The Odenwald is located in the centre of Germany at the gates of the Rhine-Main region. It is easily accessible and still offers the full package of bikepacking adventure! When bikepacking in the Odenwald, you can expect wonderfully remote gravel tracks, cosy little villages, really tough climbs, great views and rapid descents. And virtually right on your own doorstep! We, at least, were pretty enthusiastic. Was genau wir alles erlebt haben, kannst du in unserer Ausgabe #22 nachlesen. Here we have compiled all the facts to help you plan your own Odenwald bikepacking adventure.
Bikepacking in the Odenwald – Overview
Bikepacking in the Odenwald – the route
There are numerous forest and farm trails in the Odenwald, so you can also let off steam with your own planning. We based our planning on the recommendation of Naturpark Neckartal-Odenwald e.V., which has created an exciting-sounding Odenwald Crossing from its existing network of trails. It starts in Weinheim, ends in Walldürn and gives us around 3,000 metres of elevation gain over 150 kilometres. That’s quite a house number!
The route can easily be divided into three sections. Part one runs more or less parallel from Weinheim along the Upper Rhine Plain to Heidelberg. Part 2 begins here, roughly following the course of the Neckar as far as Eberbach. From here – in the third section – you dive deep into the Neckartal-Odenwald Nature Park until you reach the eastern edge of the Odenwald, where the route ends in Walldürn.
Neckartal-Odenwald Nature Park Crossing – Arrival & Departure
As befits lifeCYCLE Magazine, we are of course travelling by train. That works pretty well: both Weinheim and Walldürn are well connected to the railway network. For us, Aschaffenburg has proved to be a hub for travelling to and from the tour. It takes around 1.5 hours by train from here to Weinheim, and the regional train from Walldürn takes around the same amount of time. As our bikepacking adventure in the Odenwald is a one-way route, travelling there and back by train is doubly practical. Because if you park your car at the start of the route, it would take quite a long time to get back there after the tour.
There are also good rail connections between Weinheim and Heidelberg and between Heidelberg and Eberbach. This gives you a “backup” for large parts of the route in case your plans change. This also allows you to cycle the sections of the route individually and then simply take the train back “when you’re done”. As you can see, in the Odenwald you have maximum flexibility and can “knit” your adventure exactly as it suits you.
Gravel biking in the Odenwald – what can you expect?
You’ll find out what awaits you in the first few kilometres: plenty of metres of elevation gain and some really tough climbs! We certainly worked up quite a sweat from time to time. But that’s not all, of course. Because where there are lots of uphills, you can also look forward to fast descents. And on wonderful high-level trails with magnificent views. You’ll even pass a few lookout towers along the route. You should definitely climb the Teltschik tower on the first stage!
The paths on this route are mainly off-road. Most of the time you ride over flawless gravel. A single trail awaits you here and there. Asphalt passages are rather rare. For long stretches, it feels as if you are travelling far away from civilisation. Nevertheless, you will always pass through a village that is suitable for a break, a refreshment stop or a shop. So it’s a colourful mix that awaits you. And a pretty perfect mix of seclusion and short urban detours.
The right bike & luggage for bikepacking in the Odenwald
As described above, you may be travelling in a wonderfully remote location, but you will still pass through small or large towns where you can get everything you need. In fact, you don’t really need to bring much food with you. We would still recommend a few backup bars: It’s easy to underestimate the topography of the Odenwald. If it takes a little longer and the mountain doesn’t want to end, you might be glad of a little extra energy!
What else you pack depends on your accommodation concept, of course. We did it 50/50: one night in a hotel, one night outside with a tent. It was therefore clear that we had to squeeze our tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag and camping gear into our bikepacking bags. Apart from that, we recommend taking a look at our bikepacking packing list, which we always use as a guide when packing.
About the bike itself: We were travelling on “normal” gravel bikes. We had both put on slightly thicker tyres, which is a good idea. As I said, you are mostly off-road and only rarely on tarmac. In this respect, tyres with a little comfort and grip can’t do any harm. There is one thing we would have liked: a slightly more mountain-friendly gear ratio. We had fitted a 42 or 44 chainring in combination with a 10-42 cassette. This pushed us together with our luggage to our limits on some of the climbs. In our opinion, slightly smaller chainrings would not have hurt.
Gravel bikepacking in the Odenwald – Accommodation
The Odenwald really does have many and very different types of accommodation to offer. From campsites and official trekking sites to hotels and guesthouses, all requirements should be catered for. We had no problems booking accommodation. Although we were travelling during the autumn holidays, the main travel season in the Odenwald was apparently already over. Generally speaking, there was very little going on in the villages – ideal for anyone who doesn’t fancy the hustle and bustle!
