Sweet and Sauerland

  • Distance

    142 Mi.

    (229 KM)
  • Days

    3

  • % Unpaved

    75%

  • % Singletrack

    4%

  • Difficulty (1-10)

    5

  • % Rideable (time)

    99%

  • Total Ascent

    18,534'

    (5,649 M)
  • High Point

    2,776'

    (846 M)

Contributed By

Lothar Linse

Lothar Linse

Guest Contributor

Hailing from Cologne, Germany, Lothar’s first bikepacking journey was a four month trip through New Zealand 20 years ago. His first day he rode 30 kilometers and promptly sold the extra books, guitar, 501s, and blue chucks recently purchased in San Francisco. The Passion for nature, climbing, mountaineering, photography and cycling has been there ever since! Follow Lothar on instagram @lothar.linse.

Sweet and Sauerland is a three-day bikepacking loop in the midwestern German region of Sauerland, well known for its hiking and biking. The region is crossed by two one-way hiking trails, the 230 km Sauerlandhöhenflug and the 157 km Rothaarsteig. This route combines parts of both tracks to create a loop through a remote, forested setting with many scenic viewpoints along the way.
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Starting and ending near Cologne, the Sweet and Sauerland is designed as a weekend escape out of big city life and into nature. The region consists of many expansive forests, small villages, and beautiful landscapes. In winter, it is one of just a handful of areas in midwestern Germany that offers skiing. Along the route, you’ll pass by a few small ski areas with ski lifts.

The region is very hilly, and its highest point is Kahler Asten, a popular 842-meter peak. In ancient times, the region was called Suderland, only later becoming known as Sauerland. “Sauer” in German translates to “sour” in English, and we thought the name was fitting for the route, given its sweet and sour mix of steep climbs, scenic vistas, and fast descents.

The route is rated 5 of 10 in terms of difficulty. There are no significant logistical problems and civilization is almost always nearby. All you’ll need is some physical fitness.

  • Highlights

    camera

  • Must Know

    alert

  • Camping

    home

  • Food/H2O

    drop

  • Trail Notes

    signpost

  • Countless scenic viewpoints
  • The 360° panoramic view from the Kahler Asten
  • One of the biggest wooden chairs in the world
  • Ziegenhelle and Heidekopf Towers, each with good shelters
  • The historic  town of Bad Berleburg, with its famous Castle Berleburg, built in 1258
  • Passing through an impressive ski jump area
  • The best time to ride this route is between May and September.
  • The route consists mostly of unpaved wide forest roads and the descents are quite steep. A gravel bike with at least 40mm tyres or a hardtail mountain bike is recommended.
  • The route starts and ends at a parking lot in in Meinerzhagen.
  • Summer temperatures can be hot during the day and chilly at night up high, so pack accordingly.
  • There are a few camping places at Biggetalsperre, a reservoir near Meinerzhagen, but no other established campsites directly on the route.
  • You’ll find many accommodation options in Meinerzhagen, Eslohe, Wenholthausen, Oberhenneborn, Hallenberg, and Bad Berleburg.
  • The region around Kahler Asten is very popular amongst hikers and bikers on nice weekends, so please be courteous.
  • When following the route clockwise, the first day has many steep downhills. Make sure your brakes are in good shape!
  • Except at the the Biggetalsperre Reservoir, there are no camping grounds directly on the route.
  • You’ll find lodging in the villages of Wenholthausen, Reiste, Obersorpe, Altastenberg, Hallenberg, Bad Berleburg.
  • You pass plenty villages with options for food and water.
  • Small creeks and rivers abound. Filtering this water is strongly recommended because of nearby cattle grazing.
  • There are supermarkets in Meinerzhagen, Eslohe, Hallenberg, and Bad Berleburg.

The route starts and ends in the town of Meinerzhagen. It lies in the west of Sauerland and can easily be reached by train or by car. The tour begins and ends at a public parking place which is especially designed for hikers who are walking the Sauerlandhöhenflug.

Riding clockwise, we spent the first night somewhere between Wenholthausen and Kirchlipe. The first day is mostly on gravel. There are several hotels and restaurants in the villages of  Wenholthausen and Oberhenneborn, as well as several supermarkets in Eslohe, though reaching them requires a small detour off the route.

On the second day, you pass the highest point Kahler Asten. On nice weekends, this scenic viewpoint can be crowded with hikers, motorcyclists, and other tourists. This was the only area where we encountered lots of people, the rest of the route felt quite remote, with almost no people.

The two panoramic towers you pass after Hallenberg (a town with supermarkets, hotels, and restaurants) offer a good places to shelter for the second night. There is also an open hut in between them. Beware of the very steep climb after Hallenberg up to the first tower—don’t buy too much beer for the night!

The third day has less gravel, but still plenty of climbing. The town of Bad Berleburg offers  supermarkets, hotels, and restaurants, and is a good place to stop for breakfast.

When you pass the ski jump (you can’t miss it) at the end of the third day, you know you’ve successfully made it to the end of the Sweet and Sauerland.

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