ratio suitable for mountainous terrain. The Taunus is a low mountain range and, as such, the climbs are plentiful. They are rarely long, but often steep. Although you ride through untouched corners of the Taunus and despite the area being sparsely populated in parts, you won’t have to worry about food. You pass through towns and villages at regular intervals and ride by bakeries, supermarkets, inns and petrol stations. This allows you to concentrate on riding and means you don’t have to make any detours to find food and drinks.
The starting point, the city of Hofheim am Taunus, is located exactly between Wiesbaden and Frankfurt and has excellent transport connections. The S-Bahn or regional express from Frankfurt’s main station take you there in 20 minutes. Both the A3 and A66 motorways pass right by the town, and even Frankfurt Airport is only 16 kilometres (10 miles) away.
Check out taunus-bikepacking.com for photos, videos and exciting stories that have taken place on the route over the years.
For the sake of simplicity, the route begins directly at Hofheim train station. The first 20 kilometers are intended to be rolled up. You quickly leave the buildings behind you and dive into the orchards of the Vordertaunus on car-free farm roads. Through the Weilbacher gravel pits you reach the wine village of Wicker. From now on it's slowly but surely uphill. A mixture of asphalt and gravel field paths brings you to the foot of the Kellerskopf, on the summit of which a beer garden and observation tower invite you to take a break.After a short trail descent, you roll further along the ridge to the west and cross the first two passes called Platte and Eiserne Hand. The Taunus Wunderland amusement park is located near Seitzenhahn. It goes steeply down to Wambach and past Bärstadt to Hausen vor der Höhe.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
After the relatively flat third stage, we are now climbing again properly. You will discover small places like Burgschwalbach and Katzenelnbogen, both centers of power in the Middle Ages. In the forest above Holzhausen you will find traces of a much older power. The ancient Romans secured the Limes Germanicus, the northern border of their empire, with some imposing forts. The well-preserved Holzhausen Fort is just one of them. If you keep your eyes open on the tour, you will discover some traces of the Romans. The Limes secured their empire from the so-called barbarians in the north.Shortly before Mappershain you reach the source of the Wisper, which is only a small trickle here. And as soon as you have left Kemel, you are approaching the most notorious climb in Taunus Bikepacking. The road to Hohenstein Castle is relentlessly steep, pushing here is really no shame. Very few bikepackers have conquered this ramp in the saddle over the years.
On the last stage you drive in a small loop over the Winterstein massif before you finally make your way home. Even the last few kilometers await with plenty of highlights. One last time you visit the Usatal with the castles in Kransberg and Ziegenberg. The area is beautiful but has a dark history that not many know about. The ruined bunker in the forest is an indication of this.Winterstein, Steinkopf, Kuhkopf, Kapersburg, the old quartzite quarry with a view of the Frankfurt skyline - this section in the East Taunus is peppered with sights. Passing today's Bundeswehr Depot Köppern it goes to Wehrheim. Here you get once again fantastic views of the Feldberg before you climb over the ridge and into the Hochtaunus one last time. Saalburg is the name of the pass and also of the local Roman fort, which has been completely reconstructed and can be visited.