Two huge meteorite craters, wide field and meadow landscapes, wildly romantic forested plateaus of the Swabian Alb and cosy river valleys with inviting bathing lakes await you on your bike tour from crater to crater. In addition to the unique landscape and magnificent nature, charming villages, pretty half-timbered towns, impressive monasteries and castles provide cultural variety. The cycle path "From crater to crater" leads through the middle of this diverse landscape and is recommended by the ADFC in the brochure "Discover Germany by bike" thanks to its beauty and uniqueness.
The cycle path "From crater to crater" runs from Nördlingen through the Nördlinger Ries, the Steinheimer Becken and over the eastern Swabian Alb on a 185-kilometre circuit. Both the Nördlinger Ries with a diameter of 25 kilometres and the Steinheimer Basin with a diameter of four kilometres were created over 14 million years ago by a meteorite impact. These two almost circular craters, which are considered geological sensations, are the main protagonists of the four-day cycle tour.
In Nördlingen, the only German city with a completely intact, walkable city wall, the circuit begins, which is divided into the one-day east round and the three-day west round. The laps can also be driven individually, as they both lead through Nördlingen. You can reach the Bavarian city in the Nördlinger Ries comfortably by train. From there you start your bike tour on the Ostrunde, which leads you through the Geopark Ries. Afterwards you go on the Westrunde, which takes you over the eastern Swabian Alb and the Steinheimer Becken back to Nördlingen.
You can ride the entire route in four pleasant stages. In all stage destinations you will find a good selection of overnight accommodations as well as restaurants and cafés to stop off in. You can also stop again and again along the route and take cosy breaks in rustic inns. As you can see, these are the best conditions to fully enjoy your bike tour from crater to crater through the Geopark Ries and across the eastern Swabian Alb.
In Nördlingen begins the tour that takes you from crater to crater. In the beautiful Bavarian city, which is the only German city still surrounded by a complete, walkable city wall, you come comfortably by train. From there it goes on the first round through the Nördlinger Ries, a huge crater, which was created over 14 million years ago by a meteorite impact.In front of the gates of Nördlingen you will find wide fields that stretch out like a colorful patchwork carpet in front of you. On quiet paths you cycle on the almost flat stretch through the picturesque landscape of the huge crater. Variety is guaranteed by charming villages, which will take you to Wemding on the way. Wemding is located on the crater rim and is ideal for a first break. In the beautiful old town cozy restaurants and cafes await your stop.Freshly strengthened, you cycle again through the wonderful open field and meadow landscape. Meanwhile, on the right you can enjoy the view of the wooded crater rim. Finally you reach Oettingen, where you can have a relaxed coffee break in the small marketplace. After Oettingen you return to the middle of the Nördlinger Ries and cycle through the flat, open landscape over the slightly elevated Wallerstein back to Nördlingen in the district of Baldingen. From here it is only a stone's throw back to the city center of Nördlingen, where you will find plenty of accommodation. At the end of the day, a visit to the Riescrater Museum is also worthwhile to learn more about the history and origins of the Nördlinger Ries.
Starting from Baldingen, you set out today for the Western Tour, which will lead you out of the Nördlinger Ries right at the beginning.Behind Baldingen you dive right back into the beautiful, open field landscape of the Ries. After a few kilometers, the flat landscape gives way to some hills that form the crater rim. Past the monastery Kirchheim am Ries and the Ipf with the Celtic open-air museum you erradelst you altitude meters for altitude. On the way up to the Härtsfeld it is worthwhile to look back once more and to enjoy the wonderful view of the more than 600 meters high Ipf and the Alptrauf.Once on the high plateau of the eastern Swabian Alb, you can relax a bit and take a leisurely cycle on a relatively flat stretch through peaceful forest and wonderfully wide fields. The only place you cross on the plateau is Elchingen on the Härtsfeld. Here are some restaurants if you want to stop off. To crown the stage, you will enjoy a rapid descent into the stage destination Oberkochen.
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The third leg of the Crater Bike Tour takes you today to the Steinheim Basin, another meteorite crater that was probably created at the same time as the Nördlinger Ries.Behind Oberkochen you cycle through a shallow valley until you reach the Schwarzen Kocher and then along the Ziegelbach. As soon as you reach the first foothills of Königsbronn, you turn west and climb on quiet paths through shady forest back to the Swabian Alb. Also on the plateau you can expect wildly romantic forest. In a large clearing you can let your eyes wander over picturesque fields and take a break in the place Zang, before you dive again in the silent forest. Once you have left the wooded plateau behind you, you are again standing on a crater rim. Before you spreads the Steinheimer basin. In a rapid descent, it goes to Steinheim am Albuch, where you can take a well-earned rest and cozy.After a small loop through the shallow pool you climb the crater rim again and dive into a beautiful forest that leads you to the edge of the Brenz Valley. In a spirited downhill you drive down to the Brenz and finally cycle comfortably on its shore to the final destination Schnaitheim.
Today, the fourth stage of the bike path "From crater to crater", which brings you in regular ups and downs back to the starting point to Nördlingen.Behind Schnaitheim you climb over wide fields and through beautiful forest on the first hill. A comfortable descent brings you to a small, open plateau, where you can make a detour to the pretty Nattheim. Another climb through the forest separates you from a long descent to Dischingen. In the village you will find restaurants and cafes if you feel like having a drink. Shortly after Dischingen you reach the Härtsfeldsee, which invites you on hot days to a cool bath. Not far from the lake is also the castle Katzenstein, to which a detour is worthwhile.Afterwards, the bike path on the banks of the Egau leads you gently uphill to Neresheim. Here you can gather strength with a cup of coffee and a piece of cake to master the last big climb of the stage. It goes uphill over wide fields. At the highest point, at 633 meters, you cycle through a refreshingly cool forest. Then it goes through a forest path on a long descent back to Nördlinger Ries. In the wide plain of the crater you drive on the bank of the Eger to the finish of the tour to Nördlingen. Here you can once again admire the historic old town with the impressive city wall, before you start your journey home from the station.