Bikepacking in the Upper Palatinate Forest

Mountain Biking Collection by Martin Donat

Sometimes, you find hidden treasures in unexpected places. During the Cold War, when the border between East and West was still strictly guarded, the forbidden border ridge between the Fichtel Mountains and the Bavarian Forest lay forgotten. No one thought that the Upper Palatine Forest would be re-discovered by mountain bikers years later.

Today, bunkers and border fences no longer dominate the landscape. Instead, you will find deep valleys, ancient castles and ruins, extensive forests and romantic villages. Here, you can exhaust yourself on flowing trails and crisp climbs by day, and tuck into a hearty meal at the local ‘Zoigl’ by night. In this Collection, I have put together an adventure through the Upper Palatinate Forest to help you get to know this true jewel in eastern Germany with your bike and backpack.

The route starts between Fichtelgebirge and Oberpfälzer Wald in the beautiful Marktredwitz. From here, you will first ride south through the Vorderen Oberpfälzer Wald until you reach the turning point of the route at Vohenstrauß. The way back directly follows the border between Germany and the Czech Republic most of the way, returning to the starting point in the north. You will cross the Upper Palatinate Forest twice, getting to know the area in-depth.

Mountain biking in the Upper Palatinate Forest makes your muscles work. The trails are rarely flat, leading up and down over the landscape. You’re therefore guaranteed variety, as well as burning calves.

For this reason, I have kept the stages short. You’ll have enough time for a break or two and you can make the most of the spectacular views along the trail. The Upper Palatinate Forest has a lot to offer in terms of landscape and also culturally. If you prefer to sit on your bike all day long, the 221 kilometres (137 miles) of this Collection can, of course, also be ridden in fewer stages.

At each of the stage destinations, there is at least one nice and very down-to-earth overnight accommodation. I have mostly included campsites, but many also offer comfortable camping pods or holiday apartments. It’s up to you how much luxury you want to include in your trip; from a cozy holiday to a bikepacking experience close to nature.

You can easily reach the start of your adventure, and return home, by train. Marktredwitz is well-connected by rail and has connections across Germany and Europe, meaning you can leave your car at home stress-free

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    04:11
    30.3 mi
    7.3 mph
    2,300 ft
    2,600 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Your journey through the Upper Palatinate Forest begins at the train station in Marktredwitz, where you change from the train to your bike and reach the banks of the small river Kössein after just a few meters. Following him, you leave Waldershof on the left. If you take a look to the right here, you will see the headquarters of the large German bicycle manufacturer Cube. Today you will also get to know its home trails.The first part of the stage leads you steadily uphill to the Weißenstein ruin at an altitude of 863 meters. The ruin is enthroned between bizarre rock formations, of which you can still see a few on the way through the Upper Palatinate Forest. You can climb a steep staircase to one of the old towers and enjoy the wide view of the surroundings.A nice descent takes you to the "Land of 1,000 Ponds". Your driving technique is not required here, but it is really nice. One or the other small lake is even suitable for swimming (for example the silver lake or the Kipp bathing lake), so that you can plan a short break including cooling off in the water. Passing the Falkenberg Castle, you now drive into the idyllic Waldnaab Valley, where the trail leads between impressive boulders. The cozy log cabin invites you to stop here before you take the last few kilometers to the stage goal. There is a campsite there where you can set up your night camp. You can also rent an apartment in the courtyard next door. Alternatively, you can find various accommodation options in the nearby Windischeschenbach.

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  • Intermediate
    03:55
    27.7 mi
    7.1 mph
    2,600 ft
    2,225 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    After a quiet night at the campsite, at the beginning of the second stage you follow the course of the Waldnaab, which meanders through its beautiful valley. Only the highway, which is always in sight at first, disturbs the idyll a little. But behind Neustadt you turn your back on it and can look forward to a wonderfully quiet ride through the green. From now on it goes up and down, again and again you have a great view of the valley.Today's highlight is the Vierlingsturm at 633 meters. The view here is not so impressive because everything is overgrown, but here is a nice place for a break. Because at the foot of the tower, the Strobelhütte invites you to stop. At weekends and on Wednesdays you can fortify yourself with rustic home cooking.Then a few flowing trails, but also some crisp climbs await you. That's how it is in the Upper Palatinate Forest - if you want it flat, you'd better go to Holland. Magnificent forest passages and again and again these unique rocks create an atmosphere that is worth every effort. In addition, you can already look forward to today's stage goal: In Vohenstrauß, several Zoigl parlors are waiting to beautify your "end of the day". In and around Vohenstrauß you will find all kinds of inns and holiday apartments to stay overnight.If you cannot decide where you want to stop, here is a little decision-making aid or a small excursion into the Upper Palatinate beer culture. There is a traditional identifier for serving "Zoigls" there. It is the six-pointed Zoiglstern, which consists of two equilateral triangles, which were once intended to symbolize the elements involved in brewing fire, water and air as well as the ingredients water, malt and hops. Where this star is, you can be sure to get a hearty snack and a delicious beer.

