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Cycle the most beautiful railway tracks – Germany’s Ruhr area (west and south)

Martin Donat

Cycle the most beautiful railway tracks – Germany’s Ruhr area (west and south)

Bike Touring Collection by Martin Donat

For a long time, Germany’s Ruhr region was known for many things that had absolutely nothing to do with peace, quiet and slow travel. Even today, when you think of the Ruhr area, smoking chimneys and congested motorways spring to mind. Yet for many years, people have been working to create a wonderfully quiet contrast to the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. An impressive network of cycle paths stretches across the Ruhr, allowing you to get to know the area from a completely different, idyllic side.

Many of these cycle paths follow former railway lines. I cycled most of them myself during my time in the Ruhr. In this Collection, I’d like to show you to the most beautiful railway routes in the west and south of the region. These Tours are not a ready-made adventure, but a compilation of routes that will help you build your own beautiful, low-traffic ride through the area.

Just like the Ruhr’s coal and steel industry, many of the railway lines here are no longer active. Instead, the hundred of kilometres of unused tracks that remain are now being put to a much better use – an impressive network of cycle tracks. These routes let you discover the area without many climbs and far away from traffic.

You cycle through the backyards of industry, through wastelands that have now been reclaimed by nature and through districts that have been given new life. A new surprise awaits you around every corner. Museums, old industrial halls, remnants of railway tracks, towers and slag heaps with great views from the summit – a cycle Tour through the Ruhr is quite the experience!

Plenty of railway lines still operate in the region, which means you can easily travel to and from your adventure car-free. The small and larger cities are connected by public transport so if you decide to finish earlier, you can usually hop on a train home. If I ran out of motivation, I’d get on a train somewhere and cycle home from there. Also, if I got stranded and couldn’t continue, I could travel home in no time.

A little tip from me: If you like to cycle alone and in peace, set off early in the morning or late in the evening, or cycle in bad weather. One or two of the routes are now well known and popular – and it's great that more and more people are getting on their bikes. If you avoid rush hour, you can still enjoy the peace and quiet.

If you can't get enough of all the beautiful routes, click through to this Collection, where you'll find even more: komoot.com/collection/887677. But for now, have fun cycling along the railway lines.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

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    HOAG-Trasse – Bahntrassenradeln

    Bike Touring Highlight (Segment)

    The HOAG route is the former railway line of the "Hüttenwerke Oberhausen Aktiengesellschaft", hence the name. Like many other old railway lines, the approximately twelve-kilometer-long route connecting Oberhausen and Duisburg has been converted into a sizeable cycle path. Since 2007 you can cycle here from the Rhine port in Duisburg Walsum to Oberhausen Buschhausen.

    A nice way to extend the bike ride is the Green Path, which starts directly afterwards. About the old route you come back to Duisburg. A beautiful destination is, for example, the landscape park Duisburg Nord, which is located directly on the green path. The landscape park is one of many steel industry spots in the Ruhr area that has successfully made the transition to a cultural hotspot.

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    Grüner Pfad – Bahntrassenradeln

    Bike Touring Highlight (Segment)

    From Duisburg harbor in Meiderich the Green Path leads up to Oberhausen Sterkrade. A beautiful old railway line that passes the landscape park Duisburg. The former smelting works is an impressive facility, which is one of the most famous cultural hotspots in the Ruhrgebiet. There are a lot of events going on here, and even so the landscape park is a nice place to take a break. The nearly ten-kilometer-long route can be combined with the super HOAG route afterwards. The HOAG route leads in a large arc back to Duisburg, start and finish point are less than six kilometers apart. Both routes can be well linked to a nice round through the pot.

    If you want to start directly with Ruhrpott history in the tour, you should stop at the blue book at the harbor. The little house, all in blue, is one of the oldest stalls in the Ruhr area and is even a listed building. (Https://komoot.de/highlight/229043)

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    The former connecting track to the colliery runs initially through Marxloh as a sculpture trail. Residents created these works of art under the guidance of artists. In the warm season, the smell of grilled mutton is in the air. North of the large DITIB Mosque, the route passes under the mighty bridges of the A59 and then runs parallel to the highway and a gas pipeline. In between, the HOAG route (high bridge) is underpassed. The northern end is on the colliery Wehofen.

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    A total of 24.7 kilometers of cycle path connect Kettwig, Wülfrath and Wuppertal. The route can be combined in many different routes around and through the Ruhr area. The route leads you from the Wuppertal Nordbahntrasse up to Kettwig and ends at the Ruhr, where you come to the Ruhr Valley Cycle Path. The panorama bike path Niederbergbahn was opened in 2011 and is one of the most beautiful and best developed Bahntrassenradwege the region. In addition to the Nordbahntrasse and the Ruhrtal Cycle Path, you can also take the panoramic cycle path to the 600 kilometer long Euroga cycle path network. This connects all Europe projects of Euroga in Holland and NRW. At the southern end you can also reach the corkscrew train to Solingen next to the northern railway line in Wuppertal.

