A fairytale journey through Central Germany – Schwalm Cycle Path

Bike Touring Collection by Hannah
2-3 days
2-3 h / day
66.7 mi
1,300 ft
2,400 ft

Lose yourself amongst enchanting landscapes as you cycle the Schwalm Cycle Path through Little Red Riding Hood’s country in Central Germany. Following the banks of the River Schwalm for 65 miles (104 km) from its source until it meets the River Eder, you will visit mystical castle ruins and magical scenery. You ride across the Hesse low mountain range which featured in the German folklorists’, the Brothers Grimm, fairy tales. With a little luck, you may even bump into the girl with the red hood on your journey.

This Collection, guides you along the Schwalm Cycle Path in three stages, each varying in length from 20 to 25 miles (32 - 40 km). You can ride them as individual day trips or together as a weekend adventure. The route is suitable for all abilities from beginner to sport-enthusiasts. The first stage includes rapid descents, whilst the second and third stages are mostly flat.

The path takes you through an idyllic fairytale world far away from busy roads. From the Schwalm spring, you ride through the magnificent Vogelsberg forest and down into the valley. Next, you’ll visit an extinct volcanic area and medieval villages until you reach Little Red Riding Hood’s home in Schrecksbach, the endpoint of stage one. On stage two, the trail continues along the Schwalm’s winding river bank, past extraordinary nature reserves, to Bad Zwesten, a spa town with seven natural springs. The last stretch takes you to glistening swimming lakes where you can spot rare birds. Finally, you ride along the picturesque Schwalm Estuary to the three-castle town of Felsberg, concluding your fairytale journey.

There are various accommodation options in the stage destinations Schrecksbach, Bad Zwesten, and Felsberg where you can sleep in a tent, hotel, or holiday apartment. You’ll also be well catered for en route at one of the many wonderful restaurants, or you can picnic in the beautiful nature.

The route is easy to reach by train via Mücke (Hess) or Lauterbach (Hess) Nord stations.
From Mücke, you can take the bus ALTVB-76 or 78 to Ulrichstein Lindenplatz in about 20 minutes. In Lauterbach, you can catch the ALTVB-24 to Meiches. From Ulrichstein or Meiches, a short cycle brings you to the Schwalm spring. On the return trip, you can take the regional train from Felsberg to Frankfurt or Kassel.

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

    21.7 mi
    10.0 mph
    400 ft
    1,350 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Your cycle tour along the Hessian Schwalm begins at its source, where it takes its course as a hardly noticeable trickle. The source is about nine kilometers from Ulrichstein between Köddingen in the Feldatal and Meiches. These places have no train station and can only be reached by bus. The Vogelsbergbahn RB 45 from Gießen to Fulda runs via Mücke (Hess) and Lauterbach (Hess) Nord. In Mücke you can take the bus ALTVB-76 or 78 to Ulrichstein Lindenplatz in about 20 minutes. In Lauterbach the ALTVB-24 drives to Meiches, from there it is only two kilometers to the desired source.After you have reached the source, you can look forward to grandiose descents on the Vogelsberg on your today's stage, so that the 35 kilometers will fly by. The Vogelsberg is one of the Hessian low mountain ranges and is the largest volcanic area in Central Europe, but has been extinct for millions of years. After six kilometers you will reach Storndorf, where the Schwalm has already grown into a stately stream. From here on the Schwalm cycle path runs along its idyllic banks.On your way through the Schwalmtal you pass the pretty village of Hopfgarten, which was mentioned in documents in 812. The village church houses one of the oldest baptismal stones in Germany and there is an oak that is over 900 years old. After about seven kilometers you will reach the fairytale resort of Alsfeld. Here you can take a break in the beer garden directly at Erlenteich or immerse yourself in the worlds of the Brothers Grimm in the fairy tale house.
    The route continues along the Schwalm, always with a slight slope. The idyllic benches in the meadows and fields on the Schwalmufer invite you to a delicious picnic. Your milestone Schrecksbach will beckon you soon. The idyllic community is also known as the home of Little Red Riding Hood. The village has a special charm and the inns offer Hessian delicacies as well as rooms for overnight guests. You can view this at schrecksbach.info/tourismus. In the local history museum you can marvel at exhibits of Hessian village life and traditional German costumes.