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  • Intermediate
    02:46
    20.4 mi
    7.4 mph
    1,700 ft
    1,550 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    After two quite demanding stages, you can take a deep breath on the third day in the Upper Palatinate Forest. Today's route is a little shorter and not as hilly, but no less beautiful. Today you drive through wildly romantic valleys, along quietly rippling forest streams and past many beautiful natural and cultural highlights. Today you have enough time to look at everything in peace.You could plan a first longer break for the cozy place Pleystein. Its townscape is characterized by the striking rose quartz rock, which rises up in the center and which houses the beautiful pilgrimage church, which you can see during a relaxing break. If you prefer a secular break, you will also find cozy cafes and restaurants where you can fortify yourself.We continue through the picturesque Zottbach Valley. The way through can be totally relaxed and the landscape is really beautiful here. It leads you in the direction of Georgenberg and thus for the first time on this tour very close to the Czech border. The Gehhammer mill invites you to a lunch break before the only longer climb of the day calls up the Schellenberg. When you have made it, you will pass an old bunker - a piece of history you can touch.The striking rock formations on the Bückelberg herald the last part of the day. From now on you can roll your bike relaxed to the stage goal at the Gaisweiher. There are apartments, "glamping" accommodations in wooden barrel shape or just a tent meadow. You can find refreshments and shops in the nearby Flossenbürg. If you are already here, you can also take a detour to the Schlossberg with castle ruins.

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  • Difficult
    04:31
    31.9 mi
    7.1 mph
    2,950 ft
    3,125 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    "The journey to the center of Europe" - this could be the title for the fourth stage through the Upper Palatinate Forest. Today you actually pass two places that each claim to be the center of our continent. This is due to different calculation methods and the best thing of all is the wonderful landscape and the beautiful trails, which give you a really nice bike tour again today.The fourth stage always runs more or less parallel to the border to the Czech Republic, sometimes even directly on it. So you can look forward to a border experience in the truest sense of the word right after completing the first long climb and also on a really varied trail over the border ridge. After you have passed the Waldnaabquelle, a nice descent down to Bärnau begins, where you can treat yourself to a little breakfast break at the bakery or in a café.It continues: Just a short distance along the road and you're back on the border path, which leads you up and down in a slight up and down to the second center of Europe. Here, too, an information board and a memorial stone are a good opportunity for a short break and if you want to enjoy a beautiful view of the mountains again, a small detour to the 939-meter-high Tillenberg is worthwhile. Up here is the transmission tower of the same name, which once provided military reconnaissance and is now home to a radio station. The area secured with barbed wire provides a nice portion of Ostalgie charm.Via beautiful trails and past a trout farm you finally come to the Platzermühle campsite, today's stage destination. Here you can pitch your tent or book your apartment in advance. In nearby Bad Neualbenreuth you will find further accommodations as well as shopping and dining options. If you feel like relaxing, the Sibyllenbad at the Kurpark in the west of Bad Neualbenreuth is ideal.

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  • Intermediate
    03:26
    26.9 mi
    7.8 mph
    1,675 ft
    1,725 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    On the fifth stage you leave the highlands of the Grenzkamm and make your way back to Marktredwitz. Once again, a varied up and down awaits you, typical Upper Palatinate Forest, but a bit "tamer" than yesterday's stage. Perfect for enjoying the beautiful area again and slowly saying goodbye.Today, everything the region has to offer is once again there: fine trails, a mix of forest and meadows, wildly romantic brooks and cozy towns such as Wernersreuth or Mitterteich. The highway, which you still know from the first stage, heralds the last section of the tour. But before you reach the starting point in Marktredwitz, a nice long climb is waiting for you: At the Großer Teichelberg, it's up again to almost 700 meters. Above you can take a look at the site of a former basalt quarry, which gives you interesting insights into the geology of the mountain.Arrived in Marktredwitz you can look back on five really great bike tours in a unique area. Not always easy, but always simply beautiful! If you still have time, a trip through the beautiful old town of Marktredwitz is worthwhile. You will definitely find a cozy café or restaurant here to strengthen yourself. If you go home by train, you can bridge the time until departure in this way, because it is only a few meters from the old town to the train station.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    5
  • Distance
    137 mi
  • Duration
    18:49 h
  • Elevation
    11,225 ft

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