Friday 22 February 2013

Friedrichshafen Lakeside Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 14.7 km (9.1 miles), terrain flat
(Route can be cut shorter as you please)

For more running routes, see Route List.

Friedrichshafen is an interesting place: located on the shore of beautiful Lake of Constance (Bodensee in German), it's a wealthy town with a lot of industry, especially in aerospace and vehicles. The town is proud of its aviation- and automobile pioneers: Count Ferdinand Zeppelin built his airships here, the Dornier aircraft factory created flying boats and their intriguing vertical-takeoff airplanes, Wilhelm Maybach created Germany's most renowned luxury cars. Now Zeppelin sells construction equipment, ex-Dornier builds satellites. Ex-Maybach (MTU) builds huge specialty diesel motors here. ZF (a Zeppelin offshoot) creates the best transmissions in the world.
The Stadtgarten, looking west towards the palace church
Nowadays, the Friedrichshafen "old town" is old only in name. The whole place (because of its industrial importance) was bombed flat in World War II, with basically no stone left standing. So today, everything is new. Only the church was rebuilt in the old style. But the town is still pleasant, with its lakeside promenade, parks, cafes and restaurants.

And the whole 4-kilometer stretch of shoreline east of town is kept pristine as a nature preserve, between the Rotach and the Schussen rivers, providing a wonderful place to run.

The Eriskircher Ried Run
The waterfront Stadtgraben park is a great place to start a run, with the Zeppelin-Haus convention center and the palace to the west, with the rest of the park full of caf├Ęs, formal gardens, two marinas, whimsical sculptures, and even a gigantic redwood tree. In the summer, a beach-bar provides caipirinhas for taking-in the stunning backdrop.
Shore in winter morning ambience
Across the lake, to the south, you'll see the Swiss mountains rising up, with ferries and other boats criss-crossing the water of this, the third largest lake in Europe. If you look to the west, you'll see the double-towers of the palace church. The heirs to the W├╝rttemberger throne still live in the palace, so it's not open to the public.

This run is an out-and-back, heading eastwards along the shore, through the Eriskircher Ried nature preserve. You can run that direction basically as long as you please. But if the 14.7-km mapped here are longer than you want, just turn around any time you like.

NOTE: Obviously, if you are there in the summer, the shore will be much more scenic and much more crowded. I was there in February, and had to run over ice for most of the way, and the beach-bar was, sadly, shut for the season. But the whole shore was wonderfully empty and had its own winter charm.

So, if you're ready to go, turn eastwards and start running along the lakeside, with the water to your right. You'll pass the yacht club marina, then the beach-bar (I have to get back in warm weather and try that out), then a strange, gigantic metallic sculpture out on the gravel beach, and then another little marina harbor before you reach the old town.
Ferries in the harbor
Stay along the water until you come to the ferry docks in the main harbor. When you come to the ferry boathouse, you'll have to detour inland, turning left to run through the outdoor bus-stop area.

Just before you come to the Esso station, turn right to run along the parking lot, continuing to the east. At the far end of the parking lot, the waterfront path begins again, and you can continue away from loud traffic.
Heading along the shore
After another 200 meters, the waterfront is blocked, though, at a hedge, where you have to turn left and run back to the coastal road, and then turn right again.

Keep running along the road until you go over the bridge at the Rotach River. Directly after the bridge, turn right onto the dirt footpath towards the water.

NOTE: the Rotach has its own trails along each bank, heading north, which you can also explore as a nice little run.
In the esturary
Now you are entering the Eriskircher Ried nature preserve, with a long stretch of unbuilt shoreline, full of sea-oats and estuary. First you'll go through the Rotach estuary, with its ducks and swans and little streams.
Turn right onto the paved road here
Soon, the dirt path runs into a small paved street, which you follow through some open fields. This street leads to a small neighborhood on the lake, but as soon as you pass the few houses, the street ends. You will continue on a dirt path again.
Heading back through the fields
Now you just continue eastwards, with the estuary on the right side and the fields on the left. You can feel any stress just melt away, and slip into a simple enjoyment of the quiet beauty all around you.

Several paths connect to the main path from the left or right, but just continue eastwards along the fields.
Running through the sea-oats
Finally, right after the "Stadtbad" beach, the path curves to the left and goes over a bridge across the little Schussen river. Turn around here and head back to the start.
View back to Friedrichshafen


  1. Was completely shocked when I actually found a result for my search, going out to try this route right now!

  2. Well, Brandon, it's not exactly perfect weather for enjoying the area, but I wish you an enjoyable run!