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On to the mud flats – the Dortmund-Ems Canal Cycle Route

Alex von Bühren

On to the mud flats – the Dortmund-Ems Canal Cycle Route

Bike Touring Collection by Kristof

4-7

days

3-5 h

/ day

230 mi

2,475 ft

2,750 ft

You can expect varied landscapes and interesting history along the entire length of the Dortmund-Ems Canal. Whilst other waterways in Germany have lost their importance, the Ruhr area needed so many raw materials that a railway wasn’t enough to supply the area. Kaiser Wilhelm II opened the canal in 1899 and some 120 years later, there’s still plenty to discover along the banks of this waterway.

Beautiful places, from the Ruhr area to pretty medieval towns and the Wadden Sea, lie en route. As you ride from Dortmund harbour to the estuary, you visit imposing water castles, historic locks and dreamy lakes. In between, you enjoy the waters of the Dortmund-Ems Canal, of course.

The Tour starts in Dortmund before leading to Westphalia and on to Norddeich in East Frisia, with almost no climbing. I’ve deliberately kept the individual stages rather short so you can include a few detours away from the canal or stay longer in a city. If you like long Tours, you can do the 370 kilometres (230 mi) on a gravel bike in three days.

Both the starting point in Dortmund and the end point in Norddeich, as well as most places in between, are excellently served by rail. This means that you can flexibly plan your Tour. You’ll also find plenty of accommodation but you should book well in advance, especially in summer near the North Sea.

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Die Dortmund-Ems-Kanal-Radroute

224 mi

2,400 ft

2,700 ft

Last updated: November 8, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Intermediate
    03:26
    29.8 mi
    8.7 mph
    400 ft
    500 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Dortmund-Ems-Canal cycle route starts - as the name suggests - in Dortmund. It starts right at the main train station. On bike paths and small streets you first drive through the Fredenbaumpark at the Dortmund harbor, where the Dortmund-Ems Canal begins.

    

    From here you follow the canal over 200 kilometers

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  • Intermediate
    02:20
    24.6 mi
    10.5 mph
    425 ft
    400 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    There is a lot of water around Lüdinghausen: canals, streams, ponds and lakes form this special landscape. And in some lakes you will find an imposing moated castle. On your today's stage you will pass several moated castles.

    

    This time too, you don't just follow the canal, but explore the treasures to

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    by Kristof

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  • Intermediate
    03:57
    33.9 mi
    8.6 mph
    350 ft
    425 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Shortly after the start, you cross the pretty, small Münster lock. A few kilometers later you drive to the impressive sewage fields. The former irrigation areas for sewage were renatured around 2000 and form a species-rich biotope for all kinds of plants and animals, especially birds.

    

    The next highlight

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    by Kristof

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  • Intermediate
    03:20
    34.5 mi
    10.3 mph
    350 ft
    450 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    On the fourth stage you almost always cycle directly along the canal and can see how the landscape changes around the waterway.

    

    Sometimes you cycle straight through the landscape for kilometers. A small bridge or lock are a welcome change. Sometimes you drive through a forest, then again past an industrial

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    by Kristof

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  • Intermediate
    04:04
    40.4 mi
    9.9 mph
    450 ft
    475 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today the longest stage is waiting for you. For 65 kilometers you follow the Dortmund-Ems Canal, which repeatedly follows the meanders of the original Ems River. As you leave Meppen, you can already see some oxbow lakes to the left and right of the canal.

    

    Several locks, some of which have been in operation

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  • Intermediate
    03:16
    34.4 mi
    10.5 mph
    250 ft
    250 ft
    Ferry
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    Today you can already feel the salty sea breeze in your nose, because at the end of the stage you will (almost) reach the North Sea. You leave Papenburg on flat paths and after a few kilometers a little adventure begins: The Friesenbrücke was damaged by a ship collision and is being dismantled. Thanks

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    by Kristof

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  • Intermediate
    03:05
    31.9 mi
    10.3 mph
    250 ft
    275 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    After the Ems has flowed into the Dollart, the Dortmund-Ems Canal has also reached its destination. On the other hand, you can expect another stage of the official Dortmund-Ems-Canal cycle route, because you want to go to the North Sea or the Wadden Sea.

    

    A dense network of canals, ditches and valleys

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    230 mi
  • Duration
    23:28 h
  • Elevation
    2,475 ft2,750 ft

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On to the mud flats – the Dortmund-Ems Canal Cycle Route

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