Burg Colmberg, Foto: Burg Colmberg Eine der drei Altmühlquellen, Foto: Florian Weindl Burg Colmberg im Winter, Foto: Burg Colmberg Burg Colmberg nachts, Foto: Burg Colmberg Halle in der Burg Colmberg, Foto: Burg Colmberg DB Fahrradservice Bhf. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Foto: Bartlomiej Banaszak, Lizenz: Deutsche Bahn AG Radverleih, Foto: pixabay Diebach Bodenloses Loch, Foto: Romantisches Franken Foto: pixabay-katjasv Geotop Mergelgrube Bellershausen, Foto: Florian Weindl Die Burg Colmberg, Foto: Burg Colmberg Eine der drei Altmühlquellen, Foto: Florian Weindl
Bycicle tour

From Rothenburg around the Frankenhöhe

rest stop
Geologically Interesting
Animals & Nature

A bottomless pit, the best-preserved hilltop castle in Franconia and the source of the Altmühl - this cycle tour across the Franconian Heights offers you a varied programme along the route.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber
8 h
73 km
Key facts of the tour
This 73-kilometre tour will challenge and inspire you at the same time. The route leads over the Frankenhöhe, a mountain ridge around 500 metres high. There are some geological discoveries to be made along the way. The starting point is "Franconia's treasure chest" Rothenburg ob der Tauber with its medieval old town ensemble.

From there, the route continues via Diebach, Insingen and Buch am Wald to Colmberg. Colmberg Castle, situated high on the hill, is now a restaurant and hotel. On the way back, you cross the pretty village of Binzwangen and pass Hornauer Weiher, from which the Altmühl has its source.

Officially, there are two other places that are labelled as Altmühl springs. If you want to just visit one spring and avoid the detour to Insingen, you can shorten the tour to around 60 kilometres.
A cycle tour for nature lovers and connoisseurs

Arrive relaxed and hire bikes from the local hire companies. The capacity for taking bikes on the trains is limited and, depending on capacity utilisation, taking your own bike on board cannot be guaranteed.

Start and end station

Start station
Bhf. Rothenburg ob der Tauber
7 tour steps
73 km / 8 Stunden
End station
Bhf. Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Our tip: Please make sure to check your train connection and the expected capacity before you start your journey.


Tour starts on Bhf. Rothenburg ob der Tauber


DB bicycle service Rothenburg ob der Tauber station

There are 48 bicycle parking spaces in the immediate vicinity of the railway station.

Bahnhofstraße 12
Rothenburg ob der Tauber

DB Fahrradservice Bhf. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Foto: Bartlomiej Banaszak, Lizenz: Deutsche Bahn AG


From the railway station, walk south past the cemetery and take Erlbacher Straße to Bensenstraße, where the bike hire shop is located.

"Rad & Tat"

"Rad & Tat" Rothenburg rents out ladies' and men's e-bikes. Customers can also get advice on tours if required. The hire bikes are customised to the rider. Online bookings can be made on the website www.e-radtat.de, where you can also find pictures of the various bikes. The team can answer questions about prices and other details by telephone.

Bensenstr. 17

Phone: 09861 87984
Email Address: radtat@t-online.de
Tuesday: 09:00am - 06:00pm
Wednesday: 09:00am - 06:00pm
Thursday: 09:00am - 06:00pm
Friday: 09:00am - 06:00pm
Saturday: 09:00am - 01:00pm
Radverleih, Foto: pixabay


You first pass the Spitalbastei, the southern end of Rothenburg's historic town wall - a bulwark with several gates, portcullis and drawbridge.

The route continues along the Tauber towards Gebsattel. There you cross the river and follow a disused railway line.

If you want to take a shortcut, continue past Diebach on the "Alte Bahnlinie" (AB) or "Fränkischer Wasserweg" (FW) cycle path to Unteroestheim, where you will find the "Bodenlose Loch" (bottomless pit) to the south-west of the village. However, the route via Insingen is worthwhile because of the pretty village centre.

Bottomless pit

The "bottomlessness" of this natural monument is not to be taken literally. It is a gypsum karst spring.

Every second, 60 to 80 litres of water flow out of a 6-metre-deep and 8-metre-wide gorge in the middle of the 15-metre-wide pond, the so-called hole. The water contains calcium sulphate, i.e. gypsum in dissolved form. The spring was created by karstification of a layer of gypsum in the ground. The water has to penetrate overlying layers of clay in order to reach the surface. It has found its outlet in the funnel-shaped hole. The blue to turquoise shimmering gorge is overgrown with numerous aquatic plants. The spring water flows into the Tauber via the Oestheimer Bach stream.

Auf der Heiligenwiese

Diebach Bodenloses Loch, Foto: Romantisches Franken


There is also a cosy country inn in Unteroestheim where you can fortify yourself for your onward journey.

Country inn Schwarzer Adler

The "Schwarzer Adler" serves hearty country cuisine. The Wildermann family not only run the rustic inn and hotel guesthouse, but also their own farm. This means that mainly home-grown produce ends up on the menu. Guests can choose between Franconian specialities such as Schäufele and Sauerbraten as well as pork schnitzel or fish - all at moderate prices. Booking by telephone is recommended at weekends.

