Best Gravel Rides in Germany
From the mighty Alps in the south to the wide-open plains in the north, this list of the best gravel rides in Germany will make planning your next off-road adventure easy.
With only 14% of its total land covered by settlement, the vast majority of Germany is rolling farmland, lush forests and ancient mountains. Thousands of kilometres of gravel roads and dirt trails weave their way through the countryside offering car-free cycling for new and experienced riders alike. Whether you’re looking for a one-day ride or a week-long bikepacking epic, this list of the best gravel rides in Germany has the right route for you.
1 DAY GRAVEL RIDES
The Lake Starnberg Route – Starting and finishing on the wide boulevards of the Bavarian capital, this 63-kilometre route makes its way out of Munich down to the beautiful Lake Starnberg and stunning views of the Alps. After stopping at the lake for a snack and a beer, the path follows the River Würm back into the city. If you have the time, make sure to stop at the tranquil Insel-Mühle beer garden for a Hefeweizen before hitting the road and returning to the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Lake Constance Gravel Giro – Located at the intersection of Germany, Switzerland and Austria, the Lake Constance or ‘Bodensee’ Gravel Giro is a route and annual event that takes ambitious riders across 109 kilometres of pristine South German gravel. After tackling most of the climbing through the foothills of the Alps, the route drops down to Lake Constance where you can hop off your gravel bike for a quick swim and grab some grub before riding the final 30 kilometres back to the finish.
Grunewald Gravel Ride – Square on the doorstep of the German capital, the Grunewald is one of the most popular riding spots in Berlin. Riders can pedal the roads to the start of the route or hop on the train to dodge any traffic. Once out in the woods, the 42-kilometre path weaves along trails, gravel and some pavement before reaching the shores of Lake Wann (Wannsee). There are ample opportunities for swimming and plenty of spots to stop for food and drink. Look out on the weekends though as the Grunewald is a popular escape for hikers and cyclists alike.
Black Forest Peak Trail – Nestled deep in the fairy tale forests of Baden-Württemberg and a short 40-kilometre drive from Freiburg (the sunniest town in Germany), the Black Forest Peak Trail shares much of the same DNA as the famous Gravel Rallye event. The Canyon truck will be there in summer 2021, but if you miss out on that, it’s worth doing the route anyway. Beginning at the Neustadt train station, the route takes a mix of singletrack, gravel road and bike path up and over scenic ridge lines and down past multiple lakes that are ideal for a quick, mid-ride cool down. Don’t forget to sample some Black Forest Cake to fuel up post-ride.
Thuringian Forest Gravel Ride – Located in the heart of Germany, the Thuringia forest features a network of well-graded gravel roads perfect for riders new to cycling off road. This 78-kilometre route begins with a visit to the small town of Bad Salzungen before making its way up into the woods and onto the famous boardwalks of Hainich National Park. The path eventually leads to Mühlhausen from where you can either head back the way you came or take a train to the start.
2 – 4 DAY GRAVEL RIDES
Lost-In-Brandenburg Loop – Weaving its way through the old pine forests and former East German towns of Brandenburg, this multi-day route starts and finishes in Berlin and makes an excellent introduction to both bike camping and gravel riding. Over 249 kilometres and 1,218 metres of climbing, riders will have the opportunity to test out their bikepacking bags, explore forgotten double track roads and escape the noise of the city without sacrificing the luxury of popping into a small town for afternoon cake and coffee.
Sweet and Sauerland – Pulling sections from the popular Rothaarsteig mountain biking trail and combining them into a 229-kilometre route that starts and finishes just a short drive outside of Cologne, the Sweet and Sauerland is a 3-to-4-day adventure for the very experienced cyclist. Covering 5,649 metres of climbing, riders and their gravel bikes will be treated to breathtaking views of the North-Rhine-Westphalian countryside and undisturbed stretches of remote double track.
Mainfranken Graveller – Crossing over the rolling countryside of the Mainfranken region in central Germany, this route and self-supported event can be done as both a 470- or 660-kilometre version. Unlike other routes in Germany, the main focus of the Mainfranken Graveller is to send riders into the fields and forests of the region while avoiding as many small towns and cities as possible. The route can be broken up and done in smaller sections or attempted in one go by ambitious self-supported gravel racers.
The Rhinetal Route – Exploring the rolling hills around Koblenz and Canyon HQ, the Rhinetal route brings riders through idyllic wine valleys and over the highest climbs in the Eifel region. Pedalling over 266 kilometres and 5,329 metres of climbing, the route takes a good three to four days and presents a solid challenge for more committed gravel riders. Enjoy the green hills, quiet villages and old castle ruins before returning for a beer at the Deutsches Eck and a coffee at the Canyon Showroom once the pandemic has ended. Maybe even come test ride a Grail if you’re not already on one.
THE BIG ONES
Bohemian Border Bash – Moving seamlessly through Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland, the Bohemian Border Bash is a 1,300-kilometre route and race that circumnavigates the ancient, forgotten borders of Bohemia. Starting and ending in the Saxony Switzerland region of Germany, the path offers the rugged experience of a multi-day bikepacking trip in a more-remote county right in the heart of Europe. Riders are welcome to race or pedal the parcours on their own time. Check out the camp and event if you want the full Bohemian experience.
Hanse Gravel – Based on old trade routes that once connected German port cities on the Baltic Sea, the Hanse Gravel route is a 605-kilometre point-to-point cycling adventure. Starting in Hamburg and finishing in Stettin on the polish border, riders are treated to a mix of gravel roads and sandy dirt paths that lead their way through the open fields and forest of northern Germany’s coastal plains. With only 2,500 metres of climbing, the route can be easily split into a seven-day trip with overnight options in the old merchant towns along the way.
Trans Germany – Crossing the entirety of the Bundesrepublik, the Trans Germany route starts on the Swiss border before travelling a whopping 1,642 kilometres to the finish at the white cliffs of Rügen on the Baltic Sea. Mixing rolling gravel roads with the occasional technical trail, the path takes most participants at least 14 days and is only suitable for experienced riders. While the route focuses on remote places, it passes through numerous towns and could easily be tackled in chunks!
About Canyon Bicycles
What started off as life in founder Roman Arnold’s garage as Radsport Arnold has evolved into one of the world’s leading manufacturers of road, mountain, triathlon, fitness, urban and kids’ bikes as well as modern e-bikes. Officially renamed in 2002, Canyon works hand-in-hand with the best athletes on the planet to produce an array of award-winning bikes that embody a pure passion for riding. With a strong reputation for true innovation, implementing leading technologies, clean and clear design as well as the highest standards in quality and service, Canyon continues to expand worldwide, selling more bikes outside of its native Germany than within since 2008. As a pioneering direct sales brand, Canyon products are exclusively available online at www.canyon.com.