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    This short branch of 2.6 kilometers from the actual panorama bike path Niederbergbahn is a connection to the Euroga cycle path network. This connects all Euroga projects in Holland and NRW and has a whopping 600 kilometers of route network. The route runs over the old Angertalbahn and is completely paved.

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    The Grugatrasse starts in Essen-Steele and leads from there on paved pedestrian / bike path, which mostly leads over an old railway line, in the direction of Essen center. The bike path takes you directly to Gruga, Essen's famous park with exhibition hall. From there you are super fast right in the center. If you follow the path, it will take you to the new RS1 Radschnellweg.

    The total of nearly twelve kilometers long way is nice to drive, is only due to its course usually pretty crowded. Especially on the center-close section, he is often heavily frequented, there is also one or the other bottleneck. Still, a very nice inner-city bike lane that largely lets you forget that you're cycling right through a big city.

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    This cycle path between Essen-Überruhr and Burgaltendorf is the flood bypass of the Ruhrtal-Radweg. He leads 3.8 kilometers on a combined foot and bike path. The Ruhr Valley Cycle Route runs along the route of the old Ruhr Valley Railway, which was one of the most important routes in the heyday of the coal and steel industry. Numerous huts and factories were supplied with coal via this rail between Dusseldorf and Hagen. Today, large sections are passable by bike and the resulting Ruhr Valley Cycle Route is one of the most popular cycling routes in the Ruhr area.

    The path through the green from Überruhr to Burgaltendorf belongs to the project "ESSEN. New ways to the water ". The urban development project aims to network park and green areas as well as water areas and has already started in 2015. Since it is the flood bypass, the bike path runs just under a kilometer over the old railway line. Nevertheless, the low-traffic way is good to ride the bike.

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    Altendorfer Zechenbahn – Bahntrassenradeln

    Bike Touring Highlight (Segment)

    Only a few buildings on the site of the disused colliery Altendorf Tiefbau indicate the past. Here was malocht until 1968. Today, it is the goal of extending the flood bypass from the Ruhr Valley Cycle Route. The railway line was built from Steele to Burgaltendorf and was originally intended to lead to Wuppertal. After the collapse of the mine and the railway line was shut down and 1991, the tracks were dismantled here. The cycle path is a combined foot and cycle path and partially paved. The 3.3-kilometer route runs more than halfway along the old railway line.

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    The route through Altenessen connects two cultural hotspots in Essen. On the one hand, the Carl colliery, which is located directly on the route. Here you drive over a beautiful steel truss bridge. Today, a cultural initiative is at home on the colliery itself. You can visit many concerts and other events here all year round (komoot.de/highlight/205114). Even if there is no event, you can have a great break in the café and enjoy the industrial flair.

    At the other end of the bike path is the Nordsternweg. The bike path starts directly at the coking plant Zollverein. The Zeche Zollverein (komoot.de/highlight/115650) is one of the most popular destinations in the Ruhr area and counts as a major industrial monument to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you can immerse yourself in the history of mining. There are several museums on the site worth visiting. If you are interested in the history of the Ruhrgebiet and the associated industry, you are on the right track on this bike path.

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    The route from Essen-Borbeck to Altendorf serves as a connection to the Radschnellweg Ruhr RS1. The 2.5-kilometer side arm of the "Rheinische Bahn" is to be fully paved in the future, currently it is still rolling on a water-bound ceiling. Unfortunately, a sufficient amount of lighting is missing on a large section. Here only perforce helps the signal lighting of the adjacent railway line.

    On the way you pass the brewery Vampire in Borbeck. The beer garden is a nice place for a break, especially in summer (komoot.de/highlight/132607). A Borbecker steam beer is here a recommendation.

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    Nordbahntrasse – Bahntrassenradeln

    Bike Touring Highlight (Segment)

    For years, Wuppertal was one of the most bicycle-unfriendly cities in Germany, but something is happening now. Mobility initiatives, bicycle clubs and, above all, the Nordbahntrasse are helping the city in Bergisches Land to gain a better reputation. Since opening in 2014, the Nordbahntrasse has triggered a veritable bicycle hype in the city. Almost everything can be reached by bike over the entire valley axis via the old railway line between Vohwinkel and Wichlinghausen. Thanks to the slight incline in the direction of Wichlinghausen, cyclists of all fitness levels can commute on two-wheelers on the 12.8-kilometer route. The Nordbahntrasse serves as a way to work and a leisure route. It is used by both pedestrians and cyclists, cars are not to be found here. Only on a short connecting piece near Wichlinghausen does the path lead over a sidewalk along a road (approx. 550 meters).

    There are more and more nice places to stop for a break along the route. A highlight is the Mirk train station (komoot.de/highlight/171910), which can be found about halfway. Here you can get delicious coffee and cake from Café Hutmacher or good currywurst from the snack bar Schmackes. The area, also known as Utopia City, offers a lot of culture. Concerts, readings, flea markets and festivals take place here around the old Mirke train station.

