Monday, 1 August 2011

Düsseldorf, Both Sides of the Rhine Running Route

Click here for route map 
Length: 9.7 km (6 miles), terrain flat except for bridge ramps

Düsseldorf Running Routes:
Königsallee/Altstadt/Rhine  
Gerresheim hills  
Both Sides of the Rhine  
Rhine Harbor Route  
Stadtwald forrest run  

See the other running routes here

NOTE: This was a drizzly evening, hope you get better weather...

Düsseldorf has always turned its face to the Rhine River. Most of the interesting spots in town are just a stone's throw from the riverfront, and it's a great place to run.

This run does a loop along both sides of the Rhine by way of two bridges. It begins in the Altstadt (old town) and runs north along the Rheinpark to the Theodor-Heuss bridge, crossing over to Unterkassel, then follows the Rheinwiesen southwards (Rhine pastures) back to the Rheinknie (Rhine-Knee) Bridge to bring you back to the south end of the Altstadt.

The route starts right in the heart of the Altstadt, at the old market square in front of the renaissance-style town hall, with the statue of Prince-Elector Jan Wellem on his horse. The side street, Bolkerstraße, is the main Altstadt hangout in the evenings, lined with restaurants and pubs, absolutely bursting with revelers when a trade-show is in town. Jan Wellem used to go drinking at the En de Canon pub around the corner.

Town hall at the old market
To start the run, just stand face-to-face with Jan Wellem and take the side street to the water on the left side of the square, past the fountain with the spitting geese. In just 100 meters you'll be on the riverside promenade at the stone clock tower. This promenade was a brilliant idea in city planning. Until 1995, a busy street ran along the river here, but then it was put underground in a tunnel. The riverfront is back in the hands of the people, now a quiet place to hangout, lined with waterside bars.

The Rhine promenade, looking in direction of run
Turn right and just follow the gravel path north between the two lines of sycamore trees. You'll run past the old palace tower, the only thing left when the palace burned down 150 years ago.

NOTE: You can stay up along the promenade or run down closer to the water's edge, whichever you prefer.

You'll soon go under the Oberkasseler bridge and then pass the round, art-deco Tonhalle concert hall and the Kunstpalast art museum buildings. After all, Düsseldorf is Germany's leading art center.

Clubhouses along the Rhine
You'll also soon pass the classical state government building, with the eagle on top. There are also some barges tied up along the shore here and used as clubhouses for water-sports clubs.

Along the other side of the river you can see the grassy pastures. Düsseldorf's biggest carnival, the Kirmes, is set up on the grass there every July. They were just taking it down when I last ran through there.

On your side of the river, you'll soon come to the Rheinpark. And the bridge that you see coming up ahead is the one to take over to the other side for the return to the Altstadt.

Soccer game at the Rheinpark
At the far end of the park, you will see the spiral ramps to take you up to the bridge sidewalks. You can run across either side, but let's assume you run up the nearest one, with the view back to Düsseldorf.

View back to the city from the Heussbrücke
When you get to the other side, the bridge continues for a long way, over the grasslands into the town of Unterkassel. Take the first ramp down on the left, and it will come out at an old, red, half-timbered house. Run down the little street, Alt Niederkassel, going past various nice old houses in Unterkassel.

Houses in Unterkassel
Turn left at the first chance to turn left to get back to the riverside, Kanalstraße. The street ends at the grassland, and you just keep running straight, taking the little path past the garden parcels. You won't go hungry here. The way is lined with blackberries, rosehips and sallow thorn (sanddorn). My feet forced me to veer to the berries every few meters. I was lucky, the blackberries were the sweetest I've ever tasted!

Path into the Rheinwiese
In the pasture, you can turn right on the paved path up on the dike, or run down closer to the river, on a little dirt path. You can even run along the beaches but after a while you'll probably grow tired of running up and over the many jetties.

Along the shore in the Rheinwiese
Run under Oberkassel bridge again. When you get to the Rheinknie bridge, you'll have to run to the right to get on the ramps going up to the bridge. Only 2 of the 4 ramps have a sidewalk for pedestrians and bicyclists. You'll easily see which ones have the sidewalks.

Joggers on the Rheinknie bridge
The bridge is used by a lot of joggers and cyclists. You will run towards the television tower at the other side.

NOTE: At night, the tower hosts a 24-hour clock made of lights that count the current time, down to the seconds. See if you can figure it out -- it always takes me 10 minutes to see what lamps are counting what!

The TV tower with the state parliament building to the left
When you cross the river, you have to take the pedestrian ramps down to the ground. Once there, you are on the promenade again, just run to the water's edge and run back into the Altstadt with the water on your left side. Once you reach the stone clock tower, turn right and run the 2 blocks back to the market square.
Last bit of the run back to the Altstadt