Two tips for overnight stays: Firstly, it’s worth taking a look at the ADFC’s Bed and Bike website. We have had consistently good experiences here so far and the hotel for our first overnight stay is also listed there. Secondly, there are the aforementioned legal trekking spots in the Odenwald. Here you can pitch your tent, cook your soup and even go to the toilet with a clear conscience. All spots are equipped with well-maintained composting toilets. The overnight stay costs 12 euros and you have to book in advance. In return, you can expect camping with a little extra comfort! You can find more information about the Odenwald Trekking Camps here.
Bikepacking im Odenwald: Die Route im Detail
We have summarised some more information about the individual stages below. Here you can find our route on komoot as well as tips and information for breaks on the route or short detours. If you want to follow the entire route, you can also jump directly to our komoot Collection. The original route, as recommended by the Neckartal-Odenwald Nature Park, can be found here.
Stage 1: Neckartal-Odenwald Nature Park Crossing from Weinheim to Neckargemünd
Highlights on the route include the Teltschik observation tower and the city of Heidelberg. There are picnic benches at the tower – maybe bring a small snack with you? Heidelberg definitely has what it takes for a longer break – so you can plan some time here. The historic old town is really charming, and there are also numerous places to stop for refreshments. A view from the Königstuhl is of course also a highlight – but you have to work hard to earn it! If you run out of time at the end (like we did), you can skip the long climb to the Königstuhl and do the last few kilometres along the Neckar to the stage finish at low speed.
Regional producers along the route
- Quince Project Bergstrasse, the arch project from Weinheim
- Organic milk and cheese from Herbig Hof
- Hilsemerin beekeeping experience
- Weißer Stein: high-altitude restaurant with beer garden
- Neckarriedkopf Hütte Neckargemünd (only open at weekends)
- Neckargemünd: Flowers and Café Florale Art & Design
Stage 2: Neckartal-Odenwald Nature Park Crossing from Neckargemünd to Wagenschwend
If you’re not in the mood for a hefty climb early in the morning – which is where the Odenwald Crossing route usually begins – or you simply fancy a bit of “river romance”, do as we did: instead of diving straight into the forest, we followed the Neckar from Neckargemünd for a while. The highlight here is definitely the four-castle view in the Neckar bend near Neckarsteinach. From there, the route takes you past orchards up to Mückenloch, where you are back on the original route.
Highlights today: The absolute peace and quiet in the forest. Lunch break in Eberbach. Shopping in Oberdielbach. Sleep on the trekking site.
Regional producers along the route
- Dilsberger Landseifenmanufaktur, Obere Straße 1, 69151 Neckargemünd-Dilsberg, email@example.com
- Organic farm Danzeisen in Moosbrunn
- Seifert mill in Allemühl
- The cider house in Oberdielbach
- Hofgut Robern (around 2 kilometres from the trekking spot, open on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings)
- Dilsberg mountain fortress (longer diversions) with refreshment stops
- Various restaurants in the old town centre of Eberbach
- Camping site Eberbach
- Hotel Karpfen, Eberbach
- Holiday village Waldbrunn
- Freya Hütte Waldbrunn
- Trekking Camp Waldschlössel
Stage 3: Neckartal-Odenwald Nature Park Crossing from Wagenschwend to Walldürn
Stage 3 on our Neckartal-Odenwald Nature Park bikepacking adventure is very relaxed – perfect for “coasting” and ideal for not arriving home so late. Our highlight: the long descent into the Sauertal valley. There are a few nice “sights” along the route if you feel like it. At your destination in Walldürn you will find all kinds of places to stop for a snack, so that you can bridge the time until the train departs with a refreshment/reward.
Regional producers along the route
- Hof Edelmann in Mülben (goat’s cheese from the farm’s own dairy, eggs from the farm’s own pedigree poultry)
- Potato bakery in Mülben
- Spa stud farm Hoher Odenwald in Mülben
- Poultry farm Dammbach
- Landgasthof zur Mühle in Waldbrunn (short diversions)
- Sockenbacher Hof Inn in Strümpfelbrunn
- Gasthaus Odenwald in Strümpfelbrunn
- Hotel Drei Lilien in Mülben
- Café Weis in Mülben
- Gasthaus zum Engel in Mülben
- Various restaurants in the old town centre of Buchen
- Restaurant/Hotel Zum Riesen in Walldürn (more upmarket ambience)
- Gasthof Hirsch in Walldürn (traditional inn, regional cuisine)
- Zum Burgtörle (regional cuisine, guesthouse)