Mountainbiking in the Hochwald

Hochwald is an area in the Southwest of Germany, on the border of both Luxembourg and France. That means it is a bit off the beaten track. It is hilly to mountainous  (valleys at 250, tops 700m) and with vast areas of forest (the name means 'high forest'). If that sounds to you like it would be an excellent location to take your mountain bike, then you would be right. There is a good network of signed trails and if you travel a half hour or so to the West there is a trail network based around Sankt Wendel (famous for being a previous location of the mountain bike world cup).Typical Hochwald landscape.  Near Bonerath on MTB route 2.

The official routes are all available as GPS from gpsies.com and also as printed leaflets available from tourist information offices.  The leaflets are with good quality maps, height profiles (a bit small) and detailed instructions.  The only thing they lack is information about what the surface (tarmac, gravel, singletrack etc) is like. It is certainly not enough to expect to be able to follow the signs as some are missing or damaged (see below), some are overgrown and some are a bit hidden.  If you do not have GPS, the map and description should do.

There are three categories of track (blue, red and black).  There is only one blue route, and it has nice views, but all tarmac. If you are used to the flat Netherlands then even the blue route feels very hilly, so this can be a good one to start with. The black routes are tougher than the red routes, partly because they are longer, but also because they have more interesting surfaces.  Quite a lot of the red tracks are on gravel forest roads, whereas the black ones have more singletrack. The roots on the photo above are a good example. However, the black routes are also rather long, which is all very well, but not so convenient if you want to combine mountain biking in the Hochwald with a family holiday. Fortunately that is easily solved, most can be cut short (see some examples on gpsies).

 

As the name implies, the Hochwald has a lot of forest. Much of it is conifers, with huge trees and fern understory reminiscent of the Black Forest. But there are also large areas of varied mixed and broadleaved woodland.

 

There are a couple of areas which are rather special.  The Wadrilltal has very impressive nature, including a couple of beaver dams, and a magnificent medieval half-ruined castle, which you can climb all over. Quite a few of the official routes run through or across that valley, which was definitely a good decision.

The Ruwertal (below) has fewer mountain bike routes running through it, although the long distance cycle path going to Trier does pass that way, but if you venture off the official routes and follow some footpaths/bridleways then there is both some challenging cycling and really beautiful landscapes.