    The route leads through numerous tunnels, which provide repeated short cooling in summer. At each start and end point, you can expand and combine the Nordbahntrasse in many directions. In Vohwinkel you will find a connection to the panorama cycle path and the corkscrew route. In Wichlinghausen you come to the coal railway, which leads in the direction of the Ruhr.

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    This railway line is really idyllic. The cycle path connects the Wuppertaler Nordbahntrasse and Hattingen, where you can reach the RuhrtalRadweg very quickly.

    The route runs through the middle of the green and is really beautiful. It is not paved, but the well-groomed gravel surface is also passable with the road bike, at least when it is dry. On the way worth a stop in the old Sprockhöveler station, which is located next to the road. There are delicious, homemade cakes, fresh waffles and next door is a health food store.

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    Harkortsche Kohlenbahn – Bahntrassenradeln

    Bike Touring Highlight (Segment)

    Only about three kilometers long, this path is over part of the route of the former railway line from Hagen to the coal mine Schlebusch in Gevelsberg-Silschede. The surface is relatively loose, rather dirt road, as a smooth bike path - no problem in the summer, in the winter or when it is wet, you are very nice. But the route is really beautiful and a great bypass of the main road from Wetter-Grundschöttel to Gevelsberg-Silschede. From the western terminus it is only a few hundred meters to the route "Alte Kohlenbahn" to Schee and thus to the northern railway line through Wuppertal.

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    The next four kilometers of the railway track route were released in August 2017. Very nice: paved from the beginning with design features such as gabions with a cyan-glass layer inside. The northern water-bound section next to the existing Ruhr Valley railway line is already a bit older and serves as a flood bypass of the Ruhr cycle path. Unfortunately, the southern section to Gevelsberg with the Silscheder Tunnel is still to come.

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    Radschnellweg Ruhr RS1 – Bahntrassenradeln

    Road Cycling Highlight (Segment)

    The only piece of RS1 vision that has come true that you can ride on. A dream with quiet zones, separated stripes and often separate pedestrian walkway. Especially the two endpoints are worth a visit, so the Café "Radmosphäre" at the pond and the fully developed end of the track in Mühlheim. Makes you hungry for more and I can not wait for the whole route from Duisburg to Hamm to finish (2030?) ...

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    The connection between the Knappensiedlung and the track park Frintrop leads over a section of the old HOAG railway line. The short cycle path takes you up to the landscaped park on the former freight station Essen-Frintrop and also passes by the house Ripshorst. Here you can explore the Emscher Landscape Park, which also includes the track park. In the old barn of the farm you will find the information and exhibition center for the Emscher Landscape Park. A multimedia exhibition informs here extensively about the landscape park.

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    This bike path leads from Sterkrade via Osterfeld to Halde Haniel. On the first half of the track you will pass the OLGA-Park. Here the Landesgartenschau took place in 1999. A visit to the park is also worth about 20 years later. From here you can also connect to the Gasometer and the Centro. If you prefer to escape the hustle and bustle of the shopping mall, you should continue the way north. The bike path takes you to the Halde Haniel. The "Schlackeberg", named by the people of Oberhausen, has the most beautiful view in Oberhausen in addition to the gasometer. The spoil heap of the Prosper-Haniel colliery rises more than 100 meters in height and offers a 360-degree Ruhrpottpanorama. Incidentally, the Prosper-Haniel colliery was the last coal mine in Germany. Here was end of 2018 shift in the shaft.

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  • © OSM

    This bike path leads from Essen-Kettwig to Mülheim an der Ruhr and roughly follows the course of the old Lower Ruhr Valley Railway. Rough, because the old railway line is only partially available and is actually used in the course of the route only to about four kilometers. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful route, which partially corresponds to the course of the Ruhr Valley Cycle Route. Between Broich and Saarn you cycle over the grounds of the Landesgartenschau 1992, where the railway embankment has completely disappeared. A highlight for railway enthusiasts, however, is the Ruhr bridge south of Mülheim-Styrum.

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    Alte Kohlenbahn – Bahntrassenradeln

    Bike Touring Highlight (Segment)

    This wonderfully quiet bike path leads from Gevelsberg Silschede to Haßlinghausen via an old railway line, where you have access to the Wuppertal Nordbahntrasse and the coal railway to Hattingen. In Silschede, the connection to the Elbschebahntrasse is planned in the medium term, but at the moment you still have to drive a small connection over country roads.

    The track is not paved but thanks to "water-bound ceiling", so compacted gravel, easy to drive - at least in the summer. ;) The path is maintained regularly. At Haßlinghausen, there is even something to eat on the edge of the road and a few beautiful to look at relics of mining.

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    The old tracks around the basin of the Duisburg inner harbor were redesigned to a beautiful path on the water, some of the tracks are still preserved, so you roll over a piece of industrial history again and again. The footpath is also released for bicycles and leads most of the time via composite paving. At the edge of this path lies a large piece of history of NRW: Here is the Landesarchiv NRW (komoot.de/highlight/318520) based. The old granary has 1,200 years of history on 22 floors. Of course the way is not always suitable for everyday cycling, but a nice destination, if you are in Duisburg.

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