Saturday, October 26, 2013

FidEgan's Fastpacks - Episode 4 - The Germany Pick

John and I were on a 2 year trip where we were pursuing our passion of trail running through the various landscapes and environments of the world.  This trail description should have been published months ago but we had to suddenly detour home to the United States for a family emergency and have been distracted since we got back.  As we pass through each country we have been posting our top pick for a trail run that we did. This does not mean that this is the best trail to run in that country. It just means that it was our favorite that we did. We are both using Ultraspire Fastpacks to carry our gear, hence the name of the column.  At the end of November we will be back traveling the world so look forward to trails from Southeast Asia.

Originally we had plans to head to the Alps to find bigger and more scenic terrain to describe but this ended up being a nice runnable trail that gives a good feel for the Odenwald, the Neckar River valley, and the Baden Wurttemberg region in general.

Where: The Neckar Weg. This trail runs from Worms to Gundelsheim with the most scenic part being from Heidelberg to Gundelsheim. It follows the Neckar River which is a tributary of the Rhein.

Facilities/Trailhead: The path runs from village to village along the banks and hillsides of the Neckar River. There are restaurants, beer gardens, and Gasthaus's (inns) in most towns. Camping could be done in the woods along the way.

Having a beer by the river in Neckarsteinach

Fees: None. To take the S-bahn back to where we started was 5 Euros (about $7). The bus is a little cheaper.

Terrain/Trails: The complete variety. Mostly forest roads but there are some sections of trail and some sections of road as you pass through some of the towns. The trail is marked by a blue wavy line on a white square background.

Trail Marker

Distance: 128km from Worms to Gundelsheim. A variety of distances possible.

Description: Germany is a maze of trails and hiking routes throughout the country. The routes tend to be well marked with markers on the trees on a fairly regular basis. The nice thing about this trail is that it runs from village to village along the Neckar River at roughly 10km intervals. There is a train (S-bahn) that runs along the river on a regular basis so you can run as far as you want and then take the train back to do a day trip. These trains run every 30 to 60 minutes. You can also take a bus which is a little bit cheaper. We took the train back when we ran from Heidelberg to Neckarsteinach. The first climb from the Heidelberg Castle to the top of Konigsstuhl (King's throne) is the biggest climb of the day.

View of Alte Brucke, Heidelberg Schloss, and the Konigsstuhle in the background

From then on it is a rolling route through the forested hills. Occasional views break out of the trees to see the river valley below.

View of Neckargemund + Neckar River
Along the way you pass castles (some in more ruins then others) and walled medieval towns like Dilsberg.

Heidelberg Schloss

Medieval town of Dilsberg
Dilsberg Castle
Neckarsteinach and 2 castles
Neckarsteinach Castle
Barges move up and down the river passing through locks along the way. Most of the trail is just running through forest.
Forest gnome
Once we got past the initial Heidelberg Castle and Konigsstuhl area there were very few people on the trail.