Combine culture and nature on a hike in the Spessart. Along the European Cultural Trail, you can learn more about the regional railway and industrial history of the Spessart.
A hiking tour for explorers, families, culture vultures and nature lovers
Our tip: Please make sure to check your train connection and the expected capacity before you start your journey.
From Laufach railway station, follow the sign of the European Cultural Routes for the entire tour: a yellow EU boat on a blue background - here with a railway in the centre. Take Bahnhofstraße in an easterly direction. After crossing the Laufach stream, continue uphill on Buchenlandstraße until you reach the path halfway up, which runs above the Düker ironworks.
Above Laufach, it is worth pausing for a moment. From here, the view of the village and the surrounding area is particularly beautiful. At the same time, this is where the changed route of the railway line through the Spessart began in 2017, for which a total of four new tunnels were bored.
Laufach has its origins in iron ore and is one of the oldest industrial locations in Germany. Industrialisation in the 19th century changed the situation in the region considerably. Production moved to urban centres such as the Rhine-Main area, leaving the people of Spessart behind and impoverishing them. However, the construction of the Würzburg-Aschaffenburg railway line kept the Laufach factory's order books full until 1854. With the completion of the "Ludwigs-Westbahn" railway between Bamberg and Hanau in October 1854, a new change began. The Spessart communities were connected to the wider world and living conditions improved.
The railway line and tunnels are still visible in the landscape today. In 2017, the Schwarzkopf Tunnel, which opened in 1854, was closed and a completely new route was bored through the main ridge of the Spessart.
Have you had your fill? Then continue along the railway line to the Spessartrampe leisure and recreation facility, where you will have the opportunity to eat your fill. If the weather is good, you can enjoy a hearty meal at the "Seebachblick" restaurant (Tel. 06093 993180).
The construction of the railway caused major changes to the Seebachtal valley within 100 years. In 1854, the embankment of the railway line cut through the valley. A viaduct, called the Chausseebogen, formed the passageway for the Seebach and today's B26. A sports field was built in 1958, followed ten years later by the Seebachtal leisure and recreation area.
In 2013, the railway construction work for the new tunnel began with the filling of the entire area. The former leisure area disappeared under the backfill, and the viaduct was given a modern bridge alongside it. A new leisure centre has now been created on the site of the former tennis club, including a geological stone trail and geo-lodge.
The culturally and historically significant railway connection will not be forgotten, but will remain visible in the design. To this end, the last passenger transport on the old line brought a local railway carriage to the leisure area. The line was then finally closed and the rails removed. The wagon has remained and serves as an information centre, providing information about both the construction project of the century 160 years ago and the new line.
Im Seebachtal 1
Laufach/ OT Hain
The tour crosses under the railway tracks and leads to the Laufach district of Hain. The young building contractor Philipp Holzmann, who carried out his first major contract here, took up residence at the entrance to the village during the construction of the railway. His company Holzmann later became the largest German construction company and one of the major global players.
The route continues through the Schwarzbach valley, along the water for a while and then uphill at a moderate gradient. On the way, it is worth taking a detour to the "Panoramaplattform Bahn" cultural trail station before taking another detour to the "Tunnelportal West".
In the middle of the 19th century, the construction of the 926 metre long Schwarzkopf Tunnel presented engineers and miners with major challenges. The tunnel was to be constructed with virtually no incline and the geographically shortest mountain crossing point was chosen. Geologically, however, this location was unfavourable because numerous water veins ran through the rock. This resulted in considerable maintenance costs. In 1957, the line was electrified and the tunnel extensively remodelled. After the end of railway operations in 2017, the hard work of the miners was reversed and the tunnel is now filled in for safety reasons.
You climb a little further uphill to the literal highlight of the tour. A wonderful viewpoint awaits you at the Pollaschdenkmal.
The memorial at Pollasch is located 400 metres above sea level. Located on the road between the "Sieben Wege" junction and Heigenbrücken, it commemorates 140 Spessart friends who died in the First World War and calls for peace. The memorial dates back to 1927 and stands out due to its very modern design, which is kept simple and modern. The Spessartbund commemorates its dead there every year on the second Sunday in October.
The impressive view from Pollasch extends far into the Laufach and Aschaff valleys, over Aschaffenburg to the Odenwald. In 1934, a hut was built here in memory of the head forester Christian Wodianka, which still offers hikers shelter today.
From Pollasch, the route descends quite steeply at times through dense Spessart forest - initially parallel to the road and then on a comfortable forest path. It's just as well that there is an opportunity to cool off at the entrance to Heigenbrücken. In 1929, a spring swimming pool was opened at the bottom of the valley, which was a much-visited attraction for decades. In 2009, the natural swimming pool was reopened after extensive modernisation work. You can cool off from the inside, enjoy fresh local cuisine or savour culinary delights right next door at the Landgasthof Hochspessart (Tel. 06020 - 9720) or the Villa Marburg (Tel. 06020 979990).
While iron ore was the main source of development at the starting point of today's tour, glass production used to be the main industry in Heigenbrücken, the destination and now a climatic health resort. There was plenty of red quartz sand and wood here to provide energy for the glass melting process.
Take a look at the old Heigenbrücken railway station from 1890 with the second tunnel portal, before finally heading to the new stop on the railway line.