Thursday, 28 October 2010

Berlin Grunewald East Running Route

Length: 10 km one way, or 21 km out-and-back (6.2 or 12.5 miles), terrain flat

Berlin Running Routes:
Historic Berlin Mitte  
Tiergarten park 
Kurfürstendamm, heart of West Berlin  
Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin's coolest neighborhood  
Grunewald West  
Grunewald East

Potsdam Royal Residences
Ode to Berlin: my long-running love affair with this great city  
For other running routes, see Route List. And if you're interested in an essay on what makes Berlin so special, take a look at this Ode to Berlin, written in the transition days after the Wall came down.

Pictures by Karl-Heinz Liebisch at www.pixelio.de

Berlin is a great running city. There are large parks, and the city is flanked by easy-to-get-to forests full of lakes, there's the Spree riverfront and lots of historical places. There are hundreds of great routes. I have to say, Berlin has a special place in my heart: I know the place when it was still divided by the wall, serving as the imminent ground-zero for World War III. The city was cut off and largely avoided by any tourists. Most people didn't want to live there, and the whole place had to be subsidized. I ran my first marathon here (see the "My First Marathon" story to get a feeling for what it was like in those days).

My first time in Berlin, I stayed in Lübars, at the northern-most tip of West Berlin, an area with farms and fields, the only place in West Berlin where you needed to turn on your high-beams while driving. There was no wall around the outskirts of West Berlin, just a fence. I ran along the fence, fascinated by the watch-towers, the no-man's-land and the occasional foot patrols. I made of game of hiding in the shadows whenever a Volksarmee patrol came by, not that they could do anything to me. Running routes in the city center along the wall, you could climb wooden stairs placed at various locations, where you could look out over the wall into the greyness of East Berlin, a place with no neon and few streetlights.

But those days are long-gone. Berlin has become a normal city with normal urban problems and delights. And then, as now, one of the great running areas is Grunewald, on the west edge of town. The woods is split down the middle by the Avus autobahn and parallel train line. Both sides are great to run in. There are hills and lakes where you can swim, and trails everywhere.
Grunewald path in springtime
This article deals with the smaller, flatter, east edge of Grunewald. We'll start at the north end, and run down in a southwest slant to end at one of the train stations at the other end. Grunewald is easy to get to, there are a lot of S-Bahn (commuter train) stations and U-Bahn (subway) stops along the whole east edge. We'll start at the Grunewald S-Bahn station, where the S7 stops, at the northern edge of the woods.

NOTE: The route description for the Grunewald West route is found here: Berlin Grunewald West, Germany

The Berlin Grunewald East Route
The Grunewald neighborhood is one of the nicest in Berlin, full of beautiful villas. Even the train station is beautiful. You could spend your run just happily zigzagging around the neighborhood. We'll go down Fontanestrasse a couple of blocks until it runs into Koenigsallee, where we turn right and run straight into the woods after a few blocks.

The road continues on straight through the woods, but that would be a bit boring. So better take one of the left-hand trails leading east to the first lake, Grunewaldsee.

Once you hit the lake, turn left and continue running southwest. This is already the first chance to swim. There's a nudist beach halfway down the beach, and two dog beaches (I kid you not) across the lake. At the south end of the lake, you'll come to the Jagtschloss, the 500-year-old royal Prussian hunting lodge, with some beautiful buildings to look at.
Grunewaldsee
Behind the lodge, at the little parking lot, you'll cross Hüttenweg, and keep running southwest through the woods for another kilometer, and then cross Onkel Tom Strasse (the name is real). After a few hundred meters along some small ponds, you'll hit the next real lake, the Krumme Lanke. If you're there in the summer and feeling like a swim, a little unofficial beach is located right at the head of the lake, on the left. I love just kicking off my shoes and jumping in. There's also another, official, swimming spot at the south end of the lake.
Krumme Lanke in the autumn
NOTE: Click here for a picture at flickr of swimmers at Krumme Lanke.

Wet or not, continue following the lake on either shore, then straight southwest 200 meters to the next lake, Schlachtensee (Battle Lake). There is still another place to swim here, but it's a bit built up. The whole woods is getting narrow here, with houses coming up the east side of Schlachtensee, and the Avus not far to the west. Continue running along the west shore of the lake, with the woods to your right.
Along Schlachtensee
The woods ends at the south end of the lake. We're almost at the end. You can either turn around here and run back, making it a 20-km run, or just take the S-Bahn home from Nicolassee, right around the corner. To do that, you need to keep going south to Spanische Allee, and then go left, under the train tracks, and turn right on Allemannenstrasse, and go straight the 200 meters to the station.

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