The dreamlike Rothaar Mountains with their beautiful forests that stretch down to the valley, imposing reservoirs lined up like pearls along the course of the river, wide meadows along the shore and urban sections with an industrial flair, you can discover all this on the Ruhrtal cycle path. From the source to the estuary, the cycle path leads you along the Ruhr for 240 kilometers (140 miles)—and it takes you almost exclusively downhill.
In the beautiful mountainous Winterberg, not far from the spring of the Ruhr, you start your ride and cycle along the broadening river. You will pass through countless beautiful towns and pass impressive reservoirs. Duisburg is the end of the ride, from where the Ruhr flows into the Rhine.
We have divided the varied ride into six stages, some of which are pleasantly short. If you feel confident, you can also ride two stages in one day. The journey to the starting point in Winterberg is completely uncomplicated thanks to a train connection—and you'll find numerous stations throughout your ride in case you decide on a truncated version of the trip.
Towards the end, the Ruhrtal cycle path leads through the Ruhrpott, where there is plenty to explore even away from the river. If you feel like it, you can insert one or two circuits between the individual stages of the Ruhrtal cycle path and explore the surrounding towns and places of interest. For this purpose, we have selected a circuit from Herdecke via Dortmund as an example, which you can ride as an additional stage during your trip along the Ruhr. You will find it below the other stages.
The Ruhr Valley cycle path is recommended in the brochure "Deutschland per Rad entdecken" by the ADFC (German Cyclist's Association) and is ranked as a quality cycle route with four stars. More information (in German): adfc.de/artikel/radurlaub-als-sternstunde
Let's start with the RuhrtalRadweg in the beautiful Winterberg. At the starting point you can easily get on the train. From there, it then goes in 41 kilometers always downhill to the first stage destination in Meschede.Shortly after Winterberg, you pass the Ruhrquelle, an inconspicuous spot where the 217 kilometer long river takes its course. The hilly landscape in this area is beautiful and on the long descent that follows the source, you can really enjoy the great views of mountains, forest and meadows.On the way to Meschede, you will also pass the impressive reservoir Olsberg, which is adjoined by the town of the same name. This and many other places that you pass on today's tour, offer you countless rest and rest stops.Once in Meschede, you have a wide choice of accommodation or you can easily travel by train.
Today's stage from Meschede to Wickede is a bit longer than the previous one. But it also leads you mainly downhill along the beautiful Ruhr.Shortly after Meschede, you can first look forward to a few smaller climbs before going on a long descent. On the way, some beautiful sections of the Ruhr Valley Cycle Path await you today, guiding you through the middle of nature. Not only can you enjoy the still very small river with its wild bank and the wide meadows around it, but also beautiful hills in the background and beautiful cool forests right on the shore.At the lowest point of today's stage you finally reach Wickede. In the cozy town you can either stay overnight or leave the station by regional train.
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Today the RuhrtalRadweg takes you from Wickede to Herdecke. Also on this stage it goes downhill continuously, whereby the landscape becomes ever flatter. The initial hills of the tour are now replaced by vast meadows and forests that you can see in the distance.It starts in Wickede directly along the Ruhr, which you cross several times on this route. You come across one or the other fascinating bridge from which you each have a fantastic view of the river and the surrounding countryside. Shortly before Herdecke you drive along the shore of Lake Hengstey and have a beautiful view of the opposite wooded shore.In the stage destination Herdecke you can choose between countless overnight stays or travel by train from the train station in Herdecke in the direction of Dortmund. Alternatively, you can also take the S-Bahn from Hagen-Vorhalle on the other side of the river.
Today's tour is the shortest day's stage so far. Along the Ruhr, there are only 34 kilometers from Herdecke to Hattingen. This is a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful highlights that await you on the way.Let's go past the Harkortsee, the second reservoir near Herdecke. Then it goes through beautiful meadows of the Ruhr. A top highlight of this route and a great experience is definitely the crossing of the Ruhr with the Ruhrtal ferry. On the other side of the river, we follow a large arc along Lake Kemnader, which is also a nice place to rest.The day's destination is Hattingen. The town on the Ruhr has a beautiful old town and an industrial museum and offers plenty of accommodation. If you want to leave Hattingen, you can do this conveniently with the S-Bahn direction Essen and Oberhausen.
Almost 50 kilometers are waiting for you today. They lead you on the RuhrtalRadweg from Hattingen to Mülheim an der Ruhr. The track is a bit flat, but conjures up one or the other short climb for you from the sleeve.Right after your start in Hattingen you will pass small waterfalls of the Ruhr. This is a nice place to get off the bike and let the rushing water affect you. Then it continues on the beautiful paved bike path. And although it's getting more and more urban in the region, you're surrounded by greenery and nature on the bike path.Today's destination Mülheim an der Ruhr merges almost seamlessly with the cities of Essen and Oberhausen. Therefore, you have a lot of opportunities to travel by public transport such as the S-Bahn, the subway or even trains of the Deutsche Bahn. Of course, you can also spend the night in the city to tackle the final stage of the RuhrtalRadweg the next day.
The last stage of the Ruhr Valley Cycle Route is also the shortest at 27 kilometers. Today it goes from Mülheim an der Ruhr to Duisburg. Before you finish your tour in Duisburg at the train station, you drive along the Ruhr to its mouth in the Rhine.Because the stage is so short, you can take the time to visit some of the sights that you pass. For example, the medieval castle Broich is waiting for you in the immediate vicinity of the Ruhr. On the other side of the river you can visit the water tower Aquarius.This urban leg finally takes you to the end of the Ruhr, which you followed from its source. At its mouth in the Rhine, it is worthwhile to get off the bike and let the gigantic scenery to take effect. This is also a nice moment to review the whole tour.The six-day cycle tour ends at the main station in Duisburg. From here you can take the train in all directions.
As a bonus and interesting option for a day trip, we have built a small city break to Dortmund for you. The demanding circuit with a number of gradients starts in Herdecke, one of the stage destinations on the RuhrtalRadweg, and is 55 kilometers long.The first goal of the round trip is Dortmund. Along the way you will experience an exciting mix of nature and old industry on the way, which is typical of the Ruhr area and has a very special urban charm. The route then takes you across Dortmund, where you have the opportunity to take a break and explore the city a bit more.Before returning to Herdecke, head north to see the beautiful and impressive moated castle Bodelschwingh. From there it goes back to the RuhrtalRadweg to Herdecke.