Mountain biking in the Rureifel


This morning I headed out into my local woods in the hope that I would be back before the storm started. That was of course hopelessly optimistic and before too long I was reminded of the last time I was out in torrential rain, in the Rureifel this summer. The Rureifel is the bit of the Eifel nearest to the Netherlands, just a few kilometres south-east of Aachen and very close to the Belgium border, by the national park Hoge Venen/Hautes Fagnes. However, the landscape is surprisingly different from all those areas and also quite different from other areas of the Eifel, like the Chalk Eifel. It is excellent mountain biking terrain, with something for everyone, ranging from relatively easy (but beautiful) circuits around the lakes which were formed by damming the river, to quite substantially steep slopes like the ones shown in the above photo. Meyer & Mommer's excellent book, 'Mountainbiken in der Eifel' has got 6 tours in the region, starting in Nideggen and in Simmerath (but of course you can start half way along, at the point closest to where you are staying). Tour 14 was the best in my opinion. It is both challenging (the maximum of five stars for condition and for technique as well as 1300 height meters) and includes an assortment of stunning views. You can download the GPS here, view the track here, or get it from GPSies here. An area which is not covered in that book, probably because it has only recently been opened to the public is the 'Dreiborner Hochfläche" by 'Vogelsang'. This was a military zone until quite recently, which means that they are strict about you staying on the trails. The mountain bike routes include significant climbs and descents, but they are not so technical.  However, the adjacent footpaths are more interesting, and when we were there with very few walkers. It is certainly well worth exploring and has a wilder feel about it than the carefully managed forests elsewhere. We had avoided this area of the Eifel for many years under the impression that it would be unbearably touristy.  We were staying next to the pretty village of Heimbach, which is indeed full of tourists, but like a lot of places, as soon as you cycle more than 5 minutes away from the road you can go for hours with barely seeing a soul. The Rureifel was certainly worth a visit and I'm sure we will be back.