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    24.9 mi
    9.8 mph
    550 ft
    675 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Your second stage takes you 40 kilometers from Schrecksbach to the spa town of Bad Zwesten. It starts at the foot of the Metzenberg and past Schönfeld, where you can look at the beautiful chapel that towers on a basalt cone over the valley. You can climb here to admire the chapel up close and enjoy the view of the valley. The Schwalm bike path now leads you through small towns and the vast field landscape, following the winding course of the Schwalm.
    After about six kilometers you cycle past the nature reserve Storchenteich past the Schwertzellsgraben, where you will most likely meet one of the pounding journeyman. Incidentally, there are 19 different types of storks that are common on all continents except the Arctic, although some species of stork are considered endangered. A little further you cycle past the Ziegenhain glider airfield and can see, when the weather is suitable, how the small gliders rise into the air.
    You reach Treysa via meadows and dirt roads. In the pretty little town you can admire the idyllic half-timbered houses and the ruins of the Totenkirche, which is a listed building. If you want, you can also stock up on provisions here, because the Schwalmweg leads you along a nature reserve and through lush green meadows, where you can find great places to rest. In Schlierbach you can make a detour to the Alte Molkerei and let yourself be spoiled with homemade cakes. Then you cross the Schwalm and continue on dirt roads through the rural area, through the picturesque villages of Waltersbrück and Bischhausen, where the pretty Schwalm mill stands.
    You will soon reach your milestone in Bad Zwesten. The Kurpark lures with the Löwensprudelquelle. Seven springs with different water qualities originate here, a phenomenon unique in Europe. In this spa you will also find a Kneipp facility, several spa clinics and an exercise pool with sauna. For overnight stays, you can discover great accommodations from family-run inns and pensions to chic star hotels. The beautiful forest campsite on the edge of the Kellerwald Nature Park, which is surrounded by the Schwalm, is right on your way.

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  • Difficult
    20.1 mi
    9.0 mph
    350 ft
    400 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The last stage takes you 32 kilometers to the three-castle town of Felsberg. You start cycling at the foot of the Altenburg mountain, from the top of which you have a magnificent view of the Schwalmtal valley. The Schwalm Cycle Path runs through corn fields to the river, and after a few kilometers you reach the Stockelache natural swimming lake. Past the tranquil village of Kleinenglis, the bike path leads you to the Schwalmufer, and you drive past Lake Gombether, where you can enjoy beautiful views and bird watch. Directly behind is Lake Singliser, which is known as a surfer's paradise and where you can also swim.Now you continue cycling through the fields and through the small, traditional communities of Unshausen and Harle. Not much is missing, and you can see the mouth of the sponge in the distance, and directly behind it the Altenburg castle ruins are perched on a basalt plinth. With a view of the Altenburg, you cross the Schwalm one last time before it merges with the Eder and thus continues your way north.Along the Eder, you can reach Felsberg in a few kilometers, where the Schwalm bike path ends. But you can still discover a lot, such as the three castle ruins with their exciting stories, the monastery ruins or the bee center. In these special places you can end your journey through the magical Schwalmtal and let this special atmosphere work for you again.If you want to spend the night in Felsberg, there is a campsite at Ernst-Schaake Bad, as well as holiday apartments, hotels and inns, which you can see at felsberg.de. The return trip from here is possible without any problems, because at the station in Felsberg the RE 98 goes to Frankfurt, and the RB 39 to Kassel, from where you have good connections.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    66.7 mi
  • Duration
    06:56 h
  • Elevation
    1,300 ft2,400 ft

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