Wednesday 4 April 2012

Düsseldorf Stadtwald Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 8.44 km (5.2 miles), terrain hilly

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

See the other running routes here

The pictures were taken in early spring, 2012, so you'll have to imagine how much more beautiful the route is in summer!

NOTE: If you like this running area, you can follow any of the 4 official loop trails through the woods. A1 through A4 are well marked, ranging between 2.5- and 10-km. You can get a nice map here: 

Düsseldorf has a lot of nice running choices: either running various routes along the Rhine River and the old town on the west side, or head for the wooded hills lining the east side of the city. This route goes through the Stadtwald (town forest), made up of the Grafenberger Wald and the larger Aaper Wald, just north of it.

The beautiful old beech-woods are honeycombed by trails, and there are a lot of other interesting things out among them: a deer reserve, the horse-race track, a glider-landing strip, ancient stone-age megalith circles (Frauensteine), etc. Some of the trees are 250 years old. The sand hills here were deposited by the Rhine River ages ago.
Along the A2 trail in Aaper Wald
It's really hilly, so be prepared for a few climbs. This will basically be a north/south loop through the woods. Much of the way will follow parts of the four main trails (A1 to A4).

We'll start out at the south end of the Stadtwald, at the corner of Grafenberger Allee and Ludenberger Straße. There is a tram station here called Burgmühlerstraße, serviced by the 709, 703, and 713 lines. There is a little street calld Bismarkweg leading east from the intersection that takes you right into the woods. After a block, the street ends and the path upwards into the woods begins.
Run up this street, Bismarkweg
The first few hundred meters go uphill. Bismarkweg is paved with grey, packed-clay. Just stay on the grey path. You are following the A4 path at the moment.
Heading up Bismarkweg
Bismarkweg climbs to the left, cresting the hill, gaining about 50 meters altitude in total. When you reach a little hut (more just a rain shelter), turn right on Wanershofer Weg and head straight along the crest of the hill. 
Head up here at the first shelter
You will soon connect into the A3 path and then come to the Trotzhofallee, a wider, gravel way. You'll see a stone marker on the right.

Turn left on Trotzhofallee and follow it until it ends by merging into the street that borders the woods on the east, Rennbahnstraße (race track street). You will see the Rolandsburg Hotel on the right side and the Zum Trotzhof beer-garden on the left.
Rolandsburg hotel and Trotzhof beer-garden
Now follow the street for the next 200 meters until Rennbahnstraße makes a sharp left turn and heads downhill. Don't follow the street to the left, but keep going straight, past the little parking lot for hikers, up the little paved road with the open fields on your right.

We are now in the northern part of the Stadtwald, the Aaper Wald. There are 2 paths that loop through this part, A1 and A2. A1 is the longer loop, but I like A2 better: it snakes along the hilltops, with beautiful, constantly changing views. The A1 trail spends a lot of time going along the bottom of the hills nearer to surrounding streets.

So, basically, you can just follow the trail signs for the A2 for the next 4 km. If you look to the right over your shoulder, you'll see the modern trotting race track behind the Rolandsburg Hotel.

When you get to a little playground with a shelter, turn left and follow Dachsbergweg to the northwest. To the right of the playground, you can see the glider-plane landing strip out on the meadow.

You will come to a cross-path after about 300 meters. Now the A2 turns left to follow the crests, where the A1 turns right to take a longer route. This is the northernmost point of our run. Now we start heading south again.
Turn left here to continue on the A2
So turn left and follow the A2 path as it zig-zags along the hilltops. The forest department has done a nice job of creating little ponds and other ecological habitats up here, and there is a nice view over Düsseldorf at one point. There are a few paths going down to the right, heading down the little valleys. One, the Wilhelm-Suter-Pfad, will take you to the Frauensteine monoliths, if you're interested, but you'll have to head back up again.

Just keep following the A2 until it comes back out at the little parking lot for hikers again, about 2 km later.

Now, re-trace your way back up Rennbahnstraße to the Zum Trotzhof beer-garden. At the front of the building, though, turn right and run downhill down the gravel road, called Rolander Weg. This is the first gravel road that I've seen that's full of Porsches.

We are now following the A4, which we'll follow all the way back to the start.

At the end of Rolander Weg, the A4 path turns left and goes up a sand hill, then downhill again behind a tennis club.
The last stretch on the A4 in Grafenbergerwald
The path is rougher here, back in the Grafenberger Wald. After some winding around the hills, the path starts one, last uphill stretch for 300 meters. It's used as a sledding hill in the winter. Sorry about that. I know it's tough at the end of a run, especially for us flatlanders. I ended up walking more of it than I ran. What the heck, I'm turning 60 this year.

When you get to the top of the hill, you'll find yourself at the first shelter that we saw early in the run. Now, just go straight past it on Bismarkweg, as the path curves back down to the start again.

Hey, where WAS that beer-garden, again?


  1. Hi Keith,

    The "Aaper Wald" is one of my favourite trainings sites. I used it for preparation to some trail running competitions, e.g. Rennsteiglauf.
    I'm impressed by the very detailed documentation of the routes in your blog.
    Just give me a hint when you plan to run next time in the Aaper Wald, I will try to join.

    Keep on running!

  2. Hey Pulsmesser, I hope I get back to Düsseldorf again soon then: I look forward to running with you! --Keith