Burg Colmberg Eine der drei Altmühlquellen Burg Colmberg im Winter Burg Colmberg nachts Halle in der Burg Colmberg DB Fahrradservice Bhf. Rothenburg ob der Tauber Radverleih Diebach Bodenloses Loch Foto: pixabay-katjasv Geotop Mergelgrube Bellershausen Die Burg Colmberg Eine der drei Altmühlquellen

From Rothenburg around the Frankenhöhe

A bottomless pit, the best-preserved hilltop castle in Franconia and the source of the Altmühl - this cycle tour across the Frankenhöhe 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 challenges and inspires 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 tour continues via Diebach, Insingen and Buch am Wald to Colmberg. Colmberg Castle, situated high on the mountain, is now a restaurant and hotel. On the way back, you cross the pretty village of Binzwangen and pass the Hornauer Weiher, from which the Altmühl rises.

Officially, there are two other places declared as Altmühl springs. If you only want to visit one spring and do without the detour to Insingen, you can shorten the tour to about 60 kilometres.
A cycling tour for nature lovers and connoisseurs.

Arrive relaxed and use rental bikes from the local rental companies. The capacities for taking bicycles on the trains are limited and taking your own bike on the train cannot be guaranteed, depending on the capacity.

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 station.

Bahnhofstraße 12
Rothenburg ob der Tauber

DB Fahrradservice Bhf. Rothenburg ob der Tauber


From the station, walk south past the cemetery and take Erlbacher Straße to Bensenstraße, where the bicycle rental shop is located.

"Wheel & Deed

"Rad & Tat" Rothenburg rents out ladies' and men's e-bikes. If required, customers can also get advice on tours. The rental bikes are individually adjusted to the riders. Online booking is possible on the website www.e-radtat.de, where you can also find pictures of the different bikes. Questions about prices and further details can be answered by the team on request by phone.

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


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

Along the Tauber you head towards Gebsattel. There you cross the river and follow a disused railway line.

If you want to shorten the route, continue past Diebach on the "Alte Bahnlinie" (AB) or "Fränkischer Wasserweg" (FW) cycle path to Unteroestheim, where the "bottomless pit" can be found southwest of the village. However, the route via Insingen is worthwhile because of the pretty village centre.

Bottomless hole

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

From a 6-metre-deep and 8-metre-wide gully in the middle of the 15-metre-wide pond, the so-called hole, 60 to 80 litres of water gush out every second. The water contains calcium sulphate, i.e. gypsum in dissolved form. The spring was formed by karstification of a gypsum layer in the soil. The water has to penetrate layers of clay above it to reach the surface. It has found its outlet in the funnel-shaped hole. The bluish to turquoise 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


In Unteroestheim there is also a cosy country inn where you can fortify yourself for the onward journey.

Country Inn Schwarzer Adler

The "Schwarzer Adler" serves hearty country cuisine. The Wildermann family not only runs the rustic inn and hotel guesthouse, but also their own farm. This means that mainly home-grown products end 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. At weekends, booking by telephone is recommended.

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 sight awaits you: the marl pit of Bellershausen. Behind the village, a field path leads to the geotope.

From the edge of the pit you also have a magnificent 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 mine marl. Marl is an important raw material for cement production and was also used in agriculture in the past to make damp fields passable. The individual layers of rock can still be clearly seen in the pit. The layers, which range from a few centimetres to over a metre thick, can be easily distinguished by their colouring and structure. Most of the layers are friable marl and clay slate, interrupted by stone marl beds and isolated thin layers of gypsum. A plaque at the edge of the pit provides information on the formation and structure of the layers of earth.

Geotop Mergelgrube Bellershausen


The route now runs south of the Frankenhöhe through woods and fields. Shortly before Schönbronn, you pass the idyllically situated Rothenburg-Schönbronn Golf Park. Shortly before Frommetsfelden you reach the valley of the Altmühl. 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 Altmühl Valley, 35 metres above Colmberg. It is considered one of the best-preserved hilltop castles in Franconia. The Staufer emperors extended Colmberg as an imperial castle. The lower part of the palace and the 35-metre-high keep still date from the 12th and 13th centuries. After the end of the Staufer rule, Colmberg Castle entered a rather inglorious chapter. Poorly paid bailiffs wreaked havoc here. The fortress was outlawed as a robber baron's castle. 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 fireside lounge and conservatory, from which 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
Burg Colmberg bei Nacht
Aussicht von der Burg Colmberg
Burg Colmberg, die Bibliothek


When you leave Colmberg, beautiful views of the west side of the castle open up to you.

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

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

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

One of the three Altmühl springs

The Altmühl is considered one of the slowest rivers in Germany and flows into the Danube. It also has 3 sources. Which one is the only correct one has been the subject of much debate. Two springs lie north of Hornau and flow into the Hornau pond. A third spring rises from the pond in the south. In 1904, the "Königlich Bayerische Hydrotechnische Bureau zu München" (Royal Bavarian Hydrotechnical Bureau in Munich) declared this to be the official source of the Altmühl. 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

Tour ends on Bhf. Rothenburg ob der Tauber


The route also leads to the two other Altmühl springs, which are located a little above Hornau in the Erlach settlement and at the Hirschteich pond.

If you want to leave it at a visit to one spring and shorten it by about 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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