Tuesday 30 April 2013

Dortmund Westfalenpark Running Route

Click here for route map  
Length 7.5 km (4.7 miles), terrain flat with one easy hill

For more running routes, see Route List.

Dortmund is a traditional steel and coal town, and the biggest beer-brewing city in Germany. But despite its industrial nature, this is a route that takes you through parkland for almost the whole way, leading you for two kilometers from the town center to one of the nicest parks you'll ever visit.

The route heads south from the town center through a series of small parks to the much bigger, beautiful Westfalenpark. The Westfalenpark started as a national garden exhibition grounds in 1959. There is an entrance fee: 3 Euros during the day, half price after 6 p.m.
Westfalenpark view towards Phönix steel works
This is the only route in this blog where, for the main part of the run, you have to pay an admission fee. But the price is completely worth it. And this is the only way to run through a large green area from central Dortmund, so bring a few euros with you on this run.

Westfalenpark, with its 70 hectares, includes everything that a decent park needs. It tries to satisfy everybody: with statues, playgrounds, ponds with waterbirds, lawns, rose-gardens, a lakeside bandstand, a Japanese garden, a soccer practice field, mini-golf, cafés, a gondola (ski-lift) over the park, a mini-railroad, flower beds everywhere... And they have basically succeeded in creating a place which everyone can enjoy.

NOTE: On my first trip to Dortmund, many years ago, I ran further southeast than the Westfalenpark and experienced a surrealistic run through the old Phönix steel works grounds at night. From a distance, I had seen its ovens spewing out molten red steel into waiting railroad cars, accompanied by ear-splitting screeches. Endless rows of coal cars rolled slowly through the industrial wastelands to fuel the ovens. I was running up and down hills of slag, passing a World War II-era bunker teetering on the edge of a cliff, with exhaust-gas flames and steel-ovens bathing the scene in fiery orange light. The steel works have closed down now, and much of the area is occupied by a lake, but part of the steel plant has been left as an industrial museum that can be wandered by the curious.

The Westfalenpark Route
We'll start the run right in the heart of Dortmund's pleasant downtown, at the square between St. Reinhold's church and St. Mary's. Dortmund was badly bombed out in World War II, but has lots of nice pedestrian streets and plazas today.
Market fountain looking back at St. Reinhold's
Turn your back to St. Reinhold's and run south past Burger King into the market square just a few meters further, surrounded by house-pubs for various Dortmund breweries. (They're all worth visiting for good beer and typical Dortmund schnitzel dinners.)

In the market square, turn right to run diagonally through the square, and exit at the southwest corner into the even larger (but characterless) Hansaplatz square.

Run straight south along Wißstraße, and you'll run right into the first park, Stadtgarten, with an underground station at the entrance. Run straight through the park until you get to the loud street on the other side, Südwall. Turn left on one of the park walkways before Südwall and run eastwards until you come to the busy cross-street, Ruhrallee.
In Stadtgarten park
Turn right to continue southwards along Ruhrallee, and after a block you'll come to a triangular plaza in front of the Stadthaus train station (look for the train overpass). Turn left to cross the street then continue running right through the station.
Stadthaus train station: run straight through it!
You'll come out into the next green square, where you follow the main path along the left side. You'll see the gigantic TV tower off in the distance, which stands right in our destination, Westfalenpark.

After crossing Saarlandstraße, you'll see the entrance to the next park along the left, the Stadewäldchen. This is a narrow, three-block-long green-belt that connects directly into Westfalenpark.
In the Stadewäldchen
Just cross the two cross-streets and soon you'll come to a footbridge that leads across the Rheinlanddamm expressway.

On the other side, you'll find yourself facing the entrance to Westfalenpark. As I said, you'll have to bring a few euros for the entrance fee. If you get there after 6 p.m., that entrance will be closed, but just follow the path along the right side, running towards the TV tower, and just 20 meters further, you'll come to the entrance gate that is open in the evenings until 11 p.m. You can later get out any gate, via exit turnstiles.

You will be standing at the foot of the formidable TV tower.
Did someone say there was a TV tower near here?
You can now basically follow any trail that you please, of course. This route turns right and circles the park counter-clockwise.

It first goes by the soccer practice field and mini-golf course, then goes by the flamingo pond and a café. Now you turn left and head south through the rose-garden area until you get to the south end of the park. Now turn left again, running by the renewable-energy concept building used by the park administration.
Spring flowers in Westfalenpark
The park opens up to the southeast at the gondola cable lift, where you can turn right and loop through this end of the park, running downhill. You'll come to a big pond with a bandstand, where you turn left and run towards the southeast corner of the park, with its Japanese garden.
Beer-kettle fountain with view towards bandstand
Cut up through the Japanese garden, taking the step-stones over the pond and then up the hill to get to the path along the eastern edge of the park. Turn left and run back uphill, going north.
The Japanese garden
You'll come back near to where you first entered the park, at the Kaiserhain Teich (pond).

Now go out the exit turnstile and follow the trail over the pedestrian bridge back into the Stadewäldchen park and run back through the Stadthaus station.

This time, to see a bit more of downtown, just head straight north along Rheinallee (which then becomes Kleppingstraße) back to the square at St. Rheinhold's, passing the city hall, a medieval gate-tower and a strange sculpture just before the church.
The sculpture


  1. Sounds historic and beautiful.

  2. Thanks Patty! Yes, it was both, and springtime has just hit with full force, so I had all the fresh green and flowers as a bonus.