Würzburger Str. 8

Phone: 09868 845
Tuesday: 10:00am - 02:00pm and 05:00pm - 07:00pm
Wednesday: 10:00am - 02:00pm and 05:00pm - 07:00pm
Thursday: 10:00am - 02:00pm and 05:00pm - 07:00pm
Friday: 10:00am - 02:00pm and 04:30pm - 10:30pm
Saturday: 04:30pm - 10:30pm
Sunday: 09:00am - 03:00pm
Foto: pixabay-katjasv


After Bellershausen, follow the cycle path "Radschmetterling Blauer Flügel" (RsB). In the immediate vicinity of the next village, another geological attraction awaits you: the Bellershausen marl pit. Behind the village, a dirt track leads to the geotope.

From the edge of the pit, you also have a wonderful view of the Frankenhöhe and Schillingsfürst Castle in the neighbouring village of the same name.

Bellershausen marl pit geotope

The artificial pit was once used to extract marl. Marl is an important raw material for cement production and was also used in agriculture in the past to make wet fields passable. The individual layers of rock can still be clearly recognised in the pit. The layers, which range from a few centimetres to over a metre thick, can be easily distinguished by their colour and structure. Crumbly marl and clay shale are predominant, interspersed with small banks of marlstone and isolated thin layers of gypsum. A board at the edge of the pit provides information about the formation and structure of the layers of earth.

Geotop Mergelgrube Bellershausen, Foto: Florian Weindl


The route now runs through woods and fields to the south of the Frankenhöhe. Shortly before Schönbronn, you pass the idyllic Rothenburg-Schönbronn golf park. Shortly before Frommetsfelden, you reach the Altmühl valley. Flanked by the strongly meandering river, you now cycle into Colmberg. The castle, which towers high above the town, beckons from afar.

Colmberg Castle

The medieval Colmberg Castle is located on a spur in the Altmühltal valley, 35 metres above Colmberg. It is considered one of the best-preserved hilltop castles in Franconia. The Hohenstaufen emperors developed Colmberg into an imperial castle. The lower part of the palace and the 35 metre high keep date back to the 12th and 13th centuries. After the end of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, a rather inglorious chapter began at Colmberg Castle. Poorly remunerated bailiffs wreaked havoc here. The fortress was outlawed as a castle of robber barons. In 1318, the Hohenzollerns acquired the castle, which remained in their possession for almost 500 years. Today, the historic walls house a hotel and a Franconian speciality restaurant with a fireplace room and conservatory, from where you have a magnificent view over the village of Colmberg and the Altmühl Valley.

An der Burgenstraße

Phone: 09803 91920
Email Address: info@burg-colmberg.de
Die Burg Colmberg, Foto: Burg Colmberg
Burg Colmberg bei Nacht, Foto: Burg Colmberg
Aussicht von der Burg Colmberg, Foto: Burg Colmberg, Lizenz: Burg Colmberg
Burg Colmberg, die Bibliothek, Foto: Burg Colmberg
Burg-Kapelle, Foto: Burg Colmberg


As you leave Colmberg, you will enjoy beautiful views of the western side of the castle.

The path now leads past small ponds, the wooded Eichberg and a 300-year-old oak tree that stands right on the edge of the path.

After Ober- and Unterhegenau, you reach Binzwangen. This is a district of Colmberg with half-timbered houses worth seeing.

From there to Hornau, you cycle along the Altmühl again, which has its source in the area around Hornau.

One of the three Altmühl springs

The Altmühl is one of the slowest rivers in Germany and flows into the Danube. It also has 3 sources. Which one is the right one has been the subject of much debate. Two springs lie to the north of Hornau and flow into the Hornauer Weiher. A third spring emerges from the pond in the south. This was recognised as the official Altmühl spring in 1904 by the "Royal Bavarian Hydrotechnical Bureau in Munich". A large stone marks this spot today. There is also an inn at the pond, whose speciality is baked carp.

Hornau 37

Phone: 09843 1435
Email Address: buchung@gasthof-altmuehlquelle.de
Monday: 11:30am - 02:00pm and 05:30pm - 09:00pm
Wednesday: 11:30am - 02:00pm and 05:30pm - 09:00pm
Thursday: 11:30am - 02:00pm and 05:30pm - 09:00pm
Friday: 11:30am - 02:00pm and 05:30pm - 09:00pm
Saturday: 11:30am - 02:00pm and 05:30pm - 09:00pm
Sunday: 11:00am - 02:00pm
Eine der drei Altmühlquellen, Foto: Florian Weindl

Tour ends on Bhf. Rothenburg ob der Tauber


The route also leads to the two other Altmühl springs, which are located just above Hornau in the village of Erlach and at the Hirschteich pond.

If you want to stop at one spring and shorten the route by around 7 kilometres, you can cycle via the idyllic village of Windelsbach, sometimes along a beautiful stretch of forest.

On the last stretch, you cycle relaxed down the Frankenhöhe back to Rothenburg.

From Hornau at the latest, you can follow the "Tauber-Altmühl-Radweg" (TA).

Tour map


Bhf. Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Bahnhofstraße 12

